Jun 292021
 
 June 29, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  67 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn The Adoration of the Magi 1634

 

Conflict of Interest in WHO Recommendation Against Ivermectin (TSN)
Evidence of Antibody Dependent Enhancement? (DE)
Did Pfizer Fail to Perform industry Standard Animal Testing? (TSN)
More Crazy (Denninger)
Singapore Doctors Call To Halt Covid Vaccination Of Teens (RT)
Abu Dhabi To Ban Unvaccinated People From Most Public Places (F.)
Greece Offers Youngsters 150 Euros To Get Vaccinated (K.)
Falsehood Rules (Kunstler)
Google Tumbles As Biden Revives Trump-Era Antitrust Probe (ZH)
Why Giuliani’s Suspension Should Worry All Lawyers (Turley)
Manhattan DA Says No Charges For Trump: Lawyer (ZH)
Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria (Greenwald)
Nike Partners WIth CCP With New Slogan ‘Just Obey It’ (BBee)
Olympics To Kick Off With Ceremonial Lighting Of The American Flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trusted News Initiative (TNI).

The WHO is funded by Big Pharma. “Originally funded entirely by member states, the organization now receives less than 20% of its budget from these states and the rest from donors with their own financial and strategic agendas.”

Conflict of Interest in WHO Recommendation Against Ivermectin (TSN)

All dangerous diseases are best treated early. A major failure of the global COVID-19 strategy has been to wait a week for the disease to become dangerous, when breathing becomes a problem. Early treatment of COVID, even for those with mild symptoms, prevents later hospitalization. There are several early treatment drugs showing promise but ivermectin leads the pack regarding safety, effectiveness and price. Unfortunately, the biggest players in Western mainstream media are members of the Trusted News Initiative (TNI). The TNI is a story for another day but it’s remarkable that big media companies barely report that they have agreed to promote global vaccination and to make sure any “disinformation myths are stopped in their tracks”[i].

Unfortunately, as a result early treatment seems to be seen as a disinformation myth and is not mentioned. Early treatment is vital in treating serious diseases and COVID-19 is no exception. Considering the human and economic cost, the avoidance of early treatment with a very safe, effective and off-patent drug is a criminal tragedy of immense proportions and a winning lottery ticket for some pharmaceutical companies that are designing and selling novel patented drugs that could not compete with ivermectin in a free market. Mercks’ molnupiravir, for instance, is seeking an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and “Merck will receive approximately $1.2 billion to supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States government.”[ii]

Ivermectin doesn’t need an EUA because it passed trials in 1986. It just needs to be recommended to treat COVID-19. However, if ivermectin was officially recognized as an effective treatment, it would legally prevent molnupiravir’s EUA until it passes trials and thus delay or endanger the $1.2 billion deal. An aggravating factor is the fact that molnupiravir (EIDD-2801) could cause harmful genetic mutations. [iii]

In the face of a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, government authorities and international organizations have traditionally looked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance – trusting that the WHO is free of commercial interests. Originally funded entirely by member states, the organization now receives less than 20% of its budget from these states and the rest from donors[iv] with their own financial and strategic agendas. Margret Chan, the previous Director General of the WHO, said in 2015: “I have to take my hat and go around the world to beg for money and when they give us the money [it is] highly linked to their preferences, what they like. It may not be the priority of the WHO, so if we do not solve this, we are not going to be as great as we were”. [v]

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“Majority of Covid deaths are the fully vaccinated and A&E attendance is breaking records”

Evidence of Antibody Dependent Enhancement? (DE)

Are we beginning to see evidence of ‘Antibody Dependent Enhancement’ (ADE) due to the Covid-19 vaccines in the United Kingdom? The latest data on hospitalisations and deaths allegedly due to Covid-19 certainly suggests so. ADE can arise in several different ways but the best-known is dubbed the ‘Trojan Horse Pathway’. This occurs when non-neutralizing antibodies generated by past infection or vaccination fail to shut down the pathogen upon re-exposure. Instead, they act as a gateway by allowing the virus to gain entry and replicate in cells that are usually off limits (typically immune cells, like macrophages). That, in turn, can lead to wider dissemination of illness, and over-reactive immune responses that cause more severe illness. Barry Bloom, MD, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explanation of ADE is as follows – “The cause of ADE is having antibodies to a virus that don’t neutralize it. That enables the virus to be gobbled up by cells that have receptors for antibodies, but not the virus. That’s the way of getting virus into cells that it ordinarily would not infect,”.


ADE can also occur when neutralizing antibodies (which bind the virus and stop it from causing infection) are present at low enough levels that they don’t protect against infection. Instead, they can form immune complexes with viral particles, which in turn leads to worse illness. [..] In previous clinical trials of vaccine candidates to combat SARS and MERS, the studies each failed during the animal phase due to ADE also known as pathogenic priming or a cytokine storm. Phase three clinical trials are designed to uncover frequent or severe side effects before a vaccine is approved for use, including ADE. But here in lies the problem, none of the Covid-19 vaccines have completed phase three clinical trials. The Pfizer phase three trial is not due to complete until April 6th 2023.

Neurological issues

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Excellent article. Recommended.

Did Pfizer Fail to Perform industry Standard Animal Testing? (TSN)

The current mRNA vaccines are theorized to act locally in draining lymphoid tissue. Formulated lipid nanoparticles that contain mRNA able to produce the spike protein are syringe injected into a muscle such as the deltoid (shoulder muscle). Once the injection occurs, the muscle cells near the injection site are impacted by the mRNA-based vaccine (e.g. the lipid nanoparticles), while much of the dose moves into the intracellular fluid surrounding the muscle cells and consequently drains to lymph nodes. According to this theory, a properly functioning mRNA-based vaccine is delivered into and drives production of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in muscle and lymph node cells. The cells then produce the Spike protein, which is then moved to the surface of these cells where it becomes attached.

The foreign virus Spike protein then triggers the immune system to recognize and attack any cell in the body that is either infected by SARS-CoV-2 or has Spike protein on its surface. The vaccine was designed so that the Spike protein is affixed via a transmembrane anchor region, so that it cannot circulate around the body via the bloodstream. The same general scenario applies to all mRNA-based vaccines as well as recombinant adenoviral vectored vaccines (such as the J&J vaccine) designed to use gene-therapy technology to express Spike protein in cells and tissues. This general strategy is designed to reduce the risk that any residual vaccine dose that does somehow end up in the bloodstream (or organs and tissues) ends up not being a safety risk due to unintended biologic effects.

Spike protein will remain affixed to cell surfaces, and therefore is not released into the blood where circulating Spike might cause problems by binding to its natural target, ACE-2 receptors. However, any cell that has Spike protein (or protein fragments) anchored on its membrane or displayed on MHC antigen-presenting molecules becomes a target for vaccine-activated immune cells and antibodies, which would then attack, damage or kill those cells in the same way that SARS-CoV-2 virus-infected cells would be attacked. In other words, if very active mRNA delivery particles or recombinant adenoviral-vectored vaccines spread throughout the body, the resulting production of the vaccine antigen (Spike, in this case) will both stimulate immunity and also cause those same cells to be attacked by the immune system. If this actually happens, the resulting “vaccine reactogenicity” could resemble clinical symptoms seen with autoimmune syndromes.

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“A consenting adult has the right to choose to do dangerous things.”

More Crazy (Denninger)

HCQ, I remind you, is used by millions of people with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis in the United States alone. If it caused heart attacks in one person out of 150 and screwed up the hearts of 10% of the rest not one doctor would prescribe it for either condition as that is wildly dangerous and will kill people outright a decent percentage of the time. Ivermectin, I remind you, has a record across several billion doses administered of one serious adverse event (defined: lands you in the hospital) in roughly every 600,000 people who take it. It is for this reason that it is considered safe enough to buy over the counter in many nations and is handed out by non-medical personnel all over sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed doing that has basically eliminated river blindness, a disease that formerly devastated entire regions.

As for Covid and other viral infections there is plenty of science on multiple mechanisms of action that are likely involved. Yet pharma, the FDA, NIH and CDC all are aligned against it and did not run large, formal studies for early treatment despite being safer to do so than recommending you take Tylenol or aspirin because there’s no money in it; the drug costs pennies. HCQ is similarly cheap and it too was never formally studied by these so-called “agencies” either. Now let’s talk about the shots. We never give a measles shot to someone who had the measles. Why not? The scientific evidence is that they cannot get any benefit from it. While the measles vaccine is extremely safe and definitely safer than getting the measles there is no such thing as a completely safe drug. Ever.

If you cannot get the measles because you’ve already had it and are immune then irrespective of how low the risk is it is unethical and gross malpractice to give you said shot because it is scientifically impossible for you to benefit from it. The question is always one of risk and benefit, both potential since no drug or vaccine is 100% effective and the risk of contracting an illness is never 100% for the person taking the drug. There is never any other evaluation, which is inherently personal to each individual’s medical situation, that is appropriate, ethical, moral or legal – period. For any drug, vaccine or other medical procedure or act where the benefit is statistically zero it is thus never, under any circumstance, acceptable to recommend, cajole or coerce someone into accepting it because if the potential benefit is zero then any amount of risk is unacceptable, no matter how low.

(Incidentally for the religiously-bent about vaccines generally who have been flooding my email inbox you’re wasting your time; I have long since told my spam filter to throw your repeated screaming into the trashcan unread. My objection is with this specific set of shots because the data says they’re wildly dangerous in healthy people compared with the illness itself, even without early treatment and definitely when compared to outcomes with treatment.) For comparison Tylenol kills about 500 people in the US a year. If every person in the US had used Ivermectin for the last year it would have killed fewer people than that. That is what the data says, and we could have easily handed it out to any and all who wanted it and get the natural data resulting from it.

There was no statistically-measurable risk in doing so compared against common over-the-counter medicines that anyone can buy anywhere at any time and thus there was no ethical, moral or legal justification for failing to do so in the face of a pandemic for which there were no approved and known-effective treatments. A consenting adult has the right to choose to do dangerous things. This is why we test drugs on consenting adults first even through we know they might not only fail to work they might harm you. Only after years or even decades of such testing do we contemplate testing them on children and only when we have a reasonably-full understanding of the risks.

Rogan Kory

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“The medics who signed the letter argued that that the CDC should be given “a few weeks to produce robust and convincing data”

Singapore Doctors Call To Halt Covid Vaccination Of Teens (RT)

A group of medics have penned an “urgent open letter” to Singapore’s expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination, calling for the inoculation of youths to be ceased until the US CDC clarifies why a teenage jab recipient died. Written on “on behalf of many concerned pediatricians, primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons and GPs” and signed by a number of Singaporean medical professionals, the letter was posted on Facebook on Saturday. Its authors urged the authorities to “consider a short delay” in vaccinating youths with messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) jabs in view of the recent incident in the US. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started an investigation into the death of a 13-year-old from Saginaw, Michigan, which occurred three days after he got his second shot of an unnamed coronavirus vaccine.

Vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have received emergency approval in the US, and all three of them are also in use in Singapore. The medics who signed the letter argued that that the CDC should be given “a few weeks to produce robust and convincing data” on the teen’s death and the possibility of a link to the inoculation. They insist the issue is urgent because Singapore is pursuing “one of the most aggressive” mRNA programs in the world, in which at least 200,000 teenage boys are expected to be vaccinated. “Certainly, we do not want to see any more suspected vaccine-related deaths in any young persons in the prime of their life,” the letter said.

As concerns spread, Singaporean parents have also launched a petition, asking the authorities of the island city-state to suspend the vaccination of those under 30, especially school kids from 12 to 15 years of age, until the CDC probe is complete. It has so far been signed by some 2,000 people.

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“The UAE has the highest vaccination rate in the world..”

Abu Dhabi To Ban Unvaccinated People From Most Public Places (F.)

The United Arab Emirates has introduced some of the world’s harshest restrictions for unvaccinated people in its push to encourage uptake of the shot, announcing Monday that residents of its capital city Abu Dhabi who aren’t yet inoculated will be banned from most public places. The emirate’s media office said in a series of tweets that it is introducing the ban to encourage vaccinations and preserve public health, though 93% of target groups have been vaccinated. The ban will go into effect Aug. 20, giving the city’s residents some time to get vaccinated against the virus before the measures are enacted. Once that date rolls around, those without the shot will not be allowed to enter public and private schools, universities, nurseries, shopping centers, restaurants, cafes, gyms, museums, theme parks, resorts and all other retail outlets. The main exceptions are retail outlets selling essential goods, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, which all people will still be allowed to enter regardless of their vaccination status.


The order—which the media office said was approved by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee—will not apply to children under the age of 16 and those who have an official reason to be exempt from vaccination. “The committee stated the decision would enhance safety in areas that have been subject to additional precautionary measures and provide enhanced protection for community members,” the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said in its statement. The UAE has the highest vaccination rate in the world, boasting a rate of 154 doses administered per 100 people, according to a tracker run by The New York Times. Though it has not shared updated data on how many people have been fully or partially vaccinated, Reuters estimates the number of doses it has administered (over 15 million) means around 77.1% of the country’s population has been fully inoculated.

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Immoral or amoral?

Greece Offers Youngsters 150 Euros To Get Vaccinated (K.)

The Greek government announced it will offer a pre-paid card with 150 euros to young people aged 18-25 to get at least one shot of a vaccine against Covid-19, as an incentive to increase the number of inoculations in the country. The card, dubbed “freedom-pass” by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will cover costs in travel and entertainment, such as plane and ferry tickets, hotel bookings, music, theatre and cinema, museums and archaeological sites. Presenting the card at the start of a meeting with ministers on Monday, the prime minister said he acknowledged the toll the long months of lockdown have had on the social life of young people.


“This is a debt to our youth, a gift of gratitude, particularly ahead of the summer. [It is] a ‘thank you’ for their patience and perseverance,” he told the ministers at the televised message. “At the same time, however, it is also an incentive for young people in particular to be vaccinated, who, by their very nature, contribute more to movement. And the more they are shielded [against the virus], the more we will limit the transmission of the virus.” Mitsotakis said this is especially true as countries are facing the more transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus, which targets primarily those who have not been vaccinated “but is threatening everyone.”

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“..a private Chicago-based non-profit called the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which received $350-million from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to arrange grants targeted at swing districts in Democratic strongholds such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, for the purpose of hiring ballot harvesters, among other activities.”

Falsehood Rules (Kunstler)

Now there is one official forensic audit of the 2020 election underway in Maricopa County, Arizona, (the Phoenix metro area), ordered by the State Senate, and some conclusions from phase one, involving the paper ballots, are due to be released this week, with additional phases to come concerning the Dominion voting machines. Many other state legislatures sent delegations to Arizona to learn the ins-and-outs of conducting a forensic audit, and they are making noises about actually doing it. So, in stepped Attorney General Merrick Garland. At the start of the Arizona audit, he sent a letter to the Arizona State Senate threatening to use the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ to halt the audit on the basis of depriving voters of their civil rights. Arizona responded by promising to jail any federal officials who laid their hands on any ballots. That was the end of that gambit for now — they may try it again in phase two.

In the meantime, a county judge in Georgia (one Brian Amero) has ruled that 147,000-odd ballots alleged to have chain-of-custody problems must be made available for inspection, and also that five members of the Fulton County (Atlanta Metro Area) Board of Elections are now individually parties to the lawsuit brought by nine Georgia voters, and may be subject to deposition (being questioned under oath). That is believed to be the beginning of an effort to conduct a full audit in Georgia. So, again, in steps Attorney General Merrick Garland with his Civil Rights Division, led by political activist Kristen Clarke, bringing a lawsuit against the Georgia election reform act passed earlier this year — a shot over Georgia’s bow, shall we say. Ms. Clarke happens to be a colleague of Georgia activist Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic candidate for governor.

Ms. Abrams is also a part-owner of a company, NOWaccount, that does payroll for a private company called Happy Faces, which furnished dozens of poll workers to tally the 2020 election in Georgia, as well as the 2021 US Senate runoff election that put two Democrats, John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, in office. Elections are supposed to be conducted by public officials, not by private entities. Supposedly, the Georgia election officials turned to Happy Faces because it was a way to avoid hiring workers for less than 30 hours-a-week, which would have otherwise required providing them with health care under ObamaCare, the ACA Act. Was that legal? It has not been adjudicated.

Nor has the much bigger scandal of a private Chicago-based non-profit called the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which received $350-million from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to arrange grants targeted at swing districts in Democratic strongholds such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, for the purpose of hiring ballot harvesters, among other activities. Mr. Zuckerberg met with Kristen Clarke, Stacey Abrams, Al Sharpton, and other Democratic activists at a dinner in 2019, at which he promised to help. Did his help cross any legal boundaries? It has not been investigated, nor has the use of the company he runs, Facebook, in its campaign to influence public opinion by blocking news and deleting accounts of non-Democrats exclusively.

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it’s the ads again.

Google Tumbles As Biden Revives Trump-Era Antitrust Probe (ZH)

Minutes after news that a judge had dismiss an FTC anti-monopoly lawsuit against Facebook sent the social-media giant’s market capitalization past the $1 trillion mark, Google has just been hit by some disappointing news on the anti-trust front. Google shares tumbled heading into the close on reports that the Biden Administration was planning to revive a Trump-era investigation into Google’s display ad business. While a judge has granted some relief for Facebook, potentially taking it out of the sights of the FTC, which is now being led by anti-monopoly pioneer Lina Khan, it’s clear the Biden Administration hasn’t given up on scrutinizing American Big Tech.

According to Bloomberg, which broke the news Monday afternoon, antitrust investigators at the DoJ have stepped up scrutiny of Google’s digital advertising practices in recent months, a sign that the Biden administration is “actively pursuing a probe that started under former President Donald Trump.” DoJ sued Google last year over claims the Alphabet-owned company was abusing its dominance in the internet search market, its biggest business. Any additional legal action, including whether to bring a second suit, will likely depend on whoever is chosen as the assistant attorney general overseeing the antitrust division. It will be up to that person to decide whether to proceed, and it’s possible the government will bring no action against the company.

Staffers from the DoJ’s antitrust office have reportedly interviewed several of Google’s competitors about the firm’s practices in the advertising technology market. The probe places a target on the company’s second-most important business, according to people familiar with the action, who asked not to be identified discussing the early stage probe.

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“..the bar becomes “nothing but a continuation of politics by other means.”

Why Giuliani’s Suspension Should Worry All Lawyers (Turley)

Lawyers often make sensational, false claims that inflame public opinion, such as insisting former Attorney General William Barr violently cleared D.C.’s Lafayette Square last year to arrange for Trump’s controversial photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church. The claim outraged many Americans, even though there was no evidence to prove it; several lawyers repeated the photo op myth as fact on TV. An inspector general and a federal court both later debunked the myth, but the damage was done: To this day, many people believe it. Nevertheless, I do not believe any lawyers should be suspended for such claims, which should be protected as free speech. The New York court brushes over the free speech implications of its ruling with a conclusory statement that Giuliani knowingly misrepresented facts, even though it did not afford him a hearing on that or other questions.

It is not enough to declare “Don’t be like Giuliani.” What is missing in this opinion is a clear standard for when the failure to establish a case — as Giuliani failed to do with his election fraud claims — is a disbarring offense. In reality, many cases collapse in court over insufficient evidence. Election challenges are made without access to critical records or data held by election boards or officials — indeed, litigants often go to court to gain such access. Likewise, public interest lawyers often bring cases against the government, which classifies or withholds evidence. When I litigated the Area 51 case, I was suing a base that the government claimed did not exist, and all information about it was classified; we prevailed in establishing environmental violations but only after years of intense litigation and denials.

The concern in this case is that we are seeing a weaponization of bar investigations after a wide (and well-funded) campaign to harass Republican lawyers, their firms and their clients after the 2020 election. And it has worked: Many law firms are unwilling to take on Republican or conservative causes for fear of being targeted. The Giuliani opinion fuels those concerns. Despite a damning account of exaggerations and falsehoods, it often reads more like a venting — rather than a vetting — of grievances against Giuliani. Instead of issuing a well-deserved reprimand, the court declared Giuliani to be a public menace if allowed to continue practicing law, even for the period of his own adjudication. The premature suspension made little sense.

The bar was focused on Giuliani’s public statements, which will continue unabated by any suspension. Nevertheless, the suspension thrilled many in today’s bloodsport politics. Yet while the court seemed to apply a special “Giuliani rule,” it is unlikely to stay that way if — to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz — the bar becomes “nothing but a continuation of politics by other means.”

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“This is so small that I can’t believe I’m going to have to try a case like this.”

Manhattan DA Says No Charges For Trump: Lawyer (ZH)

President Trump’s attorney said on Monday that Manhattan DA Cy Vance has indicated that he has no plans to charge the Trump Organization with crimes related to allegations of “hush money” payments or manipulated real estate values, according to Politico. New York attorney Ronald Fischetti said that during a meeting last week he asked Vance’s team for any details related to charges up for consideration, to which Vance’s team replied that while they are considering charges against the Trump Organization and individual employees related to alleged failures to pay taxes on corporate benefits – widely reported to include cars and apartments, the potential charges only involve a small number of executives. “We asked, ‘Is there anything else?” Fischetti told Politico. “They said, ‘No.’”


When asked if the meeting touched on allegations made by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and by adult film star and director Stormy Daniels, Fischetti replied, “Nothing. Not a word on that.” Fischetti also said that Vance’s team told him they will not bring charges against Trump himself when the first indictment comes down. “They just said, ‘When this indictment comes down, he won’t be charged. Our investigation is ongoing,’” he said. According to the Washington Post, Vance’s team is set to proceed with the charges unless otherwise persuaded not to. Fischetti says he expects them to drop this week or next. “It’s like the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing,” he said, adding “This is so small that I can’t believe I’m going to have to try a case like this.”

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BAU. Twitter: “Defense stocks took off like a rocket when Biden was elected, now up 40%.”

Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria (Greenwald)

For the second time in the five months since he was inaugurated, President Joe Biden on Sunday ordered a U.S. bombing raid on Syria, and for the first time, he also bombed Iraq. The rationale offered was the same as Biden’s first air attack in February: the U.S., in the words of Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.” He added that “the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense.” Embedded in this formulaic Pentagon statement is so much propaganda and so many euphemisms that, by itself, it reveals the fraudulent nature of what was done.

To begin with, how can U.S. airstrikes carried out in Iraq and Syria be “defensive” in nature? How can they be an act of “self-defense”? Nobody suggests that the targets of the bombing campaign have the intent or the capability to strike the U.S. “homeland” itself. Neither Syria nor Iraq is a U.S. colony or American property, nor does the U.S. have any legal right to be fighting wars in either country, rendering the claim that its airstrikes were “defensive” and an “act of self-defense” to be inherently deceitful. The Pentagon’s description of the people bombed by the U.S. — “Iran-backed militias groups” — is intended to obscure the reality. Biden did not bomb Iran or order Iranians to be bombed or killed.

The targets of U.S. aggression were Iraqis in their own country, and Syrians in their own country. Only the U.S. war machine and its subservient media could possibly take seriously the Biden administration’s claim that the bombs they dropped on people in their own countries were “defensive” in nature. Invocation of Iran has no purpose other than to stimulate the emotional opposition to the government of that country among many Americans in the hope that visceral dislike of Iranian leaders will override the rational faculties that would immediately recognize the deceit and illegality embedded in the Pentagon’s arguments.

Beyond the propagandistic justification is the question of legality, though even to call it a question dignifies it beyond what it merits. There is no conceivable Congressional authorization — none, zero — to Biden’s dropping of bombs in Syria. Obama’s deployment of CIA operatives to Syria and years of the use of force to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad never had any Congressional approval of any kind, nor did Trump’s bombing of Assad’s forces (urged by Hillary Clinton, who wanted more), nor does Biden’s bombing campaign in Syria now. It was and is purely lawless, illegal.

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“Chief Marketing Officer Bingbong Van Hummus”

Nike Partners WIth CCP With New Slogan ‘Just Obey It’ (BBee)

On the heels of the CEO proudly declaring Nike is a brand “of China, and for China,” the company has unveiled a new marketing campaign honoring the glorious Chinese Communist Party with the inspiring slogan “Just Obey It.” “The idea of obedience to brutal and murderous regimes really encapsulates the ethos Nike is going for as a brand,” said Chief Marketing Officer Bingbong Van Hummus. “The People’s Republic of China represents our highest ideals, and we hope to inspire athletes around the world to join us in the most important thing any high-performer can do: Just Obey.”


New apparel featuring the “Just Obey It” slogan is already being produced in Uyghur concentration camps by slaves, and Nike is optimistic about having their new products in the hands of progressive American athletes in the next few weeks. “As long as we don’t run into any delays– you know, from our slaves refusing to obey, we’ll be shipping from the beautiful and powerful country of China very soon!” said Van Hummus. Nike also announced they will be releasing a new Uyghur-inspired shoe with built-in iron shackles.

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“..a beloved pastime where American athletes who were given every opportunity to succeed get to show how much they hate America..”

Olympics To Kick Off With Ceremonial Lighting Of The American Flag

The 2020 Olympic Games will be kicking off next month with the ceremonial lighting of the American flag, a beloved pastime where American athletes who were given every opportunity to succeed get to show how much they hate America. “Before the Games, American athletes will get to show much they hate their country by taking the ceremonial torch and burning the flag,” said one commentator on ESPN. “We always feel the importance and gravity of this moment at every Olympic Games. As the torchbearer approaches the flag and lights it up, solemnly declaring to everyone that the U.S. is a horribly racist and oppressive country, I can’t help but shed a few tears.” “Stunning and, you guessed it, brave.” One Chinese gymnast suggested she would burn her own country’s flag as well, since the government kidnapped her family and forced her to compete at gunpoint, but she has since disappeared.

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“What made medicine fool people for so long was that its successes were prominently displayed and its mistakes (literally) buried.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

 

 


The most detailed image ever of a human cell. It was made using 3D data from X-rays, nuclear MRI, and cryo-electron microscopy. The wildest part? We have 100 TRILLION of these inside us.

 

 

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Apr 282021
 


Juan de la Corte (1597–1660) Lot And His Daughters Escaping From The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah

 

COVID Pill That Cures Body At First Signs Of Infection May Come This Year (JTN)
Single Dose Of Covid Vaccine Can Nearly Halve Transmission Of Virus (G.)
The BBC & Bloomberg on India: B Stands For Bullshit. (Slog)
Oxford Jab ‘Could Be Banned For Under-40s’ After Blood Clot Reports Double (Metro)
A New World Order Brought To You By COVID-19 (Whitehead)
Scientists “Debunking” The Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Linked to CCP (NP)
Don’t Look Now (Jim Kunstler)
Supply Chains Implode As “Price Doesn’t Even Matter Anymore”
Gundlach Rejects The Fed’s “Inflation Is Transitory” Narrative (ZH)
CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist (Greenwald)
The Deep State Targets Matt Gaetz (AG)
Apple iOS 14.5 Update Includes ‘App Tracking Transparency’ Feature (G.)
Google Ad Surge Drives Up Profits For Parent Firm Alphabet (Y!)
Hunter Biden To Guest Teach A Class On “Fake News” This Fall (DM)

 

 

I forget who drew my attention to this UK government report, Covid-19 Response Spring 2021, but it paints a very stark and completely ignored reality: only 66% of people can ever be successfully vaccinated and may be protected.

34% either can’t be jabbed for medical reasons, or the vaccines don’t catch on. And that’s assuming full uptake, which of course you’ll never ever get. So the number of not successfully vaccinated will be higher than 34%, perhaps quite a bit, no matter the PR campaigns and threats.

This should put the entire Covid response on its head, but for some reason it doesn’t. Those 34+% would appear to be ineligible for a “vaccine passport” as well, depriving them of basic human rights.

 

 

 

 

Lemme guess: Pfizer waits until everyone has been vaccinated, and then introduces this pill?

COVID Pill That Cures Body At First Signs Of Infection May Come This Year (JTN)

The Pfizer pharmaceutical company is conducting trials on an antiviral drug could be ready for public use later this year that is intended to attack the spine of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and result in a cure to the sickness. The oral drug would stop the virus from mutating in the nose, throat and lungs, according to The Telegraph newspaper, ultimately causing the virus to dissipate. The possible home cure is being tested on 60 volunteers ages 18 and 60 at Pfizer facilities in the U.S. and Belgium. “We have designed PF-07321332 as a potential oral therapy that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care,” said Mikael Dolsten, who leads the company’s worldwide research, development and medical division.


The first phase of the trial looks at the tolerance to the drug including “significant side effects, and how people feel after taking it,” according to documents. The second phase studies the response to several doses, and the third phase looks at food consumption while taking the pill. More trials would be needed to determine how the drug reacts with people who are infected with the virus. Pfizer says if the trials are successful the drug could be available for public use later this year.

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VItamin D can do that too. Ivermectin can do more.

Single Dose Of Covid Vaccine Can Nearly Halve Transmission Of Virus (G.)

A single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can slash transmission of the virus by up to half, according to a Public Health England study. The PHE finding offers further hope that the pandemic can be brought under control as it indicates that vaccinated people are far less likely to pass the virus on to others. The study found that people given a single dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines – and who became infected at least three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to people living in their homes, compared with those who were unvaccinated. Protection was seen from about 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels regardless of a person’s age. Other studies have already shown that both vaccines are highly effective at stopping people getting sick and ending up in hospital.

Experts will now assess whether two doses of vaccine can cut transmission of the virus even further, and more work is being carried out on transmission in the general population. PHE said similar results could be expected in places where the risk of transmission is like in the home, such as shared accommodation and prisons. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “This is terrific news – we already know vaccines save lives and this study is the most comprehensive real-world data showing they also cut transmission of this deadly virus. “It further reinforces that vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic as they protect you and they may prevent you from unknowingly infecting someone in your household.

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I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in the middle. India is not doing great right now, but it’s also not collapsing.

The BBC & Bloomberg on India: B Stands For Bullshit. (Slog)

Unless you made an early getaway to Planet Drongo before the lockdown, you will have read pretty much everywhere that “India sees world’s highest daily cases amid oxygen shortage”. In fact, the BBC tells us that “some people” have died waiting for oxygen, the Indian health service is “completely overwhelmed” and the country now has “sixteen million cases”. So it’s a disaster, right? Well actually, no – it isn’t. The Indian health ministry has already made it clear that the Covid19 variant they’re dealing with this year has “a considerably lower death rate than the previous version”. Go to the Worldometer site, and you’ll see that India’s deaths per million is a minute 134: that’s 7% of the US and French figures, 6% of the UK and Italy’s and the lowest by far of any country in the Top 30 for cases.

Virtually no vaccination has been undertaken in India (only 1.3% are fully vaccinated) and the country is not using lockdowns. The Times of India has just denied the BBC’s ‘deaths from oxygen shortage’ fakery. What India IS doing, however, is employing the anti-inflammatory drugs tocilizumab and itolizumab and the antivirals favipiravir and hydroxychloroquine on a very wide scale. Go to Pharma site/accolyte spaces, and you’ll see all four drugs being rubbished: the Pharmafia and their bureaucratic whores don’t want any signs of a success to get out. But the Truth already is out there: India is doing spectacularly well without either vaccines or lockdown. You won’t find that reality expressed anywhere in the Western MSM, but the facts show that its infection management drugs have delivered one of the lowest case to death rates on the planet.

Not that you’d notice, reading Bloomberg: “India saw the world’s biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases ever as a ferocious new wave grips the country, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums and prompting frantic cries for help on social media. The South Asian nation reported 314,835 new infections Thursday, topping a peak of 314,312 recorded in the U.S. on Dec. 21. People took to Twitter and Instagram to call for everything from hospital beds to medicine and doorstep Covid-19 tests. The grim milestone shows how the pandemic crisis has shifted firmly to the developing world, where variants and complacency are threatening containment measures and there’s a lack of vaccines, with supplies dominated by richer nations.”

It’s a pack of lies from end to end. India has a population of 1.4 billion people – so overcrowding is almost generic – and being four times more people than the US, the comparison with America is completely ludicrous. Hospitals do not get overwhelmed when 134 folks out of a million get ill. India’s water purity and basic hygiene measures are very Third World. Yet despite all that, it is doing phenomenally well against Covid….by having and doing respectively none of the advantages and policies of the West.

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“..the total number of people in the UK who developed blood clots after getting one dose has gone from 79 to 168 in a fortnight..”

Oxford Jab ‘Could Be Banned For Under-40s’ After Blood Clot Reports Double (Metro)

Under-40s may be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after blood clot reports doubled, reports claim. The chance of dying from a blood clot after having the jab is about one in one million – with 19 fatalities from around 20 million vaccinations. However, the total number of people in the UK who developed blood clots after getting one dose has gone from 79 to 168 in a fortnight, Medical Healthcare Products and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) data suggests. These new cases have taken the odds of experiencing a blood clot up from one in 250,000 to one in 126,000. The MHRA has reiterated that the benefits of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab outweigh the risks for most people – but is considering offering under-40s the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine given that younger people are more likely to be affected by blood clots, The Telegraph claims.


It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided that under-30s should be offered an alternative to the Oxford jab. Currently, anyone over the age of 45 can get a jab in England. Over-50s in Scotland and Wales are being offered their doses, while Northern Ireland has already started vaccinating over-35s. Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said on April 7 that 0.8 per 100,000 30 to 39-year-olds suffered serious blood clots after getting their Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. This was compared to 2.7 in 100,000 who would be kept out of intensive care by taking the vaccine. But these figures were based on fewer cases and the MHRA is yet to release what these odds are now 168 people have had blood clots.

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“The new platinum card of the Covid age is the vaccine certificate.”

A New World Order Brought To You By COVID-19 (Whitehead)

The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us into a whole new global frontier. Those hoping to navigate this interconnected and highly technological world of contact tracing, vaccine passports and digital passes will find themselves grappling with issues that touch on deep-seated moral, political, religious and personal questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers. We are about to find our ability to access, engage and move about in the world dependent on which camp we fall into: those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have not. “It is the latest status symbol. Flash it at the people, and you can get access to concerts, sports arenas or long-forbidden restaurant tables. Some day, it may even help you cross a border without having to quarantine,” writes Heather Murphy for the New York Times.


“The new platinum card of the Covid age is the vaccine certificate.” This is what M.I.T. professor Ramesh Raskar refers to as the new “currency for health,” an apt moniker given the potentially lucrative role that Big Business (Big Pharma and Big Tech, especially) will play in establishing this pay-to-play marketplace. The airline industry has been working on a Travel Pass. IBM is developing a Digital Health Pass. And the U.S. government has been all-too-happy to allow the corporate sector to take the lead. Spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA), which has shown itself to care little for constitutional limits or privacy, the surveillance state has come to dominate our government and our lives. Yet the government does not operate alone. It cannot. It requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of our massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental bureaucracy.

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I’m not much into CCP bashing, but also not into too many coincidences.

Scientists “Debunking” The Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Linked to CCP (NP)

Several researchers used by leading corporate media outlets to debunk claims that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have previously attended events or accepted awards from the controversial lab, The National Pulse can reveal. The researchers’ Chinese Communist Party ties – which present a clear conflict of interest – are omitted from the media reports, which instead present the scientists as unbiased adjudicators of COVID-19’s origins. In March 2020, NBC Science Contributor Dr. Joseph Fair called for the Trump administration to “stop blaming China” for the outbreak of the virus, despite mounting evidence – even at the time – that China was hiding information and data, and silencing whistleblowers. Dr. Fair equated called the lab leak theory – now increasingly mainstream – as a “conspiracy.”

Fair spoke at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2013, The National Pulse can reveal. “During the visit, he attended “Ge Hong Elite Forum” and gave an excellent academic report named “Biosafety Level 4 Containment Research and Recombinant Biology: How advances in molecular biology can advance in-vitro product design”. Many teachers and students, including Director Chen Xinwen and researchers such as Hu Zhihong and Wei Hongping, listened to the report,” a summary notes. “Dr. Joseph Fair is now engaged in the rapid diagnosis work of virulent viruses for GVFI and looks forward to cooperating with the Institute in the relevant research field in future,” the description adds. Fair’s Twitter account also contains posts describing WIV researchers as “collaborators,” “colleagues” and friends,” adding “I’ve very much enjoyed working with them over the years.”

Fair has praised the labs “openness with regards to sharing data” despite the institute erasing 16,000 virus samples in late 2019 and continuing to do so throughout the pandemic. Dr. Ian Lipkin, who’s seen his claims that there is “no evidence to suggest that [COVID-19] was created in a lab” amplified by outlets such as CBS and USA Today, also spoke at the WIV, in 2015. “He had given an excellent report on “Small game hunting”, which was presided by Professor Zhengli Shi, to the teachers and students in our institute,” a WIV summary revealed. The unearthed visit follows National Pulse reports highlighting Lipkin receiving awards from the Chinese Communist Party and describing himself as a “consultant” for the communist regime.

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“..the supernatural victory on Super Tuesday that rescued his pitiful old ass from the glue factory of broken-down political war-horses.”:

Don’t Look Now (Jim Kunstler)

This was only one of countless mysteries orbiting around the dimming star that is Joe Biden. The biggest one, the planet Jupiter of all puzzlements, is how the guy managed to get elected occupant of the oval office. Or, more to the point, how did others manage to get him elected? I mean, considering those few embarrassing campaign forays from the basement to a bunch of empty parking lots back in the fall of 2020, not to mention the supernatural victory on Super Tuesday that rescued his pitiful old ass from the glue factory of broken-down political war-horses. We may be about to find out as Arizona’s State Senate finally got around to approving a full audit of the November 3rd vote in Maricopa County, comprising Phoenix and its asteroid belt of suburbs, which amounts to more than two-thirds of the state’s population.

The Democratic Party tried pretty hard to stop the durned thing, sending its gnarliest Lawfare warrior, one Marc Elias from the Clinton-indentured DC firm of Perkins Coie, and a posse of 70 other attorneys, to bury the proceedings in court orders. But all they got was a weekend pause from an Arizona judge who imposed a $1-million-dollar bond payment on the Democrats to cover expenses for the interruption — which would then be forfeited if the audit went forward. The Dems declined to pay up, so the pause was lifted and the audit goes forward today. The usual suspects in the mainstream media attempted to bury the Arizona vote audit story or denigrate it — for instance the The New York Times, which characterized the inquiry in its Saturday lede as “false claims of a stolen election,” and then “a snipe hunt for skullduggery,” before asserting the boilerplate “baseless theories of election theft” to seal the deal with its avidly credulous readership.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC practically jumped up and down going woo-woo-woo to discredit the audit. What do you suppose they’re afraid of? I’ll tell you: For one thing, if the vote turns out to have been compromised by fraud, Arizona is liable to lose a Democratic senator elected on Mr. Biden’s (possibly) phantom coattails — Mark Kelly (D) who defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) — which would cancel the Democrats’ current one-vote majority grip on the body. The result of that would be the end of the party’s effort to jam various new laws down America’s craw: DC statehood, the HR-1 voter fraud act, the Supreme Court-packing bill, and, actually, anything else on the party’s Satanic wish-list for disassembling the republic.

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“.. it will almost feel like trade is coming to a halt.”

Supply Chains Implode As “Price Doesn’t Even Matter Anymore”

The number of container ships stuck at anchor off Los Angeles and Long Beach is down to around 20 per day, from 30 a few months ago. Does this mean the capacity crunch in the trans-Pacific market is finally easing? Absolutely not, warned Nerijus Poskus, vice president of global ocean at freight forwarder Flexport. “It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse,” he told American Shipper in an interview on Monday. “What I’m seeing is unprecedented. We are seeing a tsunami of freight,” he reported. “For the month of May, everything on the trans-Pacific is basically sold out. We had one client who needed something loaded in May that was extremely urgent and who was ready to pay $15,000 per container. I couldn’t get it loaded — and we are a growing company that ships a lot of TEUs [twenty-foot equivalent units]. Price doesn’t always even matter anymore.”

Poskus said that trans-Pacific import volumes are still rising. He noted that January trans-Pacific imports were up 10% versus 2019 (comparisons to 2020 numbers are skewed by COVID) and 13.5% in February, then jumped 51% in March. “So, we’re now at 1.5 times pre-pandemic levels.” With imports far outpacing retail sales growth, he attributed volumes to inventory restocking. “The restocking is actually affecting the trade even more than growth in demand. That tells me that this will last even longer. Let’s say U.S. consumer demand slows down in Q3 and Q4. That’s not expected, but even if it does, [capacity availability and rates] shouldn’t improve quickly, simply because of the huge restocking demand.”

Poskus also believes there is a growing export backlog piling up each day in Asia, awaiting available ship slots. If that backlog grows too big, he said, “I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen.” As a result of the backlog and restocking demand, he thinks “prices will remain high and shipping will probably remain difficult for the rest of this year. And then after that, you have the peak for Chinese New Year in 2022.” He said that the situation today is the worst he’s witnessed — and he believes it’s about to get even more severe. “Buckle up. The month of May will be the worst people have ever seen,” he predicted. Because some shippers will have to wait in line behind the growing backlog in Asia, he expects “what’s going to happen soon is that some importers won’t even be able to get on the boat. For them, it will almost feel like trade is coming to a halt.”

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“.. it really depends on just how much manipulation the authorities are willing to do.”

Gundlach Rejects The Fed’s “Inflation Is Transitory” Narrative (ZH)

Don’t believe your lying eyes, will be the message tomorrow from The Fed’s Jay Powell as he hypnotizes investors to believe that “inflation is transitory” and they have “the tools” to manage it. ‘Bond King’ Jeff Gundlach is not buying that line and told BNN Bloomberg in an interview this morning. “…more importantly, I’m not sure why they think they know it’s transitory… how do they know that?” “…there’s plenty of money-printing that’s been going on, and we’ve seen commodity prices going up massively… home prices in the US are inflating very substantially… so there’s a lot of inflation that’s already baked in to input prices.” Gundlach does admit that Powell has a point in the very near term as the prints were about to see “which could be as high as 4% [for CPI]” are off of year-ago, very depressed levels.

“…what he means by transitory is that the base effect will lead to problems in the next few months but then the base effect will become less problematic.” But, Gundlach adds, “it’s not clear to me that inflation is going to go back down to around 2 to 2.5%… we don’t know, nobody knows… but we’re most concerned with the fact that The Fed thinks they know.” This is worrisome because The Fed’s track record is anything but inspiring… “when I go back to the global financial crisis, when we almost had a complete meltdown of the financial system, Ben Bernanke completely missed all of the problems that led to the crisis.” Bernanke’s infamous “contained to subprime… and subprime is only a sliver of the market” comments could be about to be trumped by Powell’s “inflation is transitory” comments as Gundlach warns “there’s plenty of indicators that suggest inflation is going to go higher and not just on a transitory basis.”

The Fed is “trying to paint the picture” of control, but Gundlach tries to make clear: “they’re guessing.” So, what does that mean for markets? While some fear “we ain’t seen nothing yet” in terms of yields rising (and multiple contraction), Gundlach notes that “it really depends on just how much manipulation the authorities are willing to do.” The billionaire fund manager notes that yields are “still very low… well below the current inflation rate… so we have negative yields everywhere on the yield curve.” It’s also “hard to figure out who’s going to buy the bonds,” he notes, “as we are about to see issuance like we have never seen before.” Foreigners have been selling bonds for years and domestically there is little demand, so Gundlach notes the only one left to soak up all this extra supply is The Federal Reserve, which has already expanded its balance sheet massively in the last 12 months.

