Apr 172021
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)
And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)
De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)
How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)
Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)
Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)
Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)
Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)
Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)
US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)
Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)
Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)
Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)
The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

 

 

 

 


A sailboat shielded by clouds, Chios Island, Greece. @avgoustidisermis

 

 

“..the architects of the biosecurity state..”

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)

The controversy erupted on Twitter even as the 32,000-foot-high plume of smoke from Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano was still rising in the sky. The firestorm on American social media platforms over reports that only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to evacuate the eastern Caribbean island sheds light on the architects of the biosecurity state who have descended on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to explore the limits of mandatory public health protocols in the midst of a natural disaster now projected to “last months.” Global organizations, NGOs, and members of the scientific community are coordinating emergency response efforts in Saint Vincent. Power outages, no clean water, and continued volcanic eruptions have rendered parts of the island virtually uninhabitable, plunging Vincentians who have managed to escape into a condition of quasi-statelessness where notions of human rights and civil liberties become malleable.

“Refugees are in a position of complete vulnerability,” says Dr. Diego Garcia Ricci, from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, speaking to MintPress. The constitutional law professor and data privacy expert addressed some of the issues surrounding the plight of refugees as biometric data like retinal scans, fingerprinting and even gender, become a pillar of identity documentation and incipient travel requirements in the wake of the pandemic. “While biometrics can be useful for identification purposes, mistakes do happen,” Garcia Ricci warns. Most at risk from these mistakes, abuse and racial profiling arising out of biometric digital identity systems are those whose need for the ‘state’ is made indispensable by virtue of being rendered stateless. Free agents with no agency are prime targets for global entities like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which claims to speak for close to 80 million forcibly displaced people.

Vincentians who are unable or refuse to leave the island are likely to be reclassified as “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, another kind of refugee as defined by the UNHCR. Such classifications are part of a vast structure of laws and guidelines enshrined in the archives of supranational state entities like the European Commission and the United Nations, based on the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which establishes international rules governing the treatment and rights of refugees, whose numbers have nearly doubled since 2012, ballooning from 45.2 million “displaced” to 79.5 million as of the last count.

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“In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.”

And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)

I suspected the data would be forthcoming showing this given the VAERS reports and now we have it:

I Using an electro nic health records network we estimated the absolute incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in the two weeks following COVID-19 diagnosis (N=513,284), or influenza (N=172,742), or receipt of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines (N=489,871).


The incidence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) was also assessed in these groups, as well as the baseline CVT incidence over a two-week period. The incidence of CVT after COVID-19 diagnosis was 39.0 per million people (95% CI, 25.2–60.2). This was higher than the CVT incidence after influenza (0.0 per million people, 95% CI 0.0 – 22.2, adjusted RR=6.73, P=.003) or after receiving BNT162b2 or RNA-1273 vaccine (4.1 per million people, 95% CI 1.1 – 14.9, adjusted RR=6.36, P<.001).

Wait a second…. you said the vaccines are more dangerous yet the data says that Covid-19 is ten times as dangerous as the vaccine for the same condition. So how can the title of this article be correct? Simple: For every reported infection somewhere around ten are not reported. Either they’re completely asymptomatic (about 30%) or mild enough that the person in question does not identify it as potentially Covid-19 and thus does not get tested. Yet both of the latter confer immunity just as does a symptomatic case. Further, you’re not guaranteed to get the disease. You are guaranteed to take the risk if you get the shot. Therefore we must adjust for the risk of contracting the disease which is not certain; you may have already had it and not know it and, in addition, you may have cross-reactive immunity.

Therefore the shot is close to or even more-dangerous than the disease. The baseline for approval of any therapy is that it must be much less dangerous than the disease itself. When it comes to vaccines the usual expectation is that it should 100x or more safer to get the shot than the disease, simply on the basis that you are not guaranteed to get the disease irrespective of how bad it is. If the disease is particularly lethal either generally or to you then a risk that is material for the vaccine is acceptable. What’s even worse is that this risk is basically identically in both mRNA and viral-vector (e.g. J&J) formulations; they both cause the same result in the same percentage of recipients, yet the FDA is still allowing the mRNA vaccines to be administered!

Covid-19, in non-morbid (young, but not exclusively so) people, only kills about 1/50,000 times — so if the shot gets you 1/250,000 times it’s a bad risk since a huge percentage of infections are not medically known as they are clinically significant and you are not guaranteed to be infected at all since you may have already had it and not known it or be resistant due to a previous infection with some other coronavirus and thus not at risk of developing clinical disease. These shots are not approvable on the math for other than materially-morbid individuals. In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.

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“When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum..”

Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)

Standing behind the desk in his office in Tallahassee, DeSantis leafed through a folder of praise he’s received from around the nation and across the globe. Hanging on the walls around the relatively small space was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the uniform the governor wore as the captain of the Yale baseball team. When asked why he chose Lincoln, DeSantis said the president is the best example of a leader who had to make difficult decisions in a time of crisis. When asked why some of the leaders today have continued with lockdowns even with ample evidence of their ineffectiveness, the governor theorized that the people involved have committed too much to the narrative and have made it impossible to change course.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for. And a lot of these people muffed it,” he said. “When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.” Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said. Two weeks after the interview, an undercover video recorded by Project Veritas showed a technical director at CNN talking about the boost the network received due to its pandemic coverage. “It’s fear. Fear really drives numbers,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in.” The fear-mongering worked, DeSantis said, pointing to CDC statistics showing that 4 out of 10 American adults delayed or avoided getting urgent or routine medical treatment in June 2020. The agency’s report said that the pattern may have contributed to the excess deaths reported during that period, due to preventable illnesses and injuries going untreated.

Emergency room doctors had reported that fewer people were coming in with cardiac-related chest pains while more were coming in with late-stage appendicitis, something that is usually caught much earlier. The pandemic has also led to a sharp decrease in cancer screenings and detections. “When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum,” DeSantis said.

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“..the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down.”

De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)

Unless the world wants to see loved ones “burned alive in a nuclear holocaust,” politicians should cut out the “macho” act and begin to deescalate. That’s according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Thursday, Gabbard said the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down. “Such a war would come at a cost beyond anything we can really imagine,” she told Carlson. “This is something that will directly impact…every single one of your viewers.” “It is a war in which there are no winners,” she added.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when two pro-Russia breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. While a peace deal was agreed upon later that year, both sides regularly report ceasefire violations. Much of the region is now split into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. According to Kiev, both of the unrecognized states are controlled by Russia, which the Kremlin denies. Moscow says both Donetsk and Lugansk are part of Ukraine. Fears of a full-scale war have been growing in recent weeks. Media reports have revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian frontier. This came after news of increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region by Kiev’s forces, and revelations that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of troops in the area.

Kiev is supported by the US, which has provided money, equipment and expertise. However, Washington has not given Ukraine the status of a full ally. According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the “thousands of nuclear weapons” Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that “hundreds of millions” could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

Tulsi Gabbard
https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1383022106779267076

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Uhhh, no. Putin is not eager to meet with Biden, Lavrov et al have made that plenty clear: such ameeting would only be used to make Putin look bad, or worse. And no, it’s not saber-rattling when you respond to 10s of 1000s gathering on your border.

How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)

[..] given Biden’s recent offer to sit down with Putin for a bilateral summit this summer, which is still on the table, it appears Ukraine’s leadership has been effectively sidelined. As one FT piece underscored this week, Putin’s troop build-up has succeeded in pressuring the Biden administration for a coveted summit to decide the future of Ukraine. “The summit format will also please the Kremlin by effectively cutting Kyiv out of any negotiations, and allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers deciding the future fate of the conflict,” FT observed. Here’s more from FT… “If Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border in the past few weeks was driven primarily by a desire to get the west’s attention, he did not have to wait too long for his reward.

Hours after his defense minister on Tuesday admitted Russia had mobilised two armies and three paratroop divisions to positions close to the conflict-wracked frontier, US President Joe Biden phoned the Kremlin with an offer of a bilateral summit: a long sought-after prize for Putin who craves a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table. …Those 50,000 extra soldiers, scores of tanks and other heavy weaponry spooked Kyiv and other European powers, and sparked a hurried response from Nato and the US amid fears over a potential outbreak of fighting between the two countries.” This wasn’t a stand-alone assessment, given also this week BBC came to a similar conclusion.

The BBC commentary underscored that the Russian troop build-up was never ultimately about some kind of hyped “invasion” of Ukraine – as Kiev officials have been shouting – but instead about bringing massive leverage to bear in forcing Biden’s hand. To the chagrin of the West’s Russia hawks, the BBC essentially pointed to a major diplomatic victory and ‘checkmate’ of sorts for the Russian side… The build-up has been impossible to ignore: thousands of Russian troops deployed towards Ukraine; US warships reportedly heading for the Black Sea and Russia’s foreign ministry warning them off “for their own good”. As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia’s Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate”.

Russia has refused: the defense ministry this week insisted its moves were in response to “threatening” Nato exercises in Europe. Then Mr Putin got a phone-call from the White House. And then, noted the BBC, Biden suggested a near-future face-to-face summit with Putin, which gives Russia the edge given it was the US side that first proposed it: “In Putin’s game of brinkmanship, Biden blinked first,” argues journalist Konstantin Eggert, after Joe Biden made his first call to the Kremlin and proposed meeting Mr Putin “in the coming months”. It’s just weeks after the US president agreed with an interviewer that Russia’s leader was “a killer”. President Biden’s new move is now a new topic of debate – disaster prevention or a mistaken concession – but in the run-up to a summit, the risk of major military action by Russia certainly fades.

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Well, the US stated again that it doesn’t recognize the present status of Crimea, maybe that’s enough to make it justified.

Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)

Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be “unjustified”, NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow “to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation”. Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months. Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. The move has triggered concerns in the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s “ongoing militarisation of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine’s independence, and undermine the stability of the broader region,” a spokeswoman for NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Blocking the Black Sea would “be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia,” she added. NATO called on Russia to “de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments”. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that Russia was justifying plans to block the Black Sea until October on the grounds that it is preparing military exercises.

“Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea, particularly near the Kerch Strait,” he told reporters. “It’s just the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” he added, reaffirming Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. “We call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region, and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and occupied Ukraine.”

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“Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan..”

Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)

Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.

On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”

Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.” The Times further reported that the United States maintains a constellation of air bases in the Persian Gulf region as well as in Jordan, and a major air headquarters in Qatar, which could provide a launching pad for long-range bomber or armed drone missions into Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a disabled combat veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war, stated that a genuine peace process in Afghanistan is “dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan.” Further, Hoh said that, “Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

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Clickbait.

Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

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“Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill..”

Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)

As Democrats seized on a now-debunked New York Times report that the Kremlin placed bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan – blaming President Trump for deliberately downplaying the aggression to appease ‘Lord Putin’ (as the story goes) – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) punched right, peddling the fabricated bounties story to any and all who would listen, according to The Federalist. Fast forward ten months later, and the Daily Beast reports that a senior administration finally admitted: “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier. “Low to moderate confidence” is another way of saying “unproven and potentially false, “in part because it relies on detainee reporting,” which is often unreliable.


Yet, Cheney pounced in an effort to undermine then-President Trump, while using the fake news to also lobby for a prolonged military presence in the region as the Trump administration was pulling troops out of Afghanistan. More via The Federalist: “Two days later, Politico, in an article titled, “Cheney takes on Trump,” wrote, “in her latest rebuke of Trump, Cheney openly questioned whether the president was aware of reports that the Russians offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops and demanded the administration take a more aggressive posture toward the Kremlin. Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill as she continued an inner-party crusade against the president in an election year from her position as House conference chair.”

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The rest is behind a Substack paywall.

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly. With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week. On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic. He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.” But two months later, on February 17, 2002, he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.”

Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.” He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.” By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

Want to know how seven in ten Americans during the war came to believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow behind 9/11? In part, because people like O’Reilly regularly said things like, “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing,” and “I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped [9/11] happen.” O’Reilly eventually got around to putting his “spotlight” on anyone who didn’t publicly back the invasion effort. He even took on Pope John Paul II, saying, “And then the pope sits in Rome and says, gee, this is terrible, but does not throw his moral authority behind removing this dictator.”

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The media has more incentive.

US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)

[..] there was nothing new about the suite of anti-Russia charges promulgated Thursday by the US federal government, and parroted as usual with maximum credulity across the US media ecosystem. The charges were again predicated on the idea that Russian “interference” and/or “influence” is an extremely foreboding test for the survival of US Democracy. Taking bold action, the Treasury Department levied sanctions against a bunch more Russians for their claimed nefarious behavior in carrying out this interference/influence — a fulfillment of Joe Biden’s oft-stated campaign pledge that under his watch, Russia would finally “pay a price” for allegedly engaging in such activities. Donald Trump, it was thought, had been appallingly lax in his resolve to confront this threat; now, a new sheriff is in town.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s prudent to assume that Janet Yellen is suddenly in possession of a foolproof methodology for attributing the provenance of “cyber operations” to specific foreign individuals and nation-states, it’s worth emphasizing what exactly is being alleged in the statement. The Treasury Department document reads: “Outlets operated by Russian Intelligence Services focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate US political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information.” Noting that these same characteristics could be just as easily applied to US corporate media outlets is so blindingly self-evident as to almost be redundant. Were there not “outlets” during the 2020 election that were “focused” on “denigrating” Donald Trump? Or for that matter, Joe Biden?

Do “divisive issues” not tend to be “focused on” by these same outlets as a basic precept of their core business model? Controversy = clicks/views, which equals revenue. Everyone knows this. Yet when scary Russian outlets are said to employ this same logic in their own content-production enterprises, it magically becomes dangerous enough to justify all manner of punitive government and corporate action. Including but not limited to: censorship purges, tighter regulation of online speech, and, as Biden announced Thursday, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats. “Disseminating false and misleading information”? The entire US media just got caught “disseminating” a fake story about Russians putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. If you’re truly concerned about the dissemination of “false and misleading information” having deleterious effects on the health of US political culture, your first target should be CNN.

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“..the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia..”

Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.


Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

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Glenn Greenwald: In this interview with @thedailybeast, this statement from Hunter Biden about his emails and laptop is a complete lie. No intelligence agency, let alone all of them, concluded it was a Russian operation, but you wouldn’t know that from the DB article:

Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)

Jong-Fast asks Biden when he realized that the former president and his son were fixated on him. “That was right around when I started to get sober and clean… It was only then did I realize the level of their obsession because long enough to look up from whatever drink or drug I was just pursuing at the moment. And it seemed like that every word out of the president’s mouth was some kind of demeaning or just horrible insult towards me,” he answers. “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?” Jong-Fast replies. “As a person in recovery, one of the things that I have truly tried to come to grips with is that the world actually does not revolve around me,” Biden says. “I mean, usually it doesn’t. But on this, I feel that it does,” Jong-Fast says.

“I don’t think that they thought that they would necessarily convince anyone not to vote for my dad because I’m an addict. I think there’s far, far too many people—I mean, everyone I know knows someone that they love—that suffer from addiction,” Biden says. “I think that they thought that they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign… But it had the exact opposite effect… They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a family, at least this family.” Jong-Fast also asks Biden about the leaked emails that caused such a stir at the end of the campaign. He claims he had no idea what she’s talking about. The email from an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, thanking Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father and spend some time with him”?

“I truly don’t know the origin of a lot of this stuff,” Biden replies. The email titled “expectations,” which involved details for how much he might get paid by China’s largest private energy company? “I literally don’t know what you’re even referring to. Is it from me?” Biden answers. “You know, I mean, there is a intelligence report from, from all of our intelligence agencies that has come to the conclusion that this was a Russian operation.”

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“This is a good time to be old. ”

Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)

Money will become more and more digitized, according to Jim Rogers, investor, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, but the question is whether or not non-government issued digital currencies will prevail. “If cryptocurrencies become successful, most governments will outlaw it, because they don’t want to lose their monopoly, every government in the world is working on computer money now, including the U.S. The Chinese are there already. I can’t imagine that the governments are going to say ok, this is our crypto money, or you can use their crypto money, that’s not the way governments work, historically,” Rogers told Michelle Makori, editor-in-chief of Kitco News.

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“Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.”

The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

In the late 1990s China experienced a massive bad debt crisis – there are estimates that more than half of its state-owned enterprises( SOEs) were insolvent in the mid-1990s – with the non-performing loans within the balance sheets of China’s four major banks thought to be between a quarter and a third of their total assets. The government reacted to the emergence of that destabilising mountain of bad debts by recapitalising the state-owned banks; carving out their non-performing loans and handing them over to four new asset management companies to manage them out of the system over time. Huarong was one of those asset managers, established to acquire and then manage the bad loans made by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Huarong predicament and the context of the swelling tide of SOE-related defaults highlight not just dangerously and system-threatening excessive leverage and poor allocation of capital within the heart of China’s economy but significant, indeed egregious, governance failures. Now the company set up to manage bad debts is itself apparently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy due to its own non-performing loans and will either be restructured or fail. While it is not a bank it is a substantial financial institution, with about $340 billion of assets and net assets of about $32 billion. Embarrassingly for the Chinese authorities, although it listed In Hong Kong in 2015, it is a state-controlled enterprise. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority of its shares.

The company got itself into trouble, it seems, by expanding beyond its charter as a manager of banks’ bad debts into quasi banking activities itself; lending to property developers, setting up securities trading businesses and essentially playing in the shadows of the system that the tightly-regulated banks have been forbidden to enter.It was able to do so because its former chairman, Lai Xiaomin, was by his own admission subjected to absolutely no oversight and was able to treat Huarong as his own plaything. When he was arrested in 2018 he admitted taking more than $350 million of “bribes” over the previous decade and was found to have about $50 million of cash stashed in an apartment he called “The Supermarket.” Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.

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Mandarinfish

 

 

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Apr 112021
 


Bartolomeo Schedoni The Deposition of Jesus’ body by St. Joseph of Arimathea 1613

 

South African Variant Can ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Vaccine (R.)
SARS-CoV-2 Variants B.1.351 and P.1 Escape From Neutralizing Antibodies (Cell)
Facemasks in the COVID-19 Era: A Health Hypothesis (NIH)
DMX Given Covid Vaccine Days Before Lethal Heart Attack (Noq)
Data Substantiating Wide Asymptomatic Spread Of Covid-19 Remains Elusive (JTN)
German Govt Plans New Harsh Covid-19 Restrictions In Draft Law (RT)
Republicans Deflated As Nation Shrugs At Hunter Biden Revelations (G.)
Daily Mail Exposes Hunter Biden Bombshells (ZH)
More Money Put Into Stocks In Last 5 Months Than Last 12 Years Combined (CNBC)
Frederick Forsyth Says UK Government Has Launched “Campaign of Mass Fear” (SN)
Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press (MPN)
Ukraine Redux – War, Russophobia, & Pipelineistan (Escobar)
A History of the Espionage Act and How it Ensnared Julian Assange (Lauria)
Julian Assange: The Corpse In The Basement Of The West (derstandard.at )

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Vincent
https://twitter.com/i/status/1380790808153047042

 

 

Truth is stranger than fiction,but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
– Mark Twain

 

 

Viruses mutate, albeit in unpredictable ways. This virus could disappear, like so many have. But with, at any given moment, 1-10-100 million new potential hosts, that is not likely. It’s much likelier that variants will evolve that evade vaccines. Especially since, as has been argued, there is no plan to vaccinate some 3-4 billion people.

The present rollout, along with the vaccines themselves, are sold to us as the summit of human intelligence. They could well be the summit of the exact opposite.

South African Variant Can ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Vaccine (R.)

The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found, though its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study, released on Saturday, compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other characteristics. The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1% of all the COVID-19 cases across all the people studied, according to the study by Tel Aviv University and Israel’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit.

