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


Pablo Picasso Woman sitting in a armchair 1910

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will they know the difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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Growacet.

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

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

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


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

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That’s less than vitamin D?!

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

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

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


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

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It’s become a joke.

Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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Drip every day drip.

Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)

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


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

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What job did they give Victoria Nuland in the end?

The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)

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

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


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

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AOC!

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

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


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

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

CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)

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

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


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

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It’s been turned into a joke.

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

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

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


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

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Feb 132021
 
 February 13, 2021  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


James Karales Selma to Montgomery March Alabama 1965

 

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)
South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)
The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)
Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)
NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)
Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)
Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)
Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)
Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)
MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)
Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)
Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)
The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

 

 

When you open Pandora’s box, things tend to come out.

@AceSix4
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360063639894507520

 

 

One of the stranger arguments. But sure, let’s inject some controversy.

 

 

 

 

Russia to the rescue.

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)

The Gamaleya Institute behind Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said it’s working on a technology that will lead to an effective jab against several coronavirus variants and which could also be swiftly updated to tackle new mutations.
The multiplying variants of Covid-19, which could turn out to be resistant to current vaccines and prolong the pandemic even further, have recently become a source of major concern for governments and medics around the globe. But the solution to the problem may be just around the corner, as the Gamaleya Institute’s director, Alexander Gintsburg, revealed that the Moscow-based research body “has developed a technology that allows to quickly and efficiently create vaccine agents that will include antigens not from one, but two, three, four or five different coronavirus variants.”


Such a vaccine should be able to provide immunity from all coronavirus strains that could threaten a population at any given time, Gintsburg said, in an interview with the Rossiya 24 channel. So far, all of the known mutations appear to be covered by the vaccines, but that may well change as RNA viruses like Covid-19 are the most rapidly changing objects in the world, he pointed out. The Russian multi-variant vaccine is currently in its research phase, with clinical trials scheduled to begin by the end of the year. The finished drug will likely be made available to customers in 2022, Gintsburg estimated. Numerous strains of coronavirus have been already discovered by scientists, but three of them are causing the most worries at the moment. The so-called UK, South Africa and Brazil variants have shown multiple changes in their spike protein, through which the virus attaches itself to human cells.

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“substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19..”

South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)

Some people in South Africa have been re-infected with variants of Covid-19 after they had already recovered from the virus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said on Friday.
“We are now getting reports of people getting re-infected with the new variant of the virus, and there have been some initial reports from South Africa suggesting that people who have had prior infection could get infected again,” she told a WHO news briefing. Swaminathan did not specify the number of people re-infected in South Africa, but said that ongoing scientific studies are looking at how long antibodies protect people after they have contracted the virus.

The scientist did say that a recent UK study of health workers found that 85 percent of the cohort had developed protection against being re-infected with Covid-19 six to eight months after they first caught the virus. One study from South Africa published in pre-print format last month found the country’s indigenous mutation, 501Y.V2, showed “substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19. “These data highlight the prospect of re-infection” and may “foreshadow reduced efficacy” of vaccines, according to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Another larger, more generalized study of 43,000 people with Covid-19 antibodies in Qatar concluded that re-infection is “rare,” and that natural infection elicited strong protection against the virus for at least seven months. The South African variant features more genetic mutations than previous forms of the virus, including the E484K mutation, which appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response, potentially increasing the likelihood of re-infection. It accounts for more than 80 percent of cases in South Africa, and has spread to at least 32 countries worldwide.

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“This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work.”

The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)

News in the Trump years became a narrative drama, with each day advancing a tale of worsening political emergency, driven by subplots involving familiar casts of characters, in the manner of episodic television. It worked, but news directors and editors hit a stumbling block. If you cover everything like there’s no tomorrow, what happens when there is, in fact, a tomorrow? The innovation was to use banner headlines to saturate news cycles, often to the exclusion of nearly any other news, before moving to the next controversy so quickly that mistakes, errors, or rhetorical letdowns were memory-holed. The American Napoleon generated controversies at such a fantastic rate that stations like CNN and MSNBC (and Fox too) were able to keep ratings high by moving from mania to mania, hyping stories on the way up but not always following them down.

The moment the narrative premise of any bombshell started to fray, the next story in line was bumped to the front. News outlets paid off old editorial promises with new headlines: Ponzi journalism. This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work. As surveys by organizations like the Pew Center showed, the different target demographics in Trump’s America increasingly did not communicate with one another. Democrats by 2020 were 91 percent of the New York Times audience and 95 percent of MSNBC’s, while Republicans were 93 percent of Fox viewers. When outlets overreached factually, it was possible, if not likely, that the original target audience would never learn the difference.

This reduced the incentive to be careful. Audiences devoured bombshells even when aware on a subconscious level that they might not hold up to scrutiny. If a story turned out to be incorrect, that was okay. News was now more about underlying narratives audiences felt were true and important. For conservatives, Trump was saving America from a conspiracy of elites. For “liberal” audiences, Trump was trying to assume dictatorial power, and the defenders of democracy were trying to stop him. A symbiosis developed. Where audiences once punished media companies for mistakes, now they rewarded them for serving up the pure heroin of shaky, first-draft-like blockbusters. They wanted to be in the trenches of information discovery. Audiences were choosing powerful highs over lasting ones.

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View from the left.

Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)

In the chaos of 2020, the national press corps used all of its magical mythmaking and storytelling powers to conjure two towering political heroes for a country in crisis. From the maw of the media machine, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Lincoln Project emerged as our alleged sentinels bravely battling a deadly pandemic and an authoritarian president — and supposedly leading us with principles and morality into a new era of accountability and integrity. For millions of credulous liberals already binging on West Wing reruns, the twin tales conjured some more of that good old-fashioned hope-and-change nostalgia, and seemed to serve as a cheeky reminder that not all heroes wear capes.


But in the last 24 hours, the entire façade has collapsed, revealing that those bravely trying to sound the alarm for months were right all along — and those benefiting from the media-driven fraud were attempting to evade accountability and self-servingly cover up a grotesquerie of mismanagement, corruption, and abuse. Will the wrongdoers face any consequences or accountability? Or will they be treated like the purveyors of previous frauds, like the Iraq War and the financial crisis, and continue to be platformed and valorized by the press corps? And will our media overlords engage in any self-reflection about the monsters they manufactured? The details of the two tales vary, but the narrative arcs are eerily similar. That they crescendoed in the same single news cycle makes their cautionary tales all the more poignant.

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About a year too late.

NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reprimanded on Friday by a group of New York Democrats who are demanding that the governor be stripped of his emergency powers that he has exercised in response to the coronavirus pandemic in New York state. The reprimand came in a statement from 14 lawmakers who were acting following the news that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had admitted during a video conference call with Democratic leaders that the administration covered up the true extent of nursing home deaths in 2020 because they were concerned about a possible federal investigation by the Trump administration. The New York Post broke the story of DeRosa’s confession to the group of Democratic lawmakers who were thought to be put in a difficult situation as result of the coverup.


“While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state — and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments,” the prepared statement from the 14 Democratic state senators said — “it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.” “While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”

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Very toxic. Tucker’s take is dead on.

Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)

The Lincoln Project’s founders were some of the highest-profile players in Republican politics before they rejected Trump and became apostates within their own party. There was George Conway, a high-profile conservative lawyer who is married to Kellyanne Conway, who was a top adviser to Trump. Weaver worked on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns, as did Galen and Schmidt. Mike Madrid is a strategist specializing in Latinx voting trends. Jennifer Horn is a former GOP chair in New Hampshire. Wilson worked on Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral and Senate campaigns. Ron Steslow started his own consulting firm after working at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Conway was the first to leave in August, citing family obligations. Weaver took medical leave around the same time.

A three-person board — Galen, Madrid and Steslow — was created without input from some of the other co-founders. Eventually, disputes over that board, and its scope, led to bitter infighting that involved individual co-founders lawyering up and threatening one another with “oppo” research, Washington speak for the type of negative information amassed by a political campaign or organization to use against a rival. In late 2020, Conway stepped in to help mediate what was quickly becoming a civil war within the organization. Madrid and Steslow departed in December after signing nondisclosure agreements and receiving separation packages that those familiar with the negotiations describe as lucrative.

On December 21, the Lincoln Project paid Madrid’s firm, Grassroots Lab, two round sum payments of $1.1 million and $300,000. On the same date, it paid Steslow’s firm, TUSK Digital, $900,000. All of the payments were described as for “political strategy consulting” on campaign finance filings. The Lincoln Project was organized as a super PAC, meaning it could raise and spend unlimited sums of money but had to disclose only basic details about where the money was going. The firms that some of the co-founders brought with them to the Lincoln Project’s work became a source of internal frustration, as more than half of the nearly $90 million raised by the project flowed to firms controlled by its various founders. Once it was there, there was usually no way to track how they spent or kept it.

As of late January, Galen’s firm, Summit Strategic Communications, had received roughly $27.5 million from the Lincoln Project, with the bulk of that going to “independent expenditures” such as television or Internet advertisements and nearly $7 million to consulting. Steslow’s firm, TUSK, received $22.4 million, with $7.1 million for consulting. Schmidt’s firm, SES Strategies, received $1.5 million for consulting, but he told the Chicago Tribune he returned it. Madrid’s Grassroots Lab received nearly $2.2 million for consulting services. The Lincoln Project paid Horn directly in amounts of $5,000 or $10,000 per month, campaign finance filings show. In the fall, she began receiving additional payments from LPTV, but in all, her annual compensation was approximately $150,000, sources familiar with the situation said.