“Who’s going to buy all these many trillions of dollars of bonds? Foreigners have been selling for years and they’ve accelerated their selling in the last several quarters, domestic buyers are not exactly selling, but they’re not adding to their holdings. So what’s left to absorb all of the spawn supply is the Federal Reserve.“ “Left to true, free markets, bond yields at the long-end would obviously be higher than they are now.”

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“Each month, Bertrand produced dozens of Russiagate articles for the site that were so unhinged that they made Rachel Maddow look sober, cautious and reliable.”

CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist (Greenwald)

The most important axiom for understanding how the U.S. corporate media functions is that there is never accountability for those who serve as propagandists for the U.S. security state. The opposite is true: the more aggressively and recklessly you spread CIA narratives or pro-war manipulation, the more rewarded you will be in that world. [..] On Monday, CNN made clear that this dynamic still drives the corporate media world. The network proudly announced that it had hired Natasha Bertrand away from Politico. In doing so, they added to their stable of former CIA operatives, NSA spies, Pentagon Generals and FBI agents a reporter who has done as much as anyone, if not more so, to advance the scripts of those agencies.

Bertrand’s career began taking off when, while at Business Insider, she abandoned her obsession with Russia’s role in Syria in 2016 in order to monomaniacally fixate on every last conspiracy theory and gossip item that drove the Russiagate fraud during the 2016 campaign and then into the Trump presidency. Each month, Bertrand produced dozens of Russiagate articles for the site that were so unhinged that they made Rachel Maddow look sober, cautious and reliable. In 2018, it was Jeffrey Goldberg himself — knowing a star CIA propagandist when he sees one — who gave Bertrand her first big break by hiring her away from Business Insider to cover Russiagate for The Atlantic. Shortly thereafter, she joined the Queen of Russiagate conspiracies herself by becoming a national security analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.

From there, it was onto Politico and now CNN: the ideal, rapid career climb that is the dream of every liberal security state servant calling themselves a journalist. Her final conspiratorial article for The Atlantic before moving to Politico is the perfect illustration of who and what she is. CNN’s new national security star was no ordinary Russiagate fanatic. There was no conspiracy theory too unhinged or evidence-free for her to promote. As The Washington Post’s media reporter Erik Wemple documented once the Steele Dossier was debunked, there was arguably nobody in media other than Rachel Maddow who promoted and ratified that hoax as aggressively, uncritically and persistently as Bertrand. She defended it even after the Mueller Report corroborated virtually none of its key claims.

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Smear sells.

The Deep State Targets Matt Gaetz (AG)

It’s now been over three weeks since a torrent of sensational headlines about U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) blared from corporate media newsrooms. It sounded about as bad as it could get for the representative from Florida’s 1st Congressional District; breathless claims that he was “under investigation for underage sex trafficking” touched off a media frenzy. No stranger to controversy, Gaetz’s initial instinct was to confront the allegations live on Fox News with Tucker Carlson. While many saw it as a bizarre interview, it may at least have been the right move in terms of staring down a bloodthirsty establishment. As several weeks have passed, though, the controversy seems to have generated more heat than light. Indeed, this might be the longest running “sex scandal” in the nation’s history without an accuser.

But the media has been busy. Since the original story broke, there’s been a drip of follow-on stories at outlets like the Daily Beast, Politico, the Washington Post, and CNN—all using a shady collection of off-the-record and dubious government sources. Unsurprisingly, given that sourcing, none of the stories have contained anything close to serious detail or evidence. Reporters keep dropping tidbits of evidence likely to be emanating from within the Justice Department, yet none of which confirms any of the headline-grabbing allegations. Few of these articles even attempt to deal with the wild allegations first made about the congressman. Writing in Politico on Tuesday, Betsy Woodruff Swan stated: “[Gaetz] has not been charged with a crime, and no women have publicly accused him of sexual misconduct in the three weeks since the New York Times first reported on the investigation. He has denied any wrongdoing.”

Note how—after making a sensational media splash for maximum public relations damage—the accusations against Gaetz have shifted, from shocking and unsupported claims of underage sex trafficking and pedophilia to the less scurrilous (and still unsupported) accusation that Gaetz had sex at parties. Crucially, there has not been any evidence of payments, prostitution, or underage girls. As Scott Adams recently said, while some may first cringe at hearing too much about the sex life of a politician, deep down, they’re more likely to be indifferent. CNN even had to note in a recent report: “One of the women who spoke to CNN said she did so in part because the picture of Gaetz as potentially connected to sex trafficking that has emerged in recent days does not align with what she saw. Both women said that they never saw anyone at the parties who appeared to be underage.”

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Seems hard to argue against, but sure enough many are trying.

Apple iOS 14.5 Update Includes ‘App Tracking Transparency’ Feature (G.)

Users of iPhones can now prevent advertisers tracking them across their apps, after the release of the latest software update from Apple introduced the controversial feature despite the protests of Facebook and the advertising industry. The update, iOS 14.5, includes a setting called “app tracking transparency”, which for the first time requires applications to ask for users’ consent before they are able to track their activity across other apps and websites. If users decline, then applications will not be able to access the unique user ID that they need to follow individuals as they live their digital lives. The prompt, which will say “Allow [app game] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” will show up for apps that request access to the ID number.

They may be able to use other methods, known as “fingerprinting”, to achieve the same goal, but Apple says that doing so could cause them to be expelled from the App Store. First announced last summer, app tracking transparency led to immediate pushback from the wider advertising industry. Initially slated for release in the autumn, Apple delayed its implementation for six months in order to give the industry time to prepare. But the delay wasn’t enough for some, and in December, Facebook launched an all-out assault on Apple, with the company’s head of ads and business products, Dan Levy, claiming that the setting was actually “about control of the entire internet”. “This is about a long-term view that is anti-personalised advertising and we think is trying to take the world back 10 or 20 years,” he added.

Facebook launched a glossy advertising campaign arguing that the real victim of the changes are “your neighbourhood coffee brewery, your friend who owns their own retail business, your cousin who started an event planning service and the game developers who build the apps you use for free”. Those small businesses, the company said, would lose out if they were no longer able to target customers with personalised adverts. The social network is not alone in its opposition: a group of Germany’s biggest media, tech and advertising companies, led by digital publishing house Axel Springer, have filed a complaint with the German competition regulator arguing that the new rules could lead to a 60% fall in advertising revenues for app developers.

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Looking at ad reveue here, I can assure you they’re keeping it all for themselves.

Google Ad Surge Drives Up Profits For Parent Firm Alphabet (Y!)

Google parent Alphabet on Tuesday reported that quarterly profit more than doubled as digital advertising surged with more people relying on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic. Profit in the first quarter leapt to $17.9 billion from $6.8 billion in the same period a year ago while revenues jumped 34 percent to $55.3 billion, led by gains in advertising and cloud computing services. “Over the last year, people have turned to Google Search and many online services to stay informed, connected and entertained,” said Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. The surge in Alphabet’s earnings comes as the tech giant faces increased scrutiny from regulators regarding its power.

“Google essentially manufactures money; they are almost entirely ads,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. “There is not a risk of downturn in revenue, it is that regulatory action strips the revenue from them.” Facebook and Google are the “short list” when it comes to scrutiny by regulators in Europe and the United States because of “their broad impact on the political process and almost complete dominance of ad revenues,” the analyst maintained. Google is among internet giants in the crosshairs of regulators and critics concerned about whether it unfairly wields its power to dominate markets and fend off competition.

[..] Alphabet shares were up nearly five percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures. “Google had an absolute monster quarter with ads leading the way,” said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy. “YouTube grew an eye-watering 49 percent year-over-year, which I attribute to increased YouTube viewing and increased YouTube TV subscribers.”

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I must admit I didn’t see this coming. Hunter, that is. That fake news producers would teach on fake news is all too predictable.

Hunter Biden To Guest Teach A Class On “Fake News” This Fall (DM)

Hunter Biden is helping teach a class on fake news at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana this fall. The course titled ‘Media Polarization and Public Policy Impacts’ will include several guest speakers throughout its 10 weeks, including the president’s son. The course description, according to a copy of the syllabus obtained by DailyMail.com, says: ‘America’s rapidly advancing partisan divide is fueled substantially by the growing political polarization increasingly evident in our news media.’ ‘This course will explore the current state of the media landscape in the United States and how media polarization, fake news, and the economics of the news business impact public policymaking in Washington, D.C,’ it continues. Hunter, 51, is a Yale-educated lawyer and has never, in any capacities, worked as a journalist, reporter or in the media world.


‘Hunter Biden has no background in media,’ conservative filmmaker Phelim McAleer said. ‘He has never worked for a newspaper or a media outlet.’ ‘Hunter Biden lecturing a class on fake news is like Harvey Weinstein teaching a course to prevent sexual harassment. It shouldn’t be happening. Period.’ the ‘My Son Hunter’ producer continued. Tulane University confirmed the course in a statement to DailyMail.com and confirmed the list of speaker, including:
Hunter Biden
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator under President Donald Trump
Juan Williams, political analyst for Fox News Channel
Susan Glasser, columnist for The New Yorker
Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post columnist; Kylie Atwood, national security correspondent for CNN
Margaret Brennan, Face the Nation moderator
Bret Stephens, New York Times columnist
Dr. Michael Fauntroy, a professor in the Political Science Department at Howard University.

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Mar 242021
 
 March 24, 2021  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Farm in Brittany 1894

 

We Are Living Through a Time of Fear (Cook)
Covid: £5,000 Fine For People Going On Holiday Abroad (BBC)
Lockdown One Year On – It Was Never Supposed To Work (OffG)
CoroNaspresso: A Cheap, Rapid and Simple Home Test (chemrxiv)
Every Day We Discuss Closure And Then Decide To Keep Going (MENA)
Top Yale Doctor: ‘Ivermectin Works,’ Including For Long COVID (TSN)
Logic In Lockdown: The German Corona Policy Is In Ruins (NZZ)
US Home Sales Fell Nearly 20% In February (F.)
EU Has ‘Destroyed’ Once Friendly Ties With Russia – Lavrov (RT)
Welcome To ‘Shocked & Awed’ 21st Century Geopolitics (Escobar)
H.R.1 – Is It Really “For the People”? (Farrell)
Leaked Docs Show Obama FTC Gave Google Its Monopoly (Bovard)
Big Oil Backs Carbon Tax (Reason)
Minnesota Police Ready For Pipeline Resistance (IC)

 

 

“One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

“I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest”.
– Henry David Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’

 

 

UK politics has gone completely bonkers….

We Are Living Through a Time of Fear (Cook)

Welcome to the age of fear. Nothing is more corrosive of the democratic impulse than fear. Left unaddressed, it festers, eating away at our confidence and empathy. We are now firmly in a time of fear – not only of the virus, but of each other. Fear destroys solidarity. Fear forces us to turn inwards to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Fear refuses to understand or identify with the concerns of others. In fear societies, basic rights become a luxury. They are viewed as a threat, as recklessness, as a distraction that cannot be afforded in this moment of crisis. Once fear takes hold, populations risk agreeing to hand back rights, won over decades or centuries, that were the sole, meagre limit on the power of elites to ransack the common wealth. In calculations based on fear, freedoms must make way for other priorities: being responsible, keeping safe, averting danger.

Worse, rights are surrendered with our consent because we are persuaded that the rights themselves are a threat to social solidarity, to security, to our health. It is therefore far from surprising that the UK’s draconian new Police and Crime Bill – concentrating yet more powers in the police – has arrived at this moment. It means that the police can prevent non-violent protest that is likely to be too noisy or might create “unease” in bystanders. Protesters risk being charged with a crime if they cause “nuisance” or set up protest encampments in public places, as the Occupy movement did a decade ago. And damaging memorials – totems especially prized in a time of fear for their power to ward off danger – could land protesters, like those who toppled a statue to notorious slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last summer, a 10-year jail sentence.

In other words, this is a bill designed to outlaw the right to conduct any demonstration beyond the most feeble and ineffective kind. It makes permanent current, supposedly extraordinary limitations on protest that were designed, or so it was said, to protect the public from the immediate threat of disease. Protest that demands meaningful change is always noisy and disruptive. Would the suffragettes have won women the vote without causing inconvenience and without offending vested interests that wanted them silent? What constitutes too much noise or public nuisance? In a time of permanent pandemic, it is whatever detracts from the all-consuming effort to extinguish our fear and insecurity. When we are afraid, why should the police not be able to snatch someone off the street for causing “unease”?

The UK bill is far from unusual. Similar legislation – against noisy, inconvenient and disruptive protest – is being passed in states across the United States. Just as free speech is being shut down on the grounds that we must not offend, so protest is being shut down on the grounds that we must not disturb.

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… and I mean completely.

Covid: £5,000 Fine For People Going On Holiday Abroad (BBC)

A £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week as part of new coronavirus laws. The penalty is included in legislation that will be voted on by MPs on Thursday. Foreign holidays are currently not allowed under the “stay at home” rule which ends on Monday. But then the ban on leaving the UK at this time will become a specific law backed up by the threat of the fine. Under the current plan for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be 17 May. However, another surge in Covid cases in continental Europe, as well as the slow rollout of vaccines across Europe, has cast doubt on the resumption of foreign travel.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions on travelling abroad were necessary to guard against the importation of large numbers of cases and new variants which might put the vaccine rollout at risk. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves told BBC Breakfast that Labour supported measures to keep the UK’s borders secure and avoid the importation of new variants but said the government’s “slowness to react” had contributed to the country’s high death rate. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Monday the UK should be “under no illusion” that it will feel the effects of a rising number of cases on the continent. One of his ministers, Lord Bethell, said England might put “all our European neighbours” on the “red list” of countries. However, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there were no plans to do this.

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A two week lockdown can achieve something. A one year lockdown can only achieve something other than the stated intent.

An entire library on lockdown effectiveness is at The Fat Emperor.

Lockdown One Year On – It Was Never Supposed To Work (OffG)

And so we come to March 23rd, and lockdown’s first birthday. Or, as we call it here, the longest two weeks in history. 1 year. 12 calendar months. 365 increasingly gruelling days. It’s a long time since “2 weeks to flatten the curve”, became an obvious lie. Sometime in July it turned into a sick joke. The curve was flattened, the NHS protected and the clapping was hearty and meaningful. …and none of it made any difference. This was not a sacrifice for the “greater good”. It was not a hard decision with arguments on both sides. It was not a risk-benefit scenario. The “risks” were in fact certainties, and the “benefits” entirely fictional.Because Lockdowns don’t work. It’s really important to remember that.


Even if you subscribe to the belief that “Sars-Cov-2” is a unique discrete entity (which is far from proven), or that it is incredibly dangerous (which is demonstrably untrue), the lockdown has not worked to, in any way, limit this supposed threat. Lockdowns. Don’t. Work. They don’t make any difference, the curves don’t flatten and the R0 number doesn’t drop and the lives aren’t saved (quite the opposite, as we’ve all seen). Just look at the graphs. This one, comparing “Covid deaths” in the UK (lockdown) and Sweden (no lockdown):

Or this one, comparing “Covid deaths” in California (lockdown) and Florida (no lockdown):

From Belarus to Sweden to Florida to Nicaragua to Tanzania, the evidence is clear. “Covid”, whatever that means in real terms, is not impacted by lockdowns. Putting the entire population under house arrest doesn’t benefit public health. In fact, it’s (rather predictably) incredibly counter-productive. The damage done by shuttering businesses, limiting access to healthcare, postponing treatments and diagnoses, postponed surgeries, increasing depression, soaring unemployment and mass poverty has been discussed to death. The scale of the impact cannot be overstated.


Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19, said this of lockdowns back in October: “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of the virus[…]just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry…look what’s happening to small-holding farmers[…]it seems we may have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition […] This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe.”

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Haven’t read the whole document yet, but the picture looks intruiging.

CoroNaspresso: A Cheap, Rapid and Simple Home Test (chemrxiv)

Development of a novel LAMP device which is cheap, reusable, and can be produced in large amounts in a short period of time. The device was designed such not to require chemical exothermic reactions, have limited waste produced and with a minimum cost of the device as a whole. The device was tested for the detection of SARS-CoV2 RNA.

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In Lebanon, it’s one crisis on top of another crisis on top of another.

Every Day We Discuss Closure And Then Decide To Keep Going (MENA)

Once bustling with life, Beirut’s famed Gemmayze Street is now deserted. Lined with damaged homes, collapsed buildings and closed businesses, the residential and commercial hub was one of the city’s most vibrant destinations – but not any more. “It’s like a nightmare. We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Charbel Bassil, owner of renowned Le Chef restaurant, on the first day of reopening after a nationwide lockdown. One of Beirut’s oldest and most popular restaurants, Le Chef, in in Gemmayze, is one of many businesses struggling to stay afloat under the weight of Lebanon’s compounding crises. The family business reopened its doors on March 22, as per the government’s lockdown strategy, but customers were hardly pouring in.

The modest space, which was often full to the brim for lunchtime, now welcomed only three tables after a full day of work, or about 10 customers. The burst of vigor and energy that characterised the dining experience at Le Chef was replaced by a sense of moping and melancholy. “We’re doing our best to keep going, but everything is a mess,” Mr Bassil told The National. Le Chef , founded in 1967, weathered civil wars and crises, but none harmed trade like Lebanon’s current events. “This is our family business. I’ve been working here since I was a child, but nothing we lived through was as bad as this,” Mr Bassil said. After almost losing the restaurant in the Beirut blast, Le Chef was able to rebuild thanks to donations, $5,000 of which came from the actor Russell Crowe.

But what the port explosion could not destroy, the economic crisis shattered. “We can’t work in this crisis. Suppliers won’t give us goods because of the market rate and we don’t know how to price our dishes,” Mr Bassil told The National. “We’re a restaurant for the people. We want to serve high-quality food for affordable prices.” Lebanon’s currency lost more than 80 per cent of its value since the beginning of the economic crisis, declared one of the worst in the country’s history. In one year, the Lebanese pound, which once traded at 1,500 to the US dollar, slumped to 15,000 on the parallel market. The minimum wage shrank from $450 to an average of $50, leaving people with insufficient salaries to cover rising living costs.

[..] Despite the opportunity to be back in business, Lebanon’s hospitality sector is wary about reopening because operational costs now outweigh profits. Fewer than 1,000 restaurants and cafes are expected to reopen this week, said Aref Saade, treasurer at the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs and Pastries. Prior to the crisis, Lebanon had about 8,500 tourist institutions in business. The number decreased to 4,500 when Covid-19 struck, and is anticipated to sink below 1,000 due to the soaring and unstable currency exchange rate. “Businesses are refraining from reopening – it’s just not worth it,” Mr Saade told The National.

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“If I can save you,” he said referring to his father, “I can tell you, I save anybody.”

Top Yale Doctor: ‘Ivermectin Works,’ Including For Long COVID (TSN)

A Yale University professor and renowned cancer researcher has pored over the COVID-19 literature and treated several dozen patients. He can remain silent no longer. Dr. Alessandro Santin, a practicing oncologist and scientist who runs a large laboratory at Yale, believes firmly that ivermectin could vastly cut suffering from COVID-19. Santin joins a growing group of doctors committed to using the safe, generic drug both as an early home treatment to prevent hospitalization and alongside inpatient treatments like steroids and oxygen. “The bottom line is that ivermectin works. I’ve seen that in my patients as well as treating my own family in Italy,” Santin said in an interview, referring to his father, 88, who recently suffered a serious bout of COVID. “We must find a way to administer it on a large scale to a lot of people.”

Santin’s statements carry the prestige of a leadership position at Yale School of Medicine and the gravitas of a top uterine cancer researcher, who has authored more than 250 science journal articles and pioneered treatment, used worldwide, for the most aggressive form of uterine cancer. At Yale, he is an OB/GYN professor, team leader in gynecologic oncology at the Smilow Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-chief of gynecologic oncology. When COVID came along, Santin began reading about how best he might help his cancer patients, 10 to 20 percent of whom were coming in infected with COVID. He began using ivermectin after the National Institutes of Health changed its advisory in January to allow the drug’s use outside of COVID trials. Santin’s endorsement is not only important but broad.

He said he has seen ivermectin work at every stage of COVID — preventing it, eliminating early infection, quelling the destructive cytokine storm in late infection, and helping about a dozen patients so far who suffered months after COVID. One of them is an athlete and mother of two, 39, who had been disabled by post-COVID chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue; she confirmed in an email to me her joy at being able to walk up a hill again and breathing better within 72 hours of her first dose. “When you have people that can’t breathe for five, six, eight, nine months and they tried multiple drugs and supplements with no success, and you give them ivermectin,” Dr. Santin said of long-haul patients, “and you see that they start immediately feeling better, this is not placebo. This is real.”

[..] Beyond his outpatients, Santin has treated family members and friends infected with COVID in both his home community in Connecticut and in his native Italy via telemedicine. There, he prescribed ivermectin to more than 15 families, in which parents, children or others had became infected; the goal was both to treat early and prevent severe COVID, as studies have shown ivermectin does. “I have not a single one that right now had to go to the hospital to receive oxygen,” he said. “I have no doubt ivermectin saved my 88-year-old father’s life.” His father survived COVID despite high blood pressure, cardiac disease that led previously to seven stents and open heart surgery, and lung problems. “If I can save you,” he said referring to his father, “I can tell you, I save anybody.”

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Google translate.

Logic In Lockdown: The German Corona Policy Is In Ruins (NZZ)

Instead of easing concepts, the Chancellor and Prime Minister present the extension and tightening of the lockdown. The citizens have to pay for what the government has missed for months. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister wrestled with each other for twelve hours on Tuesday. Anyone who expected a big hit after this nightly marathon was disappointed: The result of the conference is shameful. Not only that the tentative easing of the corona measures has been discarded. Germany should also go into a tough lockdown at Easter. “We thought again today,” said the Chancellor in the early hours of the morning. In order to “break through” the third corona wave a little bit, April 1st and 3rd at Easter will be “one-off days of rest”, as “extended rest time”.