But among patients who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated – 5.4% versus 0.7%. This suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that has come to comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel, the researchers said. “We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection,” said Tel Aviv University’s Adi Stern. The researchers cautioned, though, that the study only had a small sample size of people infected with the South African variant because of its rarity in Israel.

They also said the research was not intended to deduce overall vaccine effectiveness against any variant, since it only looked at people who had already tested positive for COVID-19, not at overall infection rates. [..] While the results of the study may cause concern, the low prevalence of the South African strain was encouraging, according to Stern. “Even if the South African variant does break through the vaccine’s protection, it has not spread widely through the population,” said Stern, adding that the British variant may be “blocking” the spread of the South African strain.

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This is just the beginning.

SARS-CoV-2 Variants B.1.351 and P.1 Escape From Neutralizing Antibodies (Cell)

The global spread of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 is devastating health systems and economies worldwide. Recombinant or vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies are used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) harbor mutations in the viral spike (S) protein that may alter virus-host cell interactions and confer resistance to inhibitors and antibodies. Here, using pseudoparticles, we show that entry of all variants into human cells is susceptible to blockade by the entry inhibitors soluble ACE2, Camostat, EK-1, and EK-1-C4. In contrast, entry of the B.1.351 and P.1 variant was partially (Casirivimab) or fully (Bamlanivimab) resistant to antibodies used for COVID-19 treatment. Moreover, entry of these variants was less efficiently inhibited by plasma from convalescent COVID-19 patients and sera from BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals. These results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may escape neutralizing antibody responses, which has important implications for efforts to contain the pandemic.

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NIH, January 2021. What struck me is the health effects listed in the graphic.

Facemasks in the COVID-19 Era: A Health Hypothesis (NIH)

The physical properties of medical and non-medical facemasks suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block viral particles due to their difference in scales [16], [17], [25]. According to the current knowledge, the virus SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter of 60 nm to 140 nm [nanometers (billionth of a meter)] [16], [17], while medical and non-medical facemasks’ thread diameter ranges from 55 µm to 440 µm [micrometers (one millionth of a meter), which is more than 1000 times larger [25]. Due to the difference in sizes between SARS-CoV-2 diameter and facemasks thread diameter (the virus is 1000 times smaller), SARS-CoV-2 can easily pass through any facemask [25]. In addition, the efficiency filtration rate of facemasks is poor, ranging from 0.7% in non-surgical, cotton-gauze woven mask to 26% in cotton sweeter material [2].

With respect to surgical and N95 medical facemasks, the efficiency filtration rate falls to 15% and 58%, respectively when even small gap between the mask and the face exists [25]. Clinical scientific evidence challenges further the efficacy of facemasks to block human-to-human transmission or infectivity. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 246 participants [123 (50%) symptomatic)] who were allocated to either wearing or not wearing surgical facemask, assessing viruses transmission including coronavirus [26]. The results of this study showed that among symptomatic individuals (those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose ect…) there was no difference between wearing and not wearing facemask for coronavirus droplets transmission of particles of >5 µm.

Among asymptomatic individuals, there was no droplets or aerosols coronavirus detected from any participant with or without the mask, suggesting that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit or infect other people [26]. This was further supported by a study on infectivity where 445 asymptomatic individuals were exposed to asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carrier (been positive for SARS-CoV-2) using close contact (shared quarantine space) for a median of 4 to 5 days. The study found that none of the 445 individuals was infected with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase [27].

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The media story is a drug overdose.

DMX Given Covid Vaccine Days Before Lethal Heart Attack (Noq)

Rapper DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, died yesterday following complications from a heart attack. The 50-year-old music star was widely reported to have been hospitalized for a drug overdose that induced the heart attack, but a female member of his family told MTO News that he did not take drugs prior to the heart attack. He did, however, receive a Covid vaccination days before. Editor’s Note: We generally do not post single-source stories. The source for the information—MTO News—is a heavily trafficked site (over 10 million visitors per month) with contacts in the rap world. Though we have not been able to independently confirm the interview with a member of Simmons’ family, we are running the story based on the influence of the source publication.

We have reached out to a representative of his staff for confirmation. As of the writing of this story, only MTO News has been granted an interview and released the information. Some news outlets have picked the story up while a few fact-checkers have “debunked” it, though conspicuously none of the fact-checkers have provided information demonstrating the report is false. They’ve only said that they cannot confirm its validity. According to MTO News: “MTO News spoke with a member of the Simmons family who believes that it was NOT drugs that caused the heart attack. In an EXCLUSIVE interview, MTO News spoke with DMX’ family member who told us that the rapper received the COVID vaccine about a week before he suffered from the heart attack.

DMX’s family member told MTO News, “[DMX] got the vaccine when they opened it up to people over 50. He got it so that he could go travel and perform, stuff like that.” New York State opened up the COVID-19 vaccinations for people over the age of 50 in mid March. And the family member suspects that DMX heart attack could have been a reaction to the vaccine. The family member explained, “Everyone [in the news] keeps saying that [DMX] had a drug overdose. How do they know. I’m in the family and no doctor told me anything about an overdose.” The family member is FURIOUS about the speculation surrounding DMX drug use. She told MTO News, “Yes he had past issues with drugs. But nobody knows that he had an OD. It’s f**cked up that its being reported like that.”

She told MTO News that she – and the family – are considering taking legal action against news publications prematurely concluding that DMX suffered a drug overdose. But what is clear – according to the family member – is that DMX did take the Covid vaccine.” Chances are very high that we will not receive much more confirmation about this, especially from mainstream media. Only the family, hospital personnel, or others close to DMX could confirm or deny it, and other than the interview on MTO News, there has been no informed word one way or another. But we do know this. Unless the family makes a statement regarding the Covid vaccine, this story will be treated as “debunked” by those with an agenda to promote the Covid vaccine to everyone, especially African-Americans.

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“Lost in the chaos of the past year is any definitive indication that asymptomatic spread of the virus is widespread or common.”

Data Substantiating Wide Asymptomatic Spread Of Covid-19 Remains Elusive (JTN)

Hard data on the true prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 spread remains elusive, with scientists struggling to quantify just how often carriers of the SARS-Cov-2 virus transmit it without outward signs of illness. Fears that COVID-19 can spread very easily through asymptomatic transmission were a major factor behind the lockdowns and mitigation measures seen across the world over the past year. Health leaders claimed that the threat of symptom-free spread necessitated broad shutdowns of major portions of the economy, indefinite school closures, mandatory public mask-wearing, capacity limits and other social distancing measures, and various other tactics for containing the spread of COVID-19.

Lost in the chaos of the past year is any definitive indication that asymptomatic spread of the virus is widespread or common. Scientists and public health officials have struggled to come up with meaningful epidemiological evidence to that effect, though most have continued insisting that it’s a major contributor to the overall pandemic. In June of last year, WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove encountered significant backlash when she said that, based on current evidence, asymptomatic spread appeared to be “very rare.” Van Kerkhove subsequently qualified her comment, a qualification hyped as a “walkback” by some in the media. Health officials “don’t actually have that answer yet” as to the prevalence of asymptomatic spread, she said in narrowing her previous claim. “I was referring to a small subset of studies.”

Van Kerkhove has not responded to queries since then regarding the evolving study of asymptomatic COVID transmission. Several other scientists, meanwhile, have attempted to answer that question with mixed results. One study from December found that, within households, asymptomatic carriers of the virus passed it on to housemates at the rate of about 0.7%. That investigation made headlines for its apparent demonstration that asymptomatic spread is, in effect, vanishingly rare. Yet at least one coauthor of the study, University of Florida biostatistics Professor Natalie Dean, has been warning since the study’s publication that its findings on that front should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Berlin taking powers away from German states.

German Govt Plans New Harsh Covid-19 Restrictions In Draft Law (RT)

Night-time curfews, sweeping business closures and severe limits on public gatherings are all part of the German government’s new bill aimed at “standardizing” Covid-19 measures to stop the third wave, German media report. Berlin is currently working on amendments to the national Infection Protection Act that would significantly tighten the lockdown restrictions and greatly reduce the federal states’ ability to defy the government’s orders, German media that obtained the draft document report. The document that is expected to be discussed and potentially approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Tuesday includes binding requirements for all federal states where an average seven-day Covid-19 infection rate will rise over 100 per 100,000 people.

Such states will no longer be able to find any excuses to avoid imposing the so-called “emergency brake,” the supposed text of the bill, published by Die Welt on Saturday, reads. All states over this threshold infection rate will be bound to introduce a standard set of measures developed by the federal government, should the legislation come into force. Such measures involve a night-time curfew between 21:00 and 05:00, with exceptions for medical emergencies, professional activities and for looking after people or animals. Private and public gatherings would once again be limited to the members of one household and one person outside of it, with children under 14 excluded from this rule.

All non-essential stores and services, including cafes, clubs, museums and sports facilities, as well as shops other than grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations, would be closed. Employers would also have to let their employees work from home if there are no “compelling reasons” for them to stay in the workplace. Universities would switch to distance education, with in-person classes only being allowed if every person attending them presents a negative Covid-19 test result.

Ardern

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Silencing the Hunter story is not enough anymore, now the Guardian attempts to fully whitewash it. And calls him a brave man for writing about it all. “Hunter also uses the book to deny wrongdoing in joining the board of Burisma..”

Well, as Turley wrote: “Burisma and other companies not only gave massive payments to someone without any notable skills or experience, they hired someone who was a drug addict who was, by his own account, a total trainwreck.”

Burisma paid Hunter more than $50,000 a month from 2014 to 2019, aka the cash to buy his drugs. While he was by his own account a completely retarded junkie. And this had nothing to do with his father’s name.

Republicans Deflated As Nation Shrugs At Hunter Biden Revelations (G.)

In the memoir, Beautiful Things, Hunter, 51, details a lifelong struggle with drink and drugs. He writes that his “deep descent” into substance addiction followed the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer aged 46. Hunter admits that “in the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself”. In an interview about the book on CBS, the president’s son recalled going 13 days without sleep as he smoked crack and drank vodka. “I spent more time on my hands and knees picking through rugs – smoking anything that even remotely resembled crack cocaine. I probably smoked more Parmesan cheese than anyone that you know.”

