Apr 032021
 


Joan Miro Dancer 1925

 

Sunlight Renders Coronavirus Inactive 8 Times Faster Than Predicted (RT)
COVID-19 Will be Like a “Fond Caress” in Comparison to Next Pandemic (SN)
AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Again in Netherlands After Death (NTD)
DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports To Prevent Having Two Classes Of Citizens (RT)
Opposition Grows Against UK Vaccine Passports (R.)
Every Customer Must Sign In As Pubs Face Triple Whammy Of New Covid Rules (M.)
Care Home Residents In England To Be Allowed Two Visitors From 12 April (G.)
CDC Walks Back Director’s Comments on Vaccines Preventing Infection (DB)
Trump Rule Would Allow Ulimited Vaccine Price Hikes (Fang)
Paradigm Failure (Kunstler)
Biden Again Misrepresents Georgia Election Law, Supports State Boycott (Turley)
NPR Issues Stunning Mea Culpa On Hunter Biden Laptop (NYP)
Hunter Biden Admits Laptop Could ‘Certainly’ Belong To Him (NYP)
The Pending Collapse of the ‘Rules-based International Order’ (Ritter)
Russia Warns NATO Against Sending Any Troops To Ukraine (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Spring forward.

Sunlight Renders Coronavirus Inactive 8 Times Faster Than Predicted (RT)

Researchers have found that the coronavirus is inactivated by sunlight as much as eight times faster in experiments than predicted by current theoretical modelling, providing a glimmer of hope in turning the tide on the pandemic. UC Santa Barbara assistant professor of mechanical engineering Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz conducted an analysis of 2020 studies exploring the effects of different forms of UV radiation on the SARS-CoV-2 and found a significant discrepancy. As with all electromagnetic radiation, UV falls on a spectrum, with longer-wave UVA reacting differently with parts of DNA and RNA than other mid-range UVB waves contained in sunlight, which kill microbes and cause sunburn in humans. Short-wave UVC radiation has previously been shown to deactivate viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for Covid-19, but this section of the UV spectrum is deflected away by the Earth’s ozone layer.

A July 2020 experimental study tested the power of UV light on SARS-CoV-2, contained in simulated saliva, and found the virus was inactivated in under 20 minutes. However, a theory published a month later suggested sunlight could achieve the same effect, which didn’t quite add up. This second study concluded that SARS-CoV-2 was three times more sensitive to UV radiation in sunlight than the influenza A virus. The vast majority of coronavirus particles were rendered inactive within 30 minutes of exposure to midday summer sunlight, whereas the virus could survive for days under winter sunlight. “The experimentally observed inactivation in simulated saliva is over eight times faster than would have been expected from the theory,” Luzzatto-Feigiz and his team said. “So, scientists don’t yet know what’s going on.”

The team suspects that, as the UVC doesn’t reach the Earth, instead of directly attacking the RNA, the long-wave UVA in sunlight interacts with molecules in the virus’ environment, such as saliva, which speeds up the inactivation, in a process witnessed previously in wastewater treatment. The findings suggest UVA emitters could be added to equipment such as air filtration systems to provide a cheap and energy-efficient means of reducing the spread of viral particles. Masks and social distancing would more than likely still be required, but such UV-based interventions could be of some benefit as nations struggle with recurring waves of the pandemic despite vaccination efforts.

Read more …

Sounds like a thousand other such warnings.

COVID-19 Will be Like a “Fond Caress” in Comparison to Next Pandemic (SN)

A Swedish professor of infectious diseases says COVID-19 will feel like a “fond caress” in comparison to the next global pandemic. Professor Björn Olsen from Uppsala University warns that there’s another “imminent” pandemic on the way that will totally dwarf the millions of dead caused by coronavirus. “Then the corona pandemic will be like a fond caress in comparison,” Olsen told national broadcaster SVT. Olsen says that the next pandemic will be triggered by a new flu virus against which humanity has no protection.


“A flu is incredibly contagious. If it is a new flu where there is no herd immunity at all, it will be able to spread faster through all different age groups,” said the professor. Olsen urged people to switch to eating locally sourced meat in order to reduce human exposure to food markets, which represent a “gigantic public health problem.” “If we try to eat more locally produced, the points of contact for new pandemics will decrease,” said Olsen. The professor also warned that rapid urbanisation in African countries and the destruction of habitats such as rainforests was crowding humans and animals together, making new viral outbreaks more likely.

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They have now stopped using it for everybody. And at some point they will try to bring it back.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Again in Netherlands After Death (NTD)

The Netherlands temporarily suspended AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for a second time for people under the age of 60 after a woman who had received the jab died and four other women experienced serious complications, according to a report. The announcement to pause the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company’s vaccine was made in a government statement on Friday, which said that due to “a new report” on side effects, health officials decided not to vaccinate people under the age of 60 in the coming days. The woman’s death was reported by the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb—a research center that tracks the risks associated with the use of medicines. “These are women between 25 and 65 years old. Three patients had extensive pulmonary embolisms. One died and one also had a brain hemorrhage,” Lareb said.


Health officials said a link between the vaccine and the side effects has not yet been established but is being investigated. The complications arose about 7 to 10 days after the people received the vaccine. It is the first time someone died in the Netherlands after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was previously suspended temporarily in multiple countries in the European Union over blood clot concerns, including in the Netherlands. Last month, the Netherlands’s Health Ministry halted the administration of AstraZeneca for more than two weeks after serious side effects arose in a small number of people. Germany on Tuesday became the latest European country to also stop injecting people with the AstraZeneca vaccine under the age of 60 amid fresh concerns over unusual blood clots reported in a number of those who received the shots. France, meanwhile, also said in mid-March it decided to limit the vaccine to people for those aged 55 and older.

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GOP candidate 2024.

DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports To Prevent Having Two Classes Of Citizens (RT)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned Covid-19 vaccine passports in his state, signing an executive order and calling on lawmakers to protect citizens permanently. Conservatives reacted by backing him for president in 2024. The order, which the Republican governor signed on Friday, notes that Covid-19 vaccines are not required by law, and individual inoculation records are private health information. Requiring vaccine passports to access goods, services or activities would infringe individual freedom and invade privacy, DeSantis added in the order.

“Requiring so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life – such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant or going to a movie theater – would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination,” DeSantis wrote. He said the order protects “the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce.” No business or government entity is allowed under the order to require people in Florida to provide documentation of their vaccination status. State agencies will enforce the order, including compliance as a condition of state licensing and other authorization needed to do business, and companies that violate the ban won’t be eligible for grants or state contracts. “The Legislature is working on making permanent these projections for Floridians, and I look forward to signing them into law,” DeSantis said.

The order comes amid a global debate over the ethics of forcing people to take vaccines to be able to live as full-fledged citizens and restore freedoms that arguably weren’t legally infringed in the first place. For instance, South Korea’s prime minister said on Thursday that only those who get Covid-19 jabs will be allowed to return to their “daily lives.” The Biden administration so far has sidestepped the issue, coming down on the side of a two-tiered society but seeking to achieve it through the private sector – without government mandates. DeSantis is short-circuiting that effort, at least in one major state, and conservatives such as US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) have called on other Republican-led states to follow suit.

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Of course.

Opposition Grows Against UK Vaccine Passports (R.)

More than 70 British lawmakers have signalled their opposition to the introduction of so-called vaccine passports that the government is considering bringing in to help to open the economy as it starts lifting COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The government is reviewing the idea of asking people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to access crowded spaces such as pubs or sports events, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson having already said that a certificate is likely to be needed for international travel. The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday that trials of COVID passports would begin within weeks during pilots at major sports events and possibly a music awards ceremony in the next two months to assess their impact.

On Friday Johnson said that a combination of immunity factors – if people have had the disease, a vaccination or had a COVID-19 test – would give businesses confidence. “So those three things working together will, I think, be useful for us as we as we go forward,” Johnson said. But there has been mounting concern from some in his own Conservative Party, as well as opposition lawmakers and civil rights groups, about the prospect of vaccine certificates. “We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs,” said a statement signed by a group of more than 70 lawmakers from across the political spectrum.

Under the government’s planned “roadmap” out of the pandemic, pubs will be allowed to serve people outdoors later this month, with a further easing of restrictions in mid-May before all measures are lifted near the end of June. Johnson suggested last month that some pubs might require customers to produce vaccine certificates. Culture minister Oliver Dowden, meanwhile, has said that such certificates could help get more people into theatres. No decision has yet been made and Johnson has instructed senior minister Michael Gove to review the possible role of certificates, saying there are deep and complex ethical issues to explore. Gove is due to report back shortly.

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“”I don’t understand why I have to do this in a restaurant or pub, but I don’t need to do this in a supermarket..”

Every Customer Must Sign In As Pubs Face Triple Whammy Of New Covid Rules (M.)

Pub bosses are warning that a “triple whammy” of new Covid rules could be a further blow to landlords after months of closures. Every customer aged over 16 will be forced to sign in – rather than just one member of a big group as was the case last year. It is also unclear whether payment at the bar will be permitted. From April 12, pubs will be outdoors-only, and in rural areas particularly, poor broadband could make paying for drinks difficult if customers are not allowed inside. And hospitality bodies are also troubled by reports that the Government will introduce vaccine passports from June 21, requiring punters to have either been jabbed or provide proof of a negative test. UK Hospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII) branded the measures as “impractical burdens”.

In a joint statement, the pub representatives said: “Government has promised the country that we will be reopening but we are now being told that this will be with our hands tied behind our backs. “It now seems the hospitality industry could be burdened with vaccine passports, over-complicated test and trace rules and an inability not able to take payments indoors at reopening – a triple whammy for hard-pressed publicans who have been forcibly closed for months. “Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and Covid-secure measures in place. “Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses. “It’s unfair to single out our sector again with these added impractical burdens that will have economic consequences and risk our recovery.”

Carl Ford, an accountant based in Tamworth, told the BBC he was frustrated and confused by the rules. “I feel like it’s almost like going back to school where I have to sign in and out,” he said. “I don’t understand why I have to do this in a restaurant or pub, but I don’t need to do this in a supermarket where you have a free for all. People don’t have to sign in and they can pick up fruit with their hands.” Pubs will open beer gardens from April 12 with punters allowed indoors on May 17. A full reopening with no social distancing could be on the cards from June 21 when the Government hopes to have done away with all Covid rules.

Read more …

Do we still recognize how insane it is that a goverment “allows” us to see people? Or are we too far gone for that?

Care Home Residents In England To Be Allowed Two Visitors From 12 April (G.)

Care home residents in England will be allowed to receive two regular visitors from Monday 12 April, as Covid restrictions are eased further, Boris Johnson is to announce. Strict Department of Health guidance has severely curtailed the contact residents have had with their loved ones during the pandemic. Only one named visitor is currently permitted. Under guidance to be published next week, two people will be allowed to visit regularly, as long as they have a negative Covid test result. They will have to wear protective equipment, but will be allowed to hold their loved one’s hand. Babies and children under the age of two will be excluded from the limit, so that elderly residents can meet new grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

The prime minister said: “Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different. “I’m particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.” A damning report from the cross-party public accounts committee of MPs in February highlighted dire shortages of PPE for care staff, and the fact that 25,000 people were discharged back into residential homes from hospitals in the first wave, some without being tested for the virus. The government is guaranteeing it will continue to provide free personal protective equipment to care homes until March next year. Almost 94% of care home residents have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, as have almost 78% of care staff.

The government is considering plans to make the jab compulsory for staff, with an announcement expected in the coming days. Unions have warned against such a move, saying it could be discriminatory, urging employers to focus instead on encouraging their staff to be vaccinated. [..] Fiona Carragher, the director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the change in the visiting rules. “Visits are vital to care home residents with dementia, who have been isolated from their loved ones, without the essential care and support their families so often provide, and as a result experienced a devastating increase in their dementia symptoms over the past year,” she said. “We’ve come a long way since the first lockdown, and soon we hope to see the benefits from people with dementia being reunited with their loved ones.”

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No protection.

CDC Walks Back Director’s Comments on Vaccines Preventing Infection (DB)

After pushback from scientists, the CDC has walked back a statement by its director and stressed that “the evidence isn’t clear whether [vaccinated people] can spread the virus to others.” Earlier this week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that data “suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.” Many observers took that as confirmation that a jab grants full protection from transmission and infection. In a statement the next day to The New York Times, the CDC said: “It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get Covid-19.”


Dr. Paul Duprex, a vaccine expert at the University of Pittsburgh, agreed. “We’re stopping symptoms, we’re keeping people out of hospitals. But we’re not making them completely resistant to an infection,” he said. While the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing infection is very high, John Moore, a virologist based in New York, told the Times: “Vaccinated people should not be throwing away their masks at this point… This pandemic is not over.”

Read more …

More good news.

Trump Rule Would Allow Ulimited Vaccine Price Hikes (Fang)

Pfizer, Moderna, and other coronavirus vaccine makers have said repeatedly that they intend to hike prices on vaccines as early as this year, as the potential need for additional booster shots and future demand could lead to an unprecedented financial windfall. One estimate projects that if Pfizer raised the price of its coronavirus vaccine from $19.50 to $175 per dose, as one Pfizer executive recently suggested, and if every adult American were to take it, the cost would be $44.7 billion — nearly 10 percent of all U.S. drug spending. But the federal government, which funded crucial biomedical research to develop the patented messenger RNA technology behind the leading Covid-19 vaccines, is on the verge of eliminating a legal mechanism to control the prices of key medical products, including vaccines.

Next week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, will wrap up a comment period to modify the rules governing the Bayh-Dole Act, a law that regulates the transfer of federally funded inventions into commercial property. Under the current interpretation of the law, the government may “march in” and suspend the use of patents developed via government-funded inventions if it determines that the products are excessively priced. [..] IN THE TWILIGHT weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, his administration released a NIST rule designed to undercut the Bayh-Dole Act and weaken the government’s authority to march in and seize control of a patent when drugmakers fail to make medicine “available to the public on reasonable terms.”

That phrase has long been the law’s most contentious provision. It invokes a term of art that multiple federal courts have ruled relates to pricing and market-related decisions. The legislative history of the Bayh-Dole Act includes arguments that clearly state pricing considerations as a factor in determining “reasonable terms.” The proposed rule, however, tightens the law’s definition to remove price as a factor — a change long demanded by industry. Joe Biden was vocal during the presidential campaign about his commitments to roll back his predecessor’s most egregious industry-serving regulations and to bring down drug prices, but his administration has so far been mum about the Bayh-Dole Act rulemaking.

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“..there will also be even less hallucinated capital (“money”) to loan out to this shrinking pool of borrowers”

Paradigm Failure (Kunstler)

First, the whole mass motoring racket is falling apart more on its financial model than on whether the cars move by gasoline or electricity. Americans are used to buying cars on installment loans, and, with the middle-class withering away, there are ever-fewer credit-worthy borrowers for those loans (for ever more expensive cars). Soon, as the debt markets groan and wobble under the weight of massive new debt, there will also be even less hallucinated capital (“money”) to loan out to this shrinking pool of borrowers. Second, the decrepit US electric grid can’t handle the charging needs of such a gigantic electric car fleet (and fixing the grid alone would be a trillion-dollar project).

Third, the manufacturing of electric cars depends on scarce rare mineral resources that are not readily available in the US, but controlled by foreign nations. Fourth, car-making utterly depends on far-flung international supply lines for parts and electronics in a time when the integrated global economy is cracking up under the strain of desperate competition for dwindling resources and the ill-will generated by that. There are yet more kinks in the electric car scheme but those are enough. Of course, this whole initiative is in the service of preserving a set of living arrangements that is going obsolete, namely, suburbia. The previous investment represented by all the housing subdivisions, commercial highway strips, malls, office parks, and super-highways pretty much drove the American economy since the Second World War.

It’s understandable that we would be desperate to keep it all running, and fix the pieces that are falling apart, because it’s where we put most of our national wealth. It’s the whole American Dream in one nifty package. And, it sure seemed like a good idea at the time, in such a big country, with so much cheap land, and all that oil. But now things have changed and reality is sending us clear signals that we have to live differently. The effort to oppose reality is apt to be ruinous for us.

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“What is astonishing is that the media itself has fueled this false narrative and it is being used as a key claim in boycotting the state.”

Biden Again Misrepresents Georgia Election Law, Supports State Boycott (Turley)

We recently discussed the false statement made repeatedly by President Joe Biden about the Georgia election law, which Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids.” Biden falsely claims that the law closes polling places earlier, a claim that even the Washington Post decried as false. Biden has not only repeated his earlier false claim but added a new one in supporting a boycott of the state of Georgia by Major League Baseball. It is a common false claim made about denying water under the law to people standing in line to vote. What is astonishing is that the media itself has fueled this false narrative and it is being used as a key claim in boycotting the state. During an interview on ESPN, Biden again declared the law as “Jim Crow on steroids” and added:

“I think that today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them, they’re leaders. Look at what’s happened with the NBA as well. Look at what’s happened across the board. The people who’ve been victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports and it’s just not right. Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote, can’t do that? C’mon! Or you’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”

Indeed, it is hard to “imagine” because it is not true and the White House knows that it is not true. If a president is going to accuse a state of passing a Jim Crow law (let alone supporting a boycott), there is an expectation of a modicum of accuracy and fairness. Otherwise, it degrades not just the movement for voting rights but the Office of the Presidency itself. I will not repeat the clearly false claim about closing polling places early. As the Washington Post noted (and repeated after this latest interview), “the net effect [of the Georgia law] is … to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.” The use of the provision to suggest a reduction in voting hours was a knowing misrepresentation by those seeking to justify the federalization of election laws in Congress.

Despite being called out on the false statement, President Biden continues to repeat it. The water claim is equally disingenuous and false. The law does not prevent people from giving water to those standing in line. The law allows “self-service water from an unattended receptacle” for voters waiting in line. It also allows anyone to give water or food to any voters outside of limited area around the polling place.

Read more …

Hunter’s come out of hiding to promote his memoir “Beautiful Things”. You can’t make that up.

NPR Issues Stunning Mea Culpa On Hunter Biden Laptop (NYP)

National Public Radio has corrected an online article that falsely asserted that documents from first son Hunter Biden’s laptop had been “discredited by U.S. intelligence.” A book review of Hunter Biden’s memoir “Beautiful Things” initially dismissed the documents first reported in October by The Post. “The laptop story was discredited by US intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations,” the book review by Ron Elving, senior editor of the publicly funded media organization, initially claimed. The correction on the Thursday article now says, “A previous version of this story said US intelligence had discredited the laptop story. US intelligence officials have not made a statement to that effect.”

Although some Democrats claimed that the laptop may have been “Russian disinformation,” President Biden’s campaign, the White House and Hunter Biden have not denied the laptop belonged to Hunter. In a new interview set to air in full Sunday on CBS, Hunter Biden admits that the laptop “certainly” could be his. In October, The Post reported that documents from the laptop appeared to implicate Joe Biden in his son’s business relationships in China and Ukraine. Hunter Biden later confirmed that he’s under federal investigation for possible tax fraud. A Delaware computer repairman, who has since publicly identified himself, says Hunter Biden never came to pick up his laptop after dropping it off. He provided paperwork to The Post indicating there was an abandonment clause that granted him rights to abandoned equipment.

[..] Among the laptop’s contents, a 2017 email chain involving Hunter Biden and associates brokering a proposed business deal with a Chinese energy company described a 10 percent set-aside for the “big guy.” Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski publicly identified Joe Biden as the “big guy.” As of February, the first son still owned 10 percent of an investment fund controlled by Chinese state-owned entities. The fund was formed 12 days after Hunter Biden joined his father aboard Air Force Two for a December 2013 trip to Beijing.

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“It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me..”

Hunter Biden Admits Laptop Could ‘Certainly’ Belong To Him (NYP)

Hunter Biden has finally ‘fessed up that the laptop at the center of The Post’s explosive exposé last year “certainly” could belong to him, he revealed in an interview Friday. In a sitdown with CBS’s “Sunday Morning,” President Biden’s embattled son was pointedly asked “yes or no” if the MacBook Pro that was dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 was in fact his. “I really don’t know what the answer is, that’s the truthful answer,” Hunter Biden said in an excerpt of the interview released on Friday, before adding, “I have no idea.” But asked whether it could have belonged to him, he replied, “Certainly.”

“Certainly, there could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me,” he continued. Hunter Biden made the rare media appearance while promoting his new memoir, “Beautiful Things,” out April 6 from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In the final months of the heated 2020 presidential race, The Post revealed a trove of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop that raised questions about his then-candidate father’s ties to his son’s foreign business ventures, including Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company linked to corruption.

The emails revealed that the younger Biden introduced a top Burisma executive to his father, then vice president, less than a year before the elder Biden admittedly pressured Ukrainian officials into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, a Burisma board adviser, sent Hunter on April 17, 2015. [..]In addition to his Ukrainian connections, other emails on the computer showed Hunter discussing potential business deals with China’s largest private energy company. One deal seemed to spark considerable interest with the younger Biden, who called it “interesting for me and my family.”

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Blinken.

The Pending Collapse of the ‘Rules-based International Order’ (Ritter)

It seems a week cannot go by without US Secretary of State Antony Blinken bringing up the specter of the ‘rules-based international order’ as an excuse for meddling in the affairs of another state or region. The most recent crisis revolves around allegations that China has dispatched a fleet of more than 200 ships, part of a so-called ‘maritime militia’, into waters of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines. China says that these vessels are simply fishing boats seeking shelter from a storm. The Philippines has responded by dispatching military ships and aircraft to investigate. Enter Antony Blinken, stage right: “The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef,” Blinken tweeted. “We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order.”

Blinken’s message came a mere 18 hours after he tweeted about his meeting in Brussels with NATO. “Our alliances were created to defend shared values,” he wrote. “Renewing our commitment requires reaffirming those values and the foundation of international relations we vow to protect: a free and open rules-based order.” What this actually means, of course, is that the order is rules-based so long as it is the nation called America that sets these rules and is accepted as the world’s undisputed leader. Blinken’s fervent embrace of the ‘rules-based international order’ puts action behind the words set forth in the recently published ‘Interim National Security Strategy Guidance’, a White House document which outlines President Joe Biden’s vision “for how America will engage with the world.”

While the specific term ‘rules-based international order’ does not appear in the body of the document, the precepts it represents are spelled out in considerable detail, and conform with the five pillars of the “liberal international order” as set forth by the noted international relations scholars, Daniel Duedney and G. John Ikenberry, in their ground-breaking essay, ‘The nature and sources of liberal international order’, published by the Review of International Studies in 1999. The origins of this “liberal international order” can be traced back to the end of the Second World War and the onset of a Cold War between Western liberal democracies, helmed by the United States, and the communist bloc nations, led by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.

The purpose of this order was simple – to maintain a balance of power between the US-led liberal democracies and their communist adversaries, and to maintain and sustain US hegemony over its liberal democratic allies. This was accomplished through five basic policy ‘pillars’: Security co-binding; the embrace of US hegemony; self-limitation on the part of US allies; the politicization of global economic institutions for the gain of liberal democracies; and Western “civil identity.”

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The line in the sand.