Tucker Lincoln Project
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360413135144771585

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George Conway. Strange player in all this.

Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)

The group of life-long Republican Party consultants who, under the name “The Lincoln Project,” got very rich in 2020 with anti-Trump online messaging has spent weeks responding to numerous scandals on multiple fronts. Despite the gravity of those scandals, its conduct on Thursday night was in a whole new category of sleaze. It not only infuriated their long-time allies, but also constituted the abuse of Twitter’s platform to commit likely illegal acts. That the primary effect of the Lincoln Project was to personally enrich its key operatives by cynically exploiting the fears of U.S. liberals has long been obvious. Reporting throughout 2020 conclusively demonstrated that the vast majority of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the group was going to firms controlled by its founders.


One of its most prominent founders — GOP consultant Rick Wilson — personally collected $65,000 from liberals through GoFundMe for an anti-Trump film he kept promising but which never came; to this date, he refuses to explain what he did with that money. A study conducted after the 2020 election found that the group’s effect on the election’s outcome was trivial to non-existent — not surprising given its penchant for spending money on ads that aired in electorally irrelevant places such as Washington, D.C. or which circulated almost exclusively in liberal cable news and social media venues, and thus had no purpose other than to enable its consultants to take large commissions from the ad spending. They were producing ads solely for liberals, with the overriding intent not of defeating Trump but inflating their net worth. And it worked: until they were no longer needed.

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Do they ever.

Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)

The Lincoln Project has had a rough couple of weeks. One of its co-founders, John Weaver, was accused of sexual harassment of young men and the Project attacked him as a sexual predator. As co-founders like George Conway denied any real familiarity or interaction with Weaver, others accused of the Project of turning a blind eye to his conduct. Then one of its other co-founders, Jennifer Horn, resigned in protest only to be attacked by other Project members as allegedly trying to get more money out of the organization. Now, the Lincoln Project is having serious questions raised over its compensation for co-founders and an accounting for tens of millions of dollars that may have gone to them or their own firms. Lincoln famously declared “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” but the Lincoln Project is accused of malice towards many but charity for a few.

[..] The latest controversy comes after an Associated Press story that the Project was able to raise over $90 million but only spent a third of that ($27 million) on advertisements during the 2020 campaign. The AP noted “That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group.” It also suggested that the Project was using tactics to hide the money trial and spending decisions. Reporters Steve Peoples and Brian Slodysko said that “[t]he vast majority of the cash was split among consulting firms controlled by its founders, including about $27 million paid to a small firm controlled by Galen and another $21 million paid to a boutique firm run by former Lincoln Project member Ron Steslow, campaign finance disclosures show.”

I have been critical of some of the Lincoln Project commercials and advertisements. However, my main objection was its role in harassing and even doxxing lawyers who represented the Trump campaign or the Republican party. That effort was funded by thousands of lawyers as well as Democratic donors. At first, I thought the Lincoln Project could serve a useful role in establishing a Republican opposition base to Trump and add greater diversity in the party. Instead, it adopted increasingly juvenile and vicious ads that seemed to pander to the lowest common denominator in politics. This week the Lincoln Project ad features a chicken and taunts Trump for declining to testify despite the fact that presidents traditionally have not testified and such a decision should not be treated as evidence of guilt.

Yet, such commercials play well to donors and bring in more money. The question is whether the windfall of money was the byproduct or the purpose of the Project’s founding. The AP story suggests that the Project has used accounting systems that make it difficult to track payments. The Project can easily make this all transparent. While no one is going to run ads showing the founders juxtaposed with chickens, a few donors may want to know if the founders enriched themselves and their firms as part of the 2020 campaign.

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Pandora’s box.

Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)

Attorney David Schoen argued the impeachment managers relied heavily on media reports to make their case against Trump rather than actual evidence. He said people get more “due process” fighting a parking ticket than Trump did in this trial. Schoen also questioned why the House managers held the “never-before-seen” Capitol security footage and did not release it to the public or Trump himself ahead of the trial. Schoen also argued that the House impeachment managers “manipulated” Trump’s words when playing a clip of him saying there were “fine people on both sides” after the Charlottesville protest. The full remarks included Trump denouncing white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

The House impeachment managers focused heavily on Trump’s “fight like hell” comment during his Jan. 6 speech. Schoen showed video clips of Democrats using rhetoric that could be interpreted as violent. His video montage included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Democrats have to learn how to “throw a punch” and former Vice President Joe Biden saying he would “beat the hell” out of Trump in high school. He also played clips of Democrats like then-Sen. Kamala Harris saying Democrats have to “fight” in the Trump era. “We like a good fight,” Harris said.

House impeachment managers argued that Trump’s “stop the steal” message was unprecedented. To respond to that argument, Schoen showed video of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton saying that you could be a major political party’s presidential nominee and have the election “stolen” from you. He also played Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown saying Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial election was “stolen” from her. Van der Veen played additional video of “robust” rhetoric from Democrats about punching Trump in the face and said the First Amendment should be applied “evenly.” “All robust speech should be protected and it should be protected evenly for all of us,” he said. “The Senate cannot ignore the First Amendment.”

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“..when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off.”

MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)

As their dishonest narrative collapses around them, mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians are trying to hold together their latest bid to destroy Donald Trump, but some of the lies are getting too big to shrug off. I’m reminded of the media-speak popularized during the Trump era – lightly used words or phrases that became ubiquitous in the talking points, like “violating norms” – especially the term “debunked.” In the eyes of MSM and their controllers, Trump was a president who needed to be debunked thousands of times. Whether it was about the size of his Inauguration Day crowd, the animal-like savagery of MS-13 gang-bangers or the fact that Haiti is “a s**thole”, any Trump claim had to be debunked, false or not.

When an obnoxious loudmouth constantly blurts out things that lift the skirt on the ruling class’ treachery, his voice must be discredited. And even if just part of his story can be attacked, the rest will be forgotten. It’s like a Jenga game where all the pieces automatically fall down when one is removed. But the same standard doesn’t apply to the media’s own story lines. No matter how many times MSM and establishment politicians are exposed as liars — from the MLK bust in the Oval Office to the Russia collusion hoax — the people are supposed to keep believing the gist of their arguments. The Jenga tower can be levitating with entire floors missing, but the con artists insist that it’s still standing. We’re seeing it again in Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial. Giant holes have been blown in the MSM-DNC narrative about the January 6 “insurrection” at the US Capitol, but that’s not supposed to matter.

For instance, when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off. “This is much ado about nothing because it’s not critical in any way to our case,” he said. Never mind that the point was apparently considered important enough to submit as evidence. Raskin was essentially allowed to wriggle out as if he said, “The fact that we’re lying about this doesn’t reflect whatsoever on the veracity of anything else we’re telling you.” A far bigger and more central piece of the impeachment Jenga tower shouldn’t be sloughed off so easily. In fact, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick is so central to the narrative that his cremated remains were displayed in honor at the Capitol Rotunda to remind everyone of the viciousness of the alleged Trump domestic-terrorism army.

The tale of the brutal Trump mob is always punctuated with the fact that five people were “killed” during the riot, er, “white-supremacist insurrection.” One of those people was Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters, who was fatally shot by a law enforcement officer. Three others were election-fraud protesters who died from health crises – a heart attack, a stroke and an unidentified medical emergency – during the January 6 demonstration and riot. The talking heads who wish Trump supporters dead in every other case are counting Trump supporters in the death toll from an incident perpetrated primarily by Trump supporters. It’s as if they’re leading a story on a hostage crisis by saying that 30 people were killed without mentioning that 25 of those were hostage takers, including 22 who died of food poisoning.

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hypothetical

Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)

A lawyer for former president Donald Trump said the current impeachment drive is a partisan effort that could backfire on Democrats if they lose leverage, suggesting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton could also be impeached. Responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) during Friday’s impeachment hearing, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen argued that the Obama-era secretary could face similar impeachment proceedings sometime in the future. “Is it not true that under this new precedent, a future House – facing partisan pressure to ‘lock her up’ – could impeach a former secretary of state, and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify her from any future office?” Rubio asked.

“If you see it their way, yes,” van der Veen said, referring to the Democratic impeachment managers. “If you do this the way they want it done, that could happen to the example there – a former secretary of state – but it could happen to a lot of people. And that’s not the way this is supposed to work.” The lead impeachment manager in the House, Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), pushed back, however, insisting Rubio’s hypothetical had “no bearing on this case,” as Clinton “was not impeached in office for conduct while in office.” At Friday’s hearing, the Trump lawyer also argued that the ex-president’s statements leading up to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill – which he is accused of “inciting” as the basis of the impeachment effort – were “virtually indistinguishable” from rhetoric used by American politicians for “hundreds of years.”

“Countless politicians have spoken of ‘fighting for our principles.’ Joe Biden’s campaign slogan was ‘Battle for the Soul of America.’ No human being seriously believes that the use of such metaphorical terminology is incitement to political violence,” van der Veen said. He added that while Trump at no point engaged in “language of incitement,” many Democrats in Washington have themselves resorted to “profoundly reckless, dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric in recent years,” singling out Clinton, who he said “ridiculously declared the [2016] election [was] stolen by Russia.”

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“Do you understand what you have done?”

Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)

Did you happen to catch the most important political speech of the last six years? It would have been easy to miss given everything going on. In fact, I almost did, and this speech sits at the intersection of nearly all of my areas of intense study. The annual World Economic Forum took place last week via teleconference, what I’m calling Virtual Davos, and at this year’s event, of course, the signature topic was their project called the Great Reset. But if the WEF was so intent on presenting the best face for the Great Reset to the world it wouldn’t have invited either Chinese Premier Xi Jinping or, more importantly, Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it was Putin’s speech that brought down the house of cards that is the agenda of the WEF.