The Biden family staged an intervention at their home in Delaware in 2019, inviting two counselors from a rehab centre to dinner. Hunter swore and ran from the house but was chased down the driveway by his father, who “grabbed me, swung me around, and hugged me. He held me tight in the dark and cried for the longest time. Everybody was outside now.” Hunter also uses the book to deny wrongdoing in joining the board of Burisma, a gas company in Ukraine, where he earned more than $50,000 a month from 2014 to 2019. Republicans allege that he benefited from his family name when his father was vice-president. Hunter’s tax affairs are currently under investigation by the justice department. The memoir has earned positive reviews. Publishers Weekly found that Hunter’s “courageous self-assessment makes the despair of substance abuse devastatingly palpable”.

In a blurb on the book’s jacket, author Stephen King describes it as “harrowing and compulsively readable” with a bravery that is “both heartbreaking and quite gorgeous”. He comments: “Hunter Biden proves again that anybody – even the son of a United States president – can take a ride on the pink horse down nightmare alley.” And Dave Eggers, whose books include the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, writes in another blurb: “Beautiful Things is so concise, so unflinching and propulsive, that outside of turning the pages and occasionally picking my jaw off the ground, I didn’t move between the first page and the last.”

None of this gives Republicans the ammunition they hoped for. Politically, the book has been a dog that didn’t bark (unlike Biden’s actual dogs, Champ and Major, which have made headlines over biting incidents and excrement in a White House hallway) and, instead of turning into a liability, only appears to reinforce Biden’s image as compassionate and humane. Sykes, founder and editor-at-large of the Bulwark website, said: “It’s also a story of a very loving and loyal father and it’s hard to turn that into a negative. There are a lot of parents out there that know how dealing with a child who has problems is one of the greatest challenges you can face and so I think people are as likely to be empathetic as they are to see it as a negative.

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These revelations will also be silenced.

Daily Mail Exposes Hunter Biden Bombshells (ZH)

With Hunter Biden on a serious image rehabilitation tour – a ‘tell all’ book combined with television interviews from friendly outlets designed to invoke pity over the First Son’s crack and hooker habits, the Daily Mail is now telling the rest of the story regarding the contents of his abandoned laptop after Hunter admitted it ‘certainly’ could be his in a Sunday interview with CBS. If you’ve seen the laptop photos which leaked last October, you can probably stop here. The Mail did spare us from blurred pictures of Hunter’s wang, along with several sex tapes released by exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.

“After obtaining a copy of the hard drive, DailyMail.com commissioned top cyber forensics experts Maryman & Associates to analyze its data and determine whether the laptop’s contents were real. The firm’s founder, Brad Maryman, is a 29-year FBI veteran Supervisory Special Agent who served as an Information Security Officer and founded its first computer forensics lab.” -Daily Mail. The Mail obtained over 100,000 text messages, 154,000 emails and over 2,000 photos which were verified by top forensics experts, which reveal that Joe ‘became a punching bag for Hunter’s drug-fueled rants,’ and ‘paid his grandchildren’s bills when Hunter had drained his bank accounts with prostitutes and crack cocaine.’

“Hunter appeared to be obsessed with making and starring in porn films with prostitutes, videos and photos on his laptop show. The hard drive contains hundreds of pictures of naked women and naked selfies of Hunter, as well as dozens of videos. Hunter photographed and filmed himself, often with two prostitutes at a time, in explicit videos that he then posted on adult website Pornhub under the username ‘RHEast’. Hunter filmed himself with the women from his laptop webcam, sometimes shooting at different angles using an iPad and cell phone.”-Daily Mail

“Hunter’s laptop is a pandora’s box of shocking revelations, explicit photos and intimate communications.In the following days, DailyMail.com will publish more shocking stories from Hunter’s laptop, including: • How Hunter blew hundreds of thousands on prostitutes, drugs and luxury cars, leaving him scrambling to avoid jail for $320k in unpaid taxes • How five members of the Biden family have been to rehab for drug or alcohol abuse – and a stunning admission by Joe to his son • The OTHER Biden family member planning to buy and cook crack, after falling into the disastrous addiction with Hunter • Hunter’s unconventional and unlikely relationship with his well-known psychiatrist •The whispered bedroom conversation with a prostitute caught on Hunter’s webcam, in which he confesses he had a previous laptop stolen – by Russians for blackmail.

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“Market enthusiasm”.

More Money Put Into Stocks In Last 5 Months Than Last 12 Years Combined (CNBC)

The latest wave of market enthusiasm has brought with it a stunning rush of money, in which more of investors’ cash has gone to stock-based funds in the last five months than the previous 12 years combined. That statistic, from Bank of America, reflects a period in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen more than 26%. At the same time, the market has undergone some wild trends that included a massive influx to meme stocks such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings. Trading volume rose 40% in the first quarter from the previous three months, with investors snapping up sectors that performed poorly last year amid hopes for a pronounced economic rebound from the Covid-induced slide in 2020.

Amid the frenzy, some $569 billion has gone to global equity funds since November, compared with $452 billion in the previous 12 years that go back to the beginning of the longest bull market run in history, according to Bank of America’s chief investment strategist, Michael Hartnett. Those numbers easily could exacerbate ongoing worries about financial market bubbles as valuations are around the same levels as just before the dot-com bubble popped in 2000. But these are not ordinary times. “There’s a certain amount of logic to markets right now,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “It’s less about irrational exuberance in the overall market, less about the 1999-2000 levels, and more about what’s the driver. The driver is clearly an explosion in economic activity that likely will have some earnings growth in its wake.”


First-quarter earnings season kicks into gear next week, and sentiment is running high. Year-over-year profits are expected to expand by 23.8%, which by itself would be the best growth rate since the third quarter of 2018, according to FactSet. However, what’s even more remarkable is that analysts continue to ratchet up expectations as the profit reports near, which is the opposite of what usually happens. Wall Street generally trims its outlook the closer it gets to the report date.

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“..using fear and shame as a driver of behaviour change.”

Frederick Forsyth Says UK Government Has Launched “Campaign of Mass Fear” (SN)

Iconic author Frederick Forsyth has accused the UK government of waging a “campaign of mass fear” against the British public by using psychological methods to ensure compliance with lockdown that resemble those used against East Berliners in the 1960’s. Forsyth was responding to an article published in the Telegraph which exposed the “covert tactics” being used by the British government to frighten the public into complying with COVID regulations. The article quoted a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist who warned that there was “growing concern within my field about using fear and shame as a driver of behaviour change.”

Gary Sidley and 46 of his colleagues wrote to the British Psychological Society to express “concerns about the activities of Government-employed psychologists … in their mission to gain the public’s mass compliance with the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.” The letter states that the UK government is deploying “covert psychological strategies – that operate below the level of people’s awareness – to ‘nudge’ citizens to conform to a contentious and unprecedented public health policy.” Commenting on the article, Frederick Forsyth, author of classic thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, wrote to the Telegraph to express his alarm about how the British public had been terrorized by lockdown propaganda.

“Congratulations to the Telegraph and Gordon Rayner for revealing that the campaign of mass fear that reduced a once brave nation to trembling terror was deliberately organised to secure obedience to the policy of lockdown,” wrote Forsyth. “I have only once before seen anything like it. This was when I was posted to East Germany in 1962. Such a brainwashing tactic was employed to frighten East Berliners into believing that the Berlin Wall was a defensive measure to protect them from tiny West Berlin, and that the Stasi was their guardian. The wall was of course an instrument of enslavement.”

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Bellingcat is bad news.

Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press (MPN)

[..] the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research. An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading. There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well.

Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence company headquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”

For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.

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Very good overview of what may well lead to an imminent war.

“Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg.”

Ukraine Redux – War, Russophobia, & Pipelineistan (Escobar)

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war. On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021. The decree establishes that retaking Crimea from Russia is now Kiev’s official policy. That’s exactly what prompted an array of Ukrainian battle tanks to be shipped east on flatbed rail cars, following the saturation of the Ukrainian army by the US with military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems, anti-tank systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). More crucially, the Zelensky decree is the proof any subsequent war will have been prompted by Kiev, debunking the proverbial claims of “Russian aggression.”

Crimea, since the referendum of March 2014, is part of the Russian Federation. It was this de facto declaration of war, which Moscow took very seriously, that prompted the deployment of extra Russian forces to Crimea and closer to the Russian border with Donbass. Significantly, these include the crack 76th Guards Air Assault Brigade, known as the Pskov paratroopers and, according to an intel report quoted to me, capable of taking Ukraine in only six hours. It certainly does not help that in early April US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, fresh from his former position as a board member of missile manufacturer Raytheon, called Zelensky to promise “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” That ties in with Moscow’s interpretation that Zelensky would never have signed his decree without a green light from Washington.

Sevastopol, already when I visited in December 2018, is one of the most heavily defended places on the planet, impervious even to a NATO attack. In his decree, Zelensky specifically identifies Sevastopol as a prime target. Once again, we’re back to 2014 post-Maidan unfinished business. To contain Russia, the US deep state/NATO combo needs to control the Black Sea – which, for all practical purposes, is now a Russian lake. And to control the Black Sea, they need to “neutralize” Crimea. If any extra proof was necessary, it was provided by Zelensky himself on Tuesday this week in a phone call with NATO secretary-general and docile puppet Jens Stoltenberg. Zelensky uttered the key phrase: “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass” – which means, in practice, NATO expanding its “presence” in the Black Sea.

“Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia, which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping.” All of these crucial developments are and will continue to be invisible to global public opinion when it comes to the predominant, hegemon-controlled narrative. The deep state/NATO combo is imprinting 24/7 that whatever happens next is due to “Russian aggression.” Even if the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) launch a blitzkrieg against the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. (To do so against Sevastopol in Crimea would be certified mass suicide). In the United States, Ron Paul has been one of the very few voices to state the obvious: “According to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more ‘Russian aggression.’”