Russia Warns NATO Against Sending Any Troops To Ukraine (ZH)

The Kremlin’s latest statements out Friday amid the potential new Ukraine crisis which has seen a serious flare-up in fighting in the Donbass region, along with what appears to be far bigger-than-usual troop movements on Russia’s side of the border, has raised the stakes further. Russia has vowed it will take “extra measures to ensure its own security” should it observe any deployment of NATO troops inside Ukraine, the Kremlin statement said Friday according to Reuters. It firmly warned against any potential looming NATO troop movements following Brussels voicing concern the day prior over the widespread reports and videos purporting to show a significant Russian build-up of forces along Ukraine’s eastern border. Reuters reports Russia’s Friday statement and “warning” as follows:


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the situation at the contact line in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatist forces was quite frightening and that multiple “provocations” were taking place there. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Andrii Taran, and “condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine,” the Pentagon said. “Our rhetoric [over Donbass] is absolutely constructive,” Peskov said in response to journalists’ questions. “We do not indulge in wishful thinking. Regrettably, the realities along the engagement line are rather frightening. Provocations by the Ukrainian armed forces do take place. They are not casual. There have been many of them.”

Read more …

 

 

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Europe Arctic blast

 

 

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Jan 072021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Manhattan 1932

 

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)
Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)
Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)
US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)
GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)
Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)
Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)
China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

 

 

Well, that was fun. It was also entirely predictable. There are far too many questions surrounding the US election, even if Trump’s legal teams botched the job of presenting them. You would expect people to swear never to use another voting machine, but nobody does it. The principle is simple: if these machines can be manipulated, they will be. Ditch them.

Of course last night’s events are presented as insurrection, a coup, treason. But come on. 3 people died of medical emergencies, and the one person who was shot was a female Air Force veteran protesting for Trump. No politician was hurt.

There are quite a few pictures of the anti-Kavanaugh crew protesting inside the Capitol in 2018, and none of them are described as depicting a coup. Calm down. And learn: if this is how you are going to run elections, you should not be surprised if these are the reactions you get. Count yourself lucky that they weren’t much worse.

 

 

 

 

Craig Murray’s optimism was hammered. Time for a higher court.

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)

All of Julian’s team were optimistic before this hearing and it seems perverse that, a judgement against extradition having been made, Julian should continue to be held in high security prison pending the US government appeal. He has already been in jail for over 14 months just in the extradition matter, after the expiry of his unprecedentedly harsh sentence for bail-jumping. In effect, having already served that sentence, Julian is now being punished again for the same offence, spending years in extreme prison conditions purely because he once jumped bail, for which he already served the full sentence. The logic of holding Julian now is simply not there, given the current legal position is that he is not being extradited. Furthermore this continuing raising and lowering of his spirits, and never-ending incarceration with no fixed limit, is destroying his fragile health.

Baraitser has played cat and mouse this week. Julian is living his life in conditions both torturous and tortuous. It is ironic to hear Baraitser declare in condemnatory tones, without equivocation, that Julian only entered the Embassy to escape extradition to the USA. This is of course perfectly true. But I remember the many years when the Establishment line, from the government and repeated in several hundred Guardian columns, was that this truth was a fiction. They claimed there was never any intention to extradite to the USA, and actually he was avoiding extradition to Sweden, on allegations that never had any basis and which disappeared like mist when the time actually came. I suppose we should be grateful for at least this much truth in proceedings.

Today’s judgement makes plain that whatever is happening with Monday’s judgement, it is not genuinely motivated by concern for Julian’s health. Yanis Varoufakis yesterday stated that the ultimate aim is still to kill Julian through the penal system. Nothing that happened today would contradict him. The extraordinary figure of only 3 Covid infections in Belmarsh is very hard to believe and contradicts all previous information. Plainly Covid is less of a risk than anywhere else in London, and perhaps we should all break in to improve our isolation and safety. The only explanation that occurs to me is that the vast majority of prisoners are denied access to testing and are therefore not confirmed cases. or that the prison has chosen to give testing results for a single day and chosen to misrepresent the meaning of the statistic.

In fact the point is not central to the bail application, but as a possible example of yet further malfeasance by the Belmarsh medical team, it is particularly intriguing. The decision not to grant bail can be appealed to the High Court. I expect that will happen (there has been no chance yet to consult Julian’s wishes), and happen in about a fortnight.

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“Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020..”

Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)

A British district judge denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a hearing in which the prosecution argued he had helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “flee justice” and would abscond if released from the Belmarsh high-security prison. “As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared. She said the United States government “must be allowed to challenge [her] decision.” Baraitser referred to the lengthy history of the case and how he “jumped bail” and entered the Ecuador Embassy to obtain asylum in 2012. She went on to highlight the “huge support networks” he still has “should he again choose to go to ground,” and Baraitser agreed with the prosecution that WikiLeaks’ assistance of Snowden made Assange a flight risk.

Assange has been confined at Belmarsh since he was arrested and expelled from the Ecuador embassy in April 2019. All along, Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk. “Mr. Assange’s past conduct shows the lengths he is prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings. If I released him today, he would not return to face these extradition proceedings,” Baraitser declared during a hearing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was initially intensifying worldwide. In her ruling on bail, despite evidence of a recent outbreak at Belmarsh, the judge maintained that the facility was properly caring for prisoners and Assange would be safe.

Edward Fitzgerald, an attorney for Assange, argued the extradition decision changed any motive Assange would have to flee London before the case was resolved. In fact, the extradition decision came with an order of discharge for Assange. “The logical outcome of the ruling would be he regains liberty at least conditionally,” Fitzgerald stated. Fitzgerald questioned whether the Justice Department is even serious about an appeal, given recent reporting on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. Although Fitzgerald indicated Assange would be willing to wear a GPS tracking device while under house arrest, the judge gave no reasoning why this would not be enough to prevent him from absconding before the date of his appeal. Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020, and Belmarsh has suspended social visits. It is widely recognized that physical contact would alleviate the mental distress that factored into the judge’s decision against extradition.

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“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th..”

Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)

President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged that he would leave office on January 20 for the first time Thursday, pledging an orderly transfer of power after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement, repeating false claims he has made throughout the last two months. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”


Trump, who has refused to concede the election, had on Wednesday egged on supporters who would later storm the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes. The riot left four people dead — one woman was shot and three others had medical emergencies, according to police — and left some in Trump’s Cabinet holding preliminary talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, according to a well-placed GOP source. After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed both the House and Senate floor and Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death.

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“Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so!”

US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)

A crowd of protesters stormed Congress protesting a presidential election they claimed had been fraudulent. When this happened in Serbia in 2000, the US called it democracy. When it happened in Washington, DC – not so much. Scenes from the US Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters backing President Donald Trump disrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify the election of Democrat Joe Biden, looked very much like Belgrade in October 2000. The sight was later repeated in Ukraine – twice, in 2004 and 2014 – Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and several Central Asian former Soviet republics. On every occasion, the US backed the “people power,” because American NGOs and embassies were supporting what became known as “color revolutions.”

Same thing happened in 2011 with the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia and then burned its way across North Africa to the Persian Gulf. In some places it “succeeded,” overthrowing decades-old governments. In others it failed, setting off wars in Libya and Syria and blood on the streets of Bahrain. Again, the US cheered this on as democracy – except for Bahrain, which hosts a major naval base. More recently, the US denounced as illegitimate the presidential elections in Belarus, Bolivia and Venezuela. While Minsk and Caracas managed to resist – and got sanctioned for it – the “democrats” in La Paz were successful for a while, but ended up losing the vote last year.

Way back in 2004, the Guardian wrote approvingly about how the US has created a “slick” operation of “engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience,” developing since Belgrade a “template for winning other people’s elections.” Now the same mainstream media that slavishly followed the State Department line in denouncing elections elsewhere as “rigged” and color revolutions as spontaneous democracy are clutching their pearls when Americans who believe their election was stolen take to the streets and storm their Capitol. Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so! And Joe Biden won the most votes in history while hardly leaving his basement.

Whether you believe this official narrative about the US election or not doesn’t really matter, however. Partisan myopia simply won’t let people understand the magnitude of what is on display here: utter moral bankruptcy of the entire US political and media establishment.

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Obviously.

GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress resoundingly rejected an objection to the election results in Arizona. The votes came after protesters breached security and swarmed the U.S. Capitol building earlier on Wednesday. The Senate rejected the objection by a 93-6 vote while the House vote was 303-121, with greater than half of the GOP House conference seeking to reject the state’s electoral slate. Congress reconvened in a joint session to certify the election results in other states. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks objected to the Nebraska results but did not have a signature from a U.S. senator.


Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry objected to certifying Pennsylvania and had Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s signature. Republican lawmakers like Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson have argued that the state government circumvented the legislature to make last minute changes to election law. The House and Senate then entered into separate sessions to debate the objection. The Senate rejected the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes with a 92-7 vote.

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The amounts are amazing. Are you sure you want your elections to be for sale?

Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)

In order to beat GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate elections, Democrats had to spend big, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. The two Georgia Senate elections — called today for the Democrats — were easily the most costly in history, amounting to nearly $830 million in total ($468 million for the race between Democrat Joey Ossoff and Republican David Perdue and more than $361 million for the special election between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler.

The Democrats’ massive war chest came in no small part from hefty contributions from corporate America. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies rallied around the Democratic challengers, plying the two campaigns with millions of dollars. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent organization, was the largest single source of funds, their PACs, shareholders, or employees donating almost $1 million to Ossoff’s campaign alone with other big tech companies cracking his top ten, all with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations from the like of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and AT&T. The rest of the top ten were made up by universities.

The Republican candidates also relied on large corporations for much of their funding. Perdue’s biggest donors included Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, while Loeffler was generously supported by oil and chemical giant Koch Industries as well as a number of financial institutions like Ryan LLC and Blackstone Group. However, Democrats decisively outraised their opponents, giving them a critical edge. Ossoff outraised Perdue by $138 million to $89 million while Warnock received $124 million to Loeffler’s $92 million. With over 98% of the votes counted, Warnock has been declared the winner, with 50.6% of the vote. Ossoff, meanwhile, is all but assured of winning as well, and has already declared victory.

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Trump’s Midas touch.

Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)

For many legal analysts, President Trump remains a type of criminal Midas figure: everything he says or does turns instantly into a crime. This pattern is continuing to the very end of the Trump administration. Within minutes of the leaking of a Saturday call between Trump and Georgia election officials, the same experts were declaring yet another clear crime. The loudest was Andrew Weissmann, whose desire to find a crime to use against Trump appears to be moving from the obsessional to the delusional. Since his departure as the top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Weissmann (now an MSNBC analyst) seems intent on proving his critics correct about his profound bias against President Trump.

Weissmann recently called for prosecutors to use grand juries to pursue Trump and others in an unrelenting campaign based on unfounded legal theories. Now he is claiming that the president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is clear evidence of a criminal act. While I clearly come to these questions from the counter perspective of a criminal defense attorney, the claim is legally absurd. When the tape was released, many of us immediately criticized the statement of the president that “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” However, experts immediately declared this yet another clear criminal act and some people even called for a type of twilight impeachment in the last couple weeks of the Trump administration. Weissmann declared that the tape showed “criminal intent” as well as “proof of his motive and his pattern of similar activity.”

The problem is that Weissmann again left the criminal code and controlling case law behind in his blind pursuit of Trump. As with the obstruction allegations investigated by Mueller and the Ukrainian call that was the basis for Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, this comes down to a question of intent. While most experts are notably vague on the specific criminal provision, one possibility would be election fraud under 52 U.S. 20511. However, such an interpretation comes to a full stop at intent — a required showing of “knowingly and willfully” acting to subvert voting. The call Trump participated in was a settlement discussion over election challenges with a variety of lawyers present, not some backroom at the Bada Bing club. The entire stated purpose of the challenges was to count what the Trump campaign alleged were uncounted votes that far surpassed the 11,780 deficit.

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We only had one year!

China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

Beijing has said its health authorities are not yet in a position to receive a delegation from the WHO, after the world health body’s boss said he was “very disappointed” China hasn’t granted entry to Covid experts. Speaking on Wednesday during a regular press briefing, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the authorities were still preparing themselves for the visit by the ten World Health Organization (WHO) experts. The WHO disease team was scheduled to visit Wuhan in early January to trace the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have not had their visas issued. “China still overcomes difficulties, accelerates internal preparatory work, and tries its best to create good conditions for international expert groups to come to China to carry out traceability cooperation,” Hua told reporters.

“In order to ensure the smooth progress of the international expert group’s work in China, it is necessary to perform necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements.” The spokeswoman claimed that China has always adopted an open, transparent and responsible attitude to promoting international traceability research, and had previously invited a WHO team to visit the country. Hua added that Chinese experts have frequently shared honest evidence with global bodies and they remain in regular communication with the WHO. The comments come as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that Beijing had still not authorized the entry of his team of experts.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. I am very disappointed with this news,” Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news briefing on Tuesday. It was reported that two members of the ten-man team had already commenced their journeys to China on Tuesday before being informed that their visas had not yet been granted.

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Jan 062021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Street of New York II 1926

 

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)
Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)
2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)
Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)
Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)
Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)
Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)
China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)
The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)
Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles
Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)
Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)
More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)
US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

 

 

If Julian Assange’s bail is denied today, that will be a huge disappointment for many people. Craig Murray doesn’t think it will be denied, because the US appeal risks opening can of worms for them.

 

 

Big day for Assange, big day also for Trump?!

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

 

 

Murray remains very optimistic.

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet. Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so.

Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk. On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday: “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised.

In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened. Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court.

Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal. If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen. An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

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Not sure the DOJ has much say in this.

Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)

The federal prosecutor seeking to try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges said he’s uncertain about whether the administration of President-elect Joe Biden would continue the extradition effort. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, pointed out that the Assange case had already consumed years of work by line prosecutors and other officials. A judge in the United Kingdom dealt American prosecutors a blow Monday by rejecting their efforts to transfer Assange to the United States, citing his mental health troubles. The Justice Department pledged that it would appeal — a process that could drag on for months, if not longer. That means the issue of how to handle Assange, accused in one of the largest compromises of classified information in history, will be one of many questions for the new leadership team at the Justice Department.


“It will be very interesting to see what happens with this case,” Terwilliger said. “There’ll be some decisions to be made. Some of this does come down to resources and where you’re going to focus your energies.” For its part, the Biden transition didn’t comment directly on what position it would take in the Assange matter. But a spokesperson pointed out that Biden has called for an independent Justice Department in his administration. Terwilliger spoke to NPR on one of his final days in government service. Later this month, he’s set to join the law firm Vinson & Elkins. Terwilliger, 39, will beef up the firm’s white collar crime practice, after spending his entire career –a dozen years — on the other side of the courtroom as a career prosecutor and political appointee at the Justice Department.

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These reports keep coming in.

2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has announced that two nursing home residents passed away days after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and that an investigation has been launched into the deaths. “We have to assess whether the vaccine is the cause of death, or if it is a coincidence that it happened soon after vaccination,” Medical Director Steiner Madsen said in a statement about the deaths. He also noted that, because people of advanced age are receiving the vaccine first, it is entirely possible the deaths could be coincidental. Around 400 people die every week in Norwegian nursing homes.


The agency, along with the National Institute of Public Health, are looking into the deaths. Reported side effects from the vaccine have been minor and temporary, although there have been reports of allergic reactions in the US and UK among people who had a history of such. Numerous government officials have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including US Vice President Mike Pence. Vaccinations with the drug began in Norway on December 27.

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That’s a lot.

Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)

With reports this morning of another otherwise-healthy patient dying suddenly after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many skeptics in both Europe and the US still have serious reservations about the jabs, even as big pharma and their allies in the US and British governments insist that they are 100% safe. Everyone claiming otherwise is not only wrongheaded, but acting in a deliberately malicious manner. This is why commentary like a video posted by DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach where he questions the sky-high efficacy numbers published after the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials has elicited such vehement repudiation.

However, as new questions about efficacy and timing arise, independent journalist Alex Berenson, one of the most prominent skeptics of lockdowns and masks in the US, noted in a twitter thread earlier on Tuesday that the percentage of patients experiencing severe or potentially life-threatening reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines could be much higher than the data collected by the CDC are letting on. The CDC’s VAERS reporting system was set up to track vaccine-related injury, Most patients can expect to experience some kind of adverse reaction, but for the vast majority of patients, symptoms will be relatively mild and clear up within a couple of days.

But amid a rush of reports about patient deaths, Berenson points out that the number of patients seeing serious complications per the number of doses distributed is roughly 50x higher than the rate of ‘adverse’ reactions caused by the flu vaccine. Berenson also speculated that this number might be even higher due to possible delays in updating the CDC’s data sets. This would seemingly confirm rates of adverse reactions seen during clinical trials. What’s more, clinical trials, generally speaking, tend to “UNDERSTATE” unpleasant or unwanted side effects, while they “OVERSTATE” the drug’s efficacy.

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“it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.”

Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)

Peru has reached an impasse with Pfizer as it negotiates a deal for a Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health minister said, citing a conflict over legal immunity for the pharma firm that could undermine Peru’s sovereignty. While officials have remained in “constant contact” with Pfizer since the summer, the talks ran into trouble last month amid “controversy” over some clauses of the agreement, including those linked to pricing and delivery, as well as legal immunities for the pharmaceutical giant in the case its inoculation leads to death or injury, health minister Pilar Mazzetti told lawmakers on Tuesday. “With Pfizer there are some details where there is no agreement,” Mazzetti said, adding “This has to do with prices and the delivery schedule” as well as “the waiving of important elements such as … jurisdictional immunity.”

“It is true that one needs the vaccine but it is also true that there are aspects related to aspects of our sovereignty that the country has to protect … it has to do with risk for future generations.” The health chief noted that since most aspects of the negotiations are protected under a confidentiality agreement, she could not offer further detail on the ongoing row, but assured that the talks continue. “We hope that the controversy will be resolved so we will be able to determine when the vaccine will arrive,” she went on. Though the country announced a final deal with Pfizer for nearly 10 million vaccine doses in late November, Mazzetti said the process stalled after some clauses in the agreement required “more in-depth analysis” to determine whether they are compatible with Peruvian law.

The Latin American nation is not the first to voice concerns about legal liability waivers in their talks with the pharma firm, with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro observing last month that “it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.” Officials in Argentina have raised similar worries. As the liability concerns become a major obstacle for some nations, the World Bank said on Tuesday that it is working with over 100 countries to address the issue, whether through local legislative efforts or other processes. The World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass, also noted that the agency aims to distribute $160 billion in resources by June to help developing countries obtain immunizations and fight the pandemic.

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Surprised?

Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)

Roughly half a million residents of Wuhan—the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated—may have been infected with the virus, a figure that is about ten times higher than what was initially reported. The study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than thirty-four thousand people in April, and it eventually discovered that 4.4 percent of those tested were found to be carrying the antibodies for the coronavirus. The presence of antibodies means that individuals, at one point in time, had been carriers of the virus. As of Sunday, Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.


The Chinese CDC noted that the study was conducted a month after China “contained the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.” The study also indicated that the infection rate in Wuhan was significantly higher than in other major cities and provinces. For example, it revealed that only 0.44 percent of Hubei residents were found to be carrying the antibodies. “Exactly how much we have missed we don’t exactly know, but this gives us an idea that we have missed quite a bit,” Ian Mackay, an associated professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the South China Morning Post. Song Fujian, of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told the paper that “given the chaotic situation and limited testing capability during the early phase of the epidemic in Wuhan,” the serological survey results might be “more accurate than the reported number of confirmed cases.”

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It’s only been a year.

Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)

The Australian government has called on China to allow a visit by World Health Organization experts investigating how the coronavirus pandemic started, insisting the country should grant them visas “without delay”. Canberra raised its concerns on Wednesday over reports that Chinese authorities had blocked the arrival of a WHO team investigating the early cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. With China arguing the team’s visas had not yet been approved, even as some members of the group were on their way to the country, the development has heightened fears among Australian politicians about whether the WHO mission will be able to uncover answers needed to better prepare the world for the next pandemic.


The Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said she hoped “that the necessary permissions for the WHO team’s travel to China can be issued without delay”. Speaking after months of rocky relations between the two countries, partly triggered by Australia’s calls for such an investigation, Payne said Australia had “consistently sought transparency in relation to the origins of, and responses to the coronavirus, as have other countries”. “The WHO-convened scientific study is an important part of this work and we look forward to the findings from the international field mission to China,” she said. “During this global pandemic that has affected all countries, international cooperation and partnerships will maximise our ability to respond, and to equip us for the next pandemic.”

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53 arrests reported. Including activists’ lawyers.

China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)

Update 11:00pm ET: In what would be a shocking development, Bloomberg reports that during its “massive crackdown” purging countless local activists and politicians, the Hong Kong police – i.e. China – has arrested American Lawyer, John Clancey, using as a pretext the National Security Law, which everyone warned China would use as strawman to crack down on Hong Kong citizens and activists. Well, it now appears that the emboldened Beijing – which is delighted by the ascent of pro-China pushover Joe Biden to the White House – is also using that law to arrest American citizens.

H.K. ARRESTS AMERICAN LAWYER JOHN CLANCEY, COLLEAGUE SAYS
CLANCEY ARRESTED UNDER NATIONAL SECURITY LAW: COLLEAGUE

In response, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent out a harshly worded tweet, warning China that the “Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.” We eagerly await to see just what the Blinken Biden administration will do, besides tweeting angrily in China’s general direction, to secure release of an American citizen unjustly arrested by Chinese proxies in Hong Kong.

Earlier: “Massive Crackdown”: Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens Of Politicians & Activists 2021 is less than a week old and already Beijing is ramping up its efforts to suppress what’s left of the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Right now, China hawks are preoccupied right now by a number of issues: the disappearance of Jack Ma (note: CNBC claims the Alibaba founder is just “laying low”), Beijing’s refusal to allow international investigators inside the Wuhan Institue of Virology and, finally, the CCP’s abusive treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. Now, less than two months after the last 19 members of the HK LegCo’s pro-democracy opposition quit en masse over Beijing’s demands that they swear a loyalty oath to uphold the new national security law and the supremacy of the CCP, Hong Kong police have rounded up dozens of pro-democracy activists.

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“..more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)

The restaurant industry is in the midst of a complete and total meltdown that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before. If you ask Google how many restaurants there are in the United States, it will tell you that there are 660,755, although that number is a few years old. But for the purposes of this article, that is a good enough estimate. Americans love to eat out, and restaurant workers are some of the hardest working people in the entire country. So it is incredibly sad to see more restaurants constantly going under. In some cases, restaurants that have served their communities for decades are deciding to permanently close their doors. For example, over the weekend Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse in New York City announced that it had finally reached the end of the road…

[..] Unfortunately, Sammy’s is far from alone. In fact, in a recent article that he penned for Fox Business, Adam Piper lamented the fact that more than 100,000 U.S. restaurants have gone out of business during this pandemic… “State and local governments have wielded the coronavirus pandemic as license to steal freedom and opportunity in pursuit of unprecedented omnipotence. Unreasonable, unnecessary and hypocritical actions have forced over 100,000 restaurants to close and endanger countless others.” And according to Bloomberg, the true number of dead restaurants is now over 110,000… “More than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term across the country as the industry grapples with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Just think about that. More than one out of every six restaurants in the U.S. is already gone, and the National Restaurant Association is warning that there will be more carnage in the months ahead because the industry is in “an economic free fall”… “The restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the association, said in a letter to Congress. “What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.” This is what an economic depression looks like. With tens of thousands of restaurants sitting empty, and with tens of thousands of others not paying rent, the stage has been set for a commercial real estate disaster of unprecedented scope and size.