The last time someone walked into a major international forum and issued such a scathing critique of the current geopolitical landscape was Putin’s speech to the United Nations on September 29th, 2015, two days before he sent a small contingency of Russian air support to Syria. There he excoriated not only the U.N. by name but most importantly the U.S. and its NATO allies by inference asking the most salient question, “Do you understand what you have done?” having unleashed chaos in an already chaotic part of the world? As important as that speech was it was Putin’s actions after that which defined the current era of geopolitical chess across the Eurasian continent. Syria became the nexus around which the resistance to the “ISIS is invincible” narrative unraveled

And the mystery of who was behind ISIS, namely the Obama administration, was revealed to anyone paying attention. President Trump may have taken credit for beating ISIS, but it was mostly Putin and Russia’s forces retaking the Western part of Syria which allowed that to happen, while our globalist generals, like James Mattis, did as much damage to Syria itself and as little to ISIS as possible, hoping to use them again another day. And regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the U.S.’s policy in Syria, which I most definitely do not, it is hard to argue that Russia’s intervention there fundamentally changed the regional politics and conflicts for the foreseeable future.

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Jim needs some time to re-focus.

The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

How do you like the party you supposedly voted into power so far? Or is it perhaps too much to say they were actually voted into anything? And if so — if there was something, let’s say, a little irregular with the ballot tabulation, maybe even more than a little — have they not succeeded splendidly in pissing-off more than half the people across the land? And then attempted to rub that half’s faces into the squishy, fetid loam of the DC Swamp? I’d say that every move they make, every breath they take, seems calculated to spark a new civil war. Yesterday’s spiteful exercise in cognitive dissonance was a humdinger: Mr. Biden threatened to cut off travel to Florida for flouting his regime’s policy on Covid-19 lockdowns, while over in Texas (and several other states), he ordered a general unlocking-down of the border with Mexico, permitting the unchecked illegal ingress of thousands of possible Covid-19 carriers a day. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, responded, saying — if I may paraphrase — see you in court, asshole.

Meanwhile, the cancellation reign-of-terror among the regime’s self-appointed guardians of Wokeness rages on. In the name of diversity and inclusion, no one in the USA is allowed to publicly question the Woke narrative of the moment, or else be deprived of your livelihood. The New York Times fired forty-year veteran science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr., for using the freighted word “n*gg*r” while answering a student’s question about the history of the word’s usage, just as I am explaining his use of it in the incident at issue — that is, academically.

Though Mr. McNeil’s intent was incontrovertibly innocent as viewed by persons not insane — including, only briefly, the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet — the decision to not sack Mr. McNeil provoked a reflexive uproar among the Times’s staff, as something in the wind might provoke a flight of grasshoppers transforming into a swarm of locusts, and Mr. Baquet reversed himself, forcing Mr. McNeil to choose demotion or resignation. Then, to make matters worse, the Times’s publisher, AG Sulzberger, spiked a column by nominally “conservative” op-ed writer Bret Stephens that attempted to argue some legalistic points about intent in the conduct of a witch hunt, an apparent affront to the Times’s witch-hunters, who seem to prefer their witch-hunting as a straight-up blood sport.

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Jan 232021
 


Zao Wu-Ki Le soleil rouge 1950

 

Here Are the Superheroes To Come and Save Us (MPN)
Dems Demand Social Media Stop ‘Polluting Minds Of American People’ (RT)
New McCarthyism Will Prove An Orwellian Mistake – Hanson (K.)
Big Tech, Big Brother, & The End Of Free Speech (RCP)
The Echo Chamber Era (Matt Taibbi)
500,000 More British Kids Face Mental Health Issues (Wilson)
Israel Analysis Of COVID Vaccine Raises Questions About UK Strategy (Sky)
Are COVID Vaccination Programmes Working? (Nature)
One Dose Of Pfizer Vaccine Could Be Less Effective Than Expected (BMJ)
Hungary First EU Country To Get Russia’s Sputnik V Covid19 Vaccine (RT)
Overall Mortality Is Around Normal For This Time Of Year (RT)
How US CDC Missed Chances To Spot COVID’s Silent Spread (R.)
McConnell Lays Out Trump Impeachment Trial Timeline (ZH)
Rough Ridin’ with Biden (Kunstler)
Home Run King Hank Aaron Dead At 86 (F.)

 

 


Cavafy – Monotony

 

 

 

 

“The few who ventured near the Capitol were mostly somber, as if they were attending a vigil.” “It feels a little postapocalyptic..”

Here Are the Superheroes To Come and Save Us (MPN)

We rely on the media to hold the powerful to account. But in its first hours in office, the corporate press has celebrated, rather than challenged, the new Biden administration. It began immediately during the 78-year-old Delawarean’s inauguration, with senior figures in the media barely able to contain their emotions watching what they saw. “As Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, the sky opened up and sunlight reflected off of the Capitol, illuminating the flag,” wrote Olivia Nuzzi, the New Yorker’s Washington correspondent. The New York Times was in a similarly poetic mood. “Whether or not related to the former president’s absence, a bipartisan lightness seemed to prevail across the stage at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Snow flurries gave way to sun,” ran its subheadline.


If it were not clear enough that corporate media intends to spend the next four years propping up, rather than scrutinizing President Biden, then senior CNN figures spelled it out. “Trump—>Biden. Lies—>truth. Ignorance—>knowledge. Amorality—>decency. Cruelty—> empathy. Corruption—>public service” wrote CNN’s White House correspondent John J. Harwood on Twitter, attributing several extremely positive (and questionable) qualities to the incoming president. Meanwhile, the company’s head of strategic communications, Matt Dornic, was in an even more bombastic mood. Sharing a picture of fireworks exploding over the Washington Monument, he remarked that, “This team truly understands optics. These images will inspire our friends and shake our foes.”

Leaving aside why some colorful pyrotechnics would terrify Russia, China or any nation, Dornic’s rhetoric worried many who felt the nation’s top journalists should see themselves as the government’s adversaries, rather than their allies. “Note how this CNN imperial stenographer fearmongers about foreign bogeymen with his “foe” rhetoric. The real foe of average working-class Americans isn’t any foreign nation; it’s the parasitic capitalist oligarchs who control everything and their lackeys in politics and the media,” replied Ben Norton of The Grayzone. Perhaps the most adulatory coverage of the inauguration came from MSNBC, however, with analyst John Heilemann depicting the senior politicians present as almost mythical ubermensch. “What was to me so striking about today was that comforting sense,” he said.


“The sight of the Clintons and the Bushes and the Obamas — The Avengers, the Marvel superheroes back up there together all in one place with their friend Joe Biden.” He later went on to compare Biden’s speech to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address of 1865 after the union victory in the American Civil War and claimed there was a deep sense of relief washing over the nation’s capital.. This sentiment was apparently not shared by ordinary people on the street. Even as it was praising Biden, the New York Times reported that “The few who ventured near the Capitol were mostly somber, as if they were attending a vigil.” “It feels a little postapocalyptic, to be honest,” one told them.

Read more …

How is this not the thought police?

”..algorithms and recommendations that breed extremism and undermine the sense of “objective reality.”

Dems Demand Social Media Stop ‘Polluting Minds Of American People’ (RT)

Democrats in the US Congress have urged major social media platforms to eliminate algorithms and recommendations that breed extremism and undermine the sense of “objective reality.” Representatives Anna Eshoo and Tom Malinowski wrote letters demanding change to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. A similar letter was sent to the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, and Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, which is owned by Google. “For years, social media companies have allowed harmful disinformation to spread through their platforms, polluting the minds of the American people,” Eshoo tweeted. The lawmakers argued that social media platforms allow content which reinforces “existing political biases, especially those rooted in anger, anxiety, and fear.”


They said the algorithms used by Big Tech “undermine our shared sense of objective reality” and “facilitate connections between extremist users,” which lead to violence in real life, like the storming of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6. Twitter was urged to “immediately make permanent changes to limit the spread of misinformation and other forms of harmful content.” Facebook and YouTube were similarly asked to tweak their recommendation systems in order not to promote “dangerous conspiracy theories” among users. The Democrats and many in the media accused former President Donald Trump of inciting the crowd of his supporters to seize the Capitol in hopes of overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.

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“We are in a sort of left-wing version of the Corleone “Godfather” cinema family “taking care of business” all at once.”

New McCarthyism Will Prove An Orwellian Mistake – Hanson (K.)

The efforts of “Big Tech” to ban Trump and many of his supporters, while Apple, Google etc in concert made it almost impossible for a conservative site like Parler to exist, are reflections of a Salem Witch trial madness sparked by the trifecta of Trump’s loss, the Capitol violence, and the Republican loss of the Senate. Hysteria reigns as books by conservatives are now canceled, thousands kicked off social media, radio hosts fired etc. We are in a sort of left-wing version of the Corleone “Godfather” cinema family “taking care of business” all at once. Yet this new McCarthyism will prove an Orwellian mistake, and constitute one of the greatest political blunders in modern US history.

Think of the Ayatollah Khamenei calling for the destruction of Israel on Twitter with impunity or Antifa announcing planning sessions for their next riot, on Facebook with impunity – juxtaposed to social media banning those who merely showed up in Washington at a peaceful rally and did not join the violent splinter group who stormed the halls of Congress. In contrast, again, the current Vice President Harris earlier had called for the more protests this summer. Many were violent and occasionally lethal, resulting in mass looting, death and arson by Antifa and BLM. She worked to bail out those arrested for street violence. The public is tiring of such asymmetries. US publishers all the time publish books like “In Defense of Looting” – a manifesto supporting the mass theft from stores this summer. So there is no consistency in the current violations of free speech.