A possibly hopeful sign is that on March 31, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, talked on the phone about the proverbial “issues of mutual interest.” Days later, a Franco-German statement came out, calling on “all parties” to de-escalate. Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg. The problem is Merkel and Macron don’t control NATO. Yet Merkel and Macron at least are fully aware that if the US/NATO combo attacks Russian forces or Russian passport holders who live in Donbass, the devastating response will target the command centers that coordinated the attacks.

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The Espionage Act should non exist. It’s a giant stain on everything American.

A History of the Espionage Act and How it Ensnared Julian Assange (Lauria)

From its earliest years the United States has found ways to deny the rights of a free press when it was politically expedient to do so. One of the latest ways was to arrest WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange two years ago today and to indict him — the first time a publisher and journalist has ever been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act for possessing and publishing state secrets. Though several U.S. administrations had come close to punishing journalists for revealing defense information, they all pulled back, until Assange. They were restrained because of a conflict with the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing any law, including the Espionage Act, that abridges press freedom. Until that legal conflict is resolved in court, resulting in parts of the Espionage Act being found unconstitutional, the language of the Act threatening press freedom remains.


Bolstered by 1950 amendments to the Act, the Donald Trump administration crossed a redline to arrest a journalist. A 1961 amendment made it possible to indict a non-U.S. citizen, acting outside U.S. territory. The Trump administration’s first indictment of a publisher opened an alarming precedent for the future of journalism. President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has not reversed Trump’s move to continue to seek Assange’s extradition from Britain though it could have. Instead it decided on Feb. 13 to pursue the appeal of Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision not to extradite Assange to the U.S. on health grounds. If the U.S. should win on appeal, Assange will be brought to the Eastern District of Virginia to face 17 Espionage Act counts, amounting to 175 years in prison, as Baraitser challenged none of those counts in her judgement.

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2 years ago today, Julian was “arrested”.

Google translate

“The verdict, as it was passed, calmed the public discourse, took the wind out of the sails of critics, the big scandal did not materialize, and public attention has waned again.”

Julian Assange: The Corpse In The Basement Of The West (derstandard.at )

Immediately after a British court had rejected the US application for extradition of the Australian Julian Assange on January 4th, the user “Spezialfahrzeug” in the STANDARD forum couldn’t help but make a malicious comment after my last blog post to put on this topic: “Well, Mr. Rosner, your written scandal process is not taking place, as we know today – and actually always knew.” So the court ruling of January 4th would have made all criticism of the proceedings against Assange obsolete, the British judiciary would now be okay after all, and we could be reassured? Unfortunately, things are completely different.

If one were aiming to tinker with a conspiracy theory, one could literally believe in a very sophisticated conspiracy, the thing has now gone so favorably for the opponents of Assange due to the subtly formulated judgment of Judge Vanessa Baraitser. If the court had simply flatly approved the request for extradition, then this might have sparked a greater wave of outrage among the European public. The protests got food and multiplied. And then perhaps some of the top politicians in the EU who had been hesitant until then would have spoken out more clearly against it. The British judiciary would have been in a bad position and the matter would have been taken to the European Court of Justice. All embarrassing. There could have been headwinds in the USA too, because free journalism is a highly respected commodity there.

They have now saved themselves. The verdict, as it was passed, calmed the public discourse, took the wind out of the sails of critics, the big scandal did not materialize, and public attention has waned again. Assange can continue to rot in jail and almost everyone looks the other way. Everything seems to be fine again anyway. In fact, however, the scandal did not end with this judgment; on the contrary, it was prolonged. The situation of the Wikileaks founder, and this is deliberately overlooked by many, has so far not changed for the better. For a good two years now, Assange has been in solitary confinement – also known as “white torture” – in Belmarsh, a maximum security prison in London, which is intended for murderers and terrorists who are dangerous to the public and whose detention conditions are so notorious that it is the “British Guantanamo” ” is called. The judgment of January 4th has bizarrely changed nothing at all.

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“Sharks’ Skylight,” by Renee Capozzola. Photo taken near shore of Mo’orea, French Polynesia.

 

 

Sea angel

 

 

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Apr 062021
 


Edward Hopper The Circle Theater, New York 1936

 

Global Vaccine Rollout Is No Longer A Guarantee Of Victory Over Covid-19 (G.)
Sunday US COVID Death Count Lowest In More Than A Year (JTN)
Nearly 40,000 Fans Attended Texas Rangers Home Opener (JTN)
‘Double Mutant’ COVID-19 Variant Found in the Bay Area (NBCLA)
Poll Finds Almost Half Of Americans Want Vaccine Passports (SN)
Federal Gov’t Will Not Mandate COVID Vaccination Passports – Fauci (Sp.)
Vaccination Does Not Prevent 3rd Wave: German Health Minister (RT)
Cures for COVID and Dangers of COVID “Vaccines” (HIN)
US Grant To Wuhan Lab Was Never Scrutinized By HHS Review Board (DC)
Publix, Democrat State Official Blast CBS ‘60 Minutes’ Smear Of DeSantis (DW)
Biden’s Most “Beautiful Thing” May Be Media Collusion (Turley)
Japan’s Central Bank Kicks Off Experiments On Issuing Digital Currency (R.)
CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business (NW)
Clarence Thomas: Facebook, Twitter Could Be Regulated Like Utilities (ET)
Putin Signs Law That Could Keep Him In Kremlin Until 2036 (R.)

 

 

 

 

Don’t want to get stuck in semantics, but if it is not now a guarantee, doesn’t that simply mean it never was?

Besides, calling for a global strategy of “maximum suppression” in April 2021 feels a bit like a time warp.

Instead, go figure out what you can do without “suppression”.

Global Vaccine Rollout Is No Longer A Guarantee Of Victory Over Covid-19 (G.)

If there are high transmission levels, and hence extensive replication of Sars-CoV-2, anywhere in the world, more variants of concern will inevitably arise and the more infectious variants will dominate. With international mobility, these variants will spread. South Africa’s experience suggests that past infection with Sars-CoV-2 offers only partial protection against the B.1.351 variant, and it is about 50% more transmissible than pre-existing variants. The B.1.351 variant has already been detected in at least 48 countries as of March 2021. The impact of the new variants on the effectiveness of vaccines is still not clear. Recent real-world evidence from the UK suggests both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisations from the B.1.1.7 variant.

On the other hand, the B.1.351 variant seems to reduce the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against mild to moderate illness. We do not yet have clear evidence on whether it also reduces effectiveness against severe disease. For these reasons, reducing community transmission is vital. No single action is sufficient to prevent the virus’s spread; we must maintain strong public health measures in tandem with vaccination programs in every country. Each time the virus replicates, there is an opportunity for a mutation to occur. And as we are already seeing around the world, some of the resulting variants risk eroding the effectiveness of vaccines. That’s why we have called for a global strategy of “maximum suppression”.

Public health leaders should focus on efforts that maximally suppress viral infection rates, thus helping to prevent the emergence of mutations that can become new variants of concern. Prompt vaccine rollouts alone will not be enough to achieve this; continued public health measures, such as face masks and physical distancing, will be vital too. Ventilation of indoor spaces is important – some of which is under people’s control, some of which will require adjustments to buildings.

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Just one point in time, but not entirely meaningless.

Sunday US COVID Death Count Lowest In More Than A Year (JTN)

The number of reported coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. on Sunday was 222, the lowest daily death toll in more than a year. According to the Johns Hopkins University data, this represents the lowest number of deaths since March 23, 2020 when the number was 192. “Many states either did not report over the weekend or did not have any deaths to report,” a Johns Hopkins spokesperson said, according to The Hill. “The California data portal was down yesterday and we are in the process of back-distributing the data,” the person noted. So far 18.8% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the illness, while 32.4% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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An experiment, just as the vaccines are a -much bigger- experiment.

Nearly 40,000 Fans Attended Texas Rangers Home Opener (JTN)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, thousands of fans flocked to attend the Texas Rangers baseball team’s home opener, though unfortunately for the home team fans, the Rangers did not emerge victorious. The team announced a sellout crowd of 38,283 at the Globe Life Field facility which has an even larger listed capacity of 40,518, according to the Associated Press which noted that the attendance figure does not factor in complimentary tickets. “It felt like a real game. It felt like back to the old days when we had full capacity,” team manager Chris Woodward said. “Was hoping we’d see how loud our stadium got if we gave them something to cheer about. Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Texas Rangers

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Prepare for thousands of variants.

‘Double Mutant’ COVID-19 Variant Found in the Bay Area (NBCLA)

A new variant of the coronavirus is in the Bay Area and it is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. It’s a double mutation and it is believed to be responsible for the surge in cases in India. Fresh from a vacation in Hawaii, some travelers mostly families with kids in tow arrived Saturday night in San Jose with the Big Island still on their mind. “We’ve been playing it really safe, but a couple factors really played into the decision. One watching the numbers go down and then Hawaii was really really safe,” said Kristina Barnes. But while Bay Area counties have reported a decline in new COVID-19 infections, a variant of the Coronavirus has been confirmed here in Santa Clara County.


Stanford Health experts have confirmed a new, double mutation of the coronavirus at least one case here in the Bay Area and more suspected. But it is still unclear if this new variant is more dangerous. “There is no definite evidence that this double variant is more virulent or causes more severe disease.,” said Dr. Dean Winslow with Stanford University. The three vaccines are also said to still be effective against the India variant. “Most people will mount an immune response. Maybe it will not protect against an all-out infection but at least it will protect against moderate or severe disease,” Winslow added. The India variant is believed to be more transmissible, leading health experts to reinforce how essential it is to get vaccinated.

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Thing is, those 44% want to push them on to others, not just themselves.

Poll Finds Almost Half Of Americans Want Vaccine Passports (SN)

A Rasmussen poll has revealed that almost half of Americans support the introduction of vaccine passports in order to get “back to normal.” The findings were released over the Easter period, and noted that 44% of Americans said that a government run system requiring proof of vaccination is a “good idea.” Fewer, 41%, said they think vaccine passports are a bad idea. While some described the 44% figure as “weak,” others pointed out it is still far too high.
The poll dovetails with similar findings in the UK, where a majority of 62% said they would support the mandating of vaccine passports to visit pubs or restaurants, while only 22% opposed the idea.