Rethought? With these resolutions, Germany’s government surrenders to the principles of reason. If you wanted to avoid hamster purchases and crowds in supermarkets until now, the opposite is now the case: the closing of supermarkets over Easter is forcing citizens to replenish their supplies. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict the resulting overcrowding of the shops on Holy Saturday. Is that still wanton or already deliberate bad planning? Either way, it lacks any logic. Religious freedom could also be a victim of the comfortably formulated “extended rest period at Easter” – for all those for whom five months of rest are not enough – there should be no Easter services with an audience in attendance, according to the will of the conference.

So while in the past few days 700 Hansa Rostock football fans were allowed to go to the stadium with a negative quick test and 1,000 classical music fans who also tested negative were allowed to go back to the Berlin Philharmonic, is it not possible to organize a gathering of Christians at their highest festival? Not if you leave it to this government, that’s for sure. Local politicians such as Tübingen’s Mayor Boris Palmer show that there is another way. With test stations he enables the citizens of his city to live a little and the business people to survive.

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“..the lowest reported inventory since the Realtors association began tracking it in 1982..”

US Home Sales Fell Nearly 20% In February (F.)

Single-family home sales dropped 18.2% from January to February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, even as annualized sales remain much higher than pre-pandemic rates. 775,000 (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate) new single-family homes were sold in Feb. 2021—that’s a large drop from the 958,000 homes sold rate in Jan. 2021. Adjusted home sale rates are still far higher than they were pre-pandemic: 716,000 new single family homes were sold in Feb. 2020. The median price of new homes sold in February was $349,000 and the average sale price was $416,000. The National Association of Realtors said the decline from January was due to “historically-low inventory”, and said home sales are ahead of total 2020 sales. At the end of December 2020, there were just 1.07 million homes for sale—the lowest reported inventory since the Realtors association began tracking it in 1982.

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“Brussels “has consistently destroyed all mechanisms without exception that existed on the basis of an agreement on partnership and cooperation.”

EU Has ‘Destroyed’ Once Friendly Ties With Russia – Lavrov (RT)

Months of political tension and a wave of new sanctions have severed all links between the EU and Russia, Moscow’s top diplomat has said, adding that his country is ready to resume cooperation if Brussels decides it is interested. Speaking at a press conference alongside his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that currently, “there are no relations with the EU as an organization. The entire infrastructure of these relations has been destroyed by unilateral decisions made from Brussels.” Some individual European countries, he argued, are still seeking closer ties with Moscow, “guided by their national interests.” However, these are being fast outpaced by growing partnerships with China, Lavrov told journalists.

“If and when Europeans decide to eliminate these anomalies in contacts with their largest neighbor, of course, we will be ready to build up these relations based on equality,” the diplomat confirmed, “while in the East, in my opinion, we have a very intensive agenda, which is becoming more diverse every year.” In February, the foreign minister stated that Moscow’s relations with the bloc had taken a tumble in 2014, after the EU “blamed the Russian Federation for everything that is happening” in Ukraine following the Maidan. Since then, he argued, Brussels “has consistently destroyed all mechanisms without exception that existed on the basis of an agreement on partnership and cooperation.”

As part of a fiery broadcast interview, Lavrov warned that if the bloc’s leadership sought to impose sanctions on Russia that hit sensitive areas of the economy, Moscow could break off diplomatic contact altogether as a last resort. “Of course, we do not want to isolate ourselves from living in the world, but we must be ready for this. If you want peace, prepare for war,” he stressed. Earlier this month, the EU unveiled a new package of sanctions against four Russian officials it claimed were responsible for the detention of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, and “human rights violations” during the policing of subsequent protests held in his support. At the time, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said the bloc had “missed yet another opportunity to review its … approach to relations with Russia.”

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“The United States is not qualified to talk to China in a condescending manner. The Chinese people will not accept that.”

Welcome To ‘Shocked & Awed’ 21st Century Geopolitics (Escobar)

With a Russia-China-Iran triple bitch slap on the hegemon, we now have a brand new geopolitical chessboard… It took 18 years after Shock and Awe unleashed on Iraq for the Hegemon to be mercilessly shocked and awed by a virtually simultaneous, diplomatic Russia-China one-two. How this is a real game-changing moment cannot be emphasized enough; 21st century geopolitics will never be the same again. Yet it was the Hegemon who first crossed the diplomatic Rubicon. The handlers behind hologram Joe “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” Biden had whispered in his earpiece to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin as a soulless “killer” in the middle of a softball interview.

Not even at the height of the Cold War the superpowers resorted to ad hominem attacks. The result of such an astonishing blunder was to regiment virtually the whole Russian population behind Putin – because that was perceived as an attack against the Russian state. Then came Putin’s cool, calm, collected – and quite diplomatic – response, which needs to be carefully pondered. These sharp as a dagger words are arguably the most devastatingly powerful five minutes in the history of post-truth international relations. In For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska, we forecasted what could take place in the US-China 2+2 summit at a shabby hotel in Anchorage, with cheap bowls of instant noodles thrown in as extra bonus.

China’s millennial diplomatic protocol establishes that discussions start around common ground – which are then extolled as being more important than disagreements between negotiating parties. That’s at the heart of the concept of “no loss of face”. Only afterwards the parties discuss their differences. Yet it was totally predictable that a bunch of amateurish, tactless and clueless Americans would smash those basic diplomatic rules to show “strength” to their home crowd, distilling the proverbial litany on Taiwan, Hong Kong, South China Sea, “genocide” of Uighurs. Oh dear. There was not a single State Dept. hack with minimal knowledge of East Asia to warn the amateurs you don’t mess with the formidable head of the Foreign Affairs Commission at the CCP’s Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, with impunity.

Visibly startled, but controlling his exasperation, Yang Jiechi struck back. And the rhetorical shots were heard around the whole Global South. They had to include a basic lesson in manners: “If you want to deal with us properly, let’s have some mutual respect and do things the right way”. But what stood out was a stinging, concise diagnostic blending history and politics: “The United States is not qualified to talk to China in a condescending manner. The Chinese people will not accept that. It must be based on mutual respect to deal with China, and history will prove that those who seek to strangle China will suffer in the end.”

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It is a weird piece of legislation.

H.R.1 – Is It Really “For the People”? (Farrell)

A lot has been written about H.R.1 — the so-called “For the People Act of 2021.” Former Vice President Mike Pence has opined on the bill. The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal sounded the alarm back in January. The editors of National Review come right out and call it a “partisan assault on American democracy.” H.R.1 purports to, “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.” The Bill is 791 pages long. Here are just a few of the more egregious federal power grabs in H.R.1 concocted against the 50 states that run elections under the U.S. Constitution:

• Ban voter ID laws and allow ballot harvesting; • Expand Election Day to “election season” by mandating mail-in ballots be counted 10 days after the election would normally be over; • Automatic voter registration of people who apply for unemployment, Medicaid, Obamacare and college, or who are coming out of prison. There is a lot more, and it gets worse. Substantially worse. There are First Amendment restrictions on political speech and on the support or opposition of a bill and/or a candidate. Remember: This is supposed to be “fortifying our democracy.” If you are interested in a “through the looking glass” annotated analysis of H.R.1 — then head over to the Brennan Center for Justice. They are happy to explain how those pesky constitutional rights can be whittled down to something more “fair” for everyone.

For example, the Brennan Center analysis confidently assures readers about how H.R.1 “affirms Congress’ power to protect the right to vote, regulate federal elections, and defend the democratic process in the United States.” It seeks to airbrush Article I, Section 4 — The Elections Clause — from history and practice. The Clause directs and empowers states to determine the “Times, Places, and Manner” of congressional elections. H.R.1 would federally strangle the Elections Clause. In order to find our way out, it is helpful to know how we got into this terrible predicament. The foundation for the madness of H.R.1 is legal positivism, a thesis, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which states “that the existence and content of law depends on social facts and not on its merits.” H.R.1 is nearly 800 pages of meritless, militant, social engineering targeting the foundations of the U.S. Constitution, voting rights and political free speech — all dressed-up as being “for the people.”

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Too late now.

Leaked Docs Show Obama FTC Gave Google Its Monopoly (Bovard)

Eight years ago, the Federal Trade Commission had the chance to face down Google — the giant of Silicon Valley whose power now alters the free flow of information at a global scale, distorts market access for businesses large and small, and changes the nature of independent thought in ways the world has never experienced. Instead, the FTC blinked — and blinked hard, choosing to close the investigation in early 2013. A remarkable leak to Politico of agency documents about the 2012 Google investigation reveals that, despite ample evidence of market distortions and threats to competition presented by the agency’s lawyers, the five commissioners of the FTC deferred instead to speculative claims by their economists.

Records and reporting about the 2012 investigation suggest the FTC did so while bending to political pressure from the Obama White House — which was, in turn, bending to political pressure from Google. William Kovacic, a former FTC chair under President George W. Bush, reviewed the more than 300 pages of documents leaked to Politico and concluded the agency overlooked “what many experts and regulators would consider clear antitrust violations,” calling the specificity of issues outlined “breathtaking.” In short, where we find ourselves today — with Google as the primary filter of the world’s information, engaging in a network of exclusionary contracts and anti-competitive conduct, and subject to an antitrust lawsuit led by the Department of Justice and joined by 48 state attorneys general — could have, and should have, been avoided.

That it wasn’t, however, provides key takeaways about where we are now with Big Tech, and, in particular, the method of enforcement of our antitrust laws, whose application has become too tightly wrapped around the axle of price, and captured by the speculative science of economic forecasting. It also reveals just how politicized antitrust enforcement has become — influenced by the siren song of internet exceptionalism and the powerful tug of Google, one of the world’s richest companies. Perhaps the most stunning takeaway in the 2012 documents is the extent to which the recommendations of the FTC’s lawyers sharply differed from those of the agency’s economists, on whose judgment the FTC commissioners ultimately relied in their decision to drop the investigation into Google.

The FTC’s antitrust attorneys concluded that Google was breaking the law by “banishing potential competitors” with a series of exclusionary contracts on mobile phones — much of which forms the basis for the lawsuit brought nearly a decade later by the Trump Department of Justice. The FTC’s economists, however, demurred, insisting that claims of Google’s market dominance were unfounded and would soon give way to competition. This required a markedly un-curious treatment of key facts.

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Whatever Big Oil backs can never be good.

Big Oil Backs Carbon Tax (Reason)

Executives from leading oil companies, including ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and the American Petroleum Institute (API), met virtually with Biden administration officials to discuss policies aimed at addressing the problem of man-made climate change. The Wall Street Journal reported that company leaders said that “they wanted to work with the administration and pledged support for policies that would make it more expensive to emit the gases that contribute to climate change.” In a statement issued after the virtual meeting, API CEO Mike Sommers declared, “We are committed to working with the White House to develop effective government policies that help meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and support a cleaner future.” The API is rumored to be considering coming out in support of carbon emissions pricing.

ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips previously endorsed the bipartisan Climate Leadership Council’s (CLC) revenue neutral carbon tax and dividend proposal in which escalating taxes collected on oil and natural gas at the wellhead and on coal at the minehead would be entirely rebated in equal sums to each American as an annual payment. The CLC cites a 2018 study that finds that 70 percent of American households would receive more in dividend payments then they would pay in increased energy prices. Once the CLC’s carbon tax plan is adopted, all other regulations and subsidies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, such as automobile fuel efficiency and renewable portfolio standards, are supposed to be permanently repealed.

However, lots of climate activists oppose carbon taxes. Why? InsideClimateNews offered the example of Matto Mildenberger, a political scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has argued that carbon taxes make climate action unpopular because they front load the costs immediately onto consumers while the eventual benefits of lower temperatures, less fierce storms, and lower sea levels stretch into the future. As InsideClimateNews explained: “In the view of Mildenberger and others who’ve studied climate politics around the world, subsidies, regulation, and other policies that provide more immediate and visible benefits—like jobs creation—are a better way to jump-start climate policy, even if they cost more in the short run. That’s because they stimulate investment to help lower the cost of alternative energy, and at the same time help broaden political support for stronger climate policy. New actors with real investments they want to protect and advance will want more aggressive action, and politicians will respond.”

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Drilling under the Mississippi. Leave it be.

Minnesota Police Ready For Pipeline Resistance (IC)

As you drive toward the Mississippi River’s headwaters from the east, the lakes that open up on either side of the highway are still white-blue with ice. The Mississippi River, however, is flowing. The open water — a trickle compared to the expanse it will become farther south — is a hopeful sign of the end of another long Minnesota winter, but it also has opponents of pipeline construction in the area on edge. Enbridge, the Canadian energy-transport firm, is planning to route its Line 3 pipeline under the Mississippi, near where it crosses Highway 40. In winter, a pollution-control rule bars drilling under the frozen waters. As the ice melts away, so do the restrictions. Those organizing against the project worry that Enbridge could begin tunneling under the Mississippi and other local rivers any day — and the pipeline-resistance movement is getting ready for it.

“They got a lot of money, they got a lot of equipment, but we got a lot of people,” said Anishinaabe water protector Winona LaDuke at an event last week with actor and activist Jane Fonda, which took place in front of the flowing Crow Wing River, not far from where Enbridge seeks to drill under its shores. “Spring is coming. Let’s be outdoorsy.” Enbridge’s Line 3 project began construction four months ago. It was designed to replace a decaying pipeline of the same name; however, a large portion of its 338-mile Minnesota section, which makes up most of the U.S. route, plows through new land and waters. The project would double Line 3’s capacity for carrying tar sands oil, one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels in the world, at a moment when a rapid shift away from fossil fuels has become critical to address the climate crisis.

The delicate waterway ecosystems through which the pipeline passes have become the central organizing point of the anti-pipeline, or water protector, movement. Hundreds of rivers, streams, and wetlands face the specter of a tar sands leak after the replacement Line 3 begins operating. And the particularly intensive form of drilling required to tunnel the pipeline under rivers holds its own set of risks during construction.

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Mar 112021
 


Edgar Degas Danseuse au Tutu Vert 1887

 

Mass Vaccinaton Amidst A Pandemic Creates An Irrepressible Monster (VDB)
UK Covid-19 Variant Has Significantly Higher Mortality Rate Than Others (RT)
Scientists Accuse CDC Of Misinterpreting Their Research (F.)
Digital Health Pass: IBM and Moderna to Capitalize on COVID Reset (MPN)
2 Separate Studies Debunk Theory That Vitamin D Protects Against Covid-19 (RT)
France Faces Challenge To Persuade Millions Of Vaccine Sceptics (Sky)
ECB To Signal Faster Money Printing To Combat Yield Rise (R.)
Putin Warns Against US ‘Retaliation’ For SolarWinds Hack (ZH)
Russia Begins Slowing Down Twitter, Warns It Could Block Service Altogether (RT)
Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuits (F.)
Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers (WS)

 

 


 

 

Excellent. We need many more alternative voices in the debate. Thinking of posting the whole letter, but it’s an editor’s nightmare, looks as if the “i” on his keyboard is AWOL half the time.

Geert Vanden Bossche, DMV, PhD, independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundaton.

Mass Vaccinaton Amidst A Pandemic Creates An Irrepressible Monster (VDB)

As stated, I am not against vaccinaton. On the contrary, I can assure you that each of the current vaccines have been designed, developed and manufactured by brilliant and competent scientsts. However, this type of prophylactc vaccines are completely inappropriate, and even highly dangerous, when used in mass vaccinaton campaigns during a viral pandemic. Vaccinologists, scientsts and clinicians are blinded by the positve short-term efects in individual patents, but don’t seem to bother about the disastrous consequences for global health. Unless I am scientfcally proven wrong, it is difficult to understand how current human interventons will prevent circulating variants from turning into a wild monster.

Racing against the clock, I am completing my scientfc manuscript, the publicaton of which is, unfortunately, likely to come too late given the ever increasing threat from rapidly spreading, highly infectous variants. This is why I decided to already post a summary of my fndings as well as my keynote speech at the recent Vaccine Summit in Ohio on LinkedIn. Last Monday, I provided internatonal health organizatons, including the WHO, with my analysis of the current pandemic as based on scientfcally informed insights in the immune biology of Covid-19. Given the level of emergency, I urged them to consider my concerns and to initate a debate on the detrimental consequences of further ‘viral immune escape’. For those who are no experts in this feld, I am attaching below a more accessible and comprehensible version of the science behind this insidious phenomenon.

While there is no tme to spare, I have not received any feedback thus far. Experts and politcians have remained silent while obviously stll eager to talk about relaxing infecton preventon rules and ‘springtme freedom’. My statements are based on nothing else but science. They shall only be contradicted by science. While one can barely make any incorrect scientfc statements without being critcized by peers, it seems like the elite of scientsts who are currently advising our world leaders prefer to stay silent. Sufcient scientfc evidence has been brought to the table. Unfortunately, it remains untouched by those who have the power to act. How long can one ignore the problem when there is at present massive evidence that viral immune escape is now threatening humanity? We can hardly say we didn’t know – or were not warned. In this agonizing leter I put all of my reputaton and credibility at stake. I expect from you, guardians of mankind, at least the same. It is of utmost urgency. Do open the debate. By all means: turn the tide!

 

The key queston is: why does nobody seem to bother about viral immune escape? Let me try to explain this by means of a more easily understood phenomenon: Antimicrobial resistance. One can easily extrapolate this scourge to resistance to our self-made ‘antviral antbiotcs’. Indeed, antibodies (Abs) produced by our own immune system can be considered self-made antviral antibiotcs, regardless of whether they are part of our innate immune system (so-called ‘natural’ Abs’) or elicited in response to specifc pathogens (resulting in so-called ‘acquired’ Abs). Natural Abs are not germ-specifc whereas acquired Abs are specifcally directed at the invading pathogen. At birth, our innate immune system is ‘unexperienced’ but well-established.

It protects us from a multtude of pathogens, thereby preventing these pathogens from causing disease. As the innate immune system cannot remember the pathogens it encountered (innate immunity has no so-called ‘immunological memory’), we can only contnue to rely on it provided we keep it ‘trained’ well enough. Training is achieved by regular exposure to a myriad of environmental agents, including pathogens. However, as we age, we will increasingly face situatons where our innate immunity (often called ‘the frst line of immune defense’) is not strong enough to halt the pathogen at the portal of entry (mostly mucosal barriers like respiratory or intestnal epithelia). When this happens, the immune system has to rely on more specialized effectors of our immune system (i.e., antgen-specifc Abs and T cells) to fght the pathogen.

So, as we grow up, we increasingly mount pathogen-specifc immunity, including highly specifc Abs. As those have stronger affinity for the pathogen (e.g., virus) and can reach high concentratons, they can quite easily outcompete our natural Abs for binding to the pathogen/virus. It is precisely this type of highly specifc, high affinity Abs that current Covid-19 vaccines are inducing. Of course, the noble purpose of these Abs is to protect us against Covid-19. So, why then should there be a major concern using these vaccines to fight Covid-19? Well, similar to the rules applying to classical antimicrobial antibiotcs, it is paramount that our self-made ‘antviral antibiotcs’ are made available in suffficient concentraton and are tailored at the specifc features of our enemy

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This is what the above article addresses. The variants don’t arise despite the vaccines, but because of them.

UK Covid-19 Variant Has Significantly Higher Mortality Rate Than Others (RT)

The strain of Covid-19 originally discovered in Kent, South East England, is associated with a much higher risk of fatality, according to new research carried out by the universities of Exeter and Bristol. A study published on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that the B117 variant, often referred to as the ‘British’ or ‘Kent’ strain, is 30-100 percent more deadly than other Covid-19 variants in circulation. “Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B117 a threat that should be taken seriously,” said Robert Challen, a researcher at Exeter University, who co-led the research. Challen’s team found that the new variant caused 227 deaths in a sample of 54,906 patients, while 141 people died in a sample of the same number of people who had been infected with other Covid-19 strains.


Leon Danon, a senior author of the study and a professor at the University of Bristol, said that “there is a real concern that other variants will arise with resistance to rapidly rolled out vaccines,” and stated that monitoring new variants must be “a key part of the public health response in the future”. Researchers had already estimated that the virus’s mutations meant it was 53 percent more contagious. The strain was first identified in September 2020 along with hundreds of other variants, but it wasn’t until the English lockdown in November that scientists realised it probably associated with surging infection rates in Kent and England’s South East as case numbers decreased in other parts of the country.

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“..science has shown “schools can remain fully open safely.”

Scientists Accuse CDC Of Misinterpreting Their Research (F.)

A group of researchers whose work has been cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is accusing the agency of ignoring their positive findings about low transmission rates in schools and putting out overly stringent school reopening guidelines. The four researchers—Dr. Tara Henderson and Dr. Daniel Johnson of the University of Chicago, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California-San Francisco and Dr. Tracy Tracy Beth Hoeg of the University of California-Davis—labeled the guidelines released last month by the CDC “harmful” in a Tuesday USA Today op-ed, arguing that science has shown “schools can remain fully open safely.”

The researchers say the CDC, which on its website cites one of their studies showing minimal transmission in Wisconsin schools with high community positivity rates, ignored their research, as well as findings from the broader scientific community that have highlighted the low risks associated with Covid-19 for children and the lack of science mandating 6-feet of distance between children wearing masks. “Although the guidance cites the work performed across Wisconsin districts performed by our group,” the researchers said, the CDC guidance does not “take that data and new analyses from that dataset into account.”

They argue keeping schools closed or even partially closed is “unwarranted, is harming children, and has become a human rights issue,” and sought to dispel fears about the impact of variants, arguing Switzerland and Belgium have demonstrated that K-12 schools can remain fully open safely even after the U.K. variant becomes the dominant strain. “President Joe Biden ran on a campaign indicating that science and data would guide his policy,” the researchers wrote. “As we approach the anniversary of the first Covid-19 shut down, this approach is needed more than ever, especially when it comes to schools.”