And the effort to remove Trump before his tenure not only failed, but showed his opponents as small-minded and vindictive and further divided a 50/50 divided country. The attempt to coordinate Big Tech to destroy the conservative opposition’s means of communicating with the public came by design on the eve of the most revolutionary moments in modern history to come: Very soon the Left plans to end the 180-year Senate filibuster, the 234-year Electoral College, the 60-year 50-state union (by adding Puerto Rico and Washington DC), and the 150-year-old nine-person Supreme Court – and now will have its critics de-platformed from social media or afraid to express objections in fear of being banned.

Read more …

“..When 13-year-olds are entrusted with cellphones and Snapchat accounts, they can use them to bring shame on innocent children and even destroy their lives. Often, this involves spreading false rumors about the person or discrediting them for something they espouse, like their religion, their political beliefs or their sexual identity. Tell me how this is different from what Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have done to Donald Trump..”

Big Tech, Big Brother, & The End Of Free Speech (RCP)

In George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” members of the Outer Party of Oceania engage in the Two Minutes Hate ritual against Emmanuel Goldstein, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Brother. In Nancy Pelosi’s “Twenty Twenty-One,” members of the Democratic Party engage in the Two Hours Hate against Donald Trump, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people, but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Tech. Two hours of hate — er, debate — was held in the House of Representatives last Wednesday for the avowed purpose of removing a president of the United States. That’s all it took. Two hours. That should tell you everything you need to know about the state of democracy in our country.

[..] In a sense, Big Tech has taken cyberbullying to its logical conclusion. When 13-year-olds are entrusted with cellphones and Snapchat accounts, they can use them to bring shame on innocent children and even destroy their lives. Often, this involves spreading false rumors about the person or discrediting them for something they espouse, like their religion, their political beliefs or their sexual identity. Tell me how this is different from what Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have done to Donald Trump and, by extension, the more than 74 million people who voted for him. This group of post-pubescent cyberbullies in Silicon Valley doesn’t like Donald Trump. They feel justified in calling him names like white supremacist and Nazi and racist. They don’t care whether it hurts him or not. They don’t care whether it is true or not. They are strangely enlivened by what they perceive as their ability to hurt him, to weaken him.

Like the mob that they have attempted to link the president to, these bullies act in mindless concert, emboldened by each other to see who can strike the deeper blow, who can make the victim hurt more. And over what? Differences of opinion, for the most part. Strong border or no border? Mask or no mask? Globalism or Americanism? Carbon credits or fracking? Abortion or no abortion? And then the last straw — fair election or fraudulent election? These should be legitimate subjects for debate in a free society. But not anymore. Big Tech has banned debate about government policy on the coronavirus, and any discussion of election fraud is treated as if it were a crime. But wait? It’s only a crime to question the government in a totalitarian system, like that in communist China or Orwell’s fictional Oceania, right?

In America, we have the right and obligation to question our government, don’t we? Because, if we don’t have that right any longer, then what are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Bottom line: At some point in some election, the allegations of election fraud have to be real. It can’t always just be the figment of some right-wing president’s imagination. And if we aren’t allowed to have free speech, then how do we fight back? If Big Tech and Big Government have their way, we don’t. Just keep your head down and your nose clean — and never ever question what you are told.

Read more …

“..not a bad or even a terrible plan, but literally a “nonexistent” plan, despite the fact that 36 million vaccines had already been delivered..”

The Echo Chamber Era (Matt Taibbi)

Blue-state audiences didn’t ask for accounting for those official warnings for the same reason Trump voters never asked what happened to those three million undocumented votes Hillary Clinton supposedly won in 2016: audiences don’t demand explanations for puffed-up claims about other groups. People like Sullivan would have you believe that “balance” is a mandate to give voice to clearly illegitimate points of view, but it’s really about not falling so completely in love with your “values” that you stop caring to avoid mistakes about those who don’t share them, or even just mistakes generally. By any standard, the press had a terrible four years, from the mangling of dozens of Russiagate tales to scandals like the New York Times “Caliphate” disaster and the underappreciated Covington High School story fiasco.

Still, many in the business can’t see how bad it’s been, because they’ve walled themselves off so completely from potential critics. Coupled with the enhanced aggressiveness of Silicon Valley in removing dissenting accounts across the spectrum — Facebook is taking down six Socialist Workers Party accounts in Britain as I write this, a day after zapping a series of Antifa accounts — reporters at places like the Post, the Times, and CNN every day have less and less to worry about in terms of audience blowback, and they know it. Just in the first few days of the Biden administration, we’ve seen editorial decisions that would never have been attempted once upon a time. The Post just tried to remove seven paragraphs of their own archived article about Vice President Kamala Harris, which contained a cringeworthy scene of Harris and her sister joking about prisoners begging for water, only to restore it after an outcry.

CNN meanwhile ran a story that incoming Biden officials had to “build everything from scratch” with regard to Covid-19 policy because the Trump administration had no plan for vaccine distribution at all — not a bad or even a terrible plan, but literally a “nonexistent” plan, despite the fact that 36 million vaccines had already been delivered. In this rare case, rival media organizations cried foul, with reporters from both Politico and the Washington Post blasting the report as untrue and a “gambit to lower expectations” by the incoming administration. In an atmosphere where editors really feared discontent from outside demographics or rival party politicians, a story like that, with an over-the-top-to-impossible premise, would never even be tried.

Read more …

COVID is not a one-dimensional issue, but it keeps being treated as such. “500,000 children under 18 in England, with no previous problems, will need mental health care..”

500,000 More British Kids Face Mental Health Issues (Wilson)

The gloom is infectious, as a study out today from the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford confirmed. Formerly freewheeling, high-spirited online chats have morphed into muted complaints and low moods as the novelty of school in the kitchen wore off long ago. The wide, everchanging schoolyard social networks of our children have disappeared, replaced by social contact with whoever happens to be online at the same time they are. Boredom encourages bickering and the subtleties of personal relationships are forced to rely on broadband speed, What’s App chat emojis and access to a shared computer. It is not healthy in any way. We now risk destroying our children’s love of learning while creating a mental health crisis that has struck half a million previously healthy kids across the nation already, according to the Centre for Mental Health.

It says 500,000 children under 18 in England, with no previous problems, will need mental health care due to the devastating economic, health and family pressures caused by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This has manifested itself in children as young as five reporting self-harm and suicidal thoughts to counsellors and a tripling in the number of eating disorders reported by adolescents. An Ofsted report in November discovered that more than two months of lost schooling last spring had resulted in children regressing in basic skills such as reading and writing. And –as always– it is the poor who suffer worst. It’s estimated 1.1m kids have no computer at home, making attending online lessons impossible. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that, in the last lockdown, better-off children spent 30 per cent more time on remote learning than disadvantaged ones. The attainment gap between rich and poor pupils will grow markedly.

A survey by England’s Mental Health of Children and Young People survey found that more than a quarter of children aged five to 16 reported disrupted sleep, one in five did not have somewhere quiet to work, and girls had the highest prevalence (27.2 per cent) of probable mental health issues. This is all shocking news. Our children are facing serious problems with their mental health in numbers never seen before and yet with no end date in sight they are expected to sit in front of a screen five hours a day, five days a week. It’s not helping, and it is clear that keeping schools shut is doing immense and lasting damage to our children.

Read more …

We had a discussion in yesterday’s Debt Rattle thread about the first real-world analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Which answers some questions, and leaves new ones. The 33% efficacy after two weeks raises alarms. Even if it rises afterwards.

I still have many questions about what exactly constitutes the efficacy. If all it does is keep people from getting more severely ill, that is fine, but at least be open about it.

Israel Analysis Of COVID Vaccine Raises Questions About UK Strategy (Sky)

The first real-world analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine suggests it is matching its performance in clinical trials, but raises serious questions about the UK’s decision to delay the second dose. Scientists in Israel – which is leading the COVID-19 vaccination race – have told Sky News that they are “very hopeful” having studied preliminary data from 200,000 vaccinated people. But crucially they say their results do not show efficacy at a level close to that used by the UK to justify delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech jab. Professor Ran Balicer is a physician, epidemiologist and chief innovation officer for Clalit, the largest health care provider in Israel. He is also an adviser to the WHO. “We compared 200,000 people above the age of 60 that were vaccinated. We took a comparison group of 200,000 people, same age, not vaccinated, that were matched to this group on various variables…” Prof Balicer said.

“Then we looked to see what is the daily positivity rate… And we saw that there was no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated until day 14 post-vaccination. “But on day 14 post-vaccination, a drop of 33% in positivity was witnessed in the vaccinated group and not in the unvaccinated… this is really good news.” However, UK scientists said in December that trial data had suggested it would be 89% effective after one dose. A document issued by the UK government’s vaccine advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, to justify delaying the second dose for up to 12 weeks said: “Using data for those cases observed between day 15 and 21, efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 was estimated at 89%, suggesting that short term protection from dose 1 is very high from day 14 after vaccination.”

This is much more optimistic than the new real-world Israeli data suggests. Responding to the UK government strategy, Prof Balicer said: “The data and estimates I gave are what we have. “We could not see 89% reduction in the data we reported. Further data and analyses will be released in peer reviewer scientific format.” He added: “The practice in Israel is to provide the second vaccine at three weeks. “And so it is impossible for us to tell what would be the impact of not providing the second dose…” Israel is following Pfizer/BioNtech protocol in giving the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine three weeks after the first. It has a smaller population and a regular supply from Pfizer/BioNtech. In return it’s providing detailed data to Pfizer.