An even higher figure, 78% said they would mandate the vaccine passport for international travel, while 61% said it should be required to attend sports games and 58% said it should be mandated for public transport. The findings in the U.S. come as it was confirmed that the Biden regime is working with major corporations to develop a country-wide vaccine passport, and after New York has begun the rollout of its own vaccine passport system. In addition, the FBI is warning people against fake vaccine passports or COVID-19 vaccination cards. As National File reported, the Biden administration is working with major corporations to develop a vaccine passport system that would require Americans to take one of the controversial vaccines and receive a vaccine passport to engage in commerce.

The passport system is also being pushed by the mainstream media, with the likes of the L.A. Times declaring that vaccine passports are a “good idea” because they will help the Biden administration “break the resistance down.” Some lawmakers have vowed to resist the introduction of vaccine passports, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has signed an executive order banning them in the state, and revealed that he is working with the Florida legislature to institute a permanent ban. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has claimed that the Biden administration aims to force all Americans to have Covid-19 vaccine passports, comparing it to the “mark of the beast” prophesied in the Bible.

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The US strategy is to let corporations mandate them.

Federal Gov’t Will Not Mandate COVID Vaccination Passports – Fauci (Sp.)

The European Union and the United Kingdom are mulling the possibility of vaccination passports, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing that a passport system is currently being established, and UK PM Boris Johnson saying tests of “vaccine passports” could be conducted to ensure that large gatherings can again occur. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the US president and the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on Monday cast doubt on the possibility of the federal government mandating coronavirus vaccination passports in the United States. “I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said in a Politico Dispatch podcast.


“They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.” Fauci suggested that some independent entities could refuse to deal with anyone who is not vaccinated. “But it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government,” he said. The concept of so-called vaccine passports was introduced as a possible measure that could help to life back to normal following the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for international travel and large gatherings. In the EU, the idea was first vocally supported by Greece, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later announcing that Germany would implement a vaccine passport system, expressing hope it could then include the entire bloc.

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More calling for more restrictions. Nothing learned in an entire year.

Vaccination Does Not Prevent 3rd Wave: German Health Minister (RT)

The ongoing vaccination campaign in Germany will not be enough to stop the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned, urging the regions to return to lockdown measures if necessary. “Vaccination does not prevent the third wave, the third wave is growing,” the minister said as he visited one of the vaccination centers in Berlin on Monday, following the Easter holidays. Spahn also described the situation in Germany’s intensive care units as “worrying” and said that the number of people treated there increased to more than 4,000 over the Easter weekend. More than half of them are on invasive ventilation.

Spahn then called on Germany to “break this third wave together” by limiting contacts once again. The minister said that contacts should be primarily restricted “in the private sector, in schools, at work wherever possible.” He also pointed to the UK, Chile and the US as he said that even the nations with a higher vaccination ratio still resort to contact restrictions when necessary. Amid the vaccine shortages and delivery delays, Germany managed to administer the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to some 10 percent of its population in the first quarter of this year. Spahn expects this figure to double by the end of April. “We will now be able to do the next ten percent in a month,” he said.

Earlier, the German Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommended limiting the use of the British Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 60 years old due to the jab’s potential serious side effects in younger people, such as blood clots in the brain. Meanwhile, Spahn called on the German states to fight the third wave with lockdowns. Those regions that would see their average seven-day infection rate going over 100 should use the so-called “emergency brake” and re-introduce some restrictions, he said.

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Link from a commenter in yesterday’s thread, immediatedly invoking a “rebuttal” here.

Cures for COVID and Dangers of COVID “Vaccines” (HIN)

Dr. Ryan Cole is the CEO and Medical Director of Cole Diagnostics, one of the largest independent labs in the State of Idaho. Dr. Cole is a Mayo Clinic trained Board Certified Pathologist. He is Board Certified in anatomic and clinical pathology. He has expertise in immunology and virology and also has subspecialty expertise in skin pathology. He has seen over 350,000 patients in his career, and has done over 100,000 Covid tests in the past year. He recently was invited to speak at the “Capitol Clarity” event in Idaho, apparently sponsored by the Lt. Governor’s office, where he discussed successful outpatient treatments for COVID, and to offer his views on the new COVID “vaccines.”

Dr. Cole begins by showing statistics that prove Idaho is no longer in a “pandemic,” but an “endemic.” He states that the highest risk factors for contracting COVID are advanced age, obesity, and low Vitamin D levels. He also explains that coronaviruses have historically always followed a 6-9 month life cycle. He gives previous examples such as SARS-1, MERS, etc. One very interesting statistic that he pointed out is that in the U.S. the average annual age of death is 78.6 years old, and the average age of death during COVID has also been 78.6 years old. Dr. Cole is very adamant that proper levels of Vitamin D are essential to fight coronaviruses. He states: There is no such thing as “flu and cold season,” only low Vitamin D season.

Dr. Cole then goes on to explain that by law, the government cannot use experimental vaccines on the population if there are already effective treatments. So all of the current experimental COVID “vaccines,” which Dr. Cole himself admits do NOT meet the legal definition of a “vaccine” to begin with, are all illegal because there are therapies, such as Vitamin D, that are effective in treating COVID patients, as well as older already FDA-approved drugs like Ivermectin. He points out that the NIH (the National Institute of Health), which is a U.S. government agency involved with approving drugs, holds patents on the Moderna experimental COVID “vaccine,” which is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

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Get Fauci under oath. This is nuts.

US Grant To Wuhan Lab Was Never Scrutinized By HHS Review Board (DC)

An oversight board created to scrutinize research that would enhance highly dangerous pathogens did not review a National Institutes of Health grant that funded a lab in Wuhan, China, to genetically modify bat-based coronaviruses. Experts say the NIH grant describes scientists conducting gain-of-function research, a risky area of study that, in this case, made SARS-like viruses even more contagious. Federal funding for gain-of-function research was temporarily suspended in 2014 due to widespread scientific concerns it risked leaking supercharged viruses into the human population. Federal funding for gain-of-function research was resumed in late 2017 after the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework was formed within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The review board is tasked with critically evaluating whether grants that involve enhancing dangerous pathogens, such as coronaviruses, are worth the risks and that proper safeguards are in place. But the NIH subagency that awarded the grant to the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance to study Chinese bat coronaviruses opted against forwarding it to the P3CO committee, an NIH spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation, meaning the research received federal funding without an independent review by the HHS board. “This is a systemic problem,” Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard H. Ebright told the DCNF, referring to the loophole in the review framework.

Ebright said the offices of the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — the subagency that funded EcoHealth — and the NIH have “systematically thwarted–indeed systematically nullified–the HHS P3CO Framework by declining to flag and forward proposals for review.” Dr. Anthony Fauci leads the NIAID and Dr. Francis S. Collins heads the NIH.

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Cutting out pieces of video to make him look bad. Typical smear.

Publix, Democrat State Official Blast CBS ‘60 Minutes’ Smear Of DeSantis (DW)

Florida’s largest grocery store and a Florida state official, who is a Democrat, slammed CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening following a deceptive segment the network aired about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The segment featured reporter Sharyn Alfonsi ambushing DeSantis at a press conference last month and aggressively questioning him using a misleading narrative about the way that he has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. “60 Minutes” deceptively edited the interaction to remove nearly the entire portion of DeSantis’ response in which he thoroughly answered Alfonsi’s question and defused the central point of the segment. Alfonsi tried to suggest that Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had engaged in pay to play by donating money to DeSantis’ campaign in exchange for being awarded a contract to distribute vaccines in the state.

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” Publix said in a scathing statement slamming the “60 Minutes” segment. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.” Former Florida state Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, slammed “60 Minutes” over the segment, saying that DeSantis’ office did not push for selecting Publix. Moskowitz is the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management and has overseen the state’s response to the pandemic [..]

DeSantis

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“How can you remember details from your period of addiction going back 20 years, detailed in your book, but you cannot remember this laptop?”

Biden’s Most “Beautiful Thing” May Be Media Collusion (Turley)

News anchor Lester Holt recently declared that “it has become clearer that fairness is overrated,” adding that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.” Fortunately for Hunter Biden, that world is the one in which he lives and thrives. In interviews about his memoir “Beautiful Things,” some reporters either misstate the facts of his prior scandals or ignore certain leads, including potential evidence of a federal crime. Facts, like fairness, appear overrated to much of the media today. Hunter Biden spent the last few months evading questions, particularly during the 2020 election, when an abandoned laptop apparently belonging to him was found to have hundreds of embarrassing photos and emails showing drug abuse and raw influence-peddling.

He reportedly is under investigation for possible federal tax violations linked to his foreign dealings. Yet, one of the “beautiful things” in Hunter’s life is a media that imposed a pre-election blackout on the laptop story and continues to wrap him and his father in a protective press cocoon. That was evident in an interview by National Public Radio this week. The article by NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving stated categorically: “The laptop story was discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations.” That is entirely and demonstrably false. Widely criticized for that false statement, NPR issued a tepid “correction” for the article that now states: “Numerous news organizations cast doubt on the credibility of the laptop story.”

There was, of course, an easy way to confirm the facts, rather than citing other news organizations which also failed to pursue the story. Elving and NPR were interviewing Hunter — so why not simply ask him if the laptop was his? CBS News did ask that question and received a bizarre answer from Hunter that it might be his, or it might not be: “There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was the — that it was Russian intelligence.” Or, perhaps, it could be alien technology from the Andromeda Galaxy. Hunter is denying any knowledge of the laptop’s authenticity, roughly seven months after its existence was disclosed by the New York Post and even longer since it reportedly was seized by the FBI. During that time, the story presumably was researched by the Biden campaign and by Hunter’s own lawyers.