Of course there are millions of square feet of office space and retail space that are not being productive right now as well. In a recent article, Lee Adler referred to this looming commercial real estate nightmare as “a monster in the room”… “I think that if there’s anything that illustrates the head in the sand problem of the banks, it’s this. Commercial real estate (CRE) finance. There’s a monster in the room. All that empty space. No longer income producing.” For now, big financial institutions are doing their best to hide their coming losses, but according to Adler for certain sectors the losses will simply be unavoidable… “Multifamily will take a haircut but will survive. My guess is that industrial, while overpriced and overvalued, will produce enough income to get by. Office and retail? Kiss it goodbye. It’s done. Over. Kaput.”

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Victoria Nuland is the worst America has to offer.

Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles

President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team have begun to fill out top positions on the incoming National Security Council and at the State Department, with key roles like deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State going to veterans of the Obama administration. At the State Department, longtime diplomat Wendy Sherman will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State-designee Tony Blinken’s deputy, according to two people close to the transition. Sherman previously served as under secretary of State for political affairs in the Obama administration and was a lead negotiator for the Iran deal. Sherman is currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, the same firm where Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also worked as a senior counselor.

Another veteran diplomat, Victoria Nuland, will be nominated for the role of under secretary of State for political affairs, one of the people said. Nuland also previously served in the Obama administration, as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland and Sherman, who entered academia and the think tank world after leaving the Obama administration, have been outspoken critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy — particularly his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the National Security Council, former State Department official Jon Finer will be named deputy national security adviser, the people said, reporting up to incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Finer, a former journalist, joined the Obama White House as a fellow in 2009 and served in various roles throughout Obama’s tenure, including as a foreign policy speechwriter for Biden and a senior adviser to then-deputy national security adviser Blinken. Finer had been working in political risk and public policy at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which was co-founded by Blinken’s father, since leaving government in 2017. The key NSC role of senior director for European Affairs will go to Amanda Sloat, a Brookings Institution fellow who served as deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration.

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And Nuland’s co-conspirator Geoffrey Pyatt is now US ambassador here in Greece.

Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)

According to a report from Politico, Joe Biden’s transition team is expected to nominate Victoria Nuland to be the under secretary of state for political affairs for the incoming administration’s State Department. Nuland, who is married to neoconservative Robert Kagan, is known for her role in orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine while she was the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration. A recording of a phone call between Nuland and then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked and released on YouTube on February 4th, 2014. In the call, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should replace the government of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to step down on February 22nd, 2014.

The US-backed coup sparked the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and led to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Both regions have a majority ethnic-Russian population who rejected the nationalist, anti-Russian post-coup government that even had neo-Nazis in its midst. In a 2020 column for Foreign Affairs titled, “Pinning Down Putin,” Nuland said Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized” on the 2014 coup and other “democratic struggles” to “fuel the perception at home of Russian interests under siege by external enemies.” She also cited the war in the Donbas and annexation of Crimea as examples of Russian aggression, as most in Washington do.

Currently, Nuland is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and works for the Albright Stonebridge Group. She is also a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US-taxpayer funded nonprofit that funds “pro-democracy” movements across the world.

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“..the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all…”

Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)

As a naturally optimistic person, it vexes me that the word catastrophe has echoed in my mind since early March 2020. It’s the word the great smallpox eradicator Donald Henderson used in his 2006 prediction of the consequences of lockdown, a word that wasn’t around then. His masterful article addressed the idea of travel restrictions, forced human separation, business and school closings, mask mandates, limits on public gatherings, quarantines, and the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all. This is not how you deal with disease, he said; at a minimum society needs to function so that medical professionals can do their work.

Diseases are managed one person at a time, not with grand central plans. That was the old wisdom in any case. Under the influence of vainglorious modelers, ideological resetters, and politicians hoping to make names for themselves, most of the world tried the lockdown experiment anyway. Here we are nearly a year since I wrote my first article warning that governments presumed themselves to possess the quarantine power. They could use it if they wanted to. I didn’t expect they would. I wrote this piece as a “for your information” public service just to let people know how terrible governments could be.

I had no idea that quarantines would be only the beginning. At this point we know what we did not know then. They are capable – by they I mean even governments in presumably civilized countries with functioning democracies – of the unthinkable, and they are capable of persisting in the unthinkable for an appalling amount of time. Now the lockdowns are our life in the US, unless you are lucky enough to live in Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, and perhaps a few other places. Here in these outposts of what we used to call civilization, life seems normal. Our readers in these states don’t even think about the virus much, and they read my articles and find them overwrought, like I’m describing life on another planet.

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Externalities.

More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)

More than 1.5 billion disposable face masks will wind up in the world’s oceans this year — polluting the water with tons of plastic and endangering marine wildlife, according to a Hong Kong-based environmental group. A report by OceansAsia cites a global market research report that estimates 52 billion masks were made this year to meet the demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It also says that a “conservative” calculation means at least 3 percent of them will be washed out to sea. “Single-use face masks are made from a variety of meltblown plastics and are difficult to recycle due to both composition and risk of contamination and infection,” the report says.


“These masks enter our oceans when they are littered or otherwise improperly discarded, when waste management systems are inadequate or non-existent, or when these systems become overwhelmed due to increased volumes of waste.” With each mask weighing three to four grams, the situation could lead to 6,800-plus tons of plastic pollution that “will take as long as 450 years to break down,” according to the report. In addition to the harmful effects of micro-plastic and nano-plastic particles, elastic ear loops pose a “possible entanglement risk for wildlife,” the report says. The report cites several examples of marine animals killed by masks, including a “dead bloated pufferfish” found tangled in the loops of a disposable blue mask by volunteers cleaning a Miami beach in August.

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And sometimes you look up from whatever it is you’re doing and suddenly you see life.

US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay. Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business. He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased. “Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America. “So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.” Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans.


He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff,” Dr Atiq said, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He said the outstanding bills from about 200 patients totalled nearly $650,000 (£480,000). In his Christmas greeting card to patients, he wrote: “The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 042021
 


Vincent van Gogh Boulevard de Clichy, Paris 1887

 

Killing Julian Assange (AlJ)
Docs Urge Early Outpatient Treatment For COVID-19 (France Soir)
New Zealand Tightens Border Again Amid Fears Over New Covid Strain (G.)
Fauci Says He Did Not Expect COVID19 Death Toll To Climb To 350,000 (JTN)
Trump Call Actually Reveals A President Deep Into Detail (Kassam)
McCarthy Supports Electoral Challenge In House, Deputy Cheney Opposes It (JTN)
The Dark Past of Biden’s Nominee for National Intelligence Director (Kiriakou)
Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Suspected Missing (Y!)
Breadlines Stretch Across America (ZH)
The American System Is One Big Grift (van Buren)

 

 

Assange hearing due any moment. Not sure it makes sense to wait for the outcome. It will be appealed no matter which way it goes. And then move to a higher court.

A big moment for sure, but more to gauge how lawless the UK will allow itself to look.

 

UPDATE: UK judge rules against extradition of Assange to US

That was unexpected. She says he must be discharged from Belmarsh for health reasons.

 

Other big theme today: the Trump call to Georgia, leaked to the WaPo, which edited the transcript. Two entirely different interpretations of what it says.

It’s the Zelensky call all over again.

 

 

“..the act of exposing US crimes of torture and killing abroad can at times get you tortured and killed yourself. Call it poetic injustice.”

Killing Julian Assange (AlJ)

On Monday, January 4, a London court will decide whether to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, the whistle-blower will face a prison sentence of up to 175 years in everyone’s favourite “land of the free”. The Australian citizen is accused of having harmed the US and its allies by publishing classified documents. Assange collaborated with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who has already been put through the horror show of the so-called US justice system for leaking classified documents related to, inter alia, the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Among the most notorious material published by WikiLeaks is the “Collateral Murder” video, released in 2010. It depicts a 2007 episode in Baghdad in which US Apache helicopter personnel enthusiastically slaughtered a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters staffers – a fitting hint, perhaps, as to the existential perils of journalistic efforts to document the truth.

In Assange’s case, his crime is just that: telling the truth in contravention of an official narrative of heroic, world-saving interventions by the US military. Indeed, according to the perverse perspective of the US, it is absolutely fine to massacre Iraqi civilians – just not to talk about it. In the end, after all, what is imperial war if not sustained butchery and devastation of civilian populations? Yet pointing out the bleeding obvious is apparently enough to land you in jail for 175 years. And not just any jail. Charles Glass, veteran journalist and former chief Middle East correspondent for ABC News – who has himself visited the imprisoned Assange in London – writes in The Intercept that, if extradited, Assange risks internment in the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”, a federal supermax prison in Colorado that houses Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Oklahoma City co-bomber Terry Nichols.

There, Assange’s life would consist of “permanent solitary confinement in a concrete box cell with a window four inches wide, with six bed checks a day and one hour of exercise in an outdoor cage”. Similar punishment is of course also meted out to all of the US soldiers who kill and rape with abandon, and to the politicians who dispatch them to do so. (Just kidding.) In the meantime, as Assange awaits the extradition verdict, the British are doing a fine job maintaining a regimen of “denial of access to healthcare and prolonged psychological torture” – as 117 doctors have affirmed in a letter to the medical journal The Lancet. Back in November of 2019, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, had already warned that the psychological torture and abuse to which Assange was being subjected in the UK – at the behest of the US – could ultimately cost him his life.

It seems, then, that the act of exposing US crimes of torture and killing abroad can at times get you tortured and killed yourself. Call it poetic injustice. In an email to me, Julie Wark, author of The Human Rights Manifesto, recalled the special rapporteur’s observations, emphasising that “a gang of so-called democratic states has deliberately demonised and abused a single individual with almost zero regard for human rights and rule of law”. She continued: “The official leviathan turned against Assange and other whistleblowers is a measure of the crimes these states want covered up.” Obviously, the precedent of extraditing an Australian citizen from the UK to the US for the “crime” of exposing reality would be a disastrous blow to journalism worldwide – although it would certainly assist in further exposing a reality in the world’s self-proclaimed “greatest democracy”, where, as it turns out, freedom of the press is not actually a thing. Ditto for other cool stuff like freedom of speech and thought.

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France goes its own way in virustime.

Docs Urge Early Outpatient Treatment For COVID-19 (France Soir)

The year 2020 will have been marked by a series of studies on treatments against COVID-19 and associated controversies. All will remember the declarations of the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister that ” there is no treatment against Covid-19 ” despite the studies published by the IHU of Prof. Raoult. In December, the Italian Council of State rehabilitated the early-phase treatment based on hydroxychloroquine, proving the doctors right and recalling the principle that no national agency should interfere in the privileged relationship between a doctor and his patient. In the United States in October, under the influence of Senator Johnson , Professors Peter McCullough , Harvey Risch, and doctor Pierre Kory testified under oath to the Senate commission of inquiry into early stage treatments.

The latter recalled the fundamental basis of a response to a viral epidemic with the 4 pillars: the control of contagion by various measures such as barrier gestures, early phase treatment, hospital care, and the vaccine or group immunity. A peer-reviewed study published in the Reviews of Cardiovascular Medicine (Reviews of Cardiovascular Medicine) on December 30, 2020 by a group of 57 doctors, including Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Harvey Risch, many of whom have treated the disease in the early phase, includes all the elements to show that there is no cure for Covid-19, but that a combination of drugs and other supplements can significantly reduce the risk of worsening the disease . This also leads to a reduction in hospitalization needs, thus reducing the pressure on the use of intensive care or resuscitation beds. The question of risk benefit for the need for a vaccine therefore arises.

The study summary states: “The SARS-CoV-2 virus that is spreading across the world has resulted in epidemic peaks of COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations and deaths. The complex and multifaceted pathophysiology of COVID-19 is life threatening to those infected (including damage to organs mediating the virus, cytokine storm and thrombosis). This therefore justifies early interventions to treat all facets of the disease . In countries where therapeutic nihilism is prevalent, patients experience escalating symptoms and without early treatment, patients may succumb to complications of delayed hospitalization, resulting in death. Early and rapid initiation of Combination Sequence Therapy (SMDT) is a widely and currently available solution to stem the tide of hospitalizations and deaths.”

A multi-pronged therapeutic approach includes 1) adjuvant nutraceuticals, 2) combined intracellular anti-infective therapy, 3) inhaled / oral corticosteroids, 4) antiplatelet / anticoagulant agents, 5) supportive care, including supplemental oxygen, monitoring and telemedicine. Randomized trials of new individual oral therapies have failed to provide doctors with the tools they need to fight the pandemic. No single treatment option so far has been fully effective and therefore a combination is required at this time. An urgent immediate transition from single drug therapy to SMDT regimens should be used as a critical strategy to treat the large number of patients with acute COVID-19 with the goal of reducing the intensity and duration of symptoms and avoiding hospitalization and death.

The risk of complications and death increases if there is no early phase treatment as soon as the first symptoms appear. This study therefore supports the approach advocated by Professor Raoult since the start of the year: treatment in the early phase helps reduce the risk of complications linked to the disease. It also confirms all the work done in the United States by Dr. Zelenko as well as all the doctors who have worked for the early phase treatment against thick and thin, too often ignored by health agencies and medical authorities.

The ANSM (National Agency for Health and Medicines), the Minister of Health and the various administrative bodies will undoubtedly have to explain their decisions to the French. The benefit-risk analysis as described by the Italian Council of State (in the absence of specific treatment, there is no reason that health agencies interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, especially for drugs that have proven to be safe over several decades) makes sense in the light of this new study. The abandonment of hydroxychloroquine in the arm of various studies when the signs were positive (Hycovid study), overdose in other studies, media silence on ivermectin will undoubtedly need to be addressed by those with comprehensive legal expertise.

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6 cases in New Zealand, 6 cases in Greece.

New Zealand Tightens Border Again Amid Fears Over New Covid Strain (G.)

New Zealand has further tightened border controls amid mounting anxiety about the new strain of coronavirus driving up infections overseas. Six cases of the new variant of the virus – five in arrivals from the UK and one from South Africa – were recorded in managed isolation facilities in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Travellers to New Zealand from the US and UK will now be required to show a negative test for Covid-19 before departure, as well as taking a test on their arrival in quarantine in addition to those on days three and 12. The border remains mostly closed to non-citizens. The Ministry of Health said in a statement on Sunday that these were “extra precautionary steps [to] provide another layer of protection” against the new strain of coronavirus, recorded in more than 30 countries.


Though there has been no community transmission of coronavirus in New Zealand since 18 November, Auckland University microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said the new variant – which is reported to be more infectious – would challenge the country’s safeguards. “If there are any chinks in the chain, it will find them,” she told Stuff. For New Zealanders in the UK and the US wanting to come home, the new requirement to obtain a test is an additional barrier on top of flight cancellations and the long wait for a vacancy in quarantine. The vast majority of the 5,800 spots in the 32 managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities across New Zealand were occupied over Christmas and New Year in Kiwis’ rush to return. Stuff reports that the earliest available vacancy was in mid-March.

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But he gets to keep his job…

Fauci Says He Did Not Expect COVID19 Death Toll To Climb To 350,000 (JTN)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci on ABC This Week said that he had not expected the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. to rise to 350,000. “Did you ever expect it to be that high?” host Martha Raddatz asked. “No Martha, I did not,” Fauci responded. “But you know that’s what happens when you’re in a situation where you have surges related to so many factors: Inconsistent adhering to the public health measures, the winter months coming in right now with the cold allowing people or essentially forcing people to do most of their things indoors as opposed to outdoors and then the traveling associated with the holiday season is all of the ingredients that unfortunately make for a situation that is really terrible.”


Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University indicates that the U.S. coronavirus death count exceeds 350,000. President Trump on Sunday tweeted: “The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low. ‘When in doubt, call it Covid.’ Fake News!” Asked about the president’s tweet, Fauci responded: “Well, the deaths are real deaths. I mean, all you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now. That’s real. That’s not fake. That’s real.”

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1 phone call. 2 completely different stories.

Trump Call Actually Reveals A President Deep Into Detail (Kassam)

“I don’t know about that… I don’t have it in front of me… we’re looking into that…” These weren’t the vague, non-committal words of the President of the United States on the phone call leaked by theWashington Post newspaper – which has recently taken millions of dollars from the Chinese Communist Party – this Sunday. They were the statements of the establishment Republicans on the call: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Ryan Germany, and Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs on the January 2nd call. Despite the partisan framing from the Washington Post – that the call somehow reflected Trump making demands for votes from his Republican colleagues – the President actually does no such thing. Throughout the call, the President makes clear that his calls are for election transparency, full and transparent audits, and public access.

At no point does the President imply he wants votes invented or confected, as the establishment media is portraying. He even offers to recuse himself from parts of the conversation and ends by asking for “the truth… it’s just that simple.” In fact the President begins the call by ripping through specifics that are never addressed by their opponents on the call: the establishment Republicans. Trump states: “We have at least 2 or 3 — anywhere from 250 to 300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls. Much of that had to do with Fulton County, which hasn’t been checked. We think that if you check the signatures — a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County — you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged.”

He continues: “We had, I believe it’s about 4,502 voters who voted but who weren’t on the voter registration list, so it’s 4,502 who voted, but they weren’t on the voter registration roll, which they had to be. You had 18,325 vacant address voters. The address was vacant, and they’re not allowed to be counted. That’s 18,325.” And the President went on: “You had out-of-state voters. They voted in Georgia, but they were from out of state, of 4,925. You had absentee ballots sent to vacant, they were absentee ballots sent to vacant addresses. They had nothing on them about addresses, that’s 2,326.” The level of granularity was actually remarkable, especially for a President that the media continues to allege is not concerned with details.

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Dice roll.

McCarthy Supports Electoral Challenge In House, Deputy Cheney Opposes It (JTN)

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threw his support Sunday behind an effort in his caucus to oppose Joe Biden’s electors even as one of his deputies sent a memo opposing the movement. “I think it’s right that we have the debate. I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object — how else do we have a way to change the election problems?” McCarthy told The Hill newspaper in an interview. McCarthy made the commons as at least two dozen House members and a dozen senators, all Republicans, announced plans this weekend to oppose Biden’s electoral victory when Congress certifies electors on Wednesday.


While McCarthy endorsed the effort, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a frequent Trump opponent, sent a memo to GOP caucus members opposing the effort as a danger to democracy “Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress,” she wrote. “This is directly at odds with the Constitution’s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans.”

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA agent.

The Dark Past of Biden’s Nominee for National Intelligence Director (Kiriakou)

Former acting CIA Director Mike Morell, who has disingenuously argued for years that he had nothing to do with the agency’s torture program, but who continued to defend it, has taken himself out of the running to be President-elect Joe Biden’s new CIA director. The decision is a victory for the peace group Code Pink, which spearheaded the Stop Morell movement, and it’s a great thing for all Americans. Now, though, we have to turn our attention to Biden’s nominee to be director of national intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines. Haines is certainly qualified on paper to lead the Intelligence Community. A longtime Biden aide, she has the president-elect’s confidence. But that’s not good enough. Haines is exactly the kind of person who shouldn’t be in a position of authority in intelligence.

She is the kind of neoliberal intelligence apologist whom so many of us have opposed for so many years. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Look at her record. Haines first began working for Biden when she served as deputy general counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was its chairman. When Biden became vice president in 2009, Haines moved to the State Department, where she was the assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs. After only a year, she moved to the White House, where she became deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president for national security affairs, the National Security Council’s chief attorney.

That’s quite a position. What it means was that her job was to legally justify President Barack Obama’s decisions on such intelligence issues as drone strikes and whether to release the CIA Torture Report. She served there under CIA Director John Brennan. Obama apparently liked the job she did for him because in 2013, he named Haines deputy director of the CIA (DD/CIA). Haines was the first woman to be named DD/CIA, and she served again under Brennan, who proved time and again that he was no fan of congressional oversight. Haines’s attitude was similar to Brennan’s: The CIA was going to do what it was going to do, and she would make no apologies for it.

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Ma got too big.

Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Suspected Missing (Y!)

Speculation has swirled around Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s whereabouts after reports surfaced that the high-profile businessman has not made a public appearance in more than two months. The Alibaba founder also failed to appear as scheduled in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, which gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million. Ma was supposed to be part of the judging, but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final, UK’s Telegraph reported. His picture was also taken off the website. An Alibaba spokesperson said Ma was unable to take part on the judging panel “due to a schedule conflict”, according to Financial Times.

Ma’s business empire, Ant Group, has been under scrutiny by Beijing ever since Ma delivered a controversial speech in Shanghai on 24 October that criticised China’s regulation system for stifling innovation and likened global banking rules to an “old people’s club”. “Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age,” Ma said in the speech. “We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.” Little over a week later, Ant’s IPO (valued at a record-setting US $37 billion or AU $48 billion), which had already received the green light from China’s securities watchdog, was suspended, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange saying Ant had reported “significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment”.

But US veteran investor Mark Mobius said the move was designed to curtail financial institutions from getting too big. “I believe the Chinese government stepped in because they realised that they had to regulate these companies, so that they don’t … get too big,” he told CNBC. “The Chinese government is waking up to the fact that they cannot allow these companies that dominate a particular sector and particularly the financial sector.”

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“..8 million Americans joining the ranks of the poor since June..”

Breadlines Stretch Across America (ZH)

The economic collapse of 2020 has undeniably widened the wealth gap. Now, our country is essentially divided between those who patiently wait for some food in breadlines – after losing their ability to provide for themselves and, oftentimes, the roof over their heads – and those who sit comfortably at their own homes waiting for the meltdown to be over while discovering the joy of baking bread. Breadlines vs. Bread makers, that’s the ominous picture of an increasingly unequal America. That’s what Epic Economist exposes in the following video: The collapse has laid bare just how unequal our system is. As euphoria on Wall Street sends stock prices to astronomical heights, Main Street remains in crisis, with roughly 8 million Americans joining the ranks of the poor since June. The numbers are even letting some billionaires worried that the enormous inequality may lead to mass conflicts in months ahead. And even the establishment is showing it’s afraid that things could suddenly get out of hand, because much more turbulence is about to emerge.

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The Clintons and Bidens are bit players.

The American System Is One Big Grift (van Buren)

The first bribe I ever paid was to an Indonesian immigration officer, who noticed some small defect on my passport. Of course, he said, it could be resolved. Between us. With a fine (so many euphemisms). Off to the side. In cash. It was all of $20 to save a vacation but I felt filthy, cheated, a chump. But I learned the rules. In New York we use the euphemism “tip,” and it is as required as oxygen to get through the day. A restaurant table pre-COVID. A last minute anything. A friendlier handling by a doorman. Timely attention to fix-it requests. My, um, friend, used to pay a lot of money for better hotel rooms until he learned $20 at check in with a friendly “anything you can do” often got him upgraded to the same thing at a fraction of the price. What, you still paying retail, bro?

I used to think it was all small stuff, maybe with the odd mafia king bribing a judge with real money or something else Netflix-worthy. In America we were ultimately… fair, right? But things started to add up. We have our petty corruption like anywhere, but our souls are filthy on a much larger scale. America goes big or it goes home. Things like the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from the Saudis to help with women’s empowerment, an issue of course dear to the heart of the Kingdom. When it looked like his wife was going to be president, Bill made six-figure speeches to businesses seeking influence within the U.S. government, earning $50 million during his wife’s term as secretary of pay-for-play state. The Foundation, now mostly out of business, was at its peak a two-billion-dollar financial dangle.

It spent in 2013 the same on travel expenses for Hillary and her family as it did on charitable grants. The media, forever big Clinton fans, told us we should be used to it. Hey, Nixon was so much worse. Trump refused to be very specific about who his charity donated to. We know its offshoot, the Eric Trump charity, donated to a wine industry association, a plastic surgeon supposedly gifting nose jobs to kids, and an artist who painted a portrait of Donald. Trump-owned resorts received $880,000 for hosting Trump-sponsored charity events. Trump donated money from his foundation to conservative influencers ahead of his presidential bid.