Read more …

And this is just incredibly weak: “If vaccines are effective at preventing infections, then their indirect benefit — protecting unvaccinated people — will be visible only once enough people have been immunized..”

Are COVID Vaccination Programmes Working? (Nature)

The results from Israel are among the first to report the impact of vaccines administered to people outside clinical trials. They provide an early indication that the two-dose RNA-based vaccine developed by Pfizer–BioNTech can prevent infection or limit its duration in some vaccinated people. In a preliminary analysis of 200,000 people older than 60 who received the vaccine, compared with a matched group of 200,000 who did not, researchers found that the chances of testing positive for the virus were 33% lower two weeks after the first injection. “We were happy to see this preliminary result that suggests a real-world impact in the approximate timing and direction we would have expected,” says Ran Balicer, an epidemiologist at Israel’s largest health-care provider, Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv.

He expects to get more conclusive results several weeks after people receive their second shot. Another analysis, by Maccabi Healthcare Services, found a similar trend, although neither study has been peer-reviewed. Clinical trials of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine show it to be around 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, and the preliminary data suggest it can also provide some protection from infection. But it will take longer to establish whether vaccinated people no longer spread the virus to unvaccinated people, says Balicer. As more than 75% of older people in Israel have been vaccinated, Balicer says he expects to see a drop in hospitalizations among vaccinated older people over the coming weeks.

Most countries are prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations for people who have a high risk of getting severe disease and dying. So, the first evidence that shots are working in those countries will probably be reductions in hospitalizations, and then in deaths, says Alexandra Hogan, an infectious-disease modeller at Imperial College London. If vaccines are effective at preventing infections, then their indirect benefit — protecting unvaccinated people — will be visible only once enough people have been immunized, says Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Israel will probably be the first country to see this kind of population-wide impact, say researchers. This is because it is using a high-efficacy vaccine and aiming for wide coverage with the explicit goal of achieving herd immunity, when enough people are immune to a virus for its spread to be controlled.

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Yeah, but effective at what? Not at protecting others, that much is clear now.

One Dose Of Pfizer Vaccine Could Be Less Effective Than Expected (BMJ)

Concerns have been raised over how much protection a single dose of the Pfizer BioNTech covid-19 vaccine provides, following reports from Israel that it is much lower than expected. Israel, which, like the UK, is currently in its third national lockdown, has so far vaccinated more than 75% of its older people with at least one dose. Early reports from the vaccine rollout have suggested that the first dose led to a 33% reduction in cases of coronavirus compared with efficacy of at least 52% reported in clinical trials. A preliminary report from the Clalit Research Institute compared the infection data of 200.000 people aged 60 and over who were not vaccinated with the infection data of 200.000 people of the same age group who received one vaccine dose and were monitored for at least 11 days from the date of vaccination.

On day 14 there was a significant decrease of about 33% in the rate of positive tests for the coronavirus among those who had been vaccinated. This decrease remained the same between days 15 and 17. The report has raised concerns, as published results have suggested that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine was 52.4% between the first and second dose (spaced 21 days apart), and data assessed by Public Health England indicated it could be as much as 89% protective from day 15 to 21. The Clalit Research Institute stressed, however, that its results included only people aged 60 and over whereas Pfizer trials also included younger people and that the findings have not yet been peer reviewed. Additionally, the Clalit study identified those infected according to laboratory tests of those who chose to be tested, while Pfizer’s studies only referred to the appearance of symptomatic disease.

In the UK, the vaccine policy prioritises getting as many at risk people vaccinated with one dose over ensuring people get two doses within the time specified in clinical trials. While there are data to suggest the chosen 12 week interval between the two doses is effective for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, there are no data to support this interval for the Pfizer vaccine. As such, a leading statistician has written to UK health secretary Matt Hancock urging him to investigate the effects of the decision to extend the gap between the first and second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Read more …

“Unfortunately, the EU purchases vaccines very slowly, so Hungary continues negotiations with Israel, Russia, and China,” Orban said.”

Hungary First EU Country To Get Russia’s Sputnik V Covid19 Vaccine (RT)

Shortly after becoming the first EU country to approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, Hungary has agreed on a three-stage supply deal with Moscow. Budapest will receive its first delivery of doses in February. The contract between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the government in Budapest was made on Friday, in a meeting between Russian Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko and Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó. According to Murashko, Hungarian experts visited the Gamaleya Institute, where the formula was invented, and conducted a thorough examination of vaccine production sites. The scientists also had the opportunity to review clinical trial results. “Many countries today approve the use of the Russian Sputnik V, and we are actively cooperating with the World Health Organization,” Murashko told the press.


In response, Szijjártó called the announcement of the agreement “a great honor,” assuring Hungary’s citizens that experts from the country’s own National Institute of Pharmacology and Food Safety reviewed the entire process themselves. On Thursday, it was revealed that Budapest had approved Sputnik V for emergency use, despite it not yet being deemed safe by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). On January 8, Hungarian President Victor Orban complained that the European Union was being too slow to make any decisions, putting citizens’ lives at risk. “Unfortunately, the EU purchases vaccines very slowly, so Hungary continues negotiations with Israel, Russia, and China,” Orban said. Two weeks later, his country approved Sputnik V for use.

Read more …

Branch Covidians.

Overall Mortality Is Around Normal For This Time Of Year (RT)

Although the numbers of deaths attributed to the virus in the UK are higher than they’ve ever been, in total, not many more people are dying than in any other cold season. Is the mainstream media finally waking up to this?
A recent article in the Telegraph is one of the first in a mainstream outlet to even suggest a challenge to the official coronavirus narrative. These days, that narrative claims that the ‘second wave’ is actually deadlier than the first. (Recently, some Branch Covidians have been claiming a ‘third wave’, but there is not yet a united front on that.) The basic reasoning of the article is sound, even if it is long overdue. It laments how every day, the media solemnly reports the latest figures on Covid deaths. Presenting this figure in isolation results in graphs such as this one, which does indeed seem to show that we are at the height of a second, worse phase of a pandemic.

But, like any statistics, daily death numbers are meaningless without context, which the media rarely provides. They do not provide context because, if they did, the public might see a graph such as this one, from the Telegraph article.

It quite clearly shows the spring spike in overall mortality, which was caused by Covid (plus lockdowns). After that ends in summer, we see… nothing. Overall mortality ever since, even through this winter, hovers at around the five-year average. And overall mortality, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is the only true way to know whether you are in a pandemic or not – all other figures can easily be fiddled. So, why are the excess death data and the Covid deaths data so out of whack? And why isn’t Covid killing lots and lots of people this winter, as it did in spring? Even if you ascribe all excess deaths to Covid and none to lockdown, there really does not seem to be anything out of the normal variation in total deaths from year to year. And surely, by now, the toll of unnecessary deaths caused by untreated cancer, heart disease, depression and so on, has at least begun to register.

Read more …

You mean it was’t all Trump’s fault?

How US CDC Missed Chances To Spot COVID’s Silent Spread (R.)

Critics have widely asserted that the CDC fumbled key decisions during the coronavirus scourge because then-President Donald Trump and his administration meddled in the agency’s operations and muzzled internal experts. The matter is now the subject of a congressional inquiry. Yet Reuters has found new evidence that the CDC’s response to the pandemic also was marred by actions – or inaction – by the agency’s career scientists and frontline staff. At a crucial moment in the pandemic when Americans were quarantined after possible exposure to the virus abroad, the agency declined or resisted potentially valuable opportunities to study whether the disease could be spread by those without symptoms, according to previously undisclosed internal emails, other documents and interviews with key players.

Soon after balking at testing the returnees from Wuhan, the agency delayed testing asymptomatic passengers among 318 evacuees from the Diamond Princess, a contaminated cruise ship in Japan. In addition, the agency failed at that time to make effective use of outside experts and appeared at times unprepared for the crisis on the ground, lacking adequate personal protective gear and ignoring established protocols, Reuters found. “Yes, they were interfered with politically,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, referring to alleged meddling by the Trump administration. “But that’s not the only reason CDC didn’t perform optimally during COVID-19. There are a lot of things that went wrong.”

Four top public health experts or ethicists told Reuters that the question of whether to test or engage in research on detained people has always been a sensitive topic. But all said the CDC should have proceeded given the fast-moving public health emergency. Moreover, the CDC finalized rules in 2017 providing that medical testing was expressly allowed in quarantine, as long as participants were given the opportunity to give “informed consent” or opt out. Informed consent means giving people adequate information to understand the risks and benefits of a test or procedure. Gostin said the CDC’s argument against testing was “unreasonable” under the circumstances. “You are asking for consent and not imposing any harm,” he said. “There is a good reason to do it.”

It’s difficult to know whether more aggressive early testing among asymptomatic people would have significantly altered the trajectory of the pandemic in the United States, which has infected 24 million people and killed more than 400,000. The CDC was not the only agency that struggled with this issue. Notably, an official with the World Health Organization called asymptomatic spread “very rare” in June, only to say a day later “we don’t actually have that answer yet.” In recent months, the WHO has said infected people without symptoms can be contagious, but “it is still not clear how frequently this occurs.”

Read more …

The circus is in town.