A study published Tuesday on the partial reopening of public schools in New York City found students did not have a higher prevalence of Covid-19 compared with the general community. Though the transmission rate was higher among teachers and staff, just 191 of the 36,000 students and staffers in schools quarantined after a school virus exposure tested positive for the virus (a 0.5% transmission rate).

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This is scarier than the virus.

Digital Health Pass: IBM and Moderna to Capitalize on COVID Reset (MPN)

IBM is partnering with Covid-19 mRNA vaccine maker Moderna to track vaccine administration in real time through its various blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and hybrid cloud services. According to a company press release, the collaboration will “focus on exploring the utility of IBM capabilities in the U.S.,” such as a recently unveiled pilot program for a Covid-19 Digital Health Pass in the State of New York, which effectively deputizes private businesses to enforce government-imposed Covid-19 regulations. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative, billed as the “Excelsior Pass,” during his 2021 State of the State Address in January and the program’s initial phase was tested at the Barclays Center during an NBA game, followed by another test at Madison Square Garden for an NHL game on March 2.

According to the state’s official website, the trial runs were designed to maximize “return on investment and saving development time” before submitting the “wallet app” to the Google and Apple app stores. “The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way,” said Cuomo, who in February rolled out the state’s reopening guidelines for sports and entertainment venues, which would pave the way “to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal.” Built on IBM’s Digital Health Pass technology, the QR code-based health data tracking app is only one of multiple blockchain ledger applications the company will leverage as part of its partnership with Moderna.

Others include their Blockchain Transparent Supply and Food Trust services, which use the open-source Hyperledger technology to share supply-chain and food sourcing “credibility” data respectively with enterprise customers. IBM’s Blockchain World Wire cross-border payment processing service rounds out the blockchain ecosystem that will serve to “enhance” supply chain visibility and “real-time” vaccine management and administration. Using what have already become clichéd industry buzzwords like “transparency,” “trust,” and even “privacy,” IBM’s Digital Health Pass marketing literature describes the mass tracking app as a “smart way to return to society” that allows people to “return to the activities and things they love.”

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Oh sure.

2 Separate Studies Debunk Theory That Vitamin D Protects Against Covid-19 (RT)

Two separate non-peer-reviewed studies looking into the use and effectiveness of Vitamin D against Covid infection have both reached the same conclusion: there’s no clear benefit to using supplements. In the first study, researchers examined a database of nearly 450,000 mostly white people of European ancestry to understand whether giving them vitamin D supplements would lower the probability of contracting Covid-19. The researchers, from 10 separate universities in Canada, Israel, Japan, Italy and the UK, looked at genetic markers that would leave people predisposed to vitamin D deficiencies. They concluded that “vitamin D supplementation as a means of protecting against worsened Covid outcomes is not supported by genetic evidence,” they wrote in the study.

“Other therapeutic or preventative… avenues should be given higher priority for Covid-19 randomized controlled trials.” In the second study debunking vitamin D’s usefulness against Covid, researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece examined data on vitamin D deficiency from 24 European countries and compared it to data on Covid infections, recoveries and deaths. The researchers, who did not include data from people living in nursing homes, looked at how vitamin D deficiency rates varied across European nations and compared that data to infection rates.

They concluded that the “prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was not significantly associated with either the number of infections, recoveries or mortality rate of Covid-19” across Europe. The two new studies contradict a preprint study released in mid-February by researchers at the University of Barcelona. It suggested that giving high doses of vitamin D to Covid patients in hospital could cut deaths by 60 percent. The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the UK, has since removed the paper from its server after concerns were expressed over the methodology used to support its conclusion.

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Odd mix of anti-vaxxers.

France Faces Challenge To Persuade Millions Of Vaccine Sceptics (Sky)

As much of the world desperately seeks COVID vaccines, there is evidence in France that millions of people are reluctant to have a jab. The most recent polls suggest around half of the adult population may refuse a vaccination – leading health professionals to worry about public safety long term. Vaccine scepticism is high in many European countries and in few places more than France where so-called “anti-vax” websites and platforms have drawn thousands of followers. One of the most active sites is run from a tiny French village by Marie Werbregue who believes her daughter and others developed autism from childhood vaccines – a claim widely disputed by the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies.

She tells us: “I have never, ever been scared of COVID. I know for a fact that it’s simply a nasty flu and that’s not what scares me.” She states she will not have a coronavirus vaccine and when challenged that could put others at risk she says: “If one uses the logic that the vaccine is effective, how does an unvaccinated person affect the life of a vaccinated person? “Let’s say that I get the vaccine, I take the risks. I have the right to choose, when it concerns my life. I’m not going to risk my life, or even die for someone else. Why should I make this sacrifice?” While Marie Werbregue’s view, and her outspoken positions on vaccines and big pharma companies represent an extreme position in France, there is plenty of evidence millions of people lack confidence in inoculations and historically have been much more reluctant to have them.

French health sociologist Dr Caroline De Pauw speaks to us from the University of Lille and says that fear and scepticism are rooted in past health scares especially over the hepatitis B vaccine in the 1990s. “At the time there was the scandal that linked the vaccine with cases of multiple sclerosis. And suddenly, a link was made which has since been denied by all health authorities, including independent medical authorities, because of links with the pharmaceutical industry. “And France has trouble going beyond this issue of hepatitis B and links with the pharmaceutical industry.”

[..] Even many medical professionals have refused to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. And you don’t have to approach too many members of the public to hear the doubts. One man in Lille told us: “I’m against it, especially when we see so much pushback and that even nursing staff do not want to be vaccinated. “There is only a quarter of nursing staff in France who have accepted it, and that raises questions. So, ordinary people like me, we also ask ourselves questions.”

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One more effect of the American Rescue Plan. They can’t let the euro rise too much.

ECB To Signal Faster Money Printing To Combat Yield Rise (R.)

The European Central Bank is likely to signal faster money printing on Thursday to keep a lid on borrowing costs but it will stop short of adding firepower to its already aggressive pandemic-fighting package. Concerned that a steady rise in borrowing costs could derail the bloc’s recovery from a pandemic-fuelled recession, ECB policymakers meeting on Thursday will be keen to calm markets and recommit to rock-bottom rates until well into the recovery. But converting that commitment into specific policy action will be a delicate balancing act. The ECB cannot appear to micro-manage bond yields since that would tie its hands in the future and invite accusations it is shielding governments from market forces.


The euro zone’s central bank will also be keen not to overstate the rise in yields, which are still low by most standards, with the German yield curve, the benchmark for the 19-country bloc, still in negative territory up to 20 years. Having already committed to “maintaining favourable financing conditions”, however, it cannot ignore the rise in borrowing costs, which has not been matched by improving economic prospects and mostly mirrors a move in U.S. Treasuries. Policymakers have already approved all the firepower needed to combat the rise in yields, so technically no decision is required. The ECB still has a 1 trillion euro quota to buy bonds through next March, with flexibility to tailor volumes to market conditions.

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“..the White House is preparing a series of devastating cyberattacks on Russia..”

Putin Warns Against US ‘Retaliation’ For SolarWinds Hack (ZH)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted fiercely to the contents of a report in the The New York Times this week that cited unnamed senior admin officials to say the White House is preparing a series of devastating cyberattacks on Russia as ‘retaliation’ for the SolarWinds hack. A spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Tuesday that the “alarming information” would constitute a “pure international cybercrime” and is thus condemned under international law. “The Russian state has never had anything to do with cybercrimes and cyberterrorism it is being accused of,” Peskov emphasized. Specifically addressing the NY Times report further, Peskov added, “the fact that the newspaper doesn’t rule out that the American state could be involved in cybercrime, is definitely of great concern to us.”


Amazingly, the anonymous Biden admin officials revealed to the Times that a “series of clandestine actions across Russian networks” are expected to start within the next three weeks. The cyber-operations will by design seek to get Putin and Russian intelligence’s attention while being concealed from the broader public when it occurs, the NYT report said. Detailing the Kremlin’s condemnation and warning against any such cyber espionage, US News & World Report writes: “He spoke in response to a series of claims from U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray, that they are considering harsh punishments on Russia for the attack, including overt sanctions and some form of covert salvos in the cyber realm. Wray hinted at the action in testimony before Congress this month, saying the U.S. was preparing cyber “joint sequenced operations.”

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It’s not just Twitter.

Russia Begins Slowing Down Twitter, Warns It Could Block Service Altogether (RT)

Twitter users in Russia are about to find it takes longer to share their thoughts online, as authorities start slowing the service’s connection speeds amid a row over illegal content hosted by the US-based social media giant. Communications regulator Roskomnadzor issued a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the decision, which it says is because Twitter “does not remove content that incites minors to commit suicide, contains child pornography or information about the use of drugs.” The watchdog claims it has sent more than 28,000 requests for posts, links and publications to be deleted or blocked on the platform. However, at present, “3,168 pieces of content containing prohibited information… remain not deleted.”

These reportedly include more than 2,500 calls for children to kill themselves and 450 involving child pornography. Accusing the network of failing to adhere to Russian laws, Roskomnadzor said that “the latest vivid example was the demonstrative disregard for the requirements of the regulator to remove calls to minors to commit mass suicide.” Unlike other social networks, officials claim, “Twitter did not delete the materials.” If the company continues to refuse to comply with the requests, Moscow says, “these measures will continue in line with regulations, up to the point of blocking” the service.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of the Russian Parliament’s information policy committee said that the assembly supported the move, and that “it is a pity that Russian users have become hostages to decisions by Twitter.” But, justifying the slowdown, he said, “the state simply has no other tools to influence the violator.” Senator Alexander Bashkin added that other social media sites should take notice, claiming that “this will act as a wake up call for YouTube and other networks that make gains at the expense of law and order in Russia.”

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These suits are a decade (too) late.

Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuits (F.)

Facebook asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss two landmark antitrust lawsuits against the company, teeing up what is expected to be a protracted legal battle that could result in the social network being broken up if it loses. Facebook is facing two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., one from the Federal Trade Commission and one from 48 state attorneys general, alleging the company squashed competition through anticompetitive acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook argued in a filing the FTC doesn’t have the authority to challenge acquisitions already approved by the agency, adding that it isn’t a monopoly because the government “cannot establish that Facebook has increased prices or restricted output” without losing market share.

Facebook argued the state lawsuit was grounded in “public policy concerns” instead of antitrust law, pointing to the states’ argument that Facebook froze out competing services that could have offered better privacy protections. Both lawsuits call for remedial action, such as forcing the company to potentially sell off Instagram or WhatsApp and requiring it to get prior approval before future mergers and acquisitions. “Antitrust laws are intended to promote competition and protect consumers. These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The FTC and state lawsuits represent the most significant regulatory action Facebook has ever faced. The social giant has been under fire from both parties in recent years following privacy mishaps in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a growing concern that Facebook’s has too much control over political speech and information due to its sheer size. In October, House Democrats released a report concluding that Facebook and Google wield “monopoly power” and asked Congress to consider legislation breaking them up. House Republicans didn’t sign onto the final report and instead released their report opposing “onerous and burdensome regulation.”

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Yeah, we’re not the only victims. Looking for alternatives.

Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers (WS)

Other news publications have filed for bankruptcy without ever specifying the real reason for the losses. Big publishers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have gutted their staff without specifying the real reason – the company that is the real reason. But separately, the bad boy of news publishing, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal among many other publications, officially broke the omertà about the existential issue for publishers: Google’s total dominance in multiple layers at the core and all over internet advertising. And its abuse of power in that arena.

Last year, it was reported that News Corp complained to antitrust authorities in the US and other countries that Google was abusing its power and sucking revenues out of the stream that should be going to publishers. And I see what Google is doing to publishers every day on my own site. The US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in October last year, a decade behind the curve, after much of the damage had already been done. The New Media Alliance, which advocates for news publishers, repeated some industry data – a bitter but well-known dose of reality for publishers – in its latest missive of February 21, concerning the antitrust lawsuit:

“News publisher ad revenues have plummeted dramatically over the last two decades; between 2005 and 2018, news organizations saw their ad revenue fall by 70 percent. During that same period, Google’s ad revenue increased from approximately $6 billion to $116 billion, and Google’s market capitalization increased from approximately $100 billion to $1 trillion.” Since the endpoint of this data in 2018, the situation has continued on the same trajectory: Google siphoning out more money that should have gone to publishers, more publishers collapsing, more publishers losing more money and laying off more people, and Google’s advertising revenues rising 26% to $147 billion, and its market cap rising another 40% to $1.4 trillion.

I have seen this for years on my own site: Every year, ad revenues per million Google ads served declined. Via the Google empire, you need to get more and more traffic and serve more and more Google ads, and overall revenues from Google ads might still decline.

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Santorini bird’s eye

 

 

 

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Feb 072021
 


Russell Lee Sign Along the Road Near Capulin New Mexico 1939

 

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)
Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)
Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)
Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)
UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)
Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)
There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (RT)
How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)
Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)
Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

 

 

 

 

Let’s be a bit contrarian this Sunday, shall we?

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)

Coronavirus has divided society. A chasm of mutual misunderstanding and resentment has opened up. On one side are people who want to be allowed to make their own judgments about risk, in the light of their own vulnerabilities and those of the people around them. On the other side are people who think their safety depends on coercing their fellow citizens into accepting the judgment of Government Ministers. Despite the optimism created by the vaccines, powerful voices are still exploiting public fears to keep us locked up for longer and impose distancing rules indefinitely in pursuit of the mirage of zero Covid. There is concern that medical scientists are moving the goalposts, changing their objectives in a way that would keep us locked up for longer, perhaps indefinitely.

Those of us who point to the staggering collateral cost of such policies are drowned out by outbursts of emotion and abuse from people who behave as if nothing matters except reducing the Covid death toll. As a society, we have been urged to suppress the most basic instinct of the human spirit – our interaction with each other. In the process, we turned a public health crisis into something much worse: a public health crisis AND an economic, social and educational crisis. Our economy is being laid waste, with small businesses snuffed out and job prospects destroyed for a generation of young people. Yet no society ever reduced deaths by making itself poorer. We have shut down our cities and crippled a once-flourishing musical, artistic and sporting culture.

We have created an acute crisis of mental health among the young. We are depriving children of their education, perhaps the most important benefit that the state can give them, at untold cost for their future. We are locking the elderly into islands of loneliness and wretchedness, depriving them of the stimulus of human contact. Dementia – a bigger killer than Covid-19 – is hitting unprecedented levels. None of this is the result of the disease. It is all due to the lockdown. To escape this situation, we need to understand how we got into it. Covid-19 is serious, but it is no worse than the scenario for which governments have planned for years. A pandemic caused by a new respiratory disease has topped the National Risk Register since 2008. In 2017, it assumed that a new pathogen might cause 750,000 deaths.

The principles of any response were set out in a 2011 Department of Health strategy. They were designed to ensure the minimum of disruption. The aim was to shield the sick and the vulnerable, not isolate the healthy and economically active. It was to ‘encourage those who are well to carry on with their normal lives for as long and as far as that is possible’. The Government would not close borders or stop mass gatherings. Lockdown was not even an option. Minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that the same policies were the basis of its advice to Ministers right up to the moment last March when the first lockdown was decided.

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One of many problems with reliance on hasty vaccines.

Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)

British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Saturday that its vaccine developed with the University of Oxford appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of Covid-19, based on early data from a trial. The study from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University showed the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant, according to a Financial Times report published earlier in the day. Among coronavirus variants now most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.


“In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in response to the FT report. The newspaper said none of the more than 2,000 trial participants had been hospitalised or died. “However, we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalisation given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults,” the AstraZeneca spokesperson said. The company said it believed its vaccine could protect against severe disease, given that the neutralising antibody activity was equivalent to that of other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated protection against severe disease.

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A splintered court.

Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)

A splintered U.S. Supreme Court blocked California from enforcing coronavirus-related bans on indoor worship services, but declined to upset other state rules banning singing and chanting and limiting the number of worshipers. The ruling issued just before 11 p.m. ET Friday produced four separate statements by the justices, as well as a convoluted description of what relief various justices would have granted to churches objecting to the limits. However, a majority of the court was only willing to lift the ban California has applied on all indoor worship in Tier 1 counties — those most challenged by Covid-19. The other restrictions remain undisturbed, for now.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Friday night ruling: new Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose conservative Catholic views drew suspicion from many liberals in advance of her confirmation last year, declined to grant the churches the most sweeping relief favored by her most conservative colleagues. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have granted all the churches’ requests, lifting the singing and chanting bans and barred California from enforcing a 25 percent capacity limit that applies to many indoor facilities. Justice Samuel Alito would have had such a ban kick in 30 days from now if the state didn’t make certain showings in court.

“Even if a full congregation singing hymns is too risky, California does not explain why even a single masked cantor cannot lead worship behind a mask and a plexiglass shield. Or why even a lone muezzin may not sing the call to prayer from a remote location inside a mosque as worshippers file in,” Gorsuch wrote. Barrett opted for a middle-ground position with Justice Brett Kavanaugh that did not go as far as Gorsuch, Thomas or Alito. “The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban. In my view, they did not carry that burden—at least not on this record,” she wrote in a brief opinion.

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“It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth..”

Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)

Long-term unemployment is edging toward a historical peak, almost a year into the pandemic-fueled downturn. Workers are deemed to be “long-term unemployed” when their jobless spell is longer than six months. It’s an especially dangerous period of unemployment, according to labor economists. For one, household income may drop significantly. But the dynamic also makes finding a new job more difficult, scars workers’ long-term earnings potential and raises the odds of losing a job (if they find one) down the road, economists said. Almost 40% of jobless workers in January were long-term unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The share has grown steadily since the spring and is approaching the record set in April 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. At that time, nearly 46% of the unemployed were out of work at least six months. “I think that is one of the many concerning things we see in this report,” Nick Bunker, economic research director at job site Indeed, said of January’s uptick in long-term unemployment. “I think it’s even more concerning when you see job gains continue to slow down.” The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy shed 227,000 jobs in December, the first drop since the rebound began in the spring. Meanwhile, there are about 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.


It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth, according to Heidi Shierholz, director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. (Her analysis uses the average growth over the past three months.) “There’s a massive hole to fill,” said Shierholz, a former chief economist at the Department of Labor.

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That’s a lot.

UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit, the Observer can reveal. The dramatic drop in the volume of traffic carried on ferries and through the Channel tunnel has been reported to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove by the Road Haulage Association after a survey of its international members. In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In particular he had made clear throughout last year there was an urgent need to increase the number of customs agents to help firms with mountains of extra paperwork. The number now, around 10,000, is still about a fifth of what the RHA says is required to handle the massive increase in paperwork facing exporters. Burnett told the Observer that in addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU. “I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Contact with Gove had been limited and had achieved little over recent months. “Michael Gove is the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back,” he said. “He responds on WhatsApp and says he got the letter but no written response comes. Pretty much every time we have written over the last six months he has not responded in writing. He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.” According to the House of Commons library, UK exports to the EU were £294bn in 2019 (43% of all UK exports) while UK imports from the EU were £374bn (52% of the total). The overwhelming majority of exports to the EU from the UK go through ports rather than by air.

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And now go global.

Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)

The Australian government has possibly obtained a rare, partial victory in its standoff with Google. The US-based tech giant has appeared to reverse course as Australia holds hearings aimed at enacting legislation that would effectively force Google to pay local sources for news it links to and features in its search engine. Google last month threatened to pull its search engine off the continent altogether, with Canberra counter-threatening that they won’t budge. But on Thursday Google made the following official announcement: “To meet growing reader and publisher needs, last year we increased our investment in news partnerships and launched Google News Showcase.”

The ‘Showcase’ app is the result of the company negotiating to pay some Australian news producers who sign up for the program. It’s an attempt to undercut legislation being proposed to require the company to pay for all such content. It’s not likely to stop the new legislation, however, but Google is offering it as an ‘alternative’. The move shows that the tech giant is arguably feeling the pressure and is looking to compromise. The Google announcement continued, “Today we are happy to announce we are rolling out an initial version of the product to benefit users and publishers in Australia, with a keen focus on leading regional and independent publishers given the importance of local information and the role it plays in people’s everyday lives.”

“News Showcase is designed to bring value to both publishers and readers by providing a licensing program that pays publishers to curate content for story panels across Google services, and gives readers more insights into the stories that matter,” it said. While the details have yet to be revealed, for example just which publishers will eventually be enabled to join the platform, it’s being reported as a significant compromise which is likely to first reward major national Australian outlets, as Reuters details: With the legislation now before a parliamentary inquiry, Friday’s launch of News Showcase in Australia will see it pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content.

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About the Time article.

There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (Malic)

The 2020 US presidential elections wasn’t “rigged,” oh no, but “fortified” by a conspiracy of activists united in saving “Our Democracy” from the Bad Orange Man, now proud to share their story in a friendly tell-all piece in TIME.“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes,” writes Molly Ball – a biographer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by the way – in TIME magazine this week, describing it as a “vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election – an extraordinary shadow effort.” Ball’s article reveals a lot, from why there were no street riots by Democrats either on November 4 or on January 6 – the organizers of this “conspiracy” stopped them – to who was behind the push to alter election rules in key states and set up mail-in voting, who organized “information” campaigns about the results of the election, and who even threatened election officials into making the “right” decision to certify the vote.

While everyone – myself included – was focused on the summer riots as a possible “color revolution,” they turned out to be misdirection. According to TIME, the real action was taking place behind the scenes, as Democrat activists and unions joined forces with NeverTrump Republicans, Chamber of Commerce, corporations, and Big Tech to make sure the 2020 election turns out the way they wanted. They call this a victory of democracy and the will of the people, of course, for no one is ever a villain in their own story. “Their work touched every aspect of the election,” Ball writes, from getting states to “change voting system laws” and fending off “voter-suppression lawsuits,” to recruiting “armies” of poll workers and pressuring social media companies to “take a harder line against disinformation.”