With Joe as vice president, the Bidens made $396,000 in 2016. But in just the four years since leaving the Obama White House, Joe and Jill made more than $15 million. In fact, as his prospects for election improved, Joe and his wife made nearly twice as much in one year as they did in the previous 19 years combined. Joe scored $10 million alone for a book no one read. Jill was paid more than $3 million for her book in 2018. Joe has a tax-dodge S Corporation that donated money back to his own political PAC. Then of course there was Hunter, who scored millions in Chinese and Ukrainian money for doing nothing but being Joe’s son.

About half the nation got very twisted over Trump’s corruption and actively avoided noticing the Clintons and Bidens, and vice-versa, to the point of covering their ears NYANYANAYNYA. Yeah, politicians are corrupt, but does anyone think the donors in all three cases didn’t know what they were buying? What, you still voting retail, bro? But even all those millions, measured in Epsteins (a unit of influence buying I just made up) are petty cash. Real corruption scales. Pre-COVID America’s 614 billionaires were worth $2.95 trillion. As the Dow hit record highs this month, there are now 650 billionaires and their combined wealth is $4 trillion. The 400 richest Americans own 64 percent of the country’s wealth. Where’d all their money come from? You.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 282020
 
 December 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Juan Gris Grapes 1913

 

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)
Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)
Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)
Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG
Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)
Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)
How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)
Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)
China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)
Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

 

 

The attempts to shut down the discussion about vaccines will backfire spectacularly. We need to have that discussion, badly. “Believe in the science” has been turned into “Believe in the vaccine”. But those are not the same thing.

 

 

You think you are following the science when, in fact, you are following the media’s and politicos’ presentation of the science. Follow the science is a rallying cry by all but the scientists.
– Dave Collum

 

 

Dr. Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test, on the fraud who is called Dr. Fauci

 

 

What are the odds of $2,000 by now?

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)

President Trump on Sunday night signed a $2.3 trillion federal spending and COVID relief bill, averting a government shutdown and ensuring millions of Americans continue to get unemployment benefits. Despite his misgivings about wasteful spending and low stimulus payments in the bill, Trump said he signed the legislation because “I have an obligation to protect the people of our country“ from further economic devastation. He said, however, “more money is coming” as Congress votes this week on larger checks. The president on Sunday also invoked the 1974 Impoundment Control Act to demand “rescissions” be made to the spending measures. Under the Act, a president can seek congressional approval to rescind funds by sending a special message to Congress identifying the amount he proposes to cut, the reasons for it, and the economic impact.


“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said. The signing came after Trump tweeted, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!” The signing brought hope to millions of Americans who lost jobless benefits over the weekend as a federal shutdown loomed. The standoff occurred after Trump refused before Christmas to sign the $2.3 trillion spending and COVID relief bill, demanding more money for everyday Americans. Congress failed to address the president’s demands to increase the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 per person.

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What substance does the review have?

Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)

President Trump signed on Sunday the Covid-19 stimulus package, saying that the bill will “restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.” Trump also announced that the House of Representatives will vote on Monday to increase “payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000 and that a family of four would receive $5,200.” Another unexpected announcement was that Congress has promised to review Section 230, “which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people.” Trump said that he expect them to either terminate it or substantially reform it.

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“What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs..”

Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)

One of the reasons that folks on the right have been so upset over the Nov. 3 election is not just that many believe it was stolen from President Donald Trump, but also the concern that if you don’t fully answer/resolve the questions that have been raised about the election, then you can’t be assured that it won’t happen again. A recent USA Today poll found that fully 78% of Republicans don’t believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected. While the media wants to blame that on President Donald Trump, as indeed they blame everything, it has far more to do with the media failure to actually address the questions raised, dismissing sworn affidavits and the failure to comply with state laws. That’s a big issue when you fail to address the concerns of that many people.

Now, as we approach the Georgia run-offs, Fox is reporting that we may not know the winners in the run-offs for “weeks.” From the NY Post: “Election officials in Georgia are gearing up for the possibility that next month’s Senate runoff elections may spend weeks in litigation before a final winner is determined. The state has become closely divided in recent years and both Democrats and Republicans expect the results to be razor-thin.” Until just enough ballots come in to declare Democrats the winners? Check this hot take: “Given what happened after the presidential election, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see attempts to challenge the results, especially if Democrats win,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We’re already seeing questions about signature verification, challenges of new voter registration. This could all just be a glimpse of the future.” Yes, how dare people be concerned about signature verification?! Or be concerned about people falsely registering to vote in the state to influence the election? Shouldn’t everyone be concerned about those questions? From Fox5 Atlanta: “This is no run-of-the-mill runoff. The fate of the nation’s balance of power Is on the table here,” political strategist Brian Robinson said. [….] “What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs,” he said. “They want to make sure Democrats don’t control every level of power in Washington. That’s a very powerful motivator. Democrats are fat and happy because they got what they want in Washington.”

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“If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period.”

Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG

In recent days, President-elect Joe Biden has stated that his attorney general will not be “the president’s lawyer,” adding that he promises his “justice department will be totally on its own making its judgments about how to proceed.” And who could disagree? The attorney general is the top cop in the land, and no person, not even the president, as Richard Nixon once claimed in a famous interview with British journalist David Frost, is above the law. But Biden’s AG shortlist says quite the opposite of his declaration of AG independence. Take Sally Yates, the former federal prosecutor who has become a media darling in recent years for the same reason almost everyone else has: Her resistance efforts against President Trump while using the kind of soaring rhetoric one would expect in your average Aaron Sorkin production.

“Put simply, [Trump] treats our country like it’s his family business. This time, bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad,” Yates said during her endorsement speech of Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention. “But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us. Joe Biden embraces that. He has spent his entire life putting our country first.” “He has never backed down from a challenge or a bully,” she continued. “He summons the best in us, and lives by the values that define us as Americans, service, integrity, courage, compassion.” Yup. Yates is just the person to lead the Justice Department given that perspective and rhetoric. And we can be totally sure that if Biden asked her not to pursue any investigation of his son Hunter Biden any further than the current FBI investigation that has been ongoing for more than a year, she’ll completely resist doing so in the name of service and integrity, right?

Rhetorical question. How about Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)? The 2020 Emmy winner is reportedly on Biden’s shortlist as well. “If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period,” Cuomo told Howard Stern last month in response to a question regarding Trump calling his brother Chris “Fredo,” a reference to the hapless Godfather character. “I mean he was attacking me, he was attacking my family, he was anti-Italian.” This is the same Cuomo who said this of Trump even considering returning to his home state of New York. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo told reporters in September in a not-so-veiled threat to a sitting president “Forget bodyguards. He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo has resisted at every turn calls for an independent investigation into his order to send COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Fortunately for those looking for the truth, the Justice Department has expanded an investigation into the matter, which Cuomo calls “a political charade.” As for the whole-work-independent-of-Biden thing, Cuomo, who never met a camera he didn’t like, also spoke at the DNC in August in endorsing Biden. Yup. This is just the guy to serve as the top cop in the land.

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[In Bulgaria] “..only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future..”

Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)

All is not going according to plan in the biggest global rollout of what is arguably the most important vaccine in a century, and it is not just growing US mistrust in the covid injection effort that was rolled out in record time: an unexpected spike in allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (and now, Moderna too) may prove catastrophic to widespread acceptance unless scientists can figure out what is causing it after the FDA’s rushed approval, and is also why as we reported yesterday, scientists are scrambling to identify the potential culprit causing the allergic reactions. Making matters worse, Europe rolled out a huge COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday to try to rein in the coronavirus pandemic but even more Europeans than American are sceptical about the speed at which the vaccines have been tested and approved and reluctant to have the shot.

While the European Union has secured contracts drugmakers including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, for a total of more than two billion doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated next year, this is looking increasingly like a pipe dream: according to recent surveys, the local population has expressed “high levels of hesitancy” towards inoculation in countries from France to Poland, with many used to vaccines taking decades to develop, not just months. “I don’t think there’s a vaccine in history that has been tested so quickly,” Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, said as he stepped out of a church in central Warsaw with his two children. “I am not saying vaccination shouldn’t be taking place. But I am not going to test an unverified vaccine on my children, or on myself.”

Smart: why take the risk of getting vaccinated when others will do it, resulting in the same outcome. Surveys in Poland, where distrust in public institutions runs deep, show that fewer than 40% of people planning to get vaccinated. Worse, according to Reuters on Sunday, only half the medical staff in a Warsaw hospital where the country’s first shot was administered had signed up. And if the doctors don’t trust the vaccine, one can be certain that the broader population will refuse to take it. The situation is similar in Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, where 28-year-old singer and music composer German summarizes the skepticism of a broad range of the population, and plans to wait for now. “No one close to me has had it (COVID-19). I’m obviously not saying it doesn’t exist because lots of people have died of it, but for now I wouldn’t have it (the vaccine).”

A Christian Orthodox bishop in Bulgaria, where 45% of people have said they would not get a shot and 40% plan to wait to see if any negative side effects appear – meaning only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future – is in the tiny minority when it comes to taking the vaccine.

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“..maybe as early as this week..”? But doesn’t it take two jobs, a month apart? How can this be true?

Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)

Nursing homes likely should begin to see COVID-19 infection rates drop in coming days, the former Former Food and Drug Administration chief said Sunday. “We will begin to see some indication that the vaccines are probably having an effect maybe as early as this week, because we know that immunity does begin to kick in about a week after vaccination,” Scott Gottlieb said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Vaccines normally offer immunity about a week after being administered, Gottlieb said. According to that standard, he said, death rates in American nursing homes should soon go down. “That will start to have an impact on the mortality trends with COVID, but it’s coming late in the season,” he said. “Vaccinations will take about three weeks to get through all of the nursing homes,”Gottlieb said.

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We badly need the discussion.

How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)

“Thank you so much for speaking out to open schools. I can’t do it myself, for obvious reasons.” “I completely agree with you about opening schools in September, but I’m afraid I’ll be targeted at my job.” These were just a few of the supportive reader comments I received over the summer and fall, as I wrote column after column urging that schools be reopened. They opened a revealing window onto the mechanics of social control in the age of COVID-19. My correspondents’ fear was obvious: Say the wrong thing online, and have your life destroyed. Cancel culture has permeated everything, including debates over how to deal with the pandemic. Schools had been open in other countries for months, and they were all reporting lower positivity rates than their surrounding communities.


My arguments were measured and evidence-based: The data were making the case for reopening schools all by themselves. Yet most of the rest of the media seemed determined to tell the story from only one perspective: that of lockdown hard-liners, not least teacher-union bosses. This paper aside, very few outlets pushed for school openings. On the left, the conversation is heavily policed, with clear red lines drawn around “unacceptable” opinion. Reopening schools was treated as “irresponsible,” even though the numbers said otherwise. It wasn’t until Oct. 9 when things began to shift. That’s when a piece headlined “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders” appeared in The Atlantic. The piece didn’t exactly break new ground. What mattered is that it appeared in a liberal publication. That made it OK to believe and say what even many liberal parents knew but didn’t dare voice.

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Chinese banks are a murky lot. Question is does Xi want to allow them to fail?

Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)

Chinese banks are expected to face headwinds raising funds next year as profit-conscious investors cling to the sidelines, expecting a wave of bad loans to hammer the sector and erode already slimming margins. The sector is ending its worst annual performance in years after putting aside record provisions due to COVID-19 while Beijing urged banks to sacrifice profits to help the economy. Next year as lenders end pandemic-related loan forbearance – which let borrowers suspend repayments or pay less in interest – banks must bolster their capital against loans previously not classified as nonperforming. Big and medium-sized lenders also need to improve their capital adequacy as demanded by global and domestic watchdogs.


China’s banks raised 1.2 trillion yuan ($18 billion) in the first 11 months of the year, off the pace of 1.5 trillion yuan for all of 2019, data from Fitch Ratings shows. The 26 listed banks may need to replenish at least 1.25 trillion yuan of capital in 2021, Shenzhen-based brokerage Guosheng Securities estimates. “The pressure of capital-raising for the whole banking industry is still pretty big,” said Vivian Xue, Fitch’s director of Asia-Pacific financial institutions. “China’s largest banks will need to raise substantial capital or loss-absorbing debt over the next few years.” The four largest – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China – face a shortfall in this loss-absorbing debt of 4.7 trillion yuan by the end of 2024 to meet requirements set by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board, according to Fitch.

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China’s biggest loanshark?

China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)

China’s central bank disclosed on Sunday it had asked the country’s payments giant Ant Group Co Ltd to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations, the latest blow to its billionaire founder and controlling shareholder Jack Ma. The announcement came more than a month after Chinese regulators abruptly suspended Ant’s blockbuster $37 billion initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and only days after the country’s antitrust authorities said they had launched a probe into Ma’s e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chinese regulators and Communist Party officials have set about reining in Ma’s sprawling financial empire after he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory system in October for stifling innovation.


Regulators have urged Ant to rectify financial regulatory violations, including in its credit, insurance and wealth management businesses, and overhaul its credit rating business to protect personal information, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said on Sunday. Pan’s comments stopped short of calling for a breakup of Ant, yet pointed to a significant operational restructuring. Ant should set up a separate holding company to ensure capital adequacy and regulatory compliance, Pan said. Ant should also be fully licensed to operate its personal credit business, and be more transparent about its third-party payment transactions and not engage in unfair competition, Pan added. Ant said in a statement it would establish a “rectification” working group and fully implement regulatory requirements.

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It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.

Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

Britons travelling to the European Union have been warned they face disruption and potential charges after the Brexit transition period ends on Thursday. Travellers from the UK have previously been able to rely on free healthcare with their European Health Insurance Card, and to escape roaming charges thanks to a ban on the fees throughout the bloc. But the trade deal brokered between the European Union and the UK does not allow for Britons to keep either of these advantages. The deal only says both sides must encourage mobile providers to have “transparent and reasonable rates”, while government guidance tells British travellers to check with their mobile provider to see what charges they will face.

Any British visitor to the EU will also have to make sure their passport has enough validity when they begin their journey. Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged there will be “some disruption” as the nation adjusts, so he said “it is vital” to be as ready as possible. Mr Gove also warned businesses that the time left to make final preparations before the new deal comes into force “is very short”. Businesses must understand the new rules on importing and exporting goods between Great Britain and the EU, as well as rules when trading with Northern Ireland. EU officials are set to meet on Monday to discuss the Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK on Christmas Eve. If the Brexit agreement, covering £660bn of trade, can be provisionally approved by EU ambassadors, it will then move on to formal ratification by the European Parliament.

It will almost certainly be passed by the UK parliament this week, with Labour backing what it describes as a “thin” treaty, as the alternative would be a chaotic no-deal situation on 1 January. And Boris Johnson has said that, although he accepts that “the devil is in the detail” of the deal, he believes that it will stand up to inspection from sceptics such as the European Research Group of Brexiteers.

Read more …

 

 

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

“Insisting on absolute safety is for people who don’t have the balls to live in the real world.”
– Mary Shafer (NASA)

 

 

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Dec 262020
 


Salvador Dali Christmas Tree 1959

 

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)
UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)
Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)
Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)
Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)
Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)
Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)
Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)
Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)
Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)
Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

“Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.”

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)

Pfizer just inked a second deal with the federal government to supply an additional 100 million doses of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021. This is on top of Pfizer’s earlier deal for 100 million doses, currently being shipped. At around $20 per dose, Pfizer shareholders will do nicely, and the Pfizer CEO cashed in $5.6 million in stock at the time of the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Pfizer deserves enormous credit for the speed with which its vaccine secured the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. But Pfizer’s vaccine strategy was designed from the outset to maximize shareholder profit, not the greater good. Pfizer set out to be first across the finish line and reap a public relations bonanza. That’s why it pursued an mRNA vaccine, which can be developed and manufactured much faster than traditional vaccines.

But Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius to retain its efficacy. Developing countries do not have and cannot afford such a cold chain. That means Pfizer is off the hook to provide low- or no-cost doses to billions of people in poorer nations. The Moderna vaccine, also an mRNA vaccine, was designed to require normal vaccine refrigeration at around minus 20 degrees Celsius . Note, also, that Pfizer declined U.S. government subsidies to fund its vaccine development. This preserved Pfizer’s negotiating independence, avoided bureaucratic delays and helped Pfizer get to the finish line first. Taking no subsidies enabled Pfizer to deflect any government pressure to make its vaccine available at lower cost.

There’s another problem. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses with 21- and 28-day intervals, respectively, between vaccinations. Typically, this will result in 50 percent slippage; half those who receive the first shot will not return for the second. Some will forget, others will experience side effects, and others will believe wrongly that one jab is good enough. Meanwhile, Britain’s AstraZeneca has developed an equally effective COVID-19 vaccine that requires normal refrigeration and can therefore use existing vaccine supply chains that extend to rural areas. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at $2 per dose versus $20 per dose (that is, $40 per person) for Pfizer’s. AstraZeneca has pledged not to profit from COVID-19 vaccine sales and to waive patent protections. Pfizer has done neither.

Pfizer’s strategy is simple. Be first to market and make a boatload of money by “skimming the cream,” supplying vaccines to those willing to pay. Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.

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“Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory.”

UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives. The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks. People living in households where someone has caught Covid could be injected with the drug to ensure they do not become infected too. It could also be given to university students, among whom the virus has spread rapidly because they live, study and socialise together.

Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at University College London Hospitals NHS trust (UCLH) who is leading a study called Storm Chaser into the drug, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.,” The drug has been developed by UCLH and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company that has also, along with Oxford University, created a vaccine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to approve for use in Britain next week. The team hope the trial shows that the cocktail of antibodies protects against Covid-19 for between six and 12 months. Trial participants are receiving it as two doses, one after the other.

If it is approved, it would be offered to someone who has been exposed to Covid in the previous eight days. It could be available as soon as March or April if it is approved by the medicines regulator after it has reviewed evidence from the study. The trial involves ULCH, several other British hospitals and a network of 100 sites globally. This month University College hospital became the first site in the world to recruit patients into the randomised control trial and give them the jab or a placebo. “To date we have injected 10 participants – staff, students and other people – who were exposed to the virus at home, in a healthcare setting or student halls,” said Houlihan. She and colleagues would closely follow the participants to see which of them develop Covid-19.

The immediate protection that the drug promises could play a vital role in reducing the impact of the virus until everyone has been immunised. The vaccination programme is under way using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and is expected to take until next summer. NHS England accelerated the vaccine deployment this week after criticism from hospital bosses, GP leaders and the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt that it was taking too long. “The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” Houlihan said. “We could say to trial participants who have been exposed: yes, you can have the vaccine. But we wouldn’t be telling them that would protect them from the disease, because it’s too late by then [because the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines do not confer full immunity for around a month].”

[..] The drug involves a long-acting antibody combination known as AZD7442, which has been developed by AstraZeneca. Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory. In documents on a clinical trial that AstraZeneca has registered in the US, it explains that it is investigating “the efficacy of AZD7442 for the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults. The Sars-CoV-2 spike protein contains the virus’s RBD [receptor-binding domain], which enables the virus to bind to receptors on human cells. By targeting this region of the virus’s spike protein, antibodies can block the virus’s attachment to human cells, and therefore is expected to block infection.”

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“Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested.”

Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)

The vaccines approved by the FDA, along with those approved by other countries like China and Russia, have gone through the fastest possible testing. Tens of thousands of individuals have been placed in control and treatment groups in order to determine two things: to what extent do the vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting infected (efficiency) and how common and severe are the side effects (safety)? Meeting both criteria is sufficient for approval, which is how it should be. But there is another crucial question, to what extent do the vaccines reduce transmission of the virus to others?

The answer does not affect whether these vaccines should be employed, but they do have large consequences for other policies during this phase of the pandemic, such as rules for separation and masking, restrictions on activities and events, resumption of in-person schooling, and how much should be spent on interventions like ventilation overhauls. To the extent that vaccination reduces transmission, other restrictions and investments can be modified as the vaccinated portion of the population increases. Unfortunately, our knowledge of this issue is minimal. We don’t have any published lab results at all, and we are at least months away from meaningful epidemiological data.

A rollout that prioritizes crucial learning could change this. Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested. Others matched to them by relevant demographic, economic and other variables would be controls and would not receive any vaccines during the trial period. (Note that the lack of blinding at the community level should not be a serious problem as long as unvaccinated individuals in treatment communities are given a convincing placebo.) Everyone living in these communities would be tested regularly. We could then observe differences between community infection rates corresponding to treatment and infer transmission probabilities under real world conditions. It might also be possible to learn how transmission varies across the different viral strains that have emerged. The entire operation could be accomplished within the space of a month or less.

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You have allergies? Stay away.

Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)

The chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed said the frequency of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is higher than what would be expected for other jabs, according to a report.Dr. Moncef Slaoui said the last time he was updated on allergic reactions was Tuesday, when there were six cases, and added that the data on COVID-19 immunizations is lagging behind the actual numbers, CNN reported. “That frequency, as it stood yesterday, is superior to what one would expect with other vaccines,” he said. Slaoui said discussions are underway between the vaccine makers and the National Institutes of Health to consider holding clinical trials of vaccines in very allergic populations, such as people who always have to carry anti-allergy medication in an EpiPen.

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January will be bleak.

Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)

Millions more people will be waking to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day when new tier changes come into force in England. New lockdowns are set to be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be reimposed on Saturday. Those in the strict tier 4 in England will increase by 6 million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK. It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.


There were also 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing to 244,146 the number of positive tests in the past seven days. The new measures were being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week. Areas moving into tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest. Tier-4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and the forced closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

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“In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over.”

Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)

There has been a great deal of political narrative engineering/fabrication surrounding President Trump’s admonitions to congress about a pork-filled COVID relief package. With a budgetary “shut-down” date looming on Monday, let’s look at the issues. First, there’s no such thing as a federal government “shut-down”; the only thing that happens if with a budgetary date exceeded is “non essential” government employees told to stay home (reference the prior “sequestration” nonsense). Second, the jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and pork-filled scheme of spending within the $900 billion COVID relief package is disconnected from the Omnibus spending bill ($1.5 trillion) that was combined into a single legislative construct for convenience only.

The Omnibus bill (non budget spending/allocation) and the COVID bill can be separated, because they are technically separate bills. President Trump wants congress to re-write the $900 billion COVID bill to provide $2,000 per person instead of $600 per person. In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over. This is not a hard issue to resolve. The only reason UniParty congress is fighting Trump is because their lobbyist and foreign government bribes are part of the $900 billion and will not pass the scrutiny of public opinion if standing alone.

To try and conflate the issues Pelosi changed on part of the pork-laden COVID bill to $2k/person, without removing all the pork. The GOP voted against that scheme and the media are now claiming that loggerhead derails the omnibus part of the spending “package”. Again, Omnibus is separate from COVID relief. The obtuse arguments are conflated and false. The Omnibus spending bill can be sent to POTUS without the COVID part included. The reason why McConnell and Pelosi want to keep them attached is because the combination makes a 5,500 page mess that hides the pork.

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“Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks?”

Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)

After Nov. 3, the meaning of some words and concepts abruptly changed. Have you noticed how new realities have replaced old ones? Media cross-examination of the president is now an out-of-date idea. The time for gotcha questions has come and gone. Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks? The old pre-election truth was that new vaccines take years to develop. The new postelection truth is that it’s no big deal to bring out new vaccines in nine months. Impeaching a first-term president after his first midterm election — on a strictly partisan vote, for political reasons other than the Constitution’s “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — is now a terrible idea.