McConnell Lays Out Trump Impeachment Trial Timeline (ZH)

While the left is split between wanting to hammer the final nail in Trump’s coffin (through the Senate impeachment trial) and tending to its aggressive agenda of new laws, spending, and government control, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement today regarding his proposed timeline for the first phases of an impeachment trial of former president Trump. “I have sent a proposed timeline for the first phases of the upcoming impeachment trial to Leader Schumer and look forward to continuing to discuss it with him. “Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.

“Given the unprecedented speed of the House’s process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them. “At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency.” Specifically, Leader McConnell shared the following proposed pre-trial timeline with the Republican Conference today: “When the articles arrive, the House Managers would exhibit (read) the articles to the Senate, Senators would be sworn in the Members as the Court of Impeachment, and would issue a summons to former President Trump.

“While we do not know what day the Managers will choose, Leader McConnell has asked for this to occur on Thursday, January 28. Former President Trump would have one week from that day to answer the articles of impeachment (February 4). The House’s pre-trial brief would also be due then. The President would then have one week from the day he submits his answer to submit his pre-trial brief (February 11). That means former president Trump has fourteen total days from when we issue the summons to write his pre-trial brief. The House would also submit its replication on this date. The House would then have two days to submit their rebuttal pre-trial brief (February 13). This approach tracks the structure of the Clinton and Trump pre-trial processes. The periods between due dates are longer than in 1999 or 2020, but this is necessary because of the House’s unprecedented timeline.

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“Who will step forward in his absence? Probably someone we haven’t heard from yet. That’s how these things work.”

Rough Ridin’ with Biden (Kunstler)

As for Mr. Trump, he departed as he had arrived in 2016: stridently contemptuous toward the parasitical oligarchy that finally expelled him like a bladder-stone. The threatened impeachment trial will be a marvel of casuistry — a procedure for removing someone from office who is no longer in office — and also for the transparently flimsy charge of “inciting the insurrection” at the capitol. As if to underscore the absurdity of that, Antifa squads rioted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration night. Their banners expressed less-than-jubilant sentiment for the new regime. The Portland outfit broke windows and spray-painted the city’s Democratic headquarters, faking-out pols who had warned against an uprising of “white supremacists.”

Of course, all those arrested would be promptly released without charges — demonstrating just how serious the Wokester officials running those cities really are about criminal anarchy. The grannies swept into the capitol rotunda by Antifa incursionists January 6th won’t be so lucky. Neither did a much chattered-about military takeover happen during the tension-filled transition hours, though kibitzers on the web insist days later that it remains secretly underway. On his way out, Mr. Trump failed to pardon either Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, a disturbing failure, while he commuted the sentences of a couple of two-bit rap-stars, based on their contributions to advancing human dignity. And whatever Mr. Trump finally rooted out in the way of declassified FBI documents has already disappeared into the DC quicksand.

Much adored as he is for valiantly opposing everything swampish, it might be best now for Mr. Trump to just retire from the political scene and leave the battle to others. He made his point, colorfully and often bravely, considering the astounding bad faith of his adversaries, though he certainly could have articulated the stakes better and with more decorum. He leaves not merely a vacuum but a sucking chest wound of leadership opposing hysterical and tyrannical Wokery. Who will step forward in his absence? Probably someone we haven’t heard from yet. That’s how these things work.

Read more …

Muhammad Ali once called Aaron “The only man I idolize more than myself.”

Aaron received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Jan 5.

I don’t normally do eulogies for athletes, but this is about so much more. I was thinking about the hardship people like Aaron and Jackie Robinson went through in America’s great national pastime.

Only when Muhammad Ali arrived did that really change. And he paid a big price for that.

Home Run King Hank Aaron Dead At 86 (F.)

Aaron was born in Mobile, Ala., to Herbert Aaron, Sr. and Estella (Pritchett) Aaron in February of 1934. He and his seven siblings grew up poor, in a home without electricity or indoor bathrooms. Aaron didn’t have an opportunity to play organized baseball in high school because only white students had teams. He signed his first baseball contract, which paid him $10 a game, at the age of 17 with a local semi-pro team called the Mobile Black Bears. After a couple of seasons dominating the Negro Leagues, Aaron joined the Atlanta Braves in 1954. Over his incredible 22-year career, Hammerin’ Hank would tally 3,771 hits in 3,298 games played. Remarkably, Aaron still holds the all-time major league records for most RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477). Yet, Aaron was best known for the long ball.


Despite measuring only six feet and weighing in at around 180 pounds in his prime, Aaron would finish his epic career with 755 career home runs, a mark that survived until Barry Bonds (reportedly with the help of steroids) broke it in 2007. Aaron was a first-ballot inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. As he inched closer to passing Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs in the early 1970s, Aaron endured an avalanche of death threats from racists that did not want to see a Black man break Ruth’s revered record. In his 1991 autobiography, Aaron described how “when people finally realized I was climbing up Ruth’s back, the “Dear N——r” letters started showing up with alarming regularity. They told me no n——-r had any right to go where I was going.” In a 1992 interview with the Atlanta Journal, Aaron revealed he held onto all the hate letters he’d received. “I’m always going to keep them,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says. It’s just like telling a Jewish family to forget about the Holocaust. If you’re not part of something, it’s easy to tell somebody to forget about it.”

Read more …

 

 

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Elliott Erwitt New York City, USA 1955

 

Many People Unexposed To Coronavirus Have Immune Cells For COVID19 (SMH)
The Speech Joe Biden Has Been Preparing For His Entire Life (Taibbi)
Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges (Sirota)
72% of Detroit’s Absentee Ballot Counts Were Off (DN)
Johnson, Grassley Blast Colleagues For ‘False Narratives’ About Ukraine (JTN)
“I Have A Right To Make Sure That My Home Is Secure” (ZH)
28 Million Americans on Unemployment Insurance, 17.5% of Labor Force (WS)
CEOs Get Big Pre-Bankruptcy Bonuses As Lenders and Employees Stiffed (NC)
Facebook Delenda Est (Ben Hunt)
Florida To Release 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (BBC)
‘Bored’ Ravens Straying From Tower Of London Signal Monarchy May Fall (G.)

 

 

It’s not that long ago that it seemed impossible the US would do better than the world in new cases numbers. But here we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author of this particular take on T-cells can’t seem to make up his mind if this is a good thing or not.

Many People Unexposed To Coronavirus Have Immune Cells For COVID19 (SMH)

Evidence is emerging worldwide showing between 20 and 50 per cent of people who have never been exposed to COVID-19 have immune cells that can recognise and react to the virus. The discovery of T cell cross-reactivity has excited immunologists, who hope it could explain some of the mysteries that surround the virus, such as why some people get so much sicker than others. But scientists caution that it is not yet clear what the discovery means for human health. Australian National University’s head of immunology and infectious diseases, Professor David Tscharke, said: “It’s the good, the bad and the ugly – it could help, it could do nothing, or it could make COVID-19 worse.” Professor Tscharke said the cross-reactive T cells might help to fight off the virus, or they might get in the way of the immune system, making the disease worse, a phenomenon known as “original antigenic sin”.


SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (yellow) emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in a US National Institutes of Health lab. CREDIT:AP

Typically, the human adaptive immune system relies on precision. Antibodies, for example, have to be exactly the right shape to stick to a particular virus and kill it. T cells hunt for tiny fragments of virus protein – as small as eight amino acids long, in a virus that could have thousands of them – that identify a virus has infected a cell. If two viruses share protein fragments, T cells will attack both. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shares much of its genetic code, including many of its proteins, with four coronaviruses in frequent circulation among humans. Dr Corey Smith, head of the translational and human immunology laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said some sections of the genetic codes were virtually identical.


They cause the common cold and are extremely common – more than 90 per cent of people have been exposed to them. Scientists suspect some people who have been exposed to these viruses develop T cells that can also target SARS-CoV-2. Monash University’s head of microbiology, Professor Stephen Turner, said that in the best-case scenario, cross-reactive T cells do offer some protection. “That’s why we might be seeing so much asymptomatic infection. If there is a level of protection, due to previous exposure, you have less symptoms – because you’re limiting the amount of virus that can grow,” he said. During the 2009 influenza pandemic, scientists found people who had cross-reactive T cells to that virus were less likely to suffer severe symptoms. Professor Turner said T cells needed the right signals to be activated. It was possible SARS-CoV-2 did not trigger them, or they were in the wrong place to fight the infection.

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“Start your livers..”

The Speech Joe Biden Has Been Preparing For His Entire Life (Taibbi)

The DNC drinking game Monday night was so painful (and Tuesday was worse), that I’ve decided to shorten the game tonight to cover Joe Biden’s acceptance speech only. I watched Biden speak probably a half-dozen times during the primary campaign, and perhaps a half-dozen times before. He has definite tendencies, and his stump speech hits the same six or seven notes every time, but convention addresses are different. Every line, every word, will be scripted. There shouldn’t be ad-libs, freak-outs at hecklers, etc. Guessing what an unscripted Joe Biden will do at any given moment is pretty interesting. Here we’re basically trying to guess what Biden and his handlers have decided to put on a teleprompter. Biden will be speaking sometime after 9 p.m. I will be live-streaming with Katie Halper. Details to follow.