Then, after Election Day, “they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result.” Alarmed yet? Maybe you should be. So who are these shadowy saviors of Our Democracy? One of them is union organizer Mike Podhorzer of AFL-CIO, a traditional Democrat powerhouse. Another is Ian Bassin, associate White House counsel in Barack Obama’s first administration. The roster of his “nonpartisan, rule-of-law” outfit called Protect Democracy includes a lot of Obama lawyers, a John McCain campaign aide, an editor from the defunct neocon Weekly Standard, and someone from SPLC, while among their advisers is the NeverTrump failed presidential candidate and ex-CIA spy Evan McMullin.

Bear that in mind when you read Bassin’s quote that “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” but “it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.” Chilling words.

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Trojan horse.

How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)

Ecuador’s historic February 7 election could bring a popular revolutionary movement back from the dead and help fuel a new wave of socialist governments in Latin America. The contrast between the two main presidential candidates could hardly be more stark: On one side is a conservative banker backed by Ecuadorian elites and the United States, Guillermo Lasso; and on the other is a youthful left-wing economist, Andrés Arauz, who follows in the footsteps of socialist former President Rafael Correa and wants to return to his Citizens’ Revolution. But a third candidate who has stayed in the race until the end, despite all polls showing him significantly behind, has helped to divide Ecuador’s left-wing vote by running what has been marketed as a progressive environmentalist campaign.

Yaku Pérez Guartambel, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador’s party Pachakutik, purports to be the true left-wing option in the election. But his political record suggests he is a Trojan Horse for the left’s most bitter enemies. Pérez supported right-wing US-backed coups targeting Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, demonizing the countries’ socialist governments as “racist.” His political views fuse ultra-leftist, anarchistic critiques of existing left-wing states with an objectively right-wing political agenda. And his opposition to state power is deeply opportunistic. While Pérez harshly criticizes China, he has simultaneously pronounced he “would not think twice” about signing a trade deal with the United States. Pérez’s ostensibly progressive ideology is filled with contradictions. While the Correista candidate Arauz has proposed giving $1000 checks to one million working-class Ecuadorian families, Pérez has attacked the plan on the grounds that poor citizens would spend all the money on beer in one day.

The party of Pérez, Pachakutik, identifies as “ecosocialist” and claims to represent Ecuador’s Indigenous communities. But like the candidate that leads it, it employs left-wing rhetoric to paper over regressive goals. Pachakutik is closely linked to NGOs funded by Washington and EU member states. The party’s leaders have been trained by the US government-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), a CIA cutout that operates under the auspices of the National Endowment for Democracy. In the past, Pérez and Pachakutik helped lead protests against Ecuador’s former President Correa, forming an unspoken alliance with the country’s right-wing oligarchs in a bid to destabilize and overthrow the socialist president. In fact, Pachakutik played a significant role in a US-backed 2010 coup attempt that came close to undemocratically removing Correa from power.

Pachakutik’s ties to Washington are extensive. One of its most prominent former members is Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian journalist who spearheaded a disinformation campaign targeting journalist Julian Assange, peddling discredited but deeply damaging claims about the Wikileaks publisher through the neoliberal British newspaper The Guardian. Villavicencio’s anti-Correa activism also appears to have been funded by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy.

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“Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.”

Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)

The US military is making a big show of cleansing its ranks of ‘extremism’ – because nothing says tolerance like raining fiery death on innocent strangers at the command of a guy who just stepped down from Raytheon’s board. With “domestic extremists” now officially the enemy du jour in Washington, the top order of business has become finding some. On Wednesday, newly-anointed secretary of defense (and former Raytheon board member) Lloyd Austin ordered a two-month stand-down so that commanders could engage in “needed discussions” with their subordinates on the issue. Did we mention they have a lot of subordinates? There are 3.6 million service members in the most expensive military in the world, and evaluating every single one of them for a characteristic that lacks even a universally-agreed-upon definition is certain to be both time-consuming and frustrating.

It’s also quite likely to backfire. Being spuriously accused of “domestic extremism” is the sort of thing that might turn an ‘ordinary’ soldier into an anti-government ‘extremist.’ After all, what sort of gratitude is rewarding a person who just signed up to die for their country with the ideological equivalent of a prostate exam? The FBI, DHS and other security agencies have, at various times, declared almost every American to be some sort of anti-government extremist or other, from “conspiracy theorists” to, well, veterans, depending on that season’s trend in fear. But even the most ambitious diversity consultant can’t just lock up millions of Americans for thoughtcrime – yet.

It takes extreme conditioning indeed to abandon one’s humanity and learn to kill on command – “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t just a religious commandment. Former military personnel describing the process through which they were transformed from “normal” people into killing machines talk about a radicalization process quite unlike anything ever posted to 4chan or wherever 21st-century “radicals” are supposed to be born from. Yet anti-extremism nonprofits wring their hands when confronted with the seemingly disproportionate number of Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and other militia and quasi-militia groups that have served in the military. Do they expect veterans to simply forget their entire training upon returning to civilian life?

Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.” Such doublethink makes it difficult for many returning veterans to readjust to civilian life – and the government – and it doesn’t help that Washington basically washes its hands of them once they remove their uniforms. What good is all that college money they dangle in front of young recruits’ faces if all that “life experience” leaves you a dysfunctional PTSD-stricken shell of a person, incapable of forming meaningful relationships or even sleeping through the night? Not every service member sees conflict, of course, but those who do are irrevocably changed by it.

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“a personal book about his own personal journey..”

Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter briefly hit bestseller status in Amazon’s ‘Chinese biography’ section for a new memoir, for which he was reportedly paid $2 million by the same publisher who scrapped GOP Sen. Josh Hawley’s book. The ‘Chinese biography’ listing was first reported on Friday by the New York Post, the same newspaper censored on social media in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election over a story about Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. After a few hours at the top of the section, however, Amazon scrubbed the ranking, relocating Biden’s memoir to the number-one spot in its ‘Lawyer & Judge biographies’ category. Biden was reportedly paid a $2 million advance for the book, titled ‘Beautiful Things’ and said to contain an account of his struggle with drug abuse, among other things.


News of the contract – reportedly signed secretly in late 2019 – was only announced on Thursday. The memoir is scheduled to be published in early April by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster – the very same publisher who canceled Hawley’s ‘Tyranny of Big Tech’ after the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol. Asked about the memoir on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called it “a personal book about his own personal journey.” Psaki also quoted a statement “in their personal capacity as parents” from Joe and Jill Biden, who said they “admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope.”

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Jan 302021
 
 January 30, 2021  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Clear connection 1925

 

GameStop Short Sellers Not Quitting Despite $20 Billion In Losses (CNBC)
GameStop Craziness Pulls Back the Curtain on the Stock Market (Dayen)
Google Deletes 100,000+ One-Star Ratings Of Robinhood App (RT)
The Man Who Isn’t There (Kunstler)
AGs: ‘Principal Political Control’ Of Government Lies With Congress (JTN)
How Biden’s Executive Orders Impact The Oil Industry (Rapier)
Macron: Oxford Vaccine Appears ‘Quasi-Ineffective’ On Elderly Patients (JTN)
Newsom Signs Bill To Extend COVID-19 Eviction Protections Through June (LAT)
Facebook’s Oversight Board Is Taking Public Comments On Trump’s Ban (F.)
Jon Stewart Joins Twitter To Defend Reddit GameStop Traders (NYP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

$20 billion or $70 billion?

Anyway, they can’t quit, because not nearly enough shares are available to cover their shorts. For now, they’re stuck.

GameStop Short Sellers Not Quitting Despite $20 Billion In Losses (CNBC)

The astronomical rally in GameStop has imposed huge losses of nearly $20 billion for short sellers this month, but they are not budging. Short-selling hedge funds have suffered a mark-to-market loss of $19.75 billion year to date in the brick-and-mortar video game retailer, including a nearly $8 billion loss on Friday as the stock kept ripping higher, according to data from S3 Partners. Still, short sellers mostly are holding onto their bearish positions or they are being replaced by new hedge funds willing to bet against the stock. GameStop shares that have been borrowed and sold short have declined by just about 5 million over the last week, marking an 8% dip in the short interest, according to S3. Most of the short covering occurred on Thursday, when the stock fell for the first time in six days.

“I keep hearing that ‘most of the GME shorts have covered’ — totally untrue,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3 managing director of predictive analytics. “In actuality the data shows that total net shares shorted hasn’t moved all that much.” “While the ‘value shorts’ that were in GME earlier have been squeezed, most of the borrowed shares that were returned on the back of the buy to covers were shorted by new momentum shorts in the name,” Dusaniwsky added in an email. Shares of GameStop, along with other heavily shorted stocks, spiked once again Friday, after Robinhood said it was resuming limited trading of previously restricted securities. The gain pushed GameStop’s rally this week to over 400% and this month to more than 1,600%. The video game stock has been the star of the show on the WallStreetBets Reddit forum, whose membership has grown rapidly to over 5 million.

A wave of day traders continued to encourage each other to pile into GameStop’s shares and call options, creating a massive short squeeze that inflicted pain for hedge funds betting against the stock. The borrow fee on GameStop’s stock — or the cost-to-borrow shares for the purpose of selling them short — jumped to 29.32% on existing shorts and 50% on new short positions, S3 said. “If most of the shorts had covered, we would not be seeing stock borrow rates at these high levels — by now you would be able to borrow GME stock at single digit levels due to an increase in the lendable stock loan supply due to borrowed shares being returned after all the ‘supposed’ buy-to-covers,” Dusaniwsky said. GameStop remained the most-shorted name in the market as short interest as a percentage of shares available for trading stands at 113.31%, S3 said.

Bianco GameStop

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It would be nice if this led to some kind of reform, but it’s been a very lucrative racket for a long time.

GameStop Craziness Pulls Back the Curtain on the Stock Market (Dayen)

This is, and there’s no other way to put it, hilarious. A bunch of people trading stocks on their phones have brought some of the lords of finance to their knees. They weren’t using some amazing or novel strategy: The run-up in GameStop is just the “pump” of a pump-and-dump scheme, where hype pulls people into a stock before the rug gets pulled out. In fact, that’s what hedge fund managers do all the time, making bets and using research to puff up a stock, then taking the profits off moving a stock, through force of will—theirs—rather than the inherent value of the company. The only real difference here is that ordinary investors are driving the train, and the hedge fund guys are getting run over.

The hedge funders are mad because distorting corporate stock prices beyond the fundamentals is supposed to be their thing, not the work of the hoi polloi. Now, they’ve been outfoxed. If you can think of a better use of $600 stimulus checks, let me know. Never was there a more apt name for an app in this moment than “Robinhood.” Now, this will not stay hilarious forever; we still have the “dump” part of the pump-and-dump scheme to reach. And there appears to be a lot of institutional money front-running the whole thing, capitalizing on the populist story line to take their winnings. But that’s why this can also be a teachable moment, and a moment to fully re-regulate this entire casino.

The idea that the stock market value represents a snapshot of a company’s true worth or expected future profits was always a little cockeyed, and now it’s just been revealed as absurd. Financial-market rigging was always discreetly lurking in the background of stock tickers, like the one that flashes across CNBC, and now it’s been screamingly placed into the foreground. The same dopamine rush that fuels sports betting and online poker has moved into retail market trading, but it was always there at the level of big money. These markets were always reckless and disconnected from reality.

I’m certain that institutional investors will use this as a moment to demand regulation to stop the Robinhood frenzy. But that’s a slippery slope, as there’s not much difference between what the Robinhooders are doing and the normal course of Wall Street looting. Maybe all of that should be investigated. Maybe financial transaction taxes should be applied to encourage limits on trading, and pump-and-dumps strongly restricted. Maybe the real economy should be nurtured with public investment, and these private, more corrupt markets subject to root-and-branch overhaul. (It’s also funny to see the hedge fund guys super-mad that a stock is going up.)

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And Apple too. WTF?

Google Deletes 100,000+ One-Star Ratings Of Robinhood App (RT)

Google has come to the rescue of the stock-trading app Robinhood, deleting negative reviews flooding the company after it had blocked the purchase of stock in companies like GameStop, AMC, and others. After Robinhood controversially stepped in and made the “risk management decision” to block the purchasing of stocks being made unusually popular thanks to the r/WallStreetBets subreddit, its app on Google Play was inundated with reviews from unsatisfied customers. The app’s near-perfect rating stumbled to just one star on Thursday after over 100,000 reviews came in. Google has now deleted enough of those reviews, however, that the app’s rating has jumped to over four stars (out of five).


Google admitted to actively deleting the reviews, as they violate a policy the company has on reviews that are published specifically to manipulate a company’s overall rating. On Apple’s App Store, Robinhood holds a near-perfect five-star rating, though there are numerous one-star reviews from Thursday when the app made the controversial decision to delist certain stocks for individual traders, a move that has drawn the ire of everyone from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

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Now you see him, now you don’t.

The Man Who Isn’t There (Kunstler)

The New York Times, mouthpiece of Wokery, is working triple overtime to sell the narrative of white supremacists on the loose. Anyone to the right of Woke is now an enemy of the state. Last time I looked, it was Antifa and BLM tearing up the streets, setting federal courthouses and police stations on fire, looting stores, destroying businesses, and injuring policemen — in the case of Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, all summer long. Democrats somehow omitted to label them as any kind of threat to the public interest. Vice-president Kamala Harris (then-senator), led a campaign to raise bail money for Antifas and BLMs arrested during last year’s riots. Woke District Attorney’s dropped charges against hundreds of them. Governors and mayors sat on their hands. There were no consequences for any of that.

If anything, the political right-wing of the USA has shown miraculous self-restraint through four years of FBI / DOJ / CIA sedition, tech company tyranny, impeachment chicanery, and the rage-fueled calumnies of Pelosi and Company, all aggravated by questionable Covid-19 lockdowns, and climaxing in a fraud-inflected election that has not had been subject to any adequate judicial audit.

How much of the current artificial hysteria these first weeks of the “Biden” regime is designed to divert attention from the question of who is actually running Joe Biden? My guess would be Barack Obama via Susan Rice, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and formerly Mr. Obama’s National Security Advisor. I would suppose that Ms. Rice is on the phone with Mr. Obama bright and early every morning, and for more than casual conversation. She is surely plugged into the rest of the Obama network, too, in effect a shadow government, which may explain the seeming flimsiness of the crew assembled around Joe Biden. Seems to work for now. But how many weeks will go by before the whole country realizes that Mr. Biden is not actually functioning as president?

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“[A] president is not a Prime Minister or a King..”

AGs: ‘Principal Political Control’ Of Government Lies With Congress (JTN)

Half a dozen state attorneys general wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden this week that the president’s role in the U.S. is “limited” by the Constitution, and that the primary political power of the national government lies in Congress, not the executive office. The letter, signed by the attorneys general of Texas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Montana and Indiana, sought to stress the “limited presidential power” the office of the presidency enjoys within the American framework of government. “Under the Constitution, the principal political control of our government is entrusted not to the President, but to the carefully constructed Congress which serves as both sail and anchor of the federal ship of state,” they wrote.


“Congress writes the laws and the President and his officers are limited under the Constitution to the role of faithfully carrying them out.” Noting that the divided structure of the U.S. government “makes it quite difficult to enact significant legislation,” the attorneys general wrote that “it is just as important to respect the absence of legislation as its passage.” “[A] president is not a Prime Minister or a King and must respect that his constitutional office is a limited Chief Executive not the supreme authority of the state,” they wrote, arguing further that “overreaching and defying Congress will not be rewarded or succeed.”

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Not.

How Biden’s Executive Orders Impact The Oil Industry (Rapier)

On his second day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. The biggest takeaway from the Executive Order was the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit. The project had been rejected by President Obama in late 2015, fast-tracked by President Trump in 2017, and now once more rejected by President Biden in 2021. But there is no mention of fracking in this executive order. Last week the administration also issued Secretarial Order No. 3395, which implemented a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal land and water.

This week President Biden followed that action up with Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The biggest takeaway from this order was an indefinite “pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands” until a comprehensive review on the climate change impacts can be completed. The sound bite for many from this executive order was that President Biden had banned fracking as a consequence of this action. But as with the previous order, fracking isn’t mentioned in this executive order. Further, if an operator has an existing lease and permit but haven’t drilled yet, they can still drill the well and frack it.

The order does potentially impact some future fracking operations, but Biden did reiterate before he signed it “Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up, we’re not going to ban fracking.” But what Biden can’t do by executive order is an overall ban on fracking, because most fracking takes place on private land. A complete ban would have to be passed by Congress, and that looks like a longshot. [..] I spoke with Stacey Morris, who is Director of Research for midstream index and data provider Alerian. She explained that the orders were certainly not as bad as they seemed:

“These executive orders were pretty well-telegraphed. They were even a little bit softened from what was said during the campaign. The language on the Biden website discussed banning permitting on federal land. The executive order is a pause on new leases. They aren’t looking at a full out fracking ban.” When I asked how companies might be affected, she explained “Companies have been stockpiling permits in anticipation of a move like this. Right now there are 7,700 unused permits. For example, Devon Energy has over four years of permit backlog and drilling inventory.

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More of that vaccine mess.

Macron: Oxford Vaccine Appears ‘Quasi-Ineffective’ On Elderly Patients (JTN)

French President Emmanuel Macron claimed on Friday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine appears to have little effect on elderly patients, though a major European medical authority said the data in that regard was too limited to yet make an ultimate determination. Macron told reporters that AstraZeneca’s vaccine “doesn’t work the way we were expecting it to,” and that the injection appears “quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older.” Macron noted that France was still waiting on data from the European Union’s European Medicines Agency to guide its vaccination policy; the EMA later in the day deemed the vaccine safe for all adults.


“There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years old) to provide a figure for how well the vaccine will work in this group,” the EMA said in a statement. “However, protection is expected, given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines.”

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As long as you pay 25% of your rent, you’re fine. Do we call this deflation?

Newsom Signs Bill To Extend COVID-19 Eviction Protections Through June (LAT)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an emergency bill that will extend through June eviction protections for Californians suffering financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic, acting just days before an earlier moratorium was set to expire. Newsom’s action on the legislation followed the measure’s approval Thursday by the state Legislature and was aimed at heading off what many state officials warned would be mass evictions and a surge in homelessness as Californians struggle with lost income during the pandemic. The measure prevents landlords from evicting tenants who pay at least 25% of their rent through June and attest that they face financial hardship because of COVID-19 and its effect on the economy.

The bill also provides $2.6 billion in federal funds for rent subsidies that will help pay most past-due rent by low-income tenants dating back to last April. “The issue of evictions, the issue of this moment, the economic anxiety that so many people are struggling and suffering through, is the issue, and we have not lost sight of that,” Newsom said during a livestreamed bill-signing ceremony, adding that the law he signed is “protecting millions and millions of people, tenants as well as landlords, and addressing their anxiety head-on.” [..] About 90,000 California households are behind on their rent by a collective total of $400 million, according to an estimate last week by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, although other estimates have been much higher.

Under the new bill and the measure approved last year, tenants cannot be evicted as long as they pay 25% of their rent. The measure was submitted as a budget bill, which allowed it to be approved with a majority vote. A regular bill requires a two-thirds vote to take effect immediately. Under the bill, tenants can qualify for the protections if they pay 25% of their rent each month or in a lump-sum payment by June 30, and attest that they face a financial hardship because of the pandemic. Unpaid rent converts to debt that landlords can pursue through the courts, but it can’t be used to seek an eviction.

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Facebook oversees itself.

Facebook’s Oversight Board Is Taking Public Comments On Trump’s Ban (F.)

Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent panel of experts established to review contentious cases, is accepting public comment on whether Facebook was correct in banning former president Donald Trump, allowing the public-at-large to directly weigh in on a Facebook decision relating to Trump for the first time. Facebook banned Trump indefinitely earlier this month following the riot at the Capitol, citing two posts during the attack: A video where he told rioters he “loved” them and that the election was “stolen from us” as well as a post where he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots.”

Though Facebook believes it was right in banning Trump, the company referred the case to the oversight board last week, which will determine whether Trump’s ban will remain permanent because Facebook has to abide by the board’s decisions. The board says the public comment process is meant for “subject matter experts and interested groups” to share relevant research and information that may help, though anyone can submit a comment. The public has 10 days to submit comments [..] “We believe our decision was necessary and right,” Facebook Vice President Nick Clegg said in a statement last week. “Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”

Facebook’s Oversight Board was established in 2019 in response to widespread criticism of the social network’s moderation policies. The 20-person panel includes academics and other experts, such as the former prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and Director of Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center Michael McConnell. The board says their mission is to “support people’s right to free expression” by upholding or reversing Facebook’s content decisions. In its first set of rulings released this week, the board found that Facebook mistakenly took down posts in five out of six cases.

Tulsi Huckabee
https://twitter.com/i/status/1355123535333609481

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He has a brother who’s a big shot on Wall Street.

Jon Stewart Joins Twitter To Defend Reddit GameStop Traders (NYP)

Jon Stewart was prompted to join Twitter on Thursday to defend the renegade Reddit traders who turned Wall Street upside down this week. The former “Daily Show” host hit back at critics of the rogue day traders who used WallStreetBets to send GameStop’s stock skyrocketing in defiance of large hedge funds shorting the business. “This is bull—t. The Redditors aren’t cheating, they’re joining a party Wall Street insiders have been enjoying for years,” Stewart tweeted. “Don’t shut them down…maybe sue them for copyright infringement instead!!” He added: “We’ve learned nothing from 2008.”