Worse would be to appoint a special counsel to harass a president on unfounded charges of collusion with China. An even scarier notion would be a conservative dream team of partisan lawyers hounding President Joe Biden — using a 22-month, $40 million blank check. It would be unprofessional for university psychologists and physicians from a distance to diagnose, in pop fashion, the mental faculties of a President Biden. Certainly, there would never be talk about Department of Justice officials contemplating wearing a wire as part of an entrapment scheme to remove a President Biden through the 25th Amendment. That would almost constitute a coup attempt. Almost as bad would be for the holdover FBI director to start “memorializing” his private conversations with Joe Biden on FBI devices. He might then leak such memos to the press — just in case he were to be fired for secretly investigating Biden for “Chinese collusion” and then lying about such a probe.

What happened to the Logan Act? Not long ago it was assumed to be a critically needed guardrail. Wouldn’t it now ensure that presidential transition team members were not calling foreign leaders while Donald Trump is still president? How has it suddenly become a defunct, ossified relic? Leaking classified material would be about the worst thing government officials could do. Imagine if a Trump holdover, burrowed into the new Biden administration, released a transcript of Biden’s private conversations with the Mexican president or the Australian prime minister. Such a breach of trust would be almost as bad as a turncoat anti-Biden mole seeking to resist presidential directives. Imagine if this anonymous staffer were given an op-ed in the New York Tines to claim that a cadre of old-time Democrats were shocked by Biden’s cognitive decline and resisting his directives.

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$100 million for a Senate seat. Inflation much?

Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)

Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock have each raised over $100 million in the past two months, shattering Senate fundraising records and out-raising their respective challengers, Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Their $210 million total was split almost evenly, with Ossoff reporting $106.8 million and Warnock reporting $103.4 million, two totals funded largely by small-dollar donors across the country, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though outraised, Perdue and Loeffler raised over $130 million in total, reporting $68 and $64.1 million, respectively. All four totals broke the previous Senate fundraising record set by South Carolina challenger Jaime Harrison in the third quarter of 2020 when he reported raising $57 million in his bid against South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.


Ossoff and Warnock have spent $67 and $53 million on television advertisements since the November election, compared to $34 million and $36 million for Perdue and Loeffler. But while the two Democrats have outspent both incumbents, outside GOP groups have erased much of their financial edge, Politico reported. Georgia’s two Senate runoffs have become almost completely nationalized given their stakes. If Democrats flip both seats then they would have 50 seats, just enough for a majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. If Republicans, however, can defend both seats, then they would have a 52-48 Senate majority, which would prevent Democratic control of Congress and the White House and likely block much of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda once he takes office in January.

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1,246 pages.

Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)

The post-Brexit trade deal agreed by the UK and the European Union goes beyond the bloc’s so-called “Canada-style” trade accord, the BBC has reported, citing a full copy of the agreement. The 1,246-page document, which includes about 800 pages of annexes and footnotes, includes a late compromise on electric cars, the corporation said. The EU had sought to offer tariff-free access only to those British vehicles that are made mostly with European parts. This measure will now be phased in over six years but is less generous than the UK requested. The BBC also reported there is a commitment not to lower standards on the environment, workers’ rights and climate change with mechanisms to enforce it.

However there is also a mutual right to “rebalance” the agreement if there are “significant divergences” in future that are capable of “impacting trade”. The dispensations go beyond standard free-trade agreements such as those between the EU and Canada or Japan, reflecting the UK’s history in the single market which was established in 1993. Johnson had described the agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve, as a “jumbo” free trade deal along the lines of that between the EU and Canada and urged Britain to move on from the divisions caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The BBC reported that restrictions compensation for unfair subsidies to companies “do not apply” in situations such as natural disasters which will exempt the EU’s large current pandemic support package for aviation, aerospace, climate change and electric cars. Parliament will debate and vote on the deal on Wednesday, a day before the transition period lapses. Downing Street has thus far published only a short summary of the agreement that sets out the shape of the future relationship between the EU and Brussels.

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Make it stop!

Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)

Last month, commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed after a 20-month worldwide grounding, following two deadly accidents. Now we’re finding out, weeks later, after the Max was cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return to the skies safely, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 Max suffered engine issues during flight. According to Aviation24.be, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX (registered C-FSNQ) was on a test flight after storage from Marana Pinal, Arizona, to Montreal, Canada, when the incident occurred. Luckily, the aircraft had no passengers and only three crew members.


Engine issues shortly developed after the plane took off. The crew noticed the “left engine had low hydraulic pressure,” said Aviation24.be. Then more complications developed with the aircraft: “The crew and airline dispatch/engineering controllers initially decided to continue to Montreal but the crew received an indication of a fuel imbalance from the left-hand wing and shut the left hand engine down,” said the aviation website. The crew was forced to declare a “PAN-PAN” emergency, meaning the plane was in severe jeopardy and had to divert from its pre-planned flight route and land in Tucson. The incident took place on Dec. 22, according to Aviation24.be.

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“In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.”

Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

And so, on Christmas morning, having suffered the night visitations of vexing spirits — or was that just the strange interaction of Zyprexa and Zolpidem — Joe Biden woke up (in a manner of speaking) to find himself transformed. He was no longer dogged by the prospect of being president of the US, but, rather, was convinced he had become the provincial plenipotentiary of a Chinese overseas possession known as Golden Wok West, where CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping can order up any asset for take-out. What a relief, Joe thought, as they brought in his morning meds. Here, now, was a one-horse pony of a different color, Joe mused, chugging down his 5mg of Haldol.

Ol’ Joe went to bed on the blessed silent night fretting that soon he’d have to answer to all those caterwauling losers about to be tossed from their McHouses and apartments after nearly a year of nonpayment. But no, the shabby dwellings would now just become the property of the People’s Liberation Army, as that very fine organization prepared to sort things out in the flea market once known as America.

Was there anything left of value? Wasn’t that a puzzlement? The former so-called Yang-kees had squandered all their laid-up treasure turning their continent into a demolition derby — six-laners lined by muffler shops, chain stores, and fried food shacks — and when all their financial resources were used up, they’d borrowed so much more money that all the certified public accountants who ever lived could not keep up with the compounded interest calculations if they worked double-shifts until the end of time. In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.

Now, all that was left for Joe Biden to do was to sign some paperwork and, maybe three times a week, emerge from his basement to smile and explain to eager members of the inquisitive news media why he preferred General Tso’s Chicken over Hunan Beef. At least that’s how things seemed to shake out in Joe Biden’s brain on Christmas morning as Dr. Jill helped him to the bathroom….

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Dec 202020
 


Edward Hopper Sunday 1926

 

Sarah Palin Calls for Julian Assange to Be Pardoned (GP)
FDA Investigating Multiple Allergic Reactions To Pfizer Vaccine (Hill)
Netherlands Bans Air Travel From UK Till 2021 Over New Covid19 Strain (RT)
Desperate Families Flee London Ahead Of Tier 4 Misery (DM)
Trump Lashes Out At Media For Blaming Russia For Hacking: It ‘May Be China’ (RT)
US Agencies’ Trust In Untested Software Opened The Door To Hackers (Pol.)
Trump Floated Naming Sidney Powell As Special Counsel For Election Fraud (Hill)
Pro-Trump Group to Challenge 364K Voter Registrations in Georgia (NW)
Georgia: Election Software Updates Not Covered By Open Records Requests (JTN)
Analyst Says Redacted Dominion Report ‘Shows Very Clearly’ Problems (JTN)
2020: The Year we Let Ourselves be Infantilised and Dehumanised (Slane)

 

 

While the World is on a vaccine frenzy, the Indian Government is distributing a home Covid Kit with Zinc, Doxycycline and Ivermectin. The cost: $2.65 per person.

 

 

Not sure if this would help his case.

Sarah Palin Calls for Julian Assange to Be Pardoned (GP)

The legendary Sarah Palin has made a touching video calling for Julian Assange to be pardoned. Palin has been an unlikely supporter of the organization, as WikiLeaks published Palin’s own hacked emails during the 2008 election while she was a presidential candidate. “Hey this is Sarah Palin up in Alaska and I am the first one to admit when I make a mistake,” Palin begins in the video. “I made a mistake some years ago, not supporting Julian Assange — thinking that he was a bad guy, that he leaked material that perhaps he shouldn’t — and I’ve learned a lot since then.” “I think Julian did the right thing, and Julian did us all a favor in America… did the world a favor… by fighting for what he believed was right — and ultimately he’s been proven to be right. He deserves a pardon. He deserves all of us to understand more about what he has done in the name of real journalism, and that’s getting to the bottom of issues that the public really needs to hear about and benefit from.”


Palin says that “some years ago I publicly spoke out against Julian and I made a mistake.” “I know that it’s coming down to the wire on whether he’s going to be pardoned or not. I want more Americans to speak out on his behalf, and to understand what it is that he has done — and what has been done to him,” Palin says. “He was working on the people’s behalf to allow information to get to us so that we could make up our minds about different issues, about different people. He did the right thing. I support him, and I hope that more and more people, especially as it comes down to the wire, will speak up in support of pardoning Julian. God bless him.” Though Palin’s emails did not contain anything scandalous, the Washington Post and other news organizations called for volunteers to help their reporters dig through them and treated the publication far differently than they did when DNC emails leaked in 2016.

Sarah Palin

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Makes me wonder if nothing at all happened during Pfizer’s trials.

FDA Investigating Multiple Allergic Reactions To Pfizer Vaccine (Hill)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating allergic reactions to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine that were reported in multiple states after it began to be administered this week. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters late Friday that the reactions had been reported in more than one state besides Alaska and that the FDA is probing five reactions. “We are working hand in hand with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we’ve actually been working closely with our United Kingdom colleagues, who of course reported the allergic reaction. I think we’ll be looking at all the data we can from each of these reactions to sort out exactly what happened, and we’ll also be looking to try to understand which component of the vaccine might be helping to produce them,” Marks said.

“I think we have at this point the right … mitigation strategy with the availability of treatment for a severe allergic reaction being at the ready, and we’ll continue to monitor it very closely,” he added. Marks said the FDA was not certain what caused the reactions but indicated a chemical called polyethylene glycol, which is present in the vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech as well as by Moderna “could be the culprit.” He added that the reaction some people have experienced could be more common than once thought. “We’ll obviously be monitoring very closely what’s going on. We’re working very closely with the CDC on these, and there have been meetings between the CDC and FDA pretty much every day this week making sure we’re keeping very close track of what’s going on,” he said. The reports of allergic reactions in Alaska follow two similar cases reported last week in Britain, the first nation to approve Pfizer’s vaccine.

The FDA’s current guidance says that most Americans with allergies should be cleared to take the vaccine but that people who’ve had severe reactions to other vaccines should not get vaccinated. It also said Friday that people with a history of severe allergic reactions to any components of the Moderna shot should avoid getting that vaccine. “FDA takes very seriously the safety of the medical products that we authorize and approve, and certainly in a vaccine setting, it’s one of the reasons Dr. Marks and his team, in collaboration with the CDC, has set up a very robust surveillance system for assessing safety. One of the things that FDA does very well and uniquely is really getting to the bottom of events like allergic reactions so we can completely understand the circumstances and better inform the public and also our regulatory decisions,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

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Very little is known about “the much-feared new strain”, including its severity.

Netherlands Bans Air Travel From UK Till 2021 Over New Covid19 Strain (RT)

The Dutch government has imposed a ban on commercial flights from the UK to the Netherlands after it reported a first case of the new, fast-spreading Covid-19 strain. The ban will be in effect until at least January. The travel restrictions will apply to all passenger flights from the UK bound to the Netherlands starting 6:00am Sunday local time, the government said in a statement issued several hours before the ban was due to come into force. It described the sweeping ban on air travel for the whole Christmas period as a “precautionary measure” needed to “limit” potential further exposure of the population to the new strain of the virus, which was first detected in the UK and is allegedly highly contagious.

Citing data by a local health agency, which recommended the ban, the Dutch government revealed that the strain, believed to be the same that prompted UK PM Boris Johnson’s latest lockdown, was detected in the Netherlands “at the beginning of December” as part of a case study. In light of the situation in the UK, the government said it would “further investigate” the case to determine “how the infection came about” on Dutch soil, and whether there are more cases triggered by the mutant strain. While suspending only passenger flights for the time being, Amsterdam did not rule out that the ban will be expanded to cover other means of transportation as well.

The Dutch government has also hinted that more restrictions on UK travellers may be imposed at the European Union level to stem the spread of the desease, stating that it “will look into the possibilities of further restricting import of the virus from the UK” with other members of the bloc “in the coming days.” The move comes shortly after Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas for those living in London, the Southeast, and the city of Peterborough, placing those areas under so-called Tier 4 restrictions. Those affected by the plan have been barred from “mixing with anyone outside their own household at Christmas,” with Johnson saying the much-feared new strain is to blame for the no-go rule. There’s currently no evidence it’s more lethal or more vaccine-resistant than the earlier variant of the virus, however.

UK #SARSCoV2
https://twitter.com/AliNouriPhD/status/1340505791841841152

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“..first evacuation of London since 1939..”

Someday someone will make a movie out of this.

Desperate Families Flee London Ahead Of Tier 4 Misery (DM)

Families were last night fleeing areas of England that have been plunged into the tightest restrictions in what one leading expert described as a ‘mini exodus’. Edmund King, president of the AA, said that within 90 minutes of Boris Johnson’s bombshell announcement, there were reports of people jumping into cars and taxis and even hiring vehicles to escape London before draconian new rules were imposed at midnight. ‘There are certainly elements of an exodus of some people from tier 4,’ he told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I have heard of people actually hiring cars to get out of London to get to Liverpool because a lot of the trains are either restricted or booked. ‘We have even heard of taxi drivers taking people longer distances – people calling minicab offices and saying, “I need to get to Nottingham”.

‘It is almost like a wall is coming down around London and the South East and some people are scrambling to get away to save their Christmas before midnight.’ Last night footage emerged of a large crowd queuing on a packed platform at London’s St Pancras Station to board the last train to Leeds before restrictions were introduced at midnight. An announcement warned passengers that it would not be possible to maintain social distancing on the train. Branding it the ‘last train out of Saigon’ – a reference to the evacuation of US personnel during the Vietnam War – journalist Harriet Clugston wrote: ‘Every person on this train including myself has made what is probably a very silly and irresponsible decision to travel albeit within the law. ‘But that’s what people were always going to do to be together at Christmas.’

Travel into and out of the new tier 4 zone, which includes London and large swathes of the South East of England, has been banned in a desperate bid to contain a mutant strain of the coronavirus. International travel for the 16.4 million people who live in tier 4 is also prohibited unless it is for work purposes, while Mr Johnson urged families in the rest of the country to ‘carefully consider’ whether they needed to go abroad. The Prime Minister’s announcement shattered the plans of millions of families who were set to embark on the traditional Christmas getaway in the coming days to see friends and family. Last year around 17 million people hit Britain’s roads between December 22 and 28, but Mr King believes that number will now plummet to around two million.

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“..evidence-free..”

Trump Lashes Out At Media For Blaming Russia For Hacking: It ‘May Be China’ (RT)

President Donald Trump has broken with the media and his own Secretary of State, brushing aside allegations that Russia was behind a massive computer hack. Trump instead claimed that the real culprit could be Beijing. “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, adding that “everything is well under control.” “Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).” As well as hitting out at the “Lamestream” media for blaming Russia, Trump also suggested that there may have “been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election.”


The president has often cited a series of unexplained computer“glitches” as proof that someone interfered to deny him victory in five key swing states. The “Cyber Hack” referred to by Trump, however, is a hacking operation that targeted the SolarWinds Orion Platform, a network monitoring tool used by nearly every Fortune 500 corporation and multiple US government agencies, among them the State Department, NASA, and the Pentagon. The hack was revealed earlier this month, and pinned on Russia evidence-free by none other than the Washington Post, quoting its usual anonymous sources.

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What was that connection between SolarWinds and Dominion again?

US Agencies’ Trust In Untested Software Opened The Door To Hackers (Pol.)

The massive months-long hack of agencies across the US government succeeded, in part, because no one was looking in the right place. The federal government conducts only cursory security inspections of the software it buys from private companies for a wide range of activities, from managing databases to operating internal chat applications. That created the blind spot that suspected Russian hackers exploited to breach the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. After embedding code in widely used network management software made by a Texas company called SolarWinds, all they had to do was wait for the agencies to download routine software updates from the trusted supplier.

As investigators race to assess the damage from the hacks, experts and lawmakers are calling for increased scrutiny of the third-party code that government agencies allow on their networks and demanding a fix for a long-known weakness. “The government desperately needs to set minimum security requirements for software and services, and refuse to buy anything that doesn’t meet those standards,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “It is incredibly self-defeating for federal agencies to spend billions on security and then give government contracts to companies with insecure products.” Over the past week, agencies rushed to scrub the malicious code from their networks while senior officials huddled in emergency meetings – all amid reports of more victims in the federal government, state governments and private industry.

As the extent of the attack became clearer, cyber experts warned that cleaning up the mess could take months or years. SolarWinds, whose 330,000 customers include key federal agencies, major telecommunications firms, every branch of the military and four-fifths of the Fortune 500, is one of the most extreme examples of the dysfunction that made this hack possible, but it is far from the only poorly guarded vendor with hooks into the most important computer networks in the world. The US government relies on private vendors of all sizes to supply its agencies with software. Some have expert security teams, such as Amazon, which provides cloud hosting services, and SAP, whose software helps agencies process large quantities of data. But others, both large and small, have less rigorous security testing procedures and are more vulnerable to this kind of compromise, cyber analysts say.

On Thursday, federal investigators said SolarWinds’ Orion software was not the only way the hackers had invaded their targets, warning of “additional initial access vectors and tactics, techniques, and procedures … that have not yet been discovered.”

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And now Michael Flynn is also back.

Trump Floated Naming Sidney Powell As Special Counsel For Election Fraud (Hill)

President Trump on Friday discussed the idea of naming Sidney Powell, an attorney once associated with his campaign, to the position of special counsel for an investigation into alleged voter fraud and the 2020 election, The New York Times, Politico and the Wall Street Journal reported. The former Trump campaign lawyer made headlines earlier in the year when she took part in an effort to reverse election results in the state of Georgia. However, those challenges were tossed by various courts. She, along with the president and his allies, have repeatedly claimed that the election has been tainted by widespread election fraud. However, there has been no substantial evidence to support this claim.

Following the 2020 election, several election officials stated that the race was one of the most secure in U.S. history. According to two sources briefed on the discussion, most of his advisers opposed the idea of the appointment including the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, according to the Times. Powell herself was in attendance at the meeting, as well as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to a senior administration official, Politico reported. The meeting reportedly devolved into yelling and screaming, according to the senior official, and the lawyers were accusing each other of not putting in enough effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Both Flynn and Powell reportedly claimed the administration was not working hard enough to reverse Trump’s loss. The Wall Street Journal reported that Cipollone and Meadows also opposed the idea of the appointment. The senior official also told Politico that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien participated in the meeting via phone. It’s unclear if Trump will continue to push for Powell’s appointment.

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16 days to the runoff battle. With voting machines.

Pro-Trump Group to Challenge 364K Voter Registrations in Georgia (NW)

Conservative political group True the Vote announced plans on Friday to preemptively file more than 360,000 electoral challenges in Georgia before the state’s special elections are expected to occur in January. Georgia’s run-off elections have garnered nationwide attention. If the Democrats who are running for office—Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock—obtain victory over Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, then Democrats would be equally represented in the U.S. Senate. However, Democrats would have a distinct advantage over Republicans in the case of a tie, as Democrat Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the one voting to break the deadlock.

Some observers, including President Donald Trump, have baselessly alleged that Georgia’s processes during the November election were unfairly manipulated by Democrats. According to True the Vote founder and President Catherine Engelbrecht, the challenges could help validate the results of the January election by ensuring “the sanctity of every legal vote.” “Filing the challenges preemptively, before absentee ballots are opened, will help ensure only legal, eligible votes are counted in Georgia’s January 5 runoff elections,” Engelbrecht said in a Friday statement.

Georgia law allows individuals to challenge the validity of any voter in a Georgia county if there is probable cause that the person being challenged does not meet the requirements for voting legally. True the Vote plans on filing 364,541 elector challenges across all 159 Georgia counties. “It is our hope that this historic challenge marks the beginning of the great awakening of American voters to serve our democracy by getting involved in the process,” Engelbrecht said.

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Transparency is overrated.

Georgia: Election Software Updates Not Covered By Open Records Requests (JTN)

A recently revealed memo shows a top-ranking Georgia election official informing county election workers that they are not required to provide journalists and citizens with records of software updates applied to voting machines in the state. Chris Harvey, the state elections division director, said in the Nov. 17 memo that “multiple counties have reported receiving Open Records Requests asking for data information” including, in part, “copies of any software patches performed on Dominion voting machines in the state of Georgia prior to the November 3, 2020 General Election.”


“Under the Open Records Act,” Harvey writes in the memo, “providing copies of software, software updates, or thumb drives containing software or software updates is not subject to open records requests.” Information “that could harm the security of the election equipment” is forbidden from being shared, he added. The letter was first reported on this week by the activist group VoterGA. Georgia, like numerous other states, has been the focus of intense media scrutiny following the results of the 2020 election, in which numerous irregularities and allegations have surfaced regarding the integrity of the election results.

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“It shows very clearly that races were flipped.”

Analyst Says Redacted Dominion Report ‘Shows Very Clearly’ Problems (JTN)

An analyst whose company oversaw the audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines in Antrim County, Michigan is claiming that the redacted version of the forensic analysis of those machines obscured the allegedly conclusive revelations that the audit revealed. Russell Ramsland Jr., a member of Allied Security Operations Group, said on Newsmax on Friday that the final report “show[ed] exactly what we did and exactly the findings.” Yet redactions in the report have covered up those conclusions, he argued. The analysis, which allegedly determined a ballot error rate of 68%, was ordered released earlier this week by a Michigan judge.


“The original report had log evidence that we published in the report to show exactly what we did and exactly the findings,” Ramsland told host Greg Kelly. “Now, those did ultimately get redacted. And so now, the complaint is ‘well, but there’s no real proof,’ and Dominion says ‘no, these things can’t be done’.” “But at that point, Dominion’s argument is no longer with us,” he continued. “Dominion’s argument is with their own user’s manual and their own logs. Because the logs, had they been able to be published, show very clearly that the RCV [ranked-choice voting] algorithm was enacted. It shows very clearly that the error messages were massive. It shows very clearly that races were flipped.”

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We’ll see a lot of these pieces between now and New Year’s Day.

2020: The Year we Let Ourselves be Infantilised and Dehumanised (Slane)

I recently wrote a satirical speech by our Prime Minister, in which I imagined him coming up with all sorts of absurd rules for the Christmas season. It was really hard. Not because I was unable to come up with hundreds of such rules, were I minded to do so, but because the whole point of satire is to raise the absurdities up a step or two, in order to highlight the ridiculousness of what is happening. But how do you do this when the real-life absurdities have already been turned up to 11 on the amplifier? I kid you not when I tell you that my original list included a rule against playing certain board games over Christmas — which I rejected — only to see a few days later SAGE coming out and advising against the playing of board games.