U.S. intelligence concluded it was not Russian disinformation, even though Joe Biden claimed it was. His campaign brought forward 50 former national security officials to endorse this unsupported claim. The other parties on many of these emails have confirmed the authenticity and the FBi seized the laptop as evidence (which Hunter and his lawyers have been addressing in months of discussions with prosecutors). Yet, Hunter claims that he is entirely unsure if the laptop is his or possibly the work of Russian intelligence. One might expect some effort to explore that issue with a followup question: “How can you remember details from your period of addiction going back 20 years, detailed in your book, but you cannot remember this laptop?” Or: “Even if you cannot remember your own laptop, you’ve seen the pictures and emails — are those authentic?” Instead, the media showed the flag and then left the field.

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Richard Werner: “Bank of Japan, one of the bank regulators in Japan, moves further towards stepping into the arena to compete with the banks it regulates, by preparing to offer direct current accounts to the public (named central bank digital currency to get you off track)”

Japan’s Central Bank Kicks Off Experiments On Issuing Digital Currency (R.)

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) began experiments on Monday to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the BOJ said in a statement. The BOJ will thereafter move to the second phase of experiments that will scrutinise more detailed functions, such as whether to set limits on the amount of CBDC each entity can hold.


If necessary, the central bank will launch a pilot programme that involves payment service providers and end users, BOJ Executive Director Shinichi Uchida said last month. “While there is no change in the BOJ’s stance it currently has no plan to issue CBDC, we believe initiating experiments at this stage is a necessary step,” Uchida told a committee of policymakers and bank lobbies looking into CBDC. Global central banks are looking at developing digital currencies to modernise their financial systems, ward off the threat from cryptocurrencies and speed up domestic and international payments.

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While their corporate lobbying groups in Washington fight the plans. Divide and rule?!

CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business (NW)

Big restaurant chains are telling investors that a national minimum wage hike wouldn’t be a big deal—even as their corporate lobbying groups in Washington fight plans for a $15 minimum wage. “We share your view that a national discussion on wage issues for working Americans is needed—but the Raise the Wage Act is the wrong bill at the wrong time for our nation’s restaurants,” the National Restaurant Association wrote in a letter to congressional leaders in February. “The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from a fast-tracked wage increase and elimination of the tip credit.”

The following day, a top executive at Denny’s, one of the association’s members, told investors that gradual increases in the minimum wage haven’t been a problem for the company at all. In fact, California’s law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has actually been good for the diner chain’s business, according to Denny’s chief financial officer, Robert Verostek. “As they’ve increased their minimum wage kind of in a tempered pace over that time frame, if you look at that time frame from us, California has outperformed the system,” Verostek said on an earnings call. “Over that time frame, they had six consecutive years of positive guest traffic—not just positive sales, but positive guest traffic—as the minimum wage was going up.”

Denny’s is one of several publicly-traded restaurant chains whose executives have told investors in recent months that Democrats’ proposed minimum wage hike is not a real threat to their business and may even be a net positive, according to a Daily Poster review of corporate earnings calls. All of the companies have historically belonged to the restaurant association, which has led the fight against the Raise the Wage Act, legislation from Democrats that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

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“A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail..” “..what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”

Clarence Thomas: Facebook, Twitter Could Be Regulated Like Utilities (ET)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to signal that Big Tech firms could be regulated after Facebook and Twitter suspended President Donald Trump earlier this year. Thomas, considered a conservative on the high court, made the point during a 12-page submission as the Supreme Court issued an order that rejected a lawsuit over Trump’s blocking of certain Twitter users from commenting on his posts before his account was taken down. The Supreme Court said the lawsuit ultimately should be dismissed as Trump isn’t in office anymore and was blocked from using Twitter, coming after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against Trump.

“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties,” Thomas wrote Monday. “We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.” Thomas also noted there are arguments suggesting digital platforms such as Twitter or Facebook “are sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner.” Thomas made reference to the respective owners of Facebook and Google by name—Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin.

“Although both companies are public, one person controls Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), and just two control Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin),” he wrote. Thomas agreed that Trump’s Twitter account did “resemble a constitutionally protected public forum” in certain aspects, he noted that “it seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it,” possibly referring to Twitter’s ban against Trump following the Jan. 6 incident. “Any control Mr. Trump exercised over the account greatly paled in comparison to Twitter’s authority, dictated in its terms of service, to remove the account ‘at any time for any or no reason,’” he added. “Twitter exercised its authority to do exactly that.”

[..] “A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail,” he wrote. “But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”

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Putin is afraid Russia will be overrun by the West as soon as he retires. That’s what occupies him, not hunger for power.

Putin Signs Law That Could Keep Him In Kremlin Until 2036 (R.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that could keep him in office in the Kremlin until 2036, the government said on Monday. The legislation allows him to run for two more six-year terms once his current stint ends in 2024. It follows changes to the constitution last year. Those changes were backed in a public vote last summer and could allow Putin, 68, to potentially remain in power until the age of 83. He is currently serving his second consecutive term as president and his fourth in total.


The reform, which critics cast as a constitutional coup, was packaged with an array of other amendments that were expected to garner popular support, such as one bolstering pension protections. The law signed by Putin limits any future president to two terms in office, but resets his term count. It prevents anyone who has held foreign citizenship from running for the Kremlin. The legislation was passed in the lower and upper houses of parliament last month.


Zbigniew Brzezinski 1997

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Apr 052021
 


Piet Mondriaan Composition in color A 1917

 

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)
The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)
Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)
Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)
Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)
High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)
Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)
US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)
Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)
Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)
Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Barkley

 

 

Excellent.

Charles Hoskinson is the founder of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum, two cryptocurrencies.

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)

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“To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ ”

The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)

Johnson, Macron and Merkel have warned that the world needs a settlement to protect itself in the wake of Coronavirus. The question, as ever, must be: ‘who benefits?’ The answer, as ever, is ‘it’s unlikely to be you.’ “Out with nationalism and isolationism and in with international ‘Health and Security’!” That’s the cry from 24 world leaders, led by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The call for a new global ‘pandemic preparedness’ treaty came in a letter to the Daily Telegraph and in papers across the world. The letter uses words and phrases such as ‘solidarity,’ ‘global community,’ ’international cooperation’ and ‘protect’ repeatedly, to make us all feel that what is being proposed is for the good of us all. But is it?

If we read between the lines, we can see quite clearly that, while the plan is supposed to be about post-Covid pandemics, it is really about making sure that the draconian measures introduced since 2020 are maintained as long as possible. The ‘nobody is safe until everyone is safe’ mantra which appears at the end of the second paragraph in the letter, is saying to us – as Merkel and other globalists have strongly hinted – that restrictions cannot and will not be lifted until everyone in the world has been vaccinated. If you have any doubts, just take a look at the very next sentence, which states: ‘We are therefore committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics.’ Translation: ‘Africa, you’re going to take the vaccines we offer you whether you like it or not.’

To justify a ‘pandemic treaty,’ and other long-planned changes being implemented in its wake, they have to accord Covid a very special status. The first sentence of the letter boldly states: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s.’ But is that really true? Hong Kong flu claimed the lives of between one and four million people between 1968 and 1970. But it got a lot less coverage than Covid. There was no talk of a permanent ‘New Normal’ being established in 1970, or the need for a post-WW2-like settlement. Neither was there when HIV/AIDS hit in the 1980s. The UN says between 24.8m and 42.2 million people had died of AIDS-related illnesses by the end of 2019.

To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ A reminder: some 75 million people died in the Second World War – including around 27 million citizens of the former Soviet Union. 60 million Europeans became refugees. By contrast, the current number of deaths ‘with’ Covid is 2.8 million. Yes, that’s serious –and all deaths are very sad– but the numbers alone can’t explain why it’s Covid –and not other diseases which killed many more and came before it– which necessitates a ‘Great Reset’.

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6 states have now passed similar laws: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky.

Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)

AN ACT relating to exceptions to mandatory immunization requirements and declaring an emergency.


Amend KRS 214.036 to provide exemptions from mandatory immunization for any child, emancipated minor, or adult who, personally or by a parent or guardian, submits a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs; prohibit any administrative regulation, administrative order, or executive order from requiring during an epidemic the immunization of persons who submit either a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs or the written opinion of the person’s physician that such immunization would be injurious to the person’s health; require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop and make available on its Web site a standardized form relating to the exemptions from mandatory immunization and to accept the form after it is submitted; amend KRS 209.552 and 214.034 to conform; EMERGENCY.

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And so it begins.

Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)

The government is to trial a series of measures in England, including Covid passports, to allow the safe return of sports matches, events and nightclubs. Passes would show if a person had been vaccinated, had a recent negative test, or natural immunity. Trial events in the coming months will also explore how ventilation and testing before and after could help crowds return. Any use of passes would be “time-limited”, the sports minister has said. The pilots, which will include the FA Cup final, will last until mid-May, and some of the listed events will not be trialling vaccination certification, including those taking place in Liverpool.


Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston described the trials as a “learning experience”, saying no decisions had yet been made on processes or vaccination certificates. He said the earlier pilots “almost certainly won’t involve any element of certification”, and that the government would also be looking at mitigations such as one-way systems and hygiene measures. Mr Huddleston said the PM would receive a report on the trials at the end of May, and suggested further events could be added later in the year.

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Give people back the responsibility taken away from them.

Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)

Boris Johnson is to unveil a plan for routine, universal Covid-19 tests as a means to ease England out of lockdown, as the government faced a renewed backlash over the idea of app-based “passports” to permit people entry into crowded places and events. Six months after Johnson unveiled plans for “Operation Moonshot”, a £100bn mass testing scheme that never delivered on its stated aim of preventing another lockdown, all people in England will be offered two Covid tests a week from Friday. The prime minister is to announce the rollout of the lateral flow tests at a press conference on Monday afternoon, at which he will also outline a programme of trial events for mass gatherings, as well as proposals for potentially restarting foreign travel.

The testing scheme, involving kits for use at home or at test centres, workplaces and schools, is billed as a means to limit any continued community transmission of the virus, in parallel with the vaccination programme, and as a way to track outbreaks of potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants. The test-and-trace phone app will also be updated so that when pubs and other hospitality venues reopen everyone in a group will have to register, not just the lead person, with those who test positive asked to share other places they have visited. Some scientists have expressed scepticism at the plan, noting both the possibility of false negatives with lateral flow tests, and the need for better support for people to self-isolate if they do test positive.