Drink EVERY TIME:
• Biden says, “Folks.”
• Biden says, “The United States of America.” Double-shots for any multiple-America construction, e.g. “The best America is an America where Americans believe in the American dream.”
• Biden says, “Middle-class.”
• Biden says, “Get up!” as in, “Folks, you’ve got to get up! This is the United States of America!”
• Biden says, “You guys.”
• Biden says, “Barack” or references the “Obama-Biden administration.”
• Biden says, “Soul of America.”
• Biden points out a surprising percentage of something, e.g. “Look, folks, seventy-four percent of venture capital goes to four cities.”
• Biden says, “My Mom used to say” or mentions one of his father’s relatable jobs, e.g. “He sold a hell of a lot of cars!”
• Biden makes a self-deprecating joke about his age or his tendency to say puzzling things.
• Biden finishes a section of his speech with a rhetorical flourish, and he sounds angry, and you can’t tell why, because he’s talking about something non-angering.
• Biden tells a story about a rewarding interaction with an ordinary person, as in, “I walk over to the guy up in the bucket. And there’s seven guys around him, all with hard hats on. I yelled up and said, ‘Hey, man, thanks!’”
• Biden references a job you’ve never heard of, as in “Why is a sandwich maker being forced to sign a non-compete clause?”
• Biden says “systemic.”
• Biden tells us there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

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If David Sirota keeps this up, they’ll ban him from the party.

Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges (Sirota)

The Democratic convention has sucked up all the political oxygen in America — so much so, that most people missed Team Biden signaling that it may back off the entire agenda it is campaigning on. This monumental declaration went almost completely unnoticed for an entire day — which is a genuinely disturbing commentary on how the biggest of big political news gets routinely ignored. To review the situation: earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Biden’s “campaign rolled out a $3.5 trillion economic program over the past month” — one that “promises to invest in clean energy and caregiving, buy more made-in-America goods, and start narrowing the country’s racial wealth gaps.” This, said the news service, was proof that Biden no longer adhered to an ideology of austerity and deficit hawkery — which would be good news.

But then on the eve of Biden’s convention speech, the Democratic nominee’s top aide suggested to Washington reporters that, in fact, that’s not true. Here’s the key excerpt: Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Biden confidant who succeeded him in the Senate, predicted during a Wall Street Journal Newsmakers Live interview Tuesday that a large increase in federal spending would be difficult to achieve in 2021. “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” said Mr. Kaufman, who is leading Mr. Biden’s transition team. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…forget about Covid-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.” Economist Dean Baker goes over exactly how destructive and insane this ideology is.

As he says: “The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy. As long as the economy is not near its capacity, there is zero reason not to spend to address these priorities.” What I find particularly troubling is that Kaufman’s quote made it into the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The newspaper tweeted it out early in the morning. It sat out there for almost 24 hours — an eternity in the current news ecosystem. And yet, as far as I can tell, nobody noticed. Hell, the Journal’s tweet had all of 1 retweets on it as of this morning.

[..] This monumental declaration was in a major newspaper — it should have set off immediate alarm bells from all the think tanks, unions and advocacy groups in Washington whose job is to make sure that this kind of destructive austerity ideology does not once again take hold in the Democratic Party. There should have been press releases, and statements of outrage and congresspeople on TV talking about it. But for an entire day, there was nothing, until it was shamed into the conversation. This is not the first time there’s been silence on stuff like this — less than a month ago Biden explicitly promised his Wall Street donors that despite his public campaign promises, he will not be pushing new legislation to change corporate behavior.

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Hmmm: “..people shouldn’t “expect perfection or anything close” to it..”

72% of Detroit’s Absentee Ballot Counts Were Off (DN)

Recorded ballot counts in 72% of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts didn’t match the number of ballots cast, spurring officials in Michigan’s largest county to ask the state to investigate ahead of a pivotal presidential election. [..] In 46% of all Detroit’s precincts — absentee and Election Day — vote counts were out of balance, according to information presented Tuesday to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Specifically, the number of ballots tracked in precinct poll books did not match the number of ballots counted. The situation could amplify the spotlight on absentee ballots in Michigan ahead of an election for which record levels of mail-in voting are expected and President Donald Trump is already raising concerns about how votes will be handled. The election results for the primary weren’t incorrect, said Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat and one of the canvassing board’s four members.


But, he said, something had gone wrong in the process of tracking ballots precinct by precinct. Having balanced precincts is particularly important in Michigan because precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted, according to state law. Instead, the original election results would stand. “It was a perfect storm,” Kinloch said. The “storm” involved a record number of absentee ballots being cast in Michigan’s primary and seasoned election workers not feeling it was safe to help with administering the election because of COVID-19, he added. The Wayne County board is asking Benson, a Detroit resident, to investigate “the training and processes used by the City of Detroit” in the primary election. The board also requested that the first-term Democrat appoint a state monitor to oversee the counting of absentee ballots in the general election.

Detroit had problems with precinct count mismatches in the November 2016 election. Election officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 59% of precincts in the city during a countywide canvass of vote results with most of the issues involving too many votes. Those votes couldn’t be recounted when Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein demanded a statewide recount following Donald Trump’s initial 13,000-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. A recount was started but stopped and nullified by the courts when Stein was ruled ineligible for a recount request because she had no chance at victory. The results eventually were certified as a 10,704-vote victory for Trump, the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan in 28 years. It was the Republican businessman’s smallest margin of victory in the nation.

The problems with the Detroit’s numbers in the Aug. 4 primary included ballots being put in the wrong tracking containers, said Monica Palmer, one of the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. “It was so inaccurate that we can’t even attempt to make it right,” said Palmer, chairwoman of the board. Winfrey said the vast majority of the absentee voting precincts in the city were less than three ballots off, plus or minus. Being off by three or fewer is allowed, Winfrey said — but it’s unclear what policy she was referring to. [..] Winfrey also said Thursday that people shouldn’t “expect perfection or anything close” to it after elections staffers have worked more than 20 hours.

Read more …

Running out the clock.

Johnson, Grassley Blast Colleagues For ‘False Narratives’ About Ukraine (JTN)

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent letters to two of their Democratic colleagues, lambasting them for claiming that an investigation regarding U.S. policy in Ukraine during the Obama presidency is tainted by Russian disinformation—Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are the recipients of the August 20 letters. The investigation that the Democrats have said is poisoned by Russian disinformation pertains to possible conflicts of interest in America’s Ukraine policy when Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board of Burisma.

A press release says that the two Democratic senators have “falsely claimed that Grassley and Johnson are relying on information from Andriy Derkach as part of their ongoing oversight, despite the chairmen’s clear denials of having any communication with Derkach.” The Republican Senators in their letters said that as far as they know the sole instance of disinformation injected into the investigation has come from Democrats. “Regarding reports that we have received ‘packages’ of information from certain Ukrainian nationals – that is false. Further, the only relevant disinformation that we are aware of are documents that Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff referenced in their recent letter that your Democratic colleagues have introduced into our investigation,” the senators wrote in the letters to their Democratic colleagues.

“For example, the Schumer letter references a document, created by a Ukrainian national that mentions our names along with other Republican senators and administration officials, to suggest falsely that we might have received information from this individual. Liberal media outlets have picked up that reference, clearly from a leak, even though we have not received any information from that person, including tapes, and we have publicly and privately stated as much. To repeat, the only document in our investigation that has been described as disinformation is a document that your Democratic colleagues, not us, introduced into the record. If you and your colleagues are so concerned about disinformation, why do you continue to promote it?” Johnson and Grassley asked.

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This is so nuts it can only mean she herself is certified nuts.

“I Have A Right To Make Sure That My Home Is Secure” (ZH)

[..] nothing compares to what just happened in Chicago whose Mayor Lori Lightfoot – best known for encouraging local BLM protests, going so far as saying that black lives are “more important that downtown corporations” after the unprecedented looting that took place last week – defended the Chicago Police Department’s ban on protesters being able to demonstrate on the block where she lives, telling reporters Thursday that she and her family at times require heightened security because of threats she receives daily. Yes, Mayor Lori is all about BLM protests… as long as they are literally not in her back yard. Lightfoot refused to elaborate on the specific threats according to the Chicago Tribune, but said she receives them daily against herself, her wife and her home.

Lightfoot also told reporters that comparisons to how the Police Department has protected previous mayors’ homes, such as Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood residence, are unfair because “this is a different time like no other.” “I think that residents of this city, understanding the nature of the threats that we are receiving on a daily basis, on a daily basis, understand I have a right to make sure that my home is secure,” Lightfoot said, failing to grasp the simplest truth that all citizens of “her” devastated city also have a right to make sure that their home is secure although unlike Lightfoot they don’t have the local police to protect them. Because when it comes to outrageous liberal hypocrisy, things get complicated.

Lightfoot and Chicago police Superintendent David Brown were asked at an unrelated news conference about a Tribune report noting police have banned protesters from demonstrating on her block in the Logan Square neighborhood, ordering officers to arrest anyone who refuses to leave. The directive surfaced in a July email from then-Shakespeare District Cmdr. Melvin Roman to officers under his command. It did not distinguish between the peaceful protesters Lightfoot regularly says she supports and those who might intend to be destructive, but ordered that after a warning is given to demonstrators, “It should be locked down.” Activists and police sources could not cite instances when the city repeatedly locked down her predecessor Emanuel’s block against protesters.

The Kenwood block where former President Barack Obama lived with his family when his primary residence was in Chicago was shut down for access only by residents after his election. But Lightfoot said such comparisons “don’t make any sense,” after Brown referenced the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – which she has repeatedly overriden as a concern when BLM protests are to be held – as well as civil unrest that have flared since the George Floyd killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I’m not going to make any excuses for the fact that, given the threats I have personally received, given the threats to my home and my family, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they’re protected,” Lightfoot said. “I make no apologies whatsoever for that.”

It wasn’t clear if Lightfoot would apologize to all those millions of Chicago residents who – just like her – are trying to avoid threats against their own families by angry, violent looters; looters whose despicable actions Lightfoot has repeatedly turned her eyes away from in hopes of peak virtue signaling.