We have now had nearly nine months of being treated like utter imbeciles. A once great country with a once free people has been reduced to the level of being governed by pathetic, childish slogans. And for some reason we have allowed ourselves to be infantilised. I am utterly baffled as to how people can have sat through some of these slogans being introduced without responding with howls of laughter. “Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives.” What on earth is this actually supposed to mean? Stay Alert? For what? Are we supposed to be on our guard for a virus that is approximately 120 nanometres, or around 1,000th the width of a human hair? Are we to carry an electron microscope around with us wherever we go, just in case?

One of my favourite signs is an electronic one I sometimes see on my occasional drives into the office. On one day, it says, “Stay Alert. Control the Virus.” On another, it says, “Stay Alert. Watch out for Cyclists.” It should be noted that cyclists are considerably bigger than 120nm and even often wearing the kind of hi-vis jackets that coronaviruses refuse to wear. Control the Virus? Say what? You mean they actually think we’re stupid enough to think they’re clever enough to devise schemes that can actually control those little invisible 120 nm virus particles that are in the air and on surfaces. Apparently so.

Save Lives? I am yet to hear a convincing argument as to how I and my family, not having any symptoms and thus not being infected by the virus, can possibly stop the spread of said virus that we don’t have by staying at home or wearing a piece of cloth over or respiratory passages, such that we save lives. More recently, it has been decided that the slogans were maybe a bit too high-brow and needed to be simplified further, this time into monosyllables: “Hands. Face. Space.” Although I tend to avoid watching Comrade Johnson and Co as they spout this nonsense at their regular stand-ups, on the occasions when I have had that misfortune, it has felt eerily like suddenly being thrust into the world’s largest Kindergarten with teacher talking down to his little charges as if they were really, really stupid.

But the infantilising of an entire population is by no means the worst thing they have done to us. Worse by far has been the dehumanising of millions of people, which has been done via a number of enormously destructive methods. Chief of them is the idea that we must all avoid each other. I cannot even begin to think how destructive this has become. In a normal society, if you or I have symptoms of a particularly nasty seasonal respiratory illness, which is what Covid-19 is, we would avoid one another. Obviously. But the idea of perfectly healthy people avoiding other perfectly healthy people must qualify as one of the most absurd concepts ever dreamt up.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 302020
 


Jackson Pollock Greyed Rainbow 1953

 

Nearly One-Third Of NY, NJ Small Businesses Reportedly Closed In 2020 (NYP)
Almost 700,000 Driven Into Poverty By COVID Crisis In UK (G.)
UK Shops To Be Allowed To Open 24 Hours A Day In December And January (G.)
Covid Infections In England Fall By 30% Over Lockdown (BBC)
Over 100,000 US Nursing Home Residents, Staff Killed by Pandemic (CD)
The ‘Smartest Man In The Room’ Has Joined Sidney Powell’s Team (AT)
Republicans Plan to Occupy Georgia State House (GP)
The 2020 Presidential Election Is Deeply Puzzling (Basham)
Biden To Tap Career Russiagater For Top Budgeting Post (RT)
One Of America’s Great Wildernesses Being Destroyed In A Silent Massacre (LAT)
The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse (Wood)

 

 

 

 

 

Nearly One-Third Of NY, NJ Small Businesses Reportedly Closed In 2020 (NYP)

It has been a bad year for ma and pa. Nearly one-third of small businesses in New York and New Jersey remain closed since January amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a watchdog. In the Empire State, 27.8 percent of small businesses have not reopened their doors, while Jersey has lost 31.2 percent as of Nov. 16, according to TrackTheRecovery.org, a Harvard-run database that keeps tabs on the economic impact of the virus. The figures are in line with estimates from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which says 28 percent of the Garden State’s small businesses had shut up shop by the end of October, according to the Star Ledger newspaper. And with the region now seeing a resurgence of the virus, business leaders are worried the number could go even higher.


“It’s really bad,” Eileen Kean, New Jersey state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses told the Star-Ledger. “And without federal dollars coming into New Jersey, the Main Street stores and other establishments are not gonna make it through the winter.” More than half of small businesses in both states were forced to shut their doors in the spring at the height of the pandemic, with both hitting highs in mid-April — 52.5 percent of New York businesses and 53.9 percent in the Garden States, the stats show. “It’s devastating how many restaurants have shuttered and jobs have been lost,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliances, which represents bars, restaurants, and clubs in the Big Apple.

Read more …

And it happens everywhere. So much of this will never come back. Are we prepared for that?

Almost 700,000 Driven Into Poverty By COVID Crisis In UK (G.)

Almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the Covid economic crisis, according to a thinktank analysis. The Legatum Institute also said an additional 700,000 people had been prevented from falling below the breadline by the chancellor’s temporary £20-a-week boost to universal credit, introduced in April to help claimants cope with the extra costs of the pandemic. Overall, the pandemic has pushed the total number of people in the UK living in poverty to more than 15 million – 23% of the population – according to the institute, which uses poverty measures developed by the independent Social Metrics Commission. The Conservative peer Philippa Stroud, the institute’s chief executive, said the findings showed a “clear need for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy to be placed at the heart of the UK’s Covid recovery response”.


Lady Stroud, in common with many other anti-poverty campaigners, has called for the government to retain the 12-month uplift to universal credit after it is due to end in April 2021. Ministers last week said they would decide in January. The new analysis relies on “nowcasting” techniques using employment, earnings data and the impact of government policy to enable up-to-date and robust poverty estimates, because official figures for the first year of Covid are not due until 2022. Those hardest hit by the economic crisis were young workers, those in relatively low-paying employment and those working in sectors such as hospitality and retail. Elderly people were financially least badly hit, the analysis found. Of the 700,000 people newly in poverty, just over half had incomes up to 25% below the poverty line, 160,000 were between 35% and 50% below, and 270,000 had slipped more than 50% below, known as “deep poverty”.

Read more …

Oh wait, there’s our comeback. Shop till you drop at 4 am.

UK Shops To Be Allowed To Open 24 Hours A Day In December And January (G.)

Shops will be given permission to trade around the clock as the high street tries to recoup some of the losses it has suffered during the pandemic, a cabinet minister has said. Retailers normally have to go through a lengthy process to apply to local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act if they wish to extend hours outside the window of 9am to 7pm. But the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said he wanted to remove the bureaucracy to encourage greater trade – allowing shops to open for up to 24 hours a day in December and January. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.


How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council, but I suggest we offer these hard-pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season. “As local government secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond.” It comes after Jenrick suggested some areas could be moved into a lower tier when the first 14-day review of the latest system of tiered local controls takes place in mid-December. A record number of shops closed during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown, according to research from the Local Data Company and PwC.

Read more …

Sounds nice, but if the virus is endemic, and it sure looks that way, what will happen when those stores open 24/7?

Covid Infections In England Fall By 30% Over Lockdown (BBC)

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements – but, despite this progress, cases remained high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not “take our foot off the pedal just yet”. The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November. The React-1 study is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country. Its researchers estimated the virus’s reproduction (R) rate had fallen to 0.88. That means on average every infection translated to less than one other new infection, so the epidemic is shrinking.


Run alongside pollster Ipsos MORI, the Imperial study involved testing a random sample of people for coronavirus, whether or not they had symptoms. The results of these tests suggested a 30% fall in infections between the last study and the period of 13-24 November. Before that, cases were accelerating – doubling every nine days when the study last reported at the end of October. Now cases are coming down, but more slowly than they shot up – halving roughly every 37 days. In the North West and North East, though – regions with some of the highest numbers of cases – infections fell by more than half. The findings suggest cases are now highest in the East Midlands and West Midlands.

Read more …

11 months into the mess, “Testing is a struggle, PPE and staff are daily challenges.” Sweet lord.

Kaiser says 40% of US COVID deaths are in long term care homes. I was corrected recently about a Canada graph I posted which said it 98% in Ontario, but even then it was two-thirds of all deaths there.

With such concentrations, anything you can do to decrease the numbers in these homes can change the entire picture of the disease countrywide. Why is that not happening?

NOTE: the graph may be a little misleading; not oly do the numbers of deaths rise, the numbers of states reporting also do.

Over 100,000 US Nursing Home Residents, Staff Killed by Pandemic (CD)

As of the last week of November, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people who live and work in long-term care facilities in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest analysis of state-reported data. The following chart depicts the growth in Covid-19 deaths among nursing home residents and staff in the U.S. since April. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 40% of the nation’s Covid-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. “While early action to prevent the spread of coronavirus in long-term care facilities led to strict protocols related to testing, personal protective equipment, and visitor restrictions,” KFF pointed out that “several of these measures have been reversed in recent months, and some long-term care facilities continue to report shortages of PPE and staff.”

According to physician and public health expert Michael Barnett, 7.7% of the nation’s nursing home residents, or one in 13, have now died as a result of Covid-19. “Things have never really gotten better,” he tweeted. “Testing is a struggle, PPE and staff are daily challenges.” Soon after reaching the “bleak milestone” of 100,000 pandemic deaths in long-term care facilities, which happened on Tuesday, the U.S. on Thursday experienced a new record-high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, as Common Dreams reported earlier Friday.


Millions of Americans have passed through airports in the past week, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation against traveling for Thanksgiving. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, does not expect conditions to improve by Christmas and the New Year. As KFF explained, the predicted “surge in cases after holiday gatherings and increased time indoors due to winter weather… will have ripple effects on hospitals and nursing homes, given the close relationship between community spread and cases in congregate care settings.”

Read more …

It’s still not done yet.

The ‘Smartest Man In The Room’ Has Joined Sidney Powell’s Team (AT)

In her Georgia complaint, Sidney Powell included the declaration of Navid Keshavarz-Nia, an expert witness who stated under oath that there was massive computer fraud in the 2020 election, all of it intended to secure a victory for Joe Biden. Dr. Kershavarz-Nia’s name may not mean a lot to you, but it’s one of the weightiest names in the world when it comes to sniffing out cyber-security problems. We know how important Dr. Kershavarz-Nia is because, just two and a half months ago, the New York Times ran one of its Sunday long-form articles about a massive, multi-million-dollar fraud that a talented grifter ran against the American intelligence and military communities. Dr. Kershavarz-Nia is one of the few people who comes off looking good:

“Navid Keshavarz-Nia, those who worked with him said, “was always the smartest person in the room.” In doing cybersecurity and technical counterintelligence work for the C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I., he had spent decades connecting top-secret dots. After several months of working with Mr. Courtney, he began connecting those dots too. He did not like where they led.” Not only does Dr. Kershavarz-Nia have an innate intelligence, but he’s also got extraordinary academic and practical skills in cyber-fraud detection and analysis. The reason we know about his qualifications is that it takes seven paragraphs for him to list them in the declaration he signed to support the Georgia complaint.

His qualifications include a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in various areas of electrical and computer engineering. In addition, “I have advanced trained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), DHS office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) and Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT).” Professionally, Dr. Kershavarz-Nia has spent his career as a cyber-security engineer. “My experience,” he attests,” spans 35 years performing technical assessment, mathematical modeling, cyber-attack pattern analysis, and security intelligence[.]” I will not belabor the point. Take it as given that Dr. Kershavarz-Nia may know more about cyber-security than anyone else in America.

So what does the brilliant Dr. Kershavarz-Nia have to say? This: 1. Hammer and Scorecard is real, not a hoax (as Democrats allege), and both are used to manipulate election outcomes. 2. Dominion, ES&S, Scytl, and Smartmatic are all vulnerable to fraud and vote manipulation — and the mainstream media reported on these vulnerabilities in the past. 3. Dominion has been used in other countries to “forge election results.” 4. Dominion’s corporate structure is deliberately confusing to hide relationships with Venezuela, China, and Cuba. 5. Dominion machines are easily hackable. 6. Dominion memory cards with cryptographic key access to the systems were stolen in 2019.

Read more …

The strangest case of all so far?! People protest in court against Dominion machines being wiped clean on order of Sec of State, judge orders wiping stopped (it was already in progress), then reverses order because plaintiffs don’t have the machines, then reverses that order again. Buy why would you wipe election machines to begin with, especially before the election has been decided?

Republicans Plan to Occupy Georgia State House (GP)

A coalition of Republican groups are calling for an occupation of the Georgia State House in response to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordering the Dominion voting machines in the state to be wiped. The groups are also calling for a protest at Raffensperger’s home on Monday evening. Raffensperger claims that he was ordering them to be reset ahead of the senate runoff election, but a reset would wipe all votes from the general election — the results of which are still being hotly contested by the Trump campaign. The deletion had been temporarily stopped on Sunday, when Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. issued an order to freeze ALL Dominion voting machines in the state of Georgia, but he reversed course within hours.


Currently, there is a major fight going on and it appears that a short time later, a federal judge ordered officials not to reset the machines. The volatile and unknown situation has lead to Republican activists and organizers to call for a full on occupation of the Georgia State House on Monday — as well as protest at the Secretary of State’s house. “After the Secretary of State ordered the voting machines to be wiped in a blatant destruction of evidence, coalition groups plan to OCCUPY THE STATE CAPITOL in Georgia on Monday November 30 at 12pm. They also plan to protest outside the Sec. of States house at 6pm,” Republican activist, influencer, and entrepreneur Mike Coudrey tweeted.


“Defendants are hereby ENJOINED & RESTRAINED from altering, destroying, or erasing, or allowing the alteration, destruction, or erasure of, any software or data on any DOMINION VOTING MACHINE…”

Read more …

When you look at these numbers, yes, it’s strange.

The 2020 Presidential Election Is Deeply Puzzling (Basham)

I am a pollster and I find this election to be deeply puzzling. I also think that the Trump campaign is still well within its rights to contest the tabulations. Something very strange happened in America’s democracy in the early hours of Wednesday November 4 and the days that followed. It’s reasonable for a lot of Americans to want to find out exactly what. First, consider some facts. President Trump received more votes than any previous incumbent seeking reelection. He got 11 million more votes than in 2016, the third largest rise in support ever for an incumbent. By way of comparison, President Obama was comfortably reelected in 2012 with 3.5 million fewer votes than he received in 2008. Trump’s vote increased so much because, according to exit polls, he performed far better with many key demographic groups.

Ninety-five percent of Republicans voted for him. He did extraordinarily well with rural male working-class whites. He earned the highest share of all minority votes for a Republican since 1960. Trump grew his support among black voters by 50 percent over 2016. Nationally, Joe Biden’s black support fell well below 90 percent, the level below which Democratic presidential candidates usually lose. Trump increased his share of the national Hispanic vote to 35 percent. With 60 percent or less of the national Hispanic vote, it is arithmetically impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Bellwether states swung further in Trump’s direction than in 2016. Florida, Ohio and Iowa each defied America’s media polls with huge wins for Trump.

Since 1852, only Richard Nixon has lost the electoral college after winning this trio, and that 1960 defeat to John F. Kennedy is still the subject of great suspicion. Midwestern states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin always swing in the same direction as Ohio and Iowa, their regional peers. Ohio likewise swings with Florida. Current tallies show that, outside of a few cities, the Rust Belt swung in Trump’s direction. Yet, Biden leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because of an apparent avalanche of black votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Biden’s ‘winning’ margin was derived almost entirely from such voters in these cities, as coincidentally his black vote spiked only in exactly the locations necessary to secure victory. He did not receive comparable levels of support among comparable demographic groups in comparable states, which is highly unusual for the presidential victor.

We are told that Biden won more votes nationally than any presidential candidate in history. But he won a record low of 17 percent of counties; he only won 524 counties, as opposed to the 873 counties Obama won in 2008. Yet, Biden somehow outdid Obama in total votes. Victorious presidential candidates, especially challengers, usually have down-ballot coattails; Biden did not. The Republicans held the Senate and enjoyed a ‘red wave’ in the House, where they gained a large number of seats while winning all 27 toss-up contests. Trump’s party did not lose a single state legislature and actually made gains at the state level. Another anomaly is found in the comparison between the polls and non-polling metrics.

The latter include: party registrations trends; the candidates’ respective primary votes; candidate enthusiasm; social media followings; broadcast and digital media ratings; online searches; the number of (especially small) donors; and the number of individuals betting on each candidate. Despite poor recent performances, media and academic polls have an impressive 80 percent record predicting the winner during the modern era. But, when the polls err, non-polling metrics do not; the latter have a 100 percent record. Every non-polling metric forecast Trump’s reelection. For Trump to lose this election, the mainstream polls needed to be correct, which they were not. Furthermore, for Trump to lose, not only did one or more of these metrics have to be wrong for the first time ever, but every single one had to be wrong, and at the very same time; not an impossible outcome, but extremely unlikely nonetheless.

Read more …

@KateAronoff: “Historic times, ladies: a woman is going to collect surveillance data leading to a targeted drone strikes. Another woman will tell the press that 14 dead civilians is the price of freedom, and yet another woman will say there’s no money left for healthcare”

Biden To Tap Career Russiagater For Top Budgeting Post (RT)

An Obamacare architect, former Hillary Clinton adviser and career Russiagater, Neera Tanden, has been tapped as potential budget office director under Biden, setting Twitter on fire with recollections of her toxic track record. Tanden was a healthcare adviser under the Barack Obama administration and helped draft his brainchild the Affordable Care Act. A close ally of Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2016 presidential run, she currently heads the pro-Clinton think tank Center for American Progress. Although born and raised in the United States, Tanden’s parents are immigrants from India. The mainstream media have praised her potentially becoming “the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to lead the Office of Management and Budget.”

Known for her combative tweeting, Tanden seems to have a habit of clashing with anyone who questions the wisdom of the Democratic Party’s political machine. Journalist Vincent Bevins joked that her potential nomination should be seen as an inspiration which “shows that a lifetime of posting cringe is not a barrier to higher office.” Grayzone writer and assistant editor Ben Norton labelled Tanden a “neoliberal troll” who “hates the left with a burning passion and spends all her time on here attacking leftists.” In fact, Tanden was openly hostile towards supporters of Vermont senator and two-time presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The left-leaning lawmaker accused Tanden last year of “maligning my staff & supporters and belittling progressive ideas.”

Her hostility towards those critical of Clinton reportedly even led to physical scuffles. In 2008, Tanden is said to have assaulted a staffer after he asked Clinton a critical question about the Iraq war. Conservative pundit Mike Cernovich described Tanden as a “garden variety resistance troll,” although this description arguably doesn’t do justice to her impressive output of Russiagate-related outbursts. She was a militant disciple of the debunked theory that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was in cahoots with Moscow, floating countless bizarre allegations, including, but certainly not limited to, the proposition that Russian hackers had infiltrated Florida’s voting system with Trump’s full knowledge during the 2016 election.

Tanden provocatively alleged that WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange engaged in “fascist behavior” by publishing leaked State Department emails and other US documents. Her foreign policy views have also raised eyebrows. She (in)famously suggested Libya should provide compensation, in the form of oil, to the US as a means of repayment for its “liberation.” A US-led NATO intervention in 2011 turned the North African nation into a safe haven for warlords, terrorists and human traffickers. “Given tonight’s news, I hope oil-rich countries around the world are increasing the security on their rigs and drilling sites,” journalist Glenn Greenwald quipped, citing an email of Tanden’s that was leaked to the Intercept.

Read more …

A decades-long development.

One Of America’s Great Wildernesses Being Destroyed In A Silent Massacre (LAT)

Hidden away in the heart of the Deep South, one of the nation’s greatest wildernesses is being destroyed, bit by bit, in a silent massacre. You won’t find people chaining themselves to trees to protect this place, or national environmental groups using pictures of it to sign up new members, because few know it exists. And yet, here it is — the Mobile River Basin, one of the richest in the world in terms of the sheer number of species and types of habitat. The major rivers and thousands of creeks feeding into this basin together form the largest inland delta system in the United States, second only to the Mississippi in how much water it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.

The river system, the fourth-largest in the country in terms of water flow, stretches from the northern edge of Alabama to the Gulf, draining parts of four states, and encompassing hundreds of thousands of acres of forest, from Appalachian hardwood stands to haunted cypress swamps. A dedicated band of locals know it for the incredible hunting and fishing it affords. But few know it for its greatest distinction. That’s a shame, for this is America’s Amazon, far and away the most biodiverse river network in North America. There are more species of oaks on a single hillside on the banks of the Alabama River than you can find anywhere else in the world. The Mobile River Basin makes Alabama home to more species of freshwater fish, mussels, snails, turtles and crawfish than any other state. The contest isn’t even close.

For instance, Alabama is home to 97 crawfish species, while California, three times the size of Alabama, has but nine. There are 450 species of freshwater fish in the state, or about one-third of all species known in the entire nation. The system’s turtle population is even more singular. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta estuary system has 18 turtle species, more than any other river delta system in the world — more than the Amazon and more than the Mekong, both extraordinarily biodiverse ecosystems. Unlike most of the nation’s great river systems, the Mobile Basin — along with its wetlands, floodplain forests and estuary — has survived with its biological community mostly intact. That is due in large measure to an odd combination of benign neglect and the mixed blessing of being located in the heart of Alabama.

Tragically, it now sits on the cusp of decline, facing death by a thousand cuts, just as the scientific community has begun to appreciate its riches. Habitat destruction, development and lax enforcement of environmental regulations conspire to take an increasing toll, making the area a global hot spot for extinctions, particularly of aquatic creatures. In fact, nearly half of all extinctions in the continental United States since the 1800s have occurred among creatures that lived in the Mobile River Basin, according to records maintained by Endangered Species International and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read more …

“The problems are deep and structural – not the type that the tedious process of democratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem.”

The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse (Wood)

Peter Turchin, one of the world’s experts on pine beetles and possibly also on human beings, met me reluctantly this summer on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he teaches. Like many people during the pandemic, he preferred to limit his human contact. He also doubted whether human contact would have much value anyway, when his mathematical models could already tell me everything I needed to know. [..] The year 2020 has been kind to Turchin, for many of the same reasons it has been hell for the rest of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging – to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs. To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. (“Not all of human history,” he corrected me once. “Just the last 10,000 years.”)

He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an “age of discord,” civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020, and that it wouldn’t let up until those social and political trends reversed. Havoc at the level of the late 1960s and early ’70s is the best-case scenario; all-out civil war is the worst. The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions. His models, which track these factors in other societies across history, are too complicated to explain in a nontechnical publication.

But they’ve succeeded in impressing writers for nontechnical publications, and have won him comparisons to other authors of “megahistories,” such as Jared Diamond and Yuval Noah Harari. [..] The fate of our own society, he says, is not going to be pretty, at least in the near term. “It’s too late,” he told me as we passed Mirror Lake, which UConn’s website describes as a favorite place for students to “read, relax, or ride on the wooden swing.” The problems are deep and structural – not the type that the tedious process of democratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem. Turchin likens America to a huge ship headed directly for an iceberg: “If you have a discussion among the crew about which way to turn, you will not turn in time, and you hit the iceberg directly.”

Read more …

 

 

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Apr 232020
 


Jack Delano Union Station, Chicago, Illinois 1943

 

Not a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System – Taleb (NYer)
Coronavirus Started Spreading In US Much Earlier Than Thought (CoD)
Coronavirus Study Points To Vast Number Of Cases Under Radar In China (SCMP)
How Does Coronavirus Kill? (ScienceMag)
Many Small Businesses Say Loans Won’t Get Them To Rehire (AP)
Congressional Democrats Do Little To Improve ‘Pathetic’ Coronavirus Deal (IC)
Trump Disagrees ‘Strongly’ With Georgia Reopening Shops (JTN)
HHS Secretary Alex Azar Waited For Weeks To Brief Trump (WSJ)
Azar Tapped Former Labradoodle Breeder To Lead US Pandemic Task Force (R.)
Cuomo Taps Bloomberg To Lead COVID-19 Contact “Tracing Army” (Gothamist)
Turkey PPE Supplier Doesn’t Have Enough Stock To Meet UK Order (Sky)
Coronavirus Upends Global Narcotics Trade (R.)
The Analogy Trap in Economic Policy (Eichengreen)
New York Times Revives its Role in Chinagate (Lauria)

 

 

• The US had +2,341 new deaths from coronavirus today, down from its record high yesterday, bringing the total US death toll to 47,659.