The comedian signed his first tweet “StewBeef.” His account @jon_actual quickly became verified and was granted a blue check. “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert responded to Stewart with: “Well, one thing changed since 2008- a friend of mine joined Twitter.” In a follow-up tweet a few hours later, Stewart, 58, thanked fellow users for the warm welcome to the social media platform. “I promise to only use this app in a sporadic and ineffective manner,” he joked.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 222021
 


Vincent van Gogh Laboureur dans un champ 1889

 

1000s Of Guardsmen Forced To Vacate Capitol, Sleep In Parking Garage (Pol.)
Words of Division (MacDonald)
Trump as Othello in a Corporate Theater (Ford)
Round Up the Usual Suspects; Don’t Forget Putin (Ray McGovern)
The Capturing of the Capitol (Tracey)
State Legislatures Make “Unprecedented” Push On Anti-Protest Bills (IC)
12,000 Israelis Test Positive For Covid19 Despite Receiving Pfizer Jab (RT)
Merkel To Close German Borders Unless EU Agrees On Covid-19 Fight (RT)
Fauci : Covid Vaccines Less Effective Against Some New Strains (CNBC)
Time to Worry About Stock Market Leverage Again (WS)
Large US Military Convoy Enters Northeast Syria (AMN)
Google, Facebook Give Australian Local Government PR Website ‘News’ Status (R.)

 

 


The 21st second of the 21st minute of the 21st hour of the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century.

 

 

All good now, but what a blunder.

1000s Of Guardsmen Forced To Vacate Capitol, Sleep In Parking Garage (Pol.)

Thousands of National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol Thursday night, hours after U.S. Capitol Police officials ordered them to vacate the facilities, sending them outdoors or to nearby parking garages after two weeks pulling security duty after the deadly riot on Jan. 6. One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service.

Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said. All National Guard troops were told to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday, and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels, another Guardsman confirmed. They were told to take their rest breaks during their 12-hour shifts outside and in parking garages, the person said. Top lawmakers from both parties took to Twitter to decry the decision and call for answers after POLITICO first reported the news Thursday night, with some even offering their offices to be used as rest areas. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.”

And Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted that the Capitol complex remains closed to members of the public, “so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them.” By 10 p.m., Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the situation was “being resolved” and that the Guardsmen would be able to return indoors later in the night. “Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight,” added Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both of her legs in combat. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”

Read more …

“This characterization of America’s worsening racism is not just factually ungrounded, it is also a tasteless rhetorical move in an inaugural address. Reflexive invocations of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” have become the Tourette’s Syndrome of left-wing professors and activists.”

Words of Division (MacDonald)

It’s an odd way to seek national unity: call a significant portion of the American public white supremacists, racists, and nativists. Welcome to the Biden presidency. Joe Biden’s inaugural speech as 46th president is predictably being hailed for its “unifying” message. And just as predictably, his invocations of the divisive bromides of the identitarian Left are being swept under the rug. According to Biden, we are a “great nation” and a “good people.” But we also oppress minorities with an ever-rising fervor. “Growing inequity” is among the greatest challenges facing the country, according to Biden, along with the “sting of systemic racism” and encroaching “white supremacy.” Only now are we confronting “a cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making.”

One might have thought that more than 50 years of civil rights legislation; the banishing of Jim Crow segregation; the ubiquity of racial preferences throughout corporate America, higher education, and government; trillions of dollars of tax dollars attempting to close the academic achievement gap; and the election of black politicians by white voting districts would have reduced inequity, not increased it. But to Biden’s speechwriters, steeped in academic victimology, racial inequity is always with us, requiring constant remediation from government. Biden rattled off a litany of white America’s sins: the “harsh, ugly reality” of “racism, nativism, fear, [and] demonization”; “anger, resentment, hatred, [and] extremism.” He did not name white Americans as such, but he did not need to. That qualifier is inherent in the language he chose to adopt.

This characterization of America’s worsening racism is not just factually ungrounded, it is also a tasteless rhetorical move in an inaugural address. Reflexive invocations of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” have become the Tourette’s Syndrome of left-wing professors and activists. They are au courant, shallow terms of the moment, lacking depth or weight. In fact, such terms are so overused today that it is easy to tune them out. But that would be a mistake. The “systemic racism” conceit means that every American institution is illegitimate and needs to be reconstructed. Biden’s cabinet nominees, whether in health, finance, environmental policy, or education, have declared that eradicating systemic racism is their top priority. How this agenda will play out has already been adumbrated in the CDC’s initial priority list for Covid vaccinations: hold off on vaccinating the elderly, despite their higher risk levels, because the elderly are disproportionately white. Racial quotas will become even more the order of the day than now.

Read more …

“The Democratic Party remained a safe vehicle for corporate agendas for the next 20 years – until an Orange Demon was conjured to scare the Democratic base back into the party’s corporate bosom, in 2016.”

Trump as Othello in a Corporate Theater (Ford)

Donald Trump has slunk off the national stage for the time being, but we must remember who made him a contender for president in the first place: the Democrats and their corporate media. As Wikileaks revealed , the Clinton campaign encouraged friendly media to boost Trump’s Republican primary prospects, hoping to set up a straw man that could easily be knocked down in November, 2016. By Election Day, the corporate press had lavished $5 billion in free media on Trump – more than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and all of Trump’s Republican presidential competitors, combined. If you are desperate to flush the stink of four years of Trump out of your brain, remember who put it there, through constant, daily repetition.

How long will the Orange Menace stay gone? Not long; soon either Trump will make a comeback or the corporate media will inflate another racist straw man to run against. The only way the corporate Democrats can mobilize their base to eek out slim national victories while keeping Joe Biden’s promise to the rich that “nothing would fundamentally change ,” is to position themselves as the sole defense against the racist hordes. That’s how Bill Clinton succeeded in completing Ronald Reagan’s quest to “end welfare as we know it,” while vastly expanding the structures of mass Black incarceration (Sen. Joe Biden proudly “wrote the bill”), gutting safeguards against bankers blowing up the economy, and facilitating the exodus of good jobs to sweatshops overseas. Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America confederacy stampeded Blacks and “progressives” into the corporate Democratic corral, where they were politically neutered.

The Democratic Party remained a safe vehicle for corporate agendas for the next 20 years – until an Orange Demon was conjured to scare the Democratic base back into the party’s corporate bosom, in 2016. [..] When Blacks and progressives rallied behind Bill Clinton to defeat Gingrich, the corporate rulers were enabled to plunge the society into a great leap backward that wiped out the last vestiges of the New Deal, condemned another generation of Black youth to the Gulag, and set the stage for two economic catastrophes that rivaled the Great Depression, while the U.S. military vastly intensified its rampages around the world, the national security state penetrated every digital device on the planet, and huge corporations perfected the tools of public self-surveillance.

Read more …

MICIMATT

Round Up the Usual Suspects; Don’t Forget Putin (Ray McGovern)

But, don’t go away, Russia, not just yet. The MICIMATT still finds you convenient as the kind of “threat” it can cite to justify spending untold billions of dollars on defense, enriching the already rich. The way the U.S. system is structured, it matters little in the grand scheme of things on where the money is spent – whether a Republican or Democrat sits in the Oval Office. In short, the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank complex rules the roost (MEDIA in all caps, as the linchpin). Clinton wonders aloud who Trump “is beholden to”. Well, speaking of beholden, Joe Biden enters office with zero vaccination against being beholden – to the MICIMATT. It is fair to say that, without that the MICIMATT’s blessing, candidates end up like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

There are just enough straws in the wind to make the MICIMATT and its clients and supporters nervous. What would happen, should Putin and Russia become less demonized? Could there be a thaw in the unnecessarily chilly relations with Moscow? What could that mean for bloated defense spending – particularly at a time when those funds are so desperately and demonstrably needed at home? It appears likely that strategic arms negotiations with Russia will be high on President Joe Biden’s agenda, as will cooperation with Russia and the other parties to the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew. Assuming William Burns, former ambassador to Russia, is confirmed as CIA director, Biden will have at his beck and call a straight-speaking, highly experienced expert who has dealt with President Putin. Burns was also one of the chief US negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal.

In my view, it is also significant that President-elect Biden has held back from explicit condemnation of Russia by name amid the recent flurry of accusations of Russian hacking of several US institutions over the past several months. Yes, he has referred to what Secretary of State Pompeo and Attorney General Barr have said blaming Russia, and it can be argued that he has indirectly implicated Russia in the context of his sparse statements on this issue. In my experience, though, the Kremlin is likely to have taken note of the caution that Biden has exercised on this neuralgic issue. Nor has this likely escaped the attention of the MICIMATT and induced some worry about the long-term viability of the portrayal of Putin as villain.

Oliver Stone told me recently that, in one of his conversations in Russia, Mr. Putin, somewhat exasperated, said something along the lines of, “Now Russians are thought of like Jews before World War II”. Think about that. Amid the Russia Russia Russia over the past four-plus years, Putin has kept his voice down – and his powder dry – while staying open to negotiations to reduce arms competition, cyber warfare, and other facets of bilateral tension. If past is precedent, he is likely to see opportunities to take a fresh look at US intentions under President Biden – especially during the traditional “honeymoon” period normally accorded a new president. But clearly, Putin is also aware of the parallels between the demonization of him and Russia and how Jews were blamed for just about everything during the Thirties. Evidence-free accusations by the likes of Pelosi and Clinton will make the task of restoring a modicum of trust an uphill battle.

Read more …

“It was the refusal of American media to question the necessity of these extraordinary measures that will be one of the longest-lasting consequences of the entire bizarre affair.”

The Capturing of the Capitol (Tracey)

The US military is routinely shown to be one of the most trusted institutions in American life — so it wasn’t as though their mere presence on the streets of Washington automatically provoked universal horror. After the massive nationwide riots last summer, virtually everyone I spoke to expressed satisfaction with the National Guard’s handling of the chaos. Similarly, the vast number of soldiers deployed to DC this week to ward off a potential “insurrection” were greeted with plentiful selfies and free cheeseburger deliveries. But this operation, which reportedly consisted of 25,000 military personnel — not including the innumerable federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on the ground — was another thing altogether. Downtown DC had been transformed into a brazenly fortified, militarised zone unlike anything in living memory.

Roads were blocked off by oversized armoured vehicles which had been stationed for maximum visibility. The boarding-up of endless storefronts — a result of both the Covid-related economic downturn and prolonged riot-induced anxiety — added to the sense of dystopia. Soldiers patrolled with large rifles slung around their shoulders, directing traffic and checking the “papers” of motorists. One Guardsman from Pennsylvania told me that “legitimate business” was the standard by which they were to adjudicate whether cars would be allowed to pass through. The rifles brandished by many of the troops were conspicuously without a magazine loaded. This is not uncommon for a peacetime mission. The aim was evidently not to subdue any kind of imminent, actionable threat that would require live ammunition, as many politicians and journalists had frantically warned was the case, but to simply act as a gigantic deterrent.

That objective was apparently accomplished. I did not see a single protester anywhere in the city on Inauguration Day, much less any “insurrectionists” or “armed rebels” trawling around, as had been so gravely forecast. The FBI (then still technically under the jurisdiction of Donald Trump) had warned that all 50 state Capitols were at severe risk, and therefore also needed to fortify their defences with military deployments and obtrusive fencing and barriers. Then the day came and went, and… nothing. In both Albany, NY, and Sacramento, CA a total of one Trump hat-wearing man showed up at each.

And so Joe Biden was sworn in without incident, appealing for “unity”, while the city surrounding him was essentially under full-scale military occupation. The night before, I saw multiple platoons marching the streets in two-by-two formation — en route to who knows where. The general public couldn’t get anywhere close to the Inauguration site, the interior of which had been cordoned off with barbed wire. The few stragglers who hopelessly tried to enter the outskirts of the National Mall — mostly foreign media desperate for a story — were fooled by the Secret Service into standing in a line-to-nowhere that never moved.

It was the refusal of American media to question the necessity of these extraordinary measures that will be one of the longest-lasting consequences of the entire bizarre affair. It confirmed that journalists will uncritically accept extravagant shows of intrusive state force, so long as the political incentives are correctly aligned. During the riots in the summer, the US media generally reacted with horror to the prospect of the American military being deployed to allay “civil unrest,” with many claiming that it would be tantamount to white supremacy for soldiers to deter arson attacks against small minority-owned businesses and private residences. But place DC under complete military occupation as a final rebuke to Trump and his shameful supporters, and the show of state force is to be celebrated rather than adversarially probed. Particularly with Democrats now controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, the wisdom of this occupation is probably never going to be examined in any meaningful way. Will we ever learn how much it cost taxpayers? Doubtful.

Read more …

Fear rules fear.

State Legislatures Make “Unprecedented” Push On Anti-Protest Bills (IC)

Elly Page had never seen anything like what’s happened in recent days. A senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Page has been tracking the proliferation of anti-protest bills across the U.S. since Donald Trump became president in 2017. “The number of bills we have seen in the past three weeks is unprecedented,” she said. Since the day of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, at least nine states have introduced 14 anti-protest bills. The bills, which vary state by state, contain a dizzying array of provisions that serve to criminalize participation in disruptive protests. The measures range from barring demonstrators from public benefits or government jobs to offering legal protections to those who shoot or run over protesters. Some of the proposals would allow protesters to be held without bail and criminalize camping. A few bills seek to prevent local governments from defunding police.

The pushes by close to a fifth of state legislatures are part of a pattern that began to pick up speed after the summer’s uprisings in response to the police killing of George Floyd, which in many communities included significant property damage. In a handful of states, lawmakers did what they often do: introduced new legislation — however unnecessary — to show that they were responding to their constituents’ concerns. The rate of new bills being offered sped up dramatically this month as lawmakers kicked off their legislative sessions at the very moment that Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Bills quickly arose in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

“There has generally been an uptick at the beginning of odd-numbered years, when most states begin their biennial legislative sessions. But this year beats prior recent years,” Page said in an email. Since January 1, she noted that 11 state legislatures have introduced 17 bills, including those filed before the Capitol insurrection. “Compare that to 0 during the same period in 2020, 9 in 2019, 5 in 2018, and 13 in 2017,” she said, adding that the 2017 spike was mostly due to North Dakota responding to that winter’s Standing Rock protests.

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That’s a lot, no matter how you see it.

12,000 Israelis Test Positive For Covid19 Despite Receiving Pfizer Jab (RT)

More than 12,400 people in Israel have tested positive for coronavirus after being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, including 69 who had received their second dose, the country’s Health Ministry said. Some 189,000 people were tested for Covid-19 after being vaccinated, with 6.6 percent getting a positive result, according to ministry data reported by Israeli outlets. The majority were apparently infected shortly after receiving the first jab of the two-part vaccine – a period when the inoculation isn’t expected to have kicked in yet. However, 1,410 people tested positive two weeks after their first injection, by which time partial immunity should have already taken effect.

Moreover, 69 patients became infected with the novel coronavirus despite already having been administered both shots of the vaccine, the ministry said. Israel began administering the second doses almost two weeks ago, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being the first to complete the course. Pfizer has said that a spike in immunity occurs between Day 15 and Day 21 after the first jab, when the effectiveness of its vaccine increases from 52 to 89 percent. According to earlier trials, the protection offered by the vaccine reaches the 95 percent level a week after the second dose is administered, the pharma giant said. When it comes to vaccines, the results of clinical trials may differ from how the immunization performs in the field, where it’s administered to a much greater number of people.

On Tuesday, Israel’s coronavirus tsar, Nachman Ash, reportedly complained to Israeli ministers about the insufficient protection provided by the first shot of the American vaccine. It turned out to be “less effective than we had thought” and “lower than Pfizer presented,” Ash said, as cited by Army Radio. However, the head of the infection unit at Sheba Medical Center – where Netanyahu got his jabs – told Israeli media that the Pfizer vaccine “works wonderfully” after two shots. According to Professor Gili Regev-Yohai, 102 of the medics at the center were tested a week after completing the vaccination course, and all but two of them showed antibody levels between six to 20 times higher than seven days earlier.

[..] Despite already vaccinating more than 20 percent of its own population, Israel doesn’t seem as eager to share immunization with Palestinians in the occupied territories. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization expressed its “concerns” over unequal access to vaccines between Israelis and Palestinian. A WHO representative for Palestine said that the UN body has been in discussions with Israeli authorities on the possibility of allocating vaccines to the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, has said her department may offer the Palestinian Authoritiy surplus doses after Israelis have received their jabs.

Read more …

Scientist Angela’s not liking what she sees..

Merkel To Close German Borders Unless EU Agrees On Covid-19 Fight (RT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union must find common ground in fighting coronavirus and stopping the spread of new strains that have already swept through the UK and Ireland recently. On Tuesday, Merkel warned that Germany could close its borders unless neighboring states acted together. “We need to make sure that everyone around us is doing the same. Otherwise we have to look at measures such as entry restrictions.” “The EU is one area,” Merkel said in Berlin on Thursday morning, hours before she was scheduled to join a video summit of EU leaders focused on Covid-19. The chancellor warned about the dangers from the spread of the new mutant virus and that they need to be “taken very seriously.”


“We act out of precaution for our country,” Merkel said, adding that everything is now about getting the getting the pandemic under control. EU leaders are to consider whether to approve vaccine passports, which would allow for inoculated people to travel more freely, and whether to apply travel restrictions. Merkel said Germany is at a difficult stage of the pandemic. “On the one hand, the number of daily infections is gradually going down,” she told a press conference. “But the virus is still very dangerous. We have a shockingly high death count, more than 1,000 people today.” On Wednesday, Germany extended its national lockdown until February 14 and brought in new rules making it mandatory to wear medical-grade masks in shops and on public transport. So far, Germany has recorded 50,010 deaths and 2.1 million cases of coronavirus.

Read more …

Has anyone seen any reported evidence of vaccine efficacy?

Fauci : Covid Vaccines Less Effective Against Some New Strains (CNBC)

New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday. A handful of new strains of the coronavirus have emerged overseas that have given scientists some cause for concern. Some variants that have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more deadly. While it’s no surprise the virus is mutating, researchers are quickly trying to determine what the changes might mean for recently developed lifesaving vaccines and therapeutics against the disease.

Some early findings that were published in the preprint server bioRxiv, which have yet to be peer reviewed, indicate that the variant identified in South Africa, known as 501Y.V2, can evade the antibodies provided by some coronavirus treatments and may reduce the efficacy of the current line of available vaccines. “Furthermore, 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma,” researchers with South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases wrote. Their conclusions, they said, “highlight the prospect of reinfection … and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.”

Even if the drugs are less effective, they will still likely provide enough protection to make the vaccines worth getting, Fauci said during a White House press briefing. Both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have proven to be highly effective, creating a “cushion effect” that would allow for some dip in their effectiveness. “We’re following very carefully the one in South Africa, which is a little bit more concerning, but nonetheless not something that we don’t think we can handle,” Fauci said.

Read more …

Stimulus arriving in the wrong places.

Time to Worry About Stock Market Leverage Again (WS)

Margin debt – the amount of money that individuals and institutions borrow against their stock holdings – spiked by 56 billion in December, after having already spiked by 63 billion in November, by far the two largest month-to-month increases on record, to $778 billion, according to FINRA which regulates brokers and exchanges. Since March, this measure of margin debt surged by nearly $300 billion, or by 62%. Margin debt as tracked by FINRA at its member firms isn’t the only form of stock market leverage, but it’s the only form that is disclosed monthly. There are many other forms of stock market leverage by institutions and individuals that are not disclosed, or are only disclosed voluntarily in SEC filings by the brokers and banks that lend to their clients against their portfolios, such as “securities-based loans” (SBLs). We don’t know how much total stock market leverage there is, but margin loans indicate the trends, and we had another WTF moment:

High margin balances tend to precede epic stock market sell-offs, as annotated in the chart above. With these two-decade charts, the long-term changes in the dollar amounts are less relevant since the purchasing power of the dollar has dropped over the period. But on a short-term basis, the movements are very indicative about rising or falling leverage in the stock market. On a year-over-year basis, margin debt surged by nearly $200 billion in December, by far the most ever. Stock market leverage is an accelerator. When stocks already rise, and investors feel confident, they borrow money to buy more stocks, and they can borrow more against their stocks because their value has risen. And this additional borrowed money is then chasing after stocks and thereby creating more buying pressure, and prices surge further.

Read more …

Aaannd …we’re baaack!

Large US Military Convoy Enters Northeast Syria (AMN)

A large U.S. military convoy was seen entering northeastern Syria on Thursday, marking the first time since Damascus issued its letter to the United Nations Security Council demanding the immediate withdrawal of American forces from the Arab Republic. According to a field report from northeastern Syria on Thursday, the U.S. military convoy entered the Al-Hasakah Governorate from neighboring Iraq, as they were observed entering the Arab Republic via the Al-Waleed Crossing. The report said the U.S. military convoy consisted of a large amount of weapons and logistical equipment, which were transferred to their bases inside the Al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor Governorates east of the Euphrates River.


They would add that the U.S. military convoy consisted of over 40 trucks and armored vehicles that were escorted by helicopters until they reached their destinations. These movements by the U.S. military have become routine, with the latter often moving troops and equipment back and forth from neighboring Iraq.

Read more …

Oz threatens to make them pay for news, they threaten to limit/cut their “services”, and then decide themselves what constitutes news. Major legal battle.

Google, Facebook Give Australian Local Government PR Website ‘News’ Status (R.)

Google and Facebook Inc have granted an Australian local government news provider status, drawing questions about the internet giants’ efforts to curate news media. Bundaberg Council, a regional government, told Reuters a website it runs received classification as a Google “news source”, making it the country’s first local government with that accreditation. That means a council-funded website containing only public relations content gets priority in Google News searches about the agriculture hub of 100,000 people, accompanied by a “news source” tag. Bundaberg also has the country’s only confirmed council-run Facebook page tagged as a “News & Media Website”. The designation shows the gaps left in the country’s traditional news market as smaller publications wither and disappear.


Bundaberg Council’s news website says it does not publish court and crime reports, politics, “investigative journalism” or “negative stories”. “It’s just another example of the way these tech giants are allowed to operate outside any accountability framework at all,” said Denis Muller, an Honorary Fellow at University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. “If they want to classify a council PR website as a news website, well, they can, and there’s nothing stopping them.” Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook are fighting an Australian federal government plan to make them pay media outlets for original content that appears on their platforms, telling a Senate inquiry that the new rules may lead them to cancel some core services in the country.