Read more …

So what’s the plan, guys? Green jobs?

28 Million Americans on Unemployment Insurance, 17.5% of Labor Force (WS)

What happened in the latest reporting week for unemployment claims was disconcerting: “Initial” claims under state unemployment insurance programs by newly laid-off workers rose. And initial claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided by the CARES Act that covers gig workers, also rose. This means that people lost their work at a faster rate than they did in the prior week. In terms of “continued” claims: The number of people on unemployment insurance (UI) under state programs (blue bars) declined, as some people returned to work. But the number of people on UI under federal and other programs (red bars) jumped. Combined, the number of people on UI under all programs ticked down by 199k to 28.06 million, the Labor Department reported this morning. It was the least catastrophic reading since mid-May, but still a horrendously huge number, representing about 17.5% of the labor force:

Blue columns: The number of people who continued claiming unemployment insurance under regular state programs fell by nearly 1 million to 14.27 million (not seasonally adjusted), continuing the fairly consistent downtrend that had started in May. Red columns: The number of people on UI under all federal programs and some other programs – after having fallen by 2.4 million last week – jumped by 737k to 13.79 million (not seasonally adjusted), driven by increases in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and in federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims.


Initial claims under state programs, filed by newly laid off workers, caused some head-scratching this morning, because they “unexpectedly” rose – and they rose both on a seasonally adjusted basis (by 135k to 1.11 million) and on a not seasonally adjusted basis (by 53k to 892k). So we can’t blame some seasonal adjustments gone awry. This was the first increase since the week ended July 11:

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Yves Smith.

CEOs Get Big Pre-Bankruptcy Bonuses As Lenders and Employees Stiffed (NC)

Nothing like paying for failure. The Financial Times describes how CEOs who ran their companies into the ground are nevertheless rewarded with “retention bonus” payouts shortly before the business declare bankruptcy, often mere days ahead. The absurd rationale is that it is necessary to keep a failed CEO on in order to reduce disruption. It appears instead that boards would rather pay a rich and unwarranted premium to keep a bad known quantity around, perhaps due to personal allegiances to the incumbent or because they might actually have to rouse themselves to oust the dud leader and select a replacement. Are we to believe that the stipends these boards approve has any relationship with the market value of these CEOs, even charitably assuming someone would hire them after their companies collapses underneath them?

Are we to believe there was no able lieutenant worth a battlefield promotion? No retired industry greybeard who could be engaged for an eighteen month to three year gig? No one in the ranks of turnaround expert or “temp for hire” CEOs who would do? Even worse, some of these payments are flat out looting: “Brad Holly, Whiting’s chief executive who joined the company in November 2017, received $6.4m at the end of March under a new compensation plan approved by the board of directors, which he also chairs, less than a week before the company filed for bankruptcy. Whiting, which expects to emerge from Chapter 11 next month, said last week that Mr Holly would step down as chief executive when that happens and would receive an additional $2.53m in severance. In total, Whiting paid out more than $14m to executives just a few days before declaring itself bust. In a regulatory filing on April 1 the company said its pay plan was designed “to align the interests of the Company and its employees”.

$6.4 million for Holly for at most five months of babysitting bankruptcy lawyers? Seriously? Another example: “Briggs & Stratton’s board approved more than $5m in retention payments on June 11, including more than $1m to chief executive Todd Teske, who has led the company for a decade. Four days later the company failed to make a $6.7m interest payment on a bond due later this year, and on July 20 it filed for bankruptcy. On July 19, the company’s board voted to terminate the health and life insurance benefits of the company’s retirees… The company’s 2020 bond is now trading at just a few cents on the dollar, reflecting slim hopes of recovery.

Why are these losers who almost assuredly have nowhere to go being paid in advance? Why aren’t they instead getting $1 per year and working for a contingent payout to be paid when the company emerged from bankruptcy, say tiered based upon results versus specified targets? This is the sort of deal that someone who cared about salvaging the company, as opposed to his personal bottom line, should accept.

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Facebook is the opposite of free speech.

Facebook Delenda Est (Ben Hunt)

I’m pretty close to being a free speech absolutist. Or at least I have an old-school small-l liberal John Stuart Mill-esque belief in free speech, with an extremely high bar for the “harm” that speech must directly inflict on other citizens before a rightfully constituted government, based on the consent of its citizens, has a legitimate duty to regulate that speech. And I believe that the US Supreme Court has been pretty much spot-on with its free speech decisions like Brandenburg v. Ohio and R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, where they said (roughly speaking) that even speech calling for violent protest against the government is protected speech and that hate speech isn’t a thing. Let me repeat that last one. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that hate speech is not a thing. I think this is exactly right.

To be clear, I also believe that a private organization has the right to apply hate speech standards (or any other speech standards) to its members, if those members have the ability to leave the private organization AND that organization does not enjoy unique government support. So, for example, if I choose to attend a private religious college, and they have rules against hateful/blasphemous speech, then it’s fine for them to kick me out when I start doing my hateful blasphemous speech thing. I’d never go to that college in the first place, and there are plenty of other schools I can attend. But if ALL colleges started imposing hate speech standards, or if the ONLY college started imposing hate speech standards, or if ANY public college started imposing hate speech standards … well, I’d have a real problem with any of these circumstances.

And I believe that a just government has a duty to intervene in these circumstances. Now I also believe that the US Supreme Court got it terribly, terribly wrong with Citizens United, where they decided (again, roughly speaking) that non-real life citizens – like corporations or other constructed legal entities – enjoy the same protections for political speech that real life citizens do. I’ll repeat that one, too. The US Supreme Court has held that constructed entities of pooled capital (corporations) or pooled labor (unions) or pooled political influence (parties) have the same protection for their political speech as unconstructed/unpooled you and unconstructed/unpooled me. I think this is nuts.

To be clear, I also believe that limitations on how much money or time real life citizens can spend on their political speech are similarly nuts. So, for example, I believe that really rich American citizens like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or George Soros or Charles Koch can spend as much money as they please – literally billions of dollars if they want – to proclaim whatever cockamamie political idea they want to proclaim. What is unacceptable in my view – but is exactly what Citizens United allows – is for really rich guys to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech after they are dead, or (worse!) for corporations and unions and parties to spend unlimited amounts of other people’s money on political speech, with the same legal protections as real life citizens.

Government does not exist to protect the rights of a dead rich guy’s money. Government does not exist to protect the rights of corporations, unions and political parties. Government EXISTS to protect the unalienable rights of its citizens, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Because “we” are so much smrter than God.

Florida To Release 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (BBC)

Local officials in Florida have approved the release of 750 million mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to reduce local populations. The aim is to reduce the number of mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue or the Zika virus. The green-lighting of a pilot project after years of debate drew a swift outcry from environmental groups, who warned of unintended consequences. One group condemned the plan as a public “Jurassic Park experiment”. Activists warn of possible damage to ecosystems, and the potential creation of hybrid, insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. But the company involved says there will be no adverse risk to humans or the environment, and points to a slate of government-backed studies.

The plan to release the mosquitoes in 2021 in the Florida Keys, a string of islands, comes months after the modified mosquitoes were approved by federal regulators. In May, the US Environmental Agency granted permission to the British-based, US-operated company Oxitec to produce the genetically engineered, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are known as OX5034. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known to spread deadly diseases to humans such dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. Only female mosquitoes bite humans because they need blood to produce eggs. So the plan is to release the male, modified mosquitoes who will then hopefully breed with wild female mosquitoes.

However the males carry a protein that will kill off any female offspring before they reach mature biting age. Males, which only feed on nectar, will survive and pass on the genes. Over time, the aim is to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the area and thereby reduce the spread of disease to humans.

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A -large- group of ravens is called an unkindness of ravens, or a conspiracy of ravens.

‘Bored’ Ravens Straying From Tower Of London Signal Monarchy May Fall (G.)

A lack of tourists is driving the ravens at the Tower of London to boredom and causing them to fly away. Legend has it the monarchy and the Tower of London will fall if its six resident ravens leave the fortress. The birds, known as the guardians of the tower, are shrouded in myth and live in lodgings on the South Lawn. There are seven in total – the required six, plus one spare. The tower closed on 20 March and reopened five weeks ago. However, few tourists have returned. Summer visitor numbers would usually exceed 15,000 but because of the coronavirus pandemic, they have fallen to fewer than 800 a day. As a result, the birds are restless for more company.

With a lack of regular tourists, the birds have been venturing away, according to those who work there. Christopher Skaife, a raven master, told the Sun: “If the ravens were to leave, the tower would crumble to dust. The tower is only the tower when the people are here. “The ravens have always been so important … because they’ve been surrounded by myths and legends. We really need people to come back to help the ravens.” The seven ravens are Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina. They are free to roam the tower precincts in the day and preside over four territories within its walls.

Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned the crown and the tower would fall if they left. Skaife said during lockdown they got bored and lonely because there were no full bins to rummage or people bringing them food. He encouraged the Beefeaters who guard the building to throw them their leftovers. Skaife said: “It’s been tough because the ravens only saw me or one warden walking by during the lockdown. They depend on tourists. “Never in a raven’s history have we seen fewer people in the Tower of London. Even in world war two, there were still hundreds in and around.”


Beefeaters and a resident raven. Photo: Lynn Fergusson/Reuters

Read more …

 

 

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China building about 21.4 million vehicles annually; wide gap for next-largest producer, as Japan only makes 8.3 million each year (U.S. has gone from 2nd to 6th place over past 20 years).

 

 

If Japan were in the Atlantic, it would stretch the length of the American coastline.

 

 

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