• New York had +661 new deaths, while New Jersey had +310, Massachusetts had +221, and three other states (CA, MI, CT) had over 100 new deaths. Only five states did not have a coronavirus death today.

• The US had nearly +30k new confirmed cases today, bringing the total to over 848k, with over 717k active cases.

 

• US total cases currently at 848,735, with death totals at 47,663.
• Globally, total cases have hit 2,637,414, with death totals at 184,204.

 

• US yesterday new 25,985, today now 27,948.
• IL, CT today exceed 2,000

 

• Spain yesterday 3,968, today 4,211. Fluctuating. No daily testing data

 

• 4/22/20 – Top 12 State Cases
New York: 257,216
New Jersey: 95,865
Massachusetts: 42,944
California: 35,396
Illinois: 35,108
Pennsylvania: 35,045
Michigan: 33,966
Florida: 28,309
Louisiana: 25,258
Connecticut: 22,469
Texas: 21,069
Georgia: 20,740

 

 

#Coronavirus: Global #Covid19 Deaths By Week
01/22: 17
01/29: 133
02/05: 564
02/12: 1,118
02/19: 2,122
02/26: 2,770
03/04: 3,254
03/11: 4,615
03/18: 8,733
03/25: 21,181
04/01: 46,809
04/08: 88,338
04/15: 134,177
04/22: 183,027

 

 

Cases 2,656,391 (+ 82,920 from yesterday’s 2,573,471)

Deaths 185,156 (+ 6,598 from yesterday’s 178,558)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: among Active Cases, Serious or Critical fell to 3%. Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 20%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live: Note: Turkey, Russia, UK are the biggest risers

 

 

 

 

“The state,” he told me, “should not smooth out your life, like a Lebanese mother, but should be there for intervention in negative times, like a rich Lebanese uncle.”

Not a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System – Taleb (NYer)

COVID19 has initiated ordinary citizens into the esoteric “mayhem” that Taleb’s writings portend. Who knows what will change for countries when the pandemic ends? What we do know, Taleb says, is what cannot remain the same. He is “too much a cosmopolitan” to want global networks undone, even if they could be. But he does want the institutional equivalent of “circuit breakers, fail-safe protocols, and backup systems,” many of which he summarizes in his fourth, and favorite, book, “Antifragile,” published in 2012. For countries, he envisions political and economic principles that amount to an analogue of his investment strategy: government officials and corporate executives accepting what may seem like too-small gains from their investment dollars, while protecting themselves from catastrophic loss.

For Taleb, an antifragile country would encourage the distribution of power among smaller, more local, experimental, and self-sufficient entities—in short, build a system that could survive random stresses, rather than break under any particular one. (His word for this beneficial distribution is “fractal.”) We should discourage the concentration of power in big corporations, “including a severe restriction of lobbying,” Taleb told me. “When one per cent of the people have fifty per cent of the income, that is a fat tail.” Companies shouldn’t be able to make money from monopoly power, “from rent-seeking”—using that power not to build something but to extract an ever-larger part of the surplus.

There should be an expansion of the powers of state and even county governments, where there is “bottom-up” control and accountability. This could incubate new businesses and foster new education methods that emphasize “action learning and apprenticeship” over purely academic certification. He thinks that “we should have a national Entrepreneurship Day.” But Taleb doesn’t believe that the government should abandon citizens buffeted by events they can’t possibly anticipate or control. (He dedicated his book “Skin in the Game,” published in 2018, to Ron Paul and Ralph Nader.) “The state,” he told me, “should not smooth out your life, like a Lebanese mother, but should be there for intervention in negative times, like a rich Lebanese uncle.”

Right now, for example, the government should, indeed, be sending out checks to unemployed and gig workers. (“You don’t bail out companies, you bail out individuals.”) He would also consider a guaranteed basic income, much as Andrew Yang, whom he admires, has advocated. Crucially, the government should be an insurer of health care, though Taleb prefers not a centrally run Medicare-for-all system but one such as Canada’s, which is controlled by the provinces. And, like responsible supply-chain managers, the federal government should create buffers against public-health disasters: “If it can spend trillions stockpiling nuclear weapons, it ought to spend tens of billions stockpiling ventilators and testing kits.”

Read more …

This was a given.

Coronavirus Started Spreading In US Much Earlier Than Thought (CoD)

Experts have released new information about just how long the coronavirus (COVID-19) might have been silently spreading in the United States. Health officials in California said the first U.S. coronavirus deaths actually occurred weeks before they previously believed. This comes as no surprise to doctors. Many doctors had patients earlier on that they now believe were COVID-19 cases. But they didn’t qualify for testing at the time because they either didn’t have a history of travel to China or the didn’t have the initially reported symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. But now there’s concrete proof that the timeline of cases started much earlier.

The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the U.S. came Jan. 21 in a man from Washington state who developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China. But the first confirmed death was thought to be more than a month later, on Feb. 29, in Kirkland, Washington. Health officials there later found two deaths on Feb. 26 were due to the virus, pushing the timeline back three days. But coroners across the country are now looking back at other deaths. The medial examiner in Santa Clara County, California, sent tissue samples collected during autopsies performed in February to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.

Samples taken from patients who died at home on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 both tested positive for the coronavirus. That pushes the fatality timeline back 20 days. Health officials believe the patients were infected in the community. Neither is known to have a travel history. Given that deaths tend to lag infections by about two weeks, the first patient could have been infected in mid-January. It’s likely the coronavirus was already spreading in the U.S. far earlier than initially reported — hidden in a bad flu season and undetected by rigid testing rules.

Read more …

So people will say: see, infection rate is much lower! Well, not if the death rate is also much higher. Which certainly in China is possible.

Coronavirus Study Points To Vast Number Of Cases Under Radar In China (SCMP)

China’s official tally of coronavirus cases could have quadrupled in mid-February if one broader system for classifying confirmed patients had been used from the outset of the pandemic, according to researchers at the University of Hong Kong. In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday, the researchers said China might have had 232,000 confirmed cases – rather than the official total of about 55,000 – by February 20 if a revised definition adopted earlier in the month had been applied throughout. “We estimated that there were at least 232,000 infections in the first epidemic wave of Covid-19 in mainland China,” they said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“The true number of infections could still be higher than that currently estimated considering the possibility of under-detection of some infections, particularly those that were mild and asymptomatic, even under the broadest case definitions.” The researchers – led by Peng Wu from the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health – looked at the various classification systems used by the government after the epidemic erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. China has published seven editions of diagnosis and treatment guidelines, changing the classification system as understanding of the disease developed. The Hong Kong team found that different definitions made a big difference to the number of cases.

“We estimated that when the case definitions were changed from version 1 to 2, version 2 to 4, and version 4 to 5, the proportion of infections being identified as Covid-19 cases was increased by 7.1 times from version 1 to 2, 2.8 times from version 2 to 4, and 4.2 times from version 4 to 5,” the paper, co-authored by Peng’s HKU colleagues epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling and medical faculty dean Gabriel Leung, said.

Read more …

Thorough report on how and why. But even then a lack of understanding of what the virus is, remains.

How Does Coronavirus Kill? (ScienceMag)

When an infected person expels virus-laden droplets and someone else inhales them, the novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, enters the nose and throat. It finds a welcome home in the lining of the nose, according to a preprint from scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and elsewhere. They found that cells there are rich in a cell-surface receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Throughout the body, the presence of ACE2, which normally helps regulate blood pressure, marks tissues vulnerable to infection, because the virus requires that receptor to enter a cell. Once inside, the virus hijacks the cell’s machinery, making myriad copies of itself and invading new cells.

As the virus multiplies, an infected person may shed copious amounts of it, especially during the first week or so. Symptoms may be absent at this point. Or the virus’ new victim may develop a fever, dry cough, sore throat, loss of smell and taste, or head and body aches. If the immune system doesn’t beat back SARS-CoV-2 during this initial phase, the virus then marches down the windpipe to attack the lungs, where it can turn deadly. The thinner, distant branches of the lung’s respiratory tree end in tiny air sacs called alveoli, each lined by a single layer of cells that are also rich in ACE2 receptors.

Normally, oxygen crosses the alveoli into the capillaries, tiny blood vessels that lie beside the air sacs; the oxygen is then carried to the rest of the body. But as the immune system wars with the invader, the battle itself disrupts this healthy oxygen transfer. Front-line white blood cells release inflammatory molecules called chemokines, which in turn summon more immune cells that target and kill virus-infected cells, leaving a stew of fluid and dead cells—pus—behind. This is the underlying pathology of pneumonia, with its corresponding symptoms: coughing; fever; and rapid, shallow respiration. Some COVID-19 patients recover, sometimes with no more support than oxygen breathed in through nasal prongs.

But others deteriorate, often quite suddenly, developing a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Oxygen levels in their blood plummet and they struggle ever harder to breathe. On x-rays and computed tomography scans, their lungs are riddled with white opacities where black space—air—should be. Commonly, these patients end up on ventilators. Many die. Autopsies show their alveoli became stuffed with fluid, white blood cells, mucus, and the detritus of destroyed lung cells.

Read more …

All the big money’s already been handed out.

Many Small Businesses Say Loans Won’t Get Them To Rehire (AP)

Some small businesses that obtained a highly-coveted government loan say they won’t be able to use it to bring all their laid-off workers back, even though that is what the program was designed to do. The Paycheck Protection Program promises a business owner loan forgiveness if they retain or rehire all the workers they had in late February. But owners say the equation isn’t so simple, in part because of current economic conditions and partly due to the terms of the loans. As a result, the lending may not reduce unemployment as much as the Trump administration and Congress hope. The government’s $2 trillion relief package included $349 billion for the small business loan program, which was besieged with applications and ran out of money Thursday.

Congress and the White House reached a deal Tuesday that would provide another $310 billion. To get the loans forgiven, companies need to spend 75% on payroll within eight weeks of receiving the money. The other 25% can be spent on rent, utilities, and mortgage payments. Otherwise, the loan has generous terms: Only a 1% interest rate and six months before any principal is due. Many of the small companies that were able to obtain a loan are having second thoughts about rehiring all their workers and a few plan to return the money. Others will use what they can on rent and utilities, and will use some to rehire a portion of their laid-off staff. But most are unsure they will be able to reopen eight weeks from now.

They see little point in rehiring all their workers, paying them to do little or nothing, and then potentially laying them off again if business remains weak two months from now. “You’re turning the business into a pass through for the federal government,” said Joe Walsh, who owns Clean Green Maine, a cleaning service in Portland, Maine with 35 employees. “You’re doing very little to actually help the business.” [..] Also, the generous unemployment aid that was also included in the government’s relief package has made it more difficult to rehire. Many workers are making more with unemployment checks, which now include a $600 weekly benefit from the federal government.

Walsh, who received a $280,000 loan from the SBA, said that he is reluctant to push his employees to return to work because, under unemployment benefit rules, they could lose their weekly checks if they turn down potential jobs. “That’s just putting me as the employer in a really difficult position,” Walsh said. He pays at least $17 an hour, with benefits, but his former employees are getting the equivalent of roughly $25 an hour from unemployment.

Read more …

They all have the same campaign contributors. And they’re not small businesses.

Congressional Democrats Do Little To Improve ‘Pathetic’ Coronavirus Deal (IC)

PROGRESSIVE GROUPS are outraged with the nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus rescue package the Senate passed on Tuesday, urging House Democrats to oppose the “pathetic” deal they say doesn’t come close to providing the relief vulnerable people need while giving away all Democratic leverage for future legislation. The “Phase 3.5” bill, which is expected to sail through the House this week, left out almost everything Democratic leaders were advocating for. There’s no additional funding for state and local governments, no expanded food stamp benefits, no hazard pay for front-line workers, nor money for the U.S. Postal Service, which had all been basic Democratic priorities.

The lack of progressive opposition in Congress has been especially noteworthy, after members of the progressive caucus promised to help make future legislation more comprehensive following the hastily passed Phase 3 bill. While some progressive advocates argue that Democrats didn’t have much leverage on the package to begin with, others note that Democrats control the House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have led the party to pass its own bill. “Just as importantly as the inadequate policy provisions, this bill gives away all Democratic leverage,” Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, said in an emailed statement.

“We fought so hard to win back the House in 2018 — to make sure that we had a voice in negotiations like this. So far we’ve heard silence from the House. This bill may be our last chance to get the things we need. [Republican Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has already said he doesn’t want to push through another bill, and if he does, it won’t be for weeks.” [..] The interim package, which would replenish funds for an emergency small business lending program, also includes an additional $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing — two necessities that have been framed as GOP concessions. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the legislation is everything they were expecting. “When you look at the package that is going to be passed, it’s almost exactly like the one we asked for two weeks ago, or 12 days ago,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Read more …

It takes 2 weeks for new infections to occur. By then, most of the US will have reopened.

Trump Disagrees ‘Strongly’ With Georgia Reopening Shops (JTN)

President Trump said he disagreed with Georgia’s decision to allow some shops to re-open as early as Friday after shuttering due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the Phase 1 guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia,” Trump said Wednesday during a press conference of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.” Trump said he wanted to give governors discretion, although he would step in if he sees something “totally egregious, totally out of line.”

Trump’s administration last week released a 3-phase set of guidelines to re-open following the worst of the pandemic. Trump said that these Georgia shops shouldn’t be re-opening during the federal phase 1 guidelines and should instead wait for phase 2. “We’re going to have phase 2 very soon,” Trump said. “It’s just too soon. I think it’s too soon. And I love the people. I love those people that use all of those things, the spas, and the beauty parlors, barber shops, tattoo parlors. I love ’em. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit. Not much. Because safety has to predominate. We have to have that. So I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right.”

[..] 46% of registered U.S. voters want decisions about re-opening the country after the coronavirus to be made by state and local officials. Only 15% think it should be a federal decision, according to the Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Trump praised Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) for his re-opening strategy. “Some of the governors have done a fantastic job working with us,” Trump said.

Read more …

Sidelined a little too late perhaps?

HHS Secretary Alex Azar Waited For Weeks To Brief Trump (WSJ)

On Jan. 29, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told President Trump the coronavirus epidemic was under control. The U.S. government had never mounted a better interagency response to a crisis, Mr. Azar told the president in a meeting held eight days after the U.S. announced its first case, according to administration officials. At the time, the administration’s focus was on containing the virus. When other officials asked about diagnostic testing, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, began to answer. Mr. Azar cut him off, telling the president it was “the fastest we’ve ever created a test,” the officials recalled, and that more than one million tests would be available within weeks.

That didn’t happen. The CDC began shipping tests the following week, only to discover a flaw that forced it to recall the test from state public-health laboratories. When White House advisers later in February criticized Mr. Azar for the delays caused by the recall, he lashed out at Dr. Redfield, accusing the CDC director of misleading him on the timing of a fix. “Did you lie to me?” one of the officials recalled him yelling. Six weeks after that Jan. 29 meeting, the federal government declared a national emergency and issued guidelines that effectively closed down the country. Mr. Azar, who had been at the center of the decision-making from the outset, was eventually sidelined.

Many factors muddled the administration’s early response to the coronavirus as officials debated the severity of the threat, including comments from Mr. Trump that minimized the risk. But interviews with more than two dozen administration officials and others involved in the government’s coronavirus effort show that Mr. Azar waited for weeks to brief the president on the threat, oversold his agency’s progress in the early days and didn’t coordinate effectively across the health-care divisions under his purview.

[..] White House officials say there is no plan to replace Mr. Azar during a pandemic. Still, the president last week installed a former campaign aide, Michael Caputo, to serve as assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS. The White House also appointed policy adviser Emily Newman as a liaison to HHS who will oversee the agency’s political hires. Mr. Azar has largely been sidelined over the past several weeks from discussions with the president and with the White House task force, administration officials said. He hasn’t attended the daily briefing since April 3.

Read more …

The headline is just too good.

Azar Tapped Former Labradoodle Breeder To Lead US Pandemic Task Force (R.)

On January 21, the day the first U.S. case of coronavirus was reported, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared on Fox News to report the latest on the disease as it ravaged China. Alex Azar, a 52-year-old lawyer and former drug industry executive, assured Americans the U.S. government was prepared. “We developed a diagnostic test at the CDC, so we can confirm if somebody has this,” Azar said. “We will be spreading that diagnostic around the country so that we are able to do rapid testing on site.” While coronavirus in Wuhan, China, was “potentially serious,” Azar assured viewers in America, it “was one for which we have a playbook.”

Azar’s initial comments misfired on two fronts. Like many U.S. officials, from President Donald Trump on down, he underestimated the pandemic’s severity. He also overestimated his agency’s preparedness. As is now widely known, two agencies Azar oversaw as HHS secretary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, wouldn’t come up with viable tests for five and half weeks, even as other countries and the World Health Organization had already prepared their own. Shortly after his televised comments, Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19.

The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him “the dog breeder.” Azar’s optimistic public pronouncement and choice of an inexperienced manager are emblematic of his agency’s oft-troubled response to the crisis. His HHS is a behemoth department, overseeing almost every federal public health agency in the country, with a $1.3 trillion budget that exceeds the GDP of most countries. [..[ Azar and his top deputies oversaw health agencies that were slow to alert the public to the magnitude of the crisis, to produce a test to tell patients if they were sick, and to provide protective masks to hospitals even as physicians pleaded for them.

The first test created by the CDC, meant to be used by other labs, was plagued by a glitch that rendered it useless and wasn’t fixed for weeks. It wasn’t until March that tests by other labs went into production. The lack of tests “limited hospitals’ ability to monitor the health of patients and staff,” the HHS Inspector General said in a report this month. The equipment shortage “put staff and patients at risk.” A promised virus surveillance program failed to take root, despite assurances Azar gave to Congress. Rather than share information, three current and three former government officials told Reuters, Azar and top staff sidelined key agencies that could have played a higher-profile role in addressing the pandemic. “It was a mess,” said a White House official who worked with HHS.

Read more …

Little Mike mighty actually pull it off. But he doesn’t care too much about privacy.

Cuomo Taps Bloomberg To Lead COVID-19 Contact “Tracing Army” (Gothamist)

Michael Bloomberg has been charged with amassing and leading a “tracing army” to track the spread of COVID-19 in the Tri-State area, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The goal will be to aggressively test and isolate contacts of all those who tested positive for the virus — a major undertaking that experts say is necessary before officials can consider relaxing social distancing measures. After previewing this push in recent weeks, Cuomo revealed during a press conference on Wednesday that Bloomberg will “coordinate the entire effort,” including developing the program and designing the training for thousands of newly-hired tracers.

The multibillionaire former mayor, who does not have a public health background, has also agreed to contribute $10 million to the initiative. By comparison, he spent $1 billion on his failed presidential bid. The announcement came hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his own plans for a citywide contact tracing apparatus. The mayor was not informed by the Governor’s Office that Bloomberg, his predecessor and political rival, would be heading up the statewide effort until Wednesday morning, as de Blasio was announcing his own initiative, mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein told Gothamist. While the city will still be responsible for hiring some of the field workers, Cuomo stressed that the initiative had to be regionally focused.

“You cannot trace someone within the boundaries of New York City,” he said. The state will also partner with Johns Hopkins University and the non-profit Vital Strategies to roll out the program. Some of the roughly 35,000 CUNY and SUNY students in medical fields will also be tapped for the effort, Cuomo said. The federal government has made available $1.3 billion for New York to begin contact tracing. Cuomo did not immediately have an estimate for how much it would cost. “You don’t have months to get this up and running,” he added. “You have weeks.”

Read more …

Turkey is one of the exploding countries. Is it a good ide to export their supplies?

Turkey PPE Supplier Doesn’t Have Enough Stock To Meet UK Order (Sky)

A commercial supplier in Turkey did not have enough stock to fulfil an order for 84 tonnes of protective equipment supposed to be bound for the UK, Turkish officials have said. British sources said the UK government was working with the company and the Turkish authorities to secure the shipment “as soon as possible” – though no time frame was given. It comes as a flight carrying PPE – urgently needed by front line health workers as they treat COVID-19 patients in the UK – arrived from Turkey, following days of delays. The Royal Air Force plane arrived at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire from Istanbul just after 3am.


The total consignment of 84 tonnes includes 400,000 clinical gowns, but it is not clear how much of this is on today’s flight. An initial batch of just 2,500 gowns was sent to the airport in Istanbul for quality control checks on Tuesday. Turkish officials said Britain’s attempt to buy the protective equipment from a Turkish firm ran into trouble because the supplier did not have enough stock. Turkey’s ambassador to the UK, Umit Yalcin, told Sky News: “As far as I understand there have been problems with the private supplier company. “Now Turkey is cooperating with the UK authorities to find a quick solution for the UK’s urgent needs.

Read more …

Support your local dealer.

Coronavirus Upends Global Narcotics Trade (R.)

Countries around the world have spent billions of dollars bailing out businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Peru’s coca farmers, who grow the bushy plant used to make cocaine, say they want help, too. Prices for coca leaves sold to drug gangs have slumped 70% since Peru went on lockdown last month, according to Julián Pérez Mallqui, the head of a local growers’ organization. He said his members cater to Peru’s tightly regulated legal coca market, but acknowledged some growers sell on the black market. Peruvian officials say more than 90% of the country’s coca crop goes to traffickers who are now struggling to move product. With the sector in turmoil, Pérez’s group is crafting a plan to ask the government to buy up excess coca inventory.

Peru “has to design clear intervention strategies for coca,” Pérez said. “We’re screwed, just like everyone else in the world.” A spokesman for Peru’s anti-drugs agency said it may funnel more development aid to hard-hit areas. The coronavirus outbreak has upended industries across the globe. The international narcotics trade has not been spared. From the cartel badlands along the U.S.-Mexico border and verdant coca fields of the Andes, to street dealers in London and Paris, traffickers are grappling with many of the same woes as legitimate businesses, Reuters has found. On three continents, Reuters spoke with more than two dozen law enforcement officials, narcotics experts, diplomats and people involved in the illicit trade.

They described a business experiencing busted supply chains, delivery delays, disgruntled workers and millions of customers on lockdown. They also gave a window into the innovation – and opportunism – that are hallmarks of the underworld. [..] coronavirus has managed to do what authorities worldwide have not: slow the global narcotics juggernaut almost overnight and inflict a measure of pain on all who participate. In Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel has faced many threats over the years, including the jailing of former leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. But never one like the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more …

“The task for now is income maintenance — targeting public support at the unemployed so that parents can feed their children.”

The Analogy Trap in Economic Policy (Eichengreen)

Where comparisons with past crises have value is precisely in highlighting how this crisis is different, and therefore how the policy response should vary. First, this crisis did not originate in the financial system, in contrast to 1929 and 2008. Flooding financial markets with liquidity, as central banks have done, may prevent problems on the real side of the economy from destabilising financial institutions and markets. But doing so will not mend the economy or even halt its downward spiral. Achieving this requires first containing the pandemic. Second, in contrast to these earlier episodes, major fiscal stimulus packages are not the right policy focus. Unlike in the past, we have also experienced an unprecedented supply shock.