Read more …

 

 

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FerrisBernie

 

 

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 4:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Salvador Dalí The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus 1959

 

 

And just like that, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg belatedly found they had fallen on their own swords, as these were already sticking out of their backs. Let’s see it as poetic justice. They thought they had the power- after all, they’re just private companies!- to restrict Donald Trump’s access to their organizations, and then ban him altogether, only to find that they themselves will now be restricted and perhaps even banned as a result.

They figured since most of the world doesn’t like Trump, it would applaud the moves as much as the US Democratic party does. But most of the world doesn’t. What it sees, what its leaders see, is a threat to everyone else’s freedom of speech, not just Trump’s. Those countries and their leaders have been suspicious of the might of US tech companies for longer, and they will now look elsewhere for social media functionality. It’s no accident that Facebook alone lost some $47 billion in market cap since the Trump ban.

This does not come from Trump supporters. Angela Merkel, not a Trump fun at all, summarizes the worries: “Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.” That’s it right there, the heart of the matter: “law”. Twitter and Facebook act as judge, jury and henchman, and that is not legal, not even for private companies.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook of all places (love the irony): “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not.” “There can be no consent to censorship.” Poland is drafting legislation which would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law. “Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland.”

While Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said: “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” AMLO is actively seeking a coalation of countries in the world to counter social media’s recent policies.

It’s quite something that Dorsey and Zuckerberg were/are blind to this. That they were apparently thinking in “American terms” only when banning Trump, and given political sentiments thought they could get away with it, but did not see the broader international implications. Their shareholders will not appreciate that blind spot. The US is not their only market.

 

The first things that will happen now is that the EU will look at measures to curtail social media’s freedoms in its territory. This is not an obvious matter, many of its countries – see Poland’s example- will claim they have their own laws and standards, and they often do, but, if only for internal EU political reasons, that won’t stick.

Social media are important platforms in politics these days. In EU elections, national parties form coalitions with each other, and these then form bigger coalitions (blocs). A candidate for the European Parliament could potentially be banned in one country, while one from another country, but belonging to the same party or bloc, would not. That can’t be, it’s too messy even by EU standards, so legislation will have to be pan-EU.

The funniest thing that might come of this is Facebook and Twitter re-opening Trump’s accounts to appease Merkel et al, but it’s too late. There are plenty EU companies more than eager to fill the void that Silicon Valley would leave behind (or they can order Chinese). And Jack and Mark will not win the world’s trust back in time, they stepped over the line.

Replacing Facebook won’t happen overnight. But if access to it is cut in large parts of the world, it could happen faster than you think. As for Twitter and WhatsApp, oh well, dime a dozen. They can kill Parler, but already large numbers of people are switching over to Signal and Telegram. Can’t kill ’em all, @jack.

Talking of which, did you see the Project Veritas video secretly made by a Twitter employee? This is exactly why Twitter will be restricted and banned. @jack threatening to give many other people the same treatment as Trump is a scary sight for many people across the world, politicians or citizens. You know who’s next? You are next.

 

 

@jack Veritas

 

 

Plenty politicians want to ban people from all manner of things, but they want to be the ones doing the banning, not @jack. But as Merkel observes, banning someone with no basis whatsoever in law is not what anyone should want. In the end, refusing someone access to social media turns into the same thing as refusing them access to a computer. Or, maybe an even better example, to a phone. Things like that happen very rarely, and never to a President of the United States. Ma Bell, Baby Bells, AT&T, maybe that’s the future of Facebook and Twitter. If they’re lucky.

And while we’re at it, we haven’t even mentioned Google yet. Let’s turn them into baby-Googles too. Because the biggest threat that Silicon Valley poses is not that they ban Trump and actively tried to influence a US presidential election (remember Zuckerberg’s $500 million election fund)?

No, the biggest threat is their algorithms used to spy on you and me to “optimize” us as victims clients for their advertizers. That’s why this is not just about Facebook and Twitter, but certainly also about Google. These are virtual monopolies we’re talking about. And while you’re at it, add Apple and Amazon. It’s their ties to intelligence services that make these companies the most threatening. In the US, this is too far advanced to stop now. But in Europe, there may still be a chance.

This is a big fight when it comes to liberty and personal space. And if you don’t fight it now, you’ve already lost. Pay attention please.

 

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

Read more …

“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Read more …

Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

Read more …

People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

Read more …

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

Read more …

Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

Read more …

Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

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“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

Read more …

Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

Read more …

The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

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By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

Read more …

Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

Read more …

The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 252020
 


Juan Gris Man in the café 1912

 

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)
Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)
Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)
Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)
Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)
Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)
One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)
How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)
Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)
Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

 

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Plato

 

 

 

 

Why is everything white Mohammed Ali

 

 

But they still don’t know.

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)

People who build immunity against the coronavirus virus enjoy long-term protection from the illness, researchers in Australia have concluded, suggesting that vaccines could be effective for long periods of time. Melbourne’s Monash University announced that a team of researchers found that antibodies guard against reinfection for at least eight months. Their paper, published in the journal Science Immunology, is the “strongest evidence” yet that coronavirus jabs could be a workable solution to the health crisis, the university said. Previous studies suggested that antibodies to Covid-19 begin disappearing within several weeks or months. However, the new Australian research shows that specific cells within the immune system, called memory B cells, “remember” infection by the virus, and trigger a protective immune response by producing antibodies if re-exposure occurs.

The study examined 25 Covid-19 patients, taking 36 blood samples from them, starting four days after infection. The last samples were taken 242 days post-infection. Researchers saw that antibodies against the virus started to wane after 20 days following infection, but found that memory B cells specific to the Covid-19 virus remained stable for at least eight months. The results are good news for the efficacy of vaccines, and also help explain why there have been so few examples of people being reinfected by the virus, said Associate Professor Menno van Zelm, from the Monash University Department of Immunology and Pathology. This has been a black cloud hanging over the potential protection that could be provided by any COVID-19 vaccine and gives real hope that, once a vaccine or vaccines are developed, they will provide long-term protection.

Although there is a wide range of coronavirus vaccines that have shown to be effective at building immunity against the virus, it’s still unclear how long the protection lasts. However, vaccines will also have to keep up with mutations of the virus. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said earlier this week that the German company would soon have a jab to counter a new strain of Covid-19 that appeared in the UK, but expressed confidence that the current vaccine developed with US firm Pfizer will still be effective for the time being. Russia’s homegrown Sputnik V vaccine is also effective against the new strain of the coronavirus, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which bankrolled the jab’s development.

Read more …

Fauci sells vaccines. It’s not difficult.

Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the epidemiologist revered almost religiously as a hero by mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians, has admitted that he lied to Americans to manipulate their acceptance of a new Covid-19 vaccine. The intentional deception involved estimates for what percentage of the population will need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 and enable a return to normalcy. Earlier this year, Fauci said 60-70 percent – a typical range for such a virus – but he moved the goalposts to 70-75 percent in television interviews about a month ago. Last week, he told CNBC that the magic number would be around “75, 80, 85 percent.” When pressed on the moving target in a New York Times interview, Fauci said he purposely revised his estimates gradually.

The newspaper, which posted the article on Thursday, said Fauci changed his answers partly based on “science” and partly on his hunch “that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci said. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85. Fauci added that he doesn’t know the real number but believes the range is 70-90 percent. He said it may take nearly 90 percent, but he won’t give that number because Americans might be discouraged, knowing that voluntary acceptance won’t be high enough to reach that goal.

The article was published on Fauci’s 80th birthday, which was celebrated in the nation’s capital as “Dr. Anthony Fauci Day” after being proclaimed as such by Washington’s Democrat mayor, Muriel Bowser. CNN and other media outlets covered the occasion glowingly, including Fauci being surprised with a “serenade” by emergency medical workers as he left his office at the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday. A CNN video of the serenade included an audio clip of President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, singing the birthday song. But the doctor’s changing story on herd immunity is only the latest in a series of Covid-19 flip-flops, including 180-degree shifts on such core issues as whether members of the general public should wear masks and whether children should be sent back to school.

Just as his tone on herd immunity changed, his view on prospects for a return to normalcy shifted dramatically. A few days before the November 3 presidential election, he echoed Biden’s gloomy Covid-19 outlook and implied that the Democrat challenger would deal with the crisis more seriously than would President Donald Trump. After the election, he turned far more optimistic.

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“To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.”

Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)

The University of Miami is investigating the possible effects of the coronavirus vaccine on male fertility. Lead researchers Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, a reproductive urologist with U Health, initiated an earlier study which found the virus was present in the testicles for up to six months following infection. That spurred his team to question the virus’ effect on sperm and reproduction. His team is now looking at the potential impact of the vaccine as well. “We’re evaluating the sperm parameters and quality before the vaccine and after the vaccine. From the biology of the COVID vaccine we believe it shouldn’t affect fertility but we want to do the study to make sure that man who want to have kids in the future to assure them it’s safe to go ahead and get the vaccine,” Ramasamy said. Study participants must have a fertility evaluation before receiving the vaccine. To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.

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Paralysis.

Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said a bipartisan coronavirus relief and omnibus bill has been enrolled and is on its way to President Trump for his signature. “We urge him to sign this bill into law to give immediate relief to hardworking families,” Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted. The enrollment comes after House Republicans rejected the president’s demand for $2,000 checks for most Americans. The rare Christmas Eve session of the House lasted just minutes, with help for millions of Americans awaiting Trump’s signature on a smaller COVID relief and government funding bill. Trump’s refusal of the $900 billion package, which is linked to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, could spark a federal shutdown at midnight Monday.

His push to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples has gotten support from Democrats but splits the GOP. The Senate cleared the relief package on Monday by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it 359-53. Those vote totals would be enough to override a veto should Trump decide to take that step. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., helped negotiate the year-end deal, a prized bipartisan compromise that won sweeping approval in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boasted that the $600 checks all sides had agreed to for Americans would in the mail in a week. Democrats will recall House lawmakers to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s proposal, with a roll call that would put all members on record as supporting or rejecting the $2,000 checks. They are also considering a Monday vote on a stop-gap measure to at least avert a federal shutdown, keeping the government running until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next month. Even if the House is able to approve Trump’s $2,000 checks on Monday, that measure would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate, which is due back in session on Tuesday.

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Larry doesn’t need $2,000, thank you very much.

Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)

Larry Summers, a lead player in Democrat financial policies since the 1990s, triggered left-wing outrage by suggesting that sending Americans $2,000 stimulus checks amid the Covid-19 pandemic could cause the economy to overheat. “I’m not even sure I’m so enthusiastic about the $600 checks, and I think taking them to $2,000 would actually be a pretty serious mistake that would risk a temporary overheat,” Summers said Thursday in a Bloomberg TV interview. The former Harvard University president added that he would like to see more money allocated to bail out financially troubled local governments, but promoting consumer spending shouldn’t be a priority.

Summers made his comments as some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked to increase payouts to consumers to $2,000, rather than the $600 called for in the latest Covid-19 relief legislation. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night called the current bill a “disgrace” and said stimulus checks should be $2,000. Conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley and far-left Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders are among the proponents of larger payouts to Americans. “I have to say that when you see the two extremes agreeing, you can almost be certain that something crazy is in the air,” Summers said. “And so when I see a coalition of Josh Hawley, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump getting behind an idea, I think that’s time to run for cover.”

Summers was a World Bank economist before joining President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1993. He was named Clinton’s Treasury secretary in 1999, and he was director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama. “Careful everyone,” a self-described trade unionist tweeted. “This Clinton administration alumnus is worried that the inflation god is going to strike us down all of a sudden. Funny how austerity is firmly back on the Dem agenda immediately when one of them gets into office.”

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Trump gets criticized because he’s Trump.

Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)

Well this is going to break the mainstream media narrative… As Trump has pardoned some relatively high profile individuals such as Roger Stone, General Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort, the liberalati has got its gender-neutral panties in a bundle over these “digusting”, “corrupt”, “cronyism” actions. It turns out however that, even including the recent surge, PewResearch reports that Trump has used his clemency power less often than any president in modern history (apart from Bush Senior), according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. President Trump has granted clemency or pardoned 98 people in the last four years (76 pardons and 22 commutations). Obama, by comparison, granted clemency 1,927 times during his eight-year tenure, including 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.

In terms of total executive clemency actions, Obama granted the most since Harry S. Truman The only modern president who granted clemency less frequently than Trump is George H.W. Bush, who granted 77 pardons and commutations in his single term. As PewResearch writes, clemency refers to multiple forms of presidential mercy. The two most common forms are pardons, which forgive past crimes and restore civil rights, and commutations, which completely or partially reduce sentences for those in prison or on community supervision. Two less-common forms are remissions, which reduce financial penalties associated with convictions, and respites, which are temporary reprieves that are usually granted to inmates for medical reasons.

The Justice Department’s statistics, it’s important to note, do not count clemency granted through proclamation or executive order, such as the actions taken by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to forgive thousands of Vietnam-era draft dodgers. The DOJ numbers also count some clemency recipients twice – for example, in cases where someone received both a pardon and a commutation. While rare so far, Trump’s use of presidential clemency has caused controversy because of the nature of his pardons and commutations. Many of Trump’s clemency recipients have had a “personal or political connection to the president,” according to a July analysis by the Lawfare blog, and he has often circumvented the formal process through which clemency requests are typically considered.

But Trump is far from the only president who has faced scrutiny over his use of clemency. Obama’s frequent use of commutations, particularly for prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes, prompted criticism from Republicans, who said it benefited “an entire class of offenders” and infringed on the “lawmaking authority” of the legislative branch. And President Bill Clinton drew bipartisan condemnation for pardoning a fugitive commodities trader, Marc Rich, on his last day in office in 2001.

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“..with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%).”

One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)

About one in four enterprises (23%) is contemplating the possibility of not reopening after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%). This is according to a survey by Opinion Poll for the Athens Professional Chamber (EEA) on December 14-18 on a sample of 1,002 chamber members. Even if they do not decide to shut down for good, a large section of enterprises say they will resort to layoffs: Almost a quarter of companies (24%) say this is a likely or very likely prospect, rising to 49.5% of enterprises in food service. In commerce, the sector that accounts for the highest share of employment in Greece, the rate comes to 22.7%.

The survey has found that the rate of intended layoffs is much higher among enterprises employing more than five people. Therefore 39.8% of companies with six to 10 workers intend to lay off staff, with the rate rising to 41.6% among those with 11-20 people and coming to 40.4% among enterprises with over 20 employees. If these intentions turn into action after the lockdown, they will send unemployment soaring. They stem from the high degree of pessimism among businesses, especially after the start of the second lockdown. One in four companies believe the economic crisis due to the pandemic will last more than two years, and another 27% think it will take a couple of years before normality returns.

Some 34% of corporations expect the crisis to last another year and only 11% are more optimistic, saying the crisis will be over in some six months. “According to our own estimates, one in three enterprises may have opened for the last time and never reopen,” Giorgos Kavvathas, president of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), told Kathimerini. He added that the food service sector he also heads mostly considers that next year will be lost too, as unlike in the financial crisis of the 2010s, tourism will not come to the rescue.

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Twitter won’t silence WSJ.

How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)

Just days after outgoing AG William Barr said there is “no need” to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden despite revelations about a federal criminal investigation into Biden’s business conduct, we’re seeing the latest “scoop” about the younger Biden’s alleged misdeeds. In a lengthy investigative report, the WSJ has reportedly confirmed that the younger Biden traded on his purported influence and family ties during his business dealings in Ukraine and China (along with his conduct at home in his personal life, where he has seemingly careened from one disaster to the next) to enrich himself – and, importantly, his family as well. Importantly, in the story, WSJ explicitly notes that “none of the Journal’s reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s activities, which mostly took place around the time Obama’s second term was wrapping up.”

Our initial reaction: Of course it wouldn’t. But that doesn’t matter so much right now: What this shows is that the federal agents leading the “criminal tax probe” into the younger Biden are looking into how influence peddling and the Biden family name played into this, which could be very, very bad for Hunter’s father, and the Democrats. But the fact that WSJ is reporting and seemingly confirming that the younger Biden benefited ‘because of his last name and connections’ still has significance. Even though it shares an owner with Fox News, WSJ, with its closet full of Pulitzers, is still “respected” by the mainstream press.

Through reportedly talking with people familiar with Biden’s business dealings, WSJ managed to confirm various that the younger Biden received a discounted stake in a Chinese PE firm that was at the center of the NY Post’s reporting, along with consulting arrangements with a Romanian property magnate which “overall allowed him to maintain a globe-trotting lifestyle, according to interviews, documents and communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.” It even confirmed that Biden receiving a 2.8-carat diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon that has reportedly found its way to the center of the federal investigation into the president’s sons actions. Most of the details were clearly leaked to WSJ by Senate Republicans. But the takeaway here is pretty clear: even if the information is being used for political purposes, the investigation into Biden holds water. After all, federal investigations aren’t opened up for nothing.

By now, as Trump continues with his wave of pardons (he has of course pardoned far fewer people than his predecessor, even adjusted for his shorter time in the saddle), the GOP is ensuring that the investigation into Hunter Biden will be as fraught with leaks and bombshells and “scoops” as any other high profile investigation, including – most obviously – the Mueller probe. Social media could block out the NY Post, but they couldn’t block out WSJ. Though the story wasn’t widely covered, now that WSJ has “moved” on it, how much longer can its rivals – even WaPo and NYT – keep this from becoming an “essential” story after inauguration day. Otherwise, they will lose what little credibility they have left, as critics challenge the press to step up and hold Biden “accountable” like they did Trump.

There also might be an element of payback at play here, as WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch seeks to get back in Trump’s good graces after the president sicced his legions of loyal followers on Fox News, threatening its fat profit margins. Either way, one thing is clear: Leaks like this aren’t going to stop.

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“..tate officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup…”

Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)

Move over, Europe. Tucked in near the end of the 130-page antitrust lawsuit Texas filed against Google last week are claims that could force the search giant to pay out trillions of dollars in damages, dwarfing previous levies against the company. That would be a serious blow even to a company as large as Google, with its $1.16 trillion market cap. And it gives the states additional leverage to push for the company to agree to a breakup, perhaps in exchange for reduced fines. The lawsuit, which also includes eight other states, accuses Google of rigging online ad auctions to increase its own profits at the expense of website publishers, who have struggled to make the same kind of money from web ads as from television, print and radio.

The states have asked the court to force the company to sell off pieces of its business to take away its power to control such auctions. But there are other allegations that could cut Google even more deeply. Texas also alleges that Google violated state laws that forbid unfair or deceptive business practices — laws that mandate steep fines for each violation. The attorneys general plan to argue that every online bid allegedly manipulated by Google violates state laws, which would lead to a massive pileup of fines. “The potential for the lawsuit is in the trillions of dollars,” said Joe Crews, who served in the Texas attorney general’s office in the 1990s and now has his own firm in Austin. “This is something they are going to have to pay attention to and they are going to have to commit resources to. Even if Google ultimately prevails it’s still going to cost them a whole ton of money.”

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the potential fines, pointing to the company’s statement when the suit was filed calling it “meritless.” The states have used these laws to force major companies to pay out large sums of money in the past. Last month, Apple agreed to pay $113 million to 34 states for slowing down the batteries in older iPhones. Credit reporting agency Equifax paid $175 million to the states as part of a settlement into its 2017 data breach. In Europe, Google has already paid more than $9 billion in fines for violating competition rules. But those penalties are widely considered failures that didn’t result in any long-term changes to Google’s behavior. But the prospect of fines substantially in excess of Google’s $160 billion in annual revenue might have a bigger deterrent effect, individuals close to the case said.

Antitrust experts say the likelihood Google has to shell out trillions in cash is minimal, but state officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup.

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“..more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience..”

Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

Facebook is currently waging a PR campaign purporting to show that Apple is seriously injuring American small businesses through its iOS privacy features. But at the same time, according to allegations in recently unsealed court documents, Facebook has been selling them ad targeting that is unreliable to the point of being fraudulent. The documents feature internal Facebook communications in which managers appear to admit to major flaws in ad targeting capabilities, including that ads reached the intended audience less than half of the time they were shown and that data behind a targeting criterion was “all crap.” Facebook says the material is presented out of context.

They emerged from a suit currently seeking class-action certification in federal court. The suit was filed by the owner of Investor Village, a small business that operates a message board on financial topics. Investor Village said in court filings that it decided to buy narrowly targeted Facebook ads because it hoped to reach “highly compensated and educated investors” but “had limited resources to spend on advertising.” But nearly 40 percent of the people who saw Investor Village’s ad either lacked a college degree, did not make $250,000 per year, or both, the company claims. In fact, not a single Facebook user it surveyed met all the targeting criteria it had set for Facebook ads, it says.

The complaint features Facebook documents indicating that the company knew its advertising capabilities were overhyped and underperformed. A “February 2016 internal memorandum” sent from an unnamed Facebook manager to Andrew Bosworth, a Zuckerberg confidant and powerful company executive who oversaw ad efforts at the time, reads, “[I]nterest precision in the US is only 41%—that means that more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience. And it is even worse internationally. … We don’t feel we’re meeting advertisers’ interest accuracy expectations today.” The lawsuit goes on to quote unnamed “employees on Facebook’s ad team” discussing their targeting capabilities circa June 2016:

One engineer celebrated that detailed targeting accounted for “18% of total ads revenue,” and $14.8 million on June 17th alone. Using a smiley emoticon, an engineering manager responded, “Love this chart! Although if the most popular option is to combine interest and behavior, and we know for a fact our behavior is almost all crap, does this mean we are misleading advertiser [sic] a bit? :)” That manager proceeded to suggest further examination of top targeting criteria to “see if we are giving advertiser [sic] false hope.”

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