It makes no sense to try to sustain demand at earlier levels at a time when production can’t keep up, since it is not yet safe — and won’t be safe for some time — for people to return to work. The time for demand stimulus is later. The task for now is income maintenance — targeting public support at the unemployed so that parents can feed their children. Third, this crisis will be most acute in low-income countries. These countries have weak health systems. They are being hit by weak commodity prices, falling remittances, capital flight, a shortage of trade credit and collapsing currencies all at once. They were not the focus in 1929 or 2008 because those crises centred on the global financial system, and because low-income countries had only rudimentary financial systems and were not integrated financially.

This time, low-income countries are at risk of a crisis that will dwarf anything in the advanced-country world. Addressing their plight should be priority number one on humanitarian grounds, but also because what happens there will spill back onto the rest of the world through both economic and epidemiological channels. With the IMF and World Bank meetings coming up next week, one wonders whether advanced countries will look beyond their domestic concerns. One worries that their preoccupation with the questions ‘is this downturn more serious than the Global Financial Crisis?’ and ‘could unemployment rise as high as in the Great Depression?’ will cause them to lose sight of what is about to become the most serious crisis of all.

Read more …

Yeah, before you know it you’re trapped with the NYT in your corner.

New York Times Revives its Role in Chinagate (Lauria)

During the saga of Russiagate The New York Times was the main vehicle for unnamed U.S. intelligence officials to filter uncorroborated allegations about Russia, presenting them as proven fact. Just as the Democratic Party attempted to shift the blame from its disastrous 2016 loss to Donald Trump onto Russia, the Trump administration is now trying to shift the blame from Trump’s disastrous handling of the Coronavirus crisis onto China. And The New York Times is once again the vehicle. In a front-page story on Wednesday, the Times reports as flat fact that “Chinese agents helped spread messages to millions of Americans about a fake lockdown last month, sowing virus panic in the U.S., officials said.” One of the messages said Trump would lock down the entire nation. “They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters.”

But as in the Times‘ sordid history of numerous Russiagate stories, you have to read deep into the piece, in this case to paragraph seven, before you are told: “The origin of the messages remains murky. American officials declined to reveal details of the intelligence linking Chinese agents to the dissemination of the disinformation, citing the need to protect their sources and methods for monitoring Beijing’s activities.” Any reputable journalism school will teach its students that you hold off publishing until you see the evidence underlying an assertion. This is especially true when quoting anonymous sources. And it is doubly true when these sources are intelligence agents, who have a long history of deception. It is part of their job description.

Reporters should by now be wary and demand proof after they had allowed intelligence officials to misuse them in misleading the public about the reasons to invade Iraq, and indeed about the later proven lies about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Times story on Wednesday rather shamelessly revives and links China’s alleged misdeeds to Russiagate. “American officials said China, borrowing from Russia’s strategies, has been trying to widen political divisions in the United States. As public dissent simmers over lockdown policies in several states, officials worry it will be easy for China and Russia to amplify the partisan disagreements.”

Read more …

 

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 November 19, 2019  Posted by at 9:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Female bust 1943

 

Adam Schiff Validated My Reporting On Ukraine (John Solomon)
The Hill Reviewing John Solomon Articles After Ambassador Refutes Claims (ZH)
Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Rooted In Fear Of Biden (Hill)
Ukraine MP Says Burisma Financed Clinton Campaign With $10M Unmarked Cash (CDM)
House Investigating Whether Trump Lied To Mueller (CNN)
Entertaining Questions (Jim Kunstler)
Hong Kong Anti-Mask Law Ruled Unconstitutional By High Court (SCMP)
China Says Hong Kong Courts Have No Power To Rule On Face Mask Ban (R.)
Emirates Orders 50 Airbus A350 Jets In A Revised Deal Worth $16 Billion (CNBC)
Airbus Secures 120 Plane Order From Air Arabia (CNBC)
FedEx CEO challenges NYT publisher to public debate after tax story
Georgian Riot Police Disperse Anti-Govt Rally In Tbilisi (RT)
The Roger Stone – Wikileaks – Russia Hoax (Craig Murray)
The Most Spied Upon Building On Earth (Maurizi)

 

 

I guess it’s official: John Solomon is no longer at The Hill. Still don’t know why; did I miss something?

Adam Schiff Validated My Reporting On Ukraine (John Solomon)

While the jury is still out on high crimes and misdemeanors, Schiff has managed to produce during the first few weeks of his impeachment hearings a robust body of evidence and testimony that supports all three of the main tenets of my Ukraine columns. In fact, his witnesses have done more than anyone to affirm the accuracy of my columns and to debunk the false narrative by a dishonest media and their friends inside the federal bureaucracy that my reporting was somehow false conspiracy theories. The half dozen seminal columns I published for The Hill on Ukraine were already supported by overwhelming documentation (all embedded in the story) and on-the-record interviews captured on video. They made three salient and simple points:

• Hunter Biden’s hiring by the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings, while it was under a corruption investigation, posed the appearance of a conflict of interest for his father. That’s because Vice President Joe Biden oversaw US-Ukraine policy and forced the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor overseeing the case.
• Ukraine officials had an uneasy relationship with our embassy in Kiev because State Department officials exerted pressure on Ukraine prosecutors to drop certain cases against activists, including one group partly funded by George Soros.
• There were efforts around Ukraine in 2016 to influence the US election, that included a request from a DNC contractor for dirt on Manafort, an OpEd from Ukraine’s US ambassador slamming Trump and the release of law enforcement evidence by Ukrainian officials that a Ukraine court concluded was an improper interference in the US election.

All three of these points have since been validated by the sworn testimony of Schiff’s witnesses this month, starting with the Bidens. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified he believed the Burisma-Bidens dynamic created the appearance of a conflict of interest, and that State officials viewed Burisma as having a corrupt relationship. Kent testified State’s sentiments were so strong that he personally intervened in 2016 to stop a joint project between one of his department’s agencies and Burisma. When asked why, he answered: “Burisma had a poor reputation in the business, and I didn’t think it was appropriate for the U.S. Government to be co-sponsoring something with a company that had a bad reputation.”

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The “problem” with Solomon is he’s thorough and well-documented. Look forward to him commenting on any potential edits to his articles.

The Hill Reviewing John Solomon Articles After Ambassador Refutes Claims (ZH)

The Hill will be reviewing articles written by former contributor John Solomon after allegations by US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch that he facilitated a smear campaign. “Because of our dedication to accurate non-partisan reporting and standards, we are reviewing, updating, annotating with any denials of witnesses, and when appropriate, correcting any opinion pieces referenced during the ongoing congressional inquiry,” reads an internal email from Editor-In-Chief Bob Cusack obtained by CNN’s Oliver Darcy. Yovanovitch testified last week that the president’s allies, including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, attacked her with false allegations that she was undermining the Trump administration’s agenda and badmouthing the president.


She claims Solomon was part of this effort – penning articles in The Hill containing the trash-talking claims as well as an allegation that she gave Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko a “do not prosecute list,” which both Yovanovitch and the State Department have pushed back on. Lutsenko changed his story, telling the New York Times there was no such list. He is currently facing allegations related to abuse of power. In response to the review, Solomon tweeted: “I welcome The Hill’s review of my Ukraine columns and suggested it myself a month ago. I believe it won’t be hard for The Hill to review these since all my source documents and original interviews are linked for all to see. Plus witnesses have affirmed much of what I wrote.”

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What the Hill publishes these days is smut like this. Toeing the line of the empire. The entire inquiry rests on the assumption that Trump is afraid of Biden. Is he though? Or does he want to find out what happened in 2016?

Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Rooted In Fear Of Biden (Hill)

Why is President Trump so nervous about the 2020 race? He has a record amount of campaign cash. Russian bots are still working for him. And he still has the backing of more than 80 percent of his party. So, how do I know he’s so nervous? As Trump loves to say: Read the transcript. At the heart of the phone call that has led to impeachment hearings is Trump going out on a shaky limb to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor.” That “favor” included a request for Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter. The only reason for Trump to risk asking a foreign leader for help getting political dirt on an opponent is that he feared that rival’s power.


And that November 2020 powerhouse in Trump’s mind is Biden. Recall that in June, Trump’s anxiety was on display when he insisted his campaign fire some its pollsters after internal polls showed him losing in Michigan and Wisconsin to Biden. Trump’s shaky nerves went public again in July when a Fox News poll showed him losing to Biden — by a lot. Trump went ballistic and attacked Fox. The president still has every reason to be nervous about a possible match-up with Biden because polls continue to show the Democrat beating him badly. If Biden, a well-liked moderate, is the nominee the election becomes a referendum on Trump. With an approval rating hovering in the mid-to-low 40s, that is not good news for the president.

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Well, this is what happened in 2016. Still nothing to investigate the Bidens on?

Ukraine MP Says Burisma Financed Clinton Campaign With $10M Unmarked Cash (CDM)

CD Media has been steadily breaking news on American government and Obama Administration corruption in Ukraine as the impeachment inquiry scam heats up in Washington, D.C. Although we have provided plenty of evidence of organized crime emanating from the State Department and elsewhere in the U.S. governmental infrastructure in Kyiv, many still wonder why the Democrats are so rabid to stop Trump from having a second term. Well, now we believe we are getting closer to the answer.

[..] “In 2015, Burisma was considered a corrupt company, but a very lucrative and powerful one. Poroshenko was trying to ‘get in’ and get a piece of the action [CD Media has reported how Poroshenko also wanted Privat Bank for the same reason]. So, essentially Zlochevsky [Mykola Zlochevsky – oligarch owner] brought in Biden for protection, and the Biden family got paid of course. No one would mess with Burisma with the Vice President involved. Zlochevsky showed everyone Biden was on the board pushing his father’s name. The problem with the ‘corrupted company’ label in the United States went away quickly in about three months. It was amazing. “And of course, Burisma also helped the Clinton campaign prior to the election.”

How did they help we asked? “They paid them around $10 million.” Wouldn’t those wire transfers show up? we questioned. “This was Ukraine; everything was done with big bags of cash to the Clintons.” Onyshchenko then went on to describe how he was approached by prosecutors in the U.S. to testify in the United States on American corruption in Ukraine. He showed us a letter published below from the Department of Justice in 2016, where he says they provided him a temporary visa to come testify on the theft and money laundering of American aid to Ukraine, and on the illegal money to the Clintons. “Right before I was to leave for the U.S., I received notice that my visa had been cancelled due to the personal involvement of Vice President Joe Biden.

He made a personal phone call and the visa was cancelled. I guess he didn’t want me telling what I know so I didn’t make it to the United States to testify.” The cancellation of the visa has been confirmed by CD Media by a secondary source. Onyshchenko also reiterated that former FBI agent Karen Greenaway was pushing hard during this time for him to not talk to the press about his knowledge of the Biden scandal, holding the threat of American law enforcement action against him to do so. Greenaway has since retired from the FBI but remains in Ukraine involved with one of the Soros foundations. “She was pushing hard…for me to say nothing,” he declared. “She was running everything for the Democrats, all the coverup for the corruption.”

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Blah blah WikiLeaks.

House Investigating Whether Trump Lied To Mueller (CNN)

The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House’s general counsel said in federal court Monday. “Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” House general counsel Douglas Letter told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about why the House now needs access to grand jury material Mueller collected in his investigation. The House’s arguments Monday draw new focus to whether Trump had lied to Mueller following public revelations at Roger Stone’s trial this month.

Former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates testified that Trump and Stone talked about information that was coming that could help the campaign in mid-2016, at a time when Stone was attempting to get secret details about stolen Democratic documents WikiLeaks had. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also apparently told the Mueller grand jury what Trump’s approach to WikiLeaks had been in 2016, according to the Mueller report. But Trump told Mueller in his written statements he didn’t recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. The Gates testimony adds further significance to Congress’ desire to see the redacted material.

The question of whether Trump obstructed justice, including potentially lying to Mueller, has for months been a part of the House Judiciary Committee’s wider review of potential obstruction in the wake of the Mueller report. The House previously reviewed most of what Mueller had written in his final report, including parts kept from the public. But the House hasn’t been able to see what Manafort told the grand jury, which Mueller apparently described in his report. In the Mueller report, grand jury details are redacted related to a sentence describing Manafort speaking with Trump after WikiLeaks’ first release, in July 2016.

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“Messers, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, Strzok, Halper, Ms. Page, et. al — and, if real justice is on order, not a few figures lurking in the Deep State deep background — John Carlin, Bill Priestap, Dana Boente, Michael Gaeta, Sally Yates, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and perhaps even the archangel Barack Obama..”

Entertaining Questions (Jim Kunstler)

Mr. Barr declared unambiguously and in plain English that “in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.” Is any part of that unclear? The confounded might take in this more detailed lesson in recent history from the speech:

“Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘the Resistance,’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his administration. Now, ‘resistance’ is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous — indeed incendiary — notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.”

And anyone who takes in the nauseating spectacle of Congressman Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee impeachment process can see that shredding of norms on full shameless display, where the attempted defense of nakedly absurd charges against the president is thwarted by a chicane of deceitful rules outside any concept of due process, concocted by Mr. Schiff and his task force of Lawfare hustlers — no right to call witnesses, no right of cross-examination, and no right to argue that set of rules cribbed from the Stalin show trials by way of the Spanish Inquisition. They’re pouring it on this week ahead of a post-Thanksgiving cold water deluge of bad news that will detail charges against the progenitors of RussiaGate.

The roll-call may be a long one, including many actors whose turpitudes have been publicly and richly documented for many months — Messers, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, Strzok, Halper, Ms. Page, et. al — and, if real justice is on order, not a few figures lurking in the Deep State deep background — John Carlin, Bill Priestap, Dana Boente, Michael Gaeta, Sally Yates, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and perhaps even the archangel Barack Obama, just in time for Christmas, too. Robert Mueller and Andrew Weissmann deserve to be included for what amounted to a blatant, arrantly mendacious malicious prosecution, knowing that they had no case and proceeding anyway for two whole years.

I hope the roundup will extend to the very latest ploys leading to RussiaGate’s successor subterfuge, UkraineGate, namely the exploits of “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella, his handlers and enablers in Mr. Schiff’s office, and the actions of his accomplice, Michael Atkinson, the current Intelligence Community Inspector General, with obvious conflicts of interests as a major player in the previous RussiaGate dodge — he was legal counsel to Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who headed the Department of Justice’s National Security Division at the birth of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” gambit, and before that he was Robert Mueller’s chief of staff at the FBI. Anything to see there, ya think? The “whistleblower” himself was, in fact, a CIA spy in the White House. You may recall that the CIA is prohibited from spying on Americans in their own country, and doing that in the White House is arguably the essence and height of lawless sedition.

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Fighting for freedom.

Hong Kong Anti-Mask Law Ruled Unconstitutional By High Court (SCMP)

A Hong Kong court has ruled in favour of pan-democrats in declaring the government’s mask ban unconstitutional in a decision that forced police to halt law enforcement while legal experts in mainland China floated the possibility of another legal interpretation by Beijing. Two High Court judges on Monday ruled that the emergency legislation that brought the ban on face coverings in public places into effect last month was “incompatible with the Basic Law” when used in times of public danger as seen in the present case. They also found the new law had imposed invalid restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms.


The ruling by justices Anderson Chow Ka-ming and Godfrey Lam Wan-ho, in favour of the 25 pan-democrats who applied for judicial review, dealt a blow to the beleaguered government. Police announced they would stop enforcing the ban for now, while prosecutors sought adjournment “to consider the situation”. Legal experts were divided, some calling the judgment an important recognition of Hong Kong’s constitutional framework, while those on the mainland expressed concerns that the court might have sent the wrong signal to the radical protesters, floating the idea of Beijing interpreting the Basic Law again.

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Hong Kong courts are trumped by Beijing. Might as well disband them then.

China Says Hong Kong Courts Have No Power To Rule On Face Mask Ban (R.)

China’s top legislature said Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city’s Basic Law, which includes a proposed ban on face masks, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday. The statement came a day after Hong Kong’s High Court ruled that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations that have rocked the financial hub for more than five months was unconstitutional. “Whether the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region comply with the Basic Law of Hong Kong can only be judged and decided by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” Yan Tanwei, a spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said in a statement. “No other authority has the right to make judgments and decisions,” the statement said.

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No, I don’t care much for planes. But this is part of the Boeing story.

Emirates Orders 50 Airbus A350 Jets In A Revised Deal Worth $16 Billion (CNBC)

Emirates has ordered 50 Airbus A350 jets, the Dubai state-owned airline announced at the Dubai Air Show on Monday. The order’s list price sits at $16 billion, but a steep discount is typically negotiated by airlines. The deal was originally slated to see Emirates order 70 planes from the French manufacturer — 40 of the A350s and 30 A330-900neo jets — but all A330 orders were scrapped in favor of bringing the A350 order size to 50. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told a press conference that the European multinational planemaker’s flagship A380 would now have a “younger but very talented brother in the Emirates family.”


The A350 is a family of long-range, twin-engine wide-body jet airliners, while the A380 is the world’s largest passenger airliner. The 50 jets ordered by Emirates are its cornerstone A350-900 variety, accommodating between 300 and 350 passengers. “Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment,” Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum told press. “In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.”

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A Turkish low fare airline has ordered 10 737 MAX 8’s. They must think their clients are illiterate.

Airbus Secures 120 Plane Order From Air Arabia (CNBC)

Air Arabia has signed a firm order for 120 Airbus aircraft, the European plane-maker has announced. The deal, signed on Monday at the Dubai Airshow, consists of 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321XLRs. In a press statement, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said the order was a “great endorsement for the A320neo family which will allow the airline to tap into new markets.” Air Arabia Group CEO Adel Al Ali said the order, worth around $14 billion according to 2018 list prices, would support the low-cost carrier’s growth plans.


“This new milestone underpins not only our solid financial fundamentals but also the strength of our multi-hub growth strategy that we have adopted over the years while remaining focused on efficiency, performance and passenger experience,” Al Ali said in a statement. “The addition of the A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR complements our existing fleet and allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model.” [..] U.S. rival Boeing also announced that it has received an order for an additional 10 737 Max 8 aircraft from Turkey’s SunExpress, on top of an existing fleet of 32 737 Max 8s. This marks only the second 737 Max order since the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash in March which led to the grounding of the jet worldwide.

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The pot and the kettle.

FedEx CEO Challenges NYT Publisher To Public Debate After Tax Story (R.)

FedEx Chief Executive Frederick Smith has challenged the publisher of the New York Times and the editor of the business section of the newspaper to a public debate in response to a story about the company’s tax bill. The package delivery firm’s financial filings showed it owed no taxes in the 2018 fiscal year overall due to President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, according to the NYT story published on Sunday. Smith late on Sunday called the story here “distorted and factually incorrect” and challenged NYT’s publisher A.G. Sulzberger and the business section editor to a public debate in Washington. “FedEx’s colorful response does not challenge a single fact in our story. We’re confident in the accuracy of our reporting,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, VP-communications at NYT, said in an email on Monday.

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Riots wherever you look. Good time to be a water cannon maker.

Georgian Riot Police Disperse Anti-Govt Rally In Tbilisi (RT)

Protesters blocking the Georgian parliament building in the center of Tbilisi have been doused with water on Monday as police wearing riot gear were deployed to clear the area and raise the blockade. Massive protests gripped the Georgian capital earlier this week as people took to the streets demanding a snap election. The unease was sparked by parliament’s failure to pass amendments to the election law. If agreed on, it would have meant a transition from a mixed majoritarian-proportional electoral system to a strictly proportional one.

During the rallies, people blocked a major city highway – Rustaveli Avenue – running through the center of Tbilisi and blocked the parliament, preventing MPs from entering the building. Some demonstrators set up tents right in front of the legislature. The parliament gates were also reportedly sealed with a chain and a padlock. Law enforcement repeatedly called on the demonstrators to disperse. The appeal was rejected by the opposition-led crowds who claimed they will leave only once their demands are met.

On Monday, large police forces and water cannons were deployed to the parliament. Officers wearing riot gear and equipped with shields and batons started to slowly push the people away from the area.

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As I must have said 1000 times: “Astonishingly, in the case of Stone, he has been convicted of saying that the Mueller nonsense is true..”

The Roger Stone – Wikileaks – Russia Hoax (Craig Murray)

As ever, the Guardian wins the prize for the most tendentious reporting of Roger Stone’s conviction. This is not quite on the scale of its massive front page lie that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But it is a lie with precisely the same intent, to deceive the public into believing there were links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. There were no such links. The headline “Roger Stone: Trump Adviser Found Guilty On All Charges in Trump Hacking Case” is deliberately designed to make you believe a court has found Stone was involved in “Wikileaks hacking”. In fact this is the precise opposite of the truth. Stone was found guilty of lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee by claiming to have links to Wikileaks when in fact he had none. And of threatening Randy Credico to make Credico say there were such links, when there were not.

It is also worth noting the trial was nothing to do with “hacking” and no hacking was alleged or proven. Wikileaks does not do hacking, it does “leaks”. The clue is in the name. The DNC emails were not hacked. The Guardian is fitting this utterly extraneous element into its headline to continue the ludicrous myth that the Clinton campaign was “Hacked” by “the Russians”. It is worth noting that not one of those convicted of charges arising from or in connection with the Mueller investigation – Manafort, Papadopolous, Stone – has been convicted of anything to do with Wikileaks, with anything to do with Russia or with the original thesis of the enquiry.


Astonishingly, in the case of Stone, he has been convicted of saying that the Mueller nonsense is true, and he was a Trump/Wikileaks go-between, when he was not. Yet despite the disastrous collapse of the Mueller Report, and despite the absolutely devastating judicial ruling that there was no evidence worthy even of consideration in court that Russiagate had ever happened, the Guardian and the neo-con media in the USA (inc. CNN, Washington Post, New York Times) continue to serve up an endless diet of lies to the public. Randy Credico was the chief witness for the prosecution against Roger Stone. That’s for the prosecution, not the defence. This is the state’s key evidence against Stone. And Credico is absolutely plain that Stone had no link to Wikileaks.

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Laws? What laws? What I didn’t know yet: UC Global was brought in by Correa, to PROTEST Assange.

The Most Spied Upon Building On Earth (Maurizi)

La Repubblica has had access to the video and audio recordings of the Spanish company, UC Global, which spied on the WikiLeaks founder, his team of journalists and all of us who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy for the last seven years. Video footage and audio recordings reveal an appalling violation of privacy. All the information gathered by UC Global was sent to US intelligence.

It sounds like a James Bond movie, but it really happened. Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks journalists and every single lawyer, reporter, politician, artist and physician who visited the founder of WikiLeaks at the Ecuadorian embassy over the last seven years was subjected to systematic espionage. Meetings and conversations were recorded and filmed, and all the information was sent to US intelligence. Sometimes the espionage operations were truly off the wall: at one point spies even planned to steal the diaper of a baby brought to visit Assange inside the embassy. The purpose? To gather the baby’s feces and perform a DNA test to establish whether the newborn was a secret son of Julian Assange.

Repubblica has had access to some of the videos, audios and photos. Meetings between the founder of WikiLeaks and his lawyers, medical examinations of Julian Assange, diplomatic encounters of the Ecuadorian ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz, meetings between Assange and journalists. Everything was spied on. The author of this article found that she was not just filmed, but her phones were screwed open, presumably to obtain the IMEI code that allows uniquely identifying the phone in order to intercept it. Spies also had access to our USB sticks, though at this stage it is not clear if they managed to break the encryption protecting the information stored in the USB flash drives inside our backpacks. These are very serious violations of the confidentiality of journalistic sources, given that our meetings inside the embassy were entirely professional and, as frequent visitors, we were repeatedly registered as “journalists”.

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