Civil liberties groups and many MPs will also be wary if the new testing system potentially feeds into a regime of Covid certificates, which would use recent tests, vaccination or the presence of antibodies to the virus to determine entry to pubs or mass events. Sometimes also called “Covid passports”, these would be purely for domestic use, and would be distinct from a vaccination record to allow foreign travel.

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There’s a research deficiency about vitamin D deficiency. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials”?

High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)

A new research study at the University of Chicago Medicine has found that when it comes to COVID-19, having vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient may lower the risk of infection, especially for Black people. The study, published in JAMA Open Network on March 19, retrospectively examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19. While levels of 30 ng/ml or more are usually considered sufficient, the authors found that Black individuals who had levels of 30 to 40 ng/ml had a 2.64 times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than people with levels of 40 ng/ml or greater. Statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk were not found in white people.

The study looked at data from more than 3,000 patients at UChicago Medicine who had had their vitamin D levels tested within 14 days before a COVID-19 test. The research team is now recruiting participants for two separate clinical trials testing the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing COVID-19. This research is an expansion of an earlier study showing that a vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19. In the current study, those results were further supported, finding that individuals with a vitamin D deficiency had a 7.2% chance of testing positive for the virus. A separate study recently found that more than 80% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals,” said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in persons of color.” Meltzer was inspired to investigate this topic after seeing an article in early 2020 that found people with vitamin D deficiency who were randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation had much lower rates of viral respiratory infections compared to those who did not receive supplementation. He decided to examine data being collected at UChicago Medicine on COVID-19 to determine the role that vitamin D levels might be playing.

“There’s a lot of literature on vitamin D. Most of it has been focused on bone health, which is where the current standards for sufficient vitamin D levels come from,” Meltzer explained. “But there’s also some evidence that vitamin D might improve immune function and decrease inflammation. So far, the data has been relatively inconclusive. Based on these results, we think that earlier studies may have given doses that were too low to have much of an effect on the immune system, even if they were sufficient for bone health. It may be that different levels of vitamin D are adequate for different functions.”

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“..not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China..”

Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)

Republicans opened the door Sunday to supporting a pared down version of Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, saying concentrating on physical improvements would deliver an “easy bipartisan win” for the US president. Biden’s American Jobs Plan — the second massive spending initiative of his 10-week old administration, after a $1.9 trillion short-term Covid rescue bill — would modernize America’s public works and make its energy system greener. But the proposal announced last week faces major hurdles in Congress amid criticism from Republicans and business lobbies who oppose the higher corporate taxes that would pay the bill.

Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, implored Democrats to focus on the traditional pillars of infrastructure — “roads, bridges, ports and airports” — and not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China. Blunt spoke out as senior administration figures hit the Sunday talk show circuit to sell the policy to the American people as a vital component of sustained job growth. “I’ve reached out to the White House a couple of times now and said, you’ve got an easy bipartisan win here if you’ll keep this package nearly focused on infrastructure,” Blunt told ABC’s “This Week.”

That would not prevent the administration from later pushing through the other aspects of its plan on a partisan basis, he said. Blunt complained that the package contained more for electric vehicle charging stations than for physical improvements. “When people think about infrastructure, they’re thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports,” he told ABC. Blunt, a senior member of Senate leadership team, struck a more conciliatory tone than the chamber’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had earlier vowed to fight the Biden plan “every step of the way.”

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It’s become fully abstract.

US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)

It finally happened, that glorious moment, when, after teetering on the verge for weeks – for reasons we’ll get into shortly – the incredibly spiking US gross national debt, after kissing the line a couple of times for a moment, finally, and suddenly by a big leap, jumped over the $28-trillion mark, with a $143-billion leap in one day on Wednesday, March 31, following some big Treasury sales. It gave some of that up on Thursday as some bonds matured. And it now amounts to $28.08 trillion, as per US Treasury Department on Friday. The US gross national debt has now spiked by $4.7 trillion in 13 months since the end of February 2020, in the days before this show started.

The flat spots in the chart are the visual depictions of a charade unique to American politics, the periods when the debt bounced into the Debt Ceiling. Those were the days when everyone in Congress was still trying to hijack the Debt Ceiling law to get their favorite spending priorities! If it looks like the trillions have been whizzing by a little less fast in recent months, that the growth of the debt has somehow slowed, that is correct. The chart below magnifies the daily debt levels since December. On March 3, the debt level touched $28 trillion but only barely and just for one day, before backing off, and then kissed it again on March 17, only to back off again and remain tantalizingly close, but no cigar, until Wednesday, when it did the deed with one huge $148-billion leap:

The reason for this slowdown in borrowing is that the government sold a gigantic amount of debt last spring, adding $3 trillion to its debt in a few months, and then didn’t spend all of it, but kept the unspent amounts in its checking account – the General Treasury Account or GTA — which ballooned to $1.8 trillion by July, from the pre-crisis range between $100 billion and $400 billion. During the final months of the Mnuchin Treasury, it was decided to start spending down the balance in the checking account by borrowing a little less, and by early January, the GTA had dropped to $1.6 trillion.

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Erdogan wants to dig a new canal and bypass the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)

Turkey continues to threaten to depart from the 1936 Montreux Convention that governs free shipping through the Bosporus strait. The accident in the Suez Canal served as the excuse for the speaker of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Sentop, to imply as much last week, even if he had to go back on his statement due to the tense situation between Ankara and Washington. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also proclaims this departure when he wants to utilize it geopolitically and when talking about his announced pharaonic intention of constructing a second canal in the Bosporus – one unregulated by international conventions. Could Turkey close the strait and block the passage of both merchant and military ships between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, depending on what serves its interests?

According to the Montreux Convention, merchant ships enjoy freedom of passage and navigation in the strait, irrespective of their flag and cargo. The convention allows Turkey to militarize the strait and permits the Black Sea countries freedom of passage for military ships provided they give a week’s notice, and substantially restricts the passage of military vessels that are not from the Black Sea states (notification of crossing, tonnage restrictions, armament restrictions, aircraft carriers cannot pass, and others). All of this in a time of peace, which, however, is threatened by Erdogan’s controversial views on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the atmosphere in the Black Sea, reminiscent of the Cold War, where Ukraine is the epicenter of looming dark clouds and, according to analysts, will likely remain a source of global tension.

The Suez “heart attack” brought up questions on safe passage into and out of the Mediterranean, as much for the merchant fleets as the navies that move between the Red Sea, Gibraltar and the Bosporus, with the latter crossing attracting the attention of military and commercial organizations around the globe, given the volatile geopolitical situation in the wider region. Turkey, if it deems necessary, does not need to bar the gate to stop traffic in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. All it has to do is conjure up an accident by scuppering two ships in the straits, without being accused of violating the Montreux Convention. That is why the West is feverishly readying the “continental straits” between Alexandroupoli and Burgas as an alternative, while NATO equips the fleets of Romania and Bulgaria.

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And he really wants to. These guys sent an open letter warning about the Montreux Convention and he just has them arrested.

Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)

Turkey detained 10 retired admirals on Monday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a new coup following a letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals warning about a possible threat to a treaty governing the use of Turkey’s key waterways. The Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said arrest warrants have been issued for the 10. Prosecutors also ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age. The development comes a day after the letter was sharply condemned by the government, which said the move is “reminiscent of coup times” in Turkey’s past. Turkey’s approval last month of plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul comparable to the Panama or Suez canals has opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.


The admirals said in their letter that apart from its environmental impact, the new canal venture could undermine the Montreux accord. The convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits of civilian vessels in times of both peace and war. It also regulates the use of the strait by military vessels from non-Black Sea states. The new canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that are covered by the treaty. The declaration has drawn strong reactions from the government and officials. Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said the statement is “reminiscent of coup periods” and made the former soldiers “a laughingstock.” “Know your place and stay where you are,” he added.

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Probe started in 2018 and he just found out yesterday?

Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has expressed complete confidence that he will be cleared at the conclusion of the Justice Department’s probe into his finances. During a CBS Sunday Morning interview, Hunter Biden said that he is fully cooperating with the investigation. He said that he is “100% certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.” “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” he said in a statement back in December. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.” Fox News reported that “according to a source familiar with the matter,” the probe started in 2018.

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What America does best is produce the ability to accept failure.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

 

 

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Apr 032021
 


Joan Miro Dancer 1925

 

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

 

 

 

 

Spring forward.

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

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

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

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

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Sounds like a thousand other such warnings.

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

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


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

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

AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Again in Netherlands After Death (NTD)

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


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

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GOP candidate 2024.

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

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

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

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

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Of course.

Opposition Grows Against UK Vaccine Passports (R.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No protection.

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

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


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

Read more …

More good news.

Trump Rule Would Allow Ulimited Vaccine Price Hikes (Fang)

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

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

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

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

Paradigm Failure (Kunstler)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blinken.

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

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

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

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

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

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The line in the sand.

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 272021
 


Wynn Bullock Child on a Forest Road 1958

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Emergency State (Whitehead)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where Am I Here?” (Kunstler)

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

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

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

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Does this have legs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nah, the entire honor goes to Slo’ Joe.

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

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

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

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

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We’re back to 1340.

The Top 10 Percent Through The Ages (AEA)

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

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


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

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The video is good. Sound on.

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

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


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

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

Suez Canal Traffic Update – Audio on

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

The Death of Humor (Matt Taibbi)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Mar 262021
 


Vincent van Gogh Scène de rue à Montmartre 1887

 

Biden’s Press Conference: Get Ready For President Kamala Harris (Malic)
Better Not Vaccinate Everyone: The Virus Will Not Disappear Anyway (G.nl)
Herd Immunity Is Near, Despite Fauci’s Denial (WSJ)
US Lockdowns Didn’t Stop Covid – But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Pointless (F>)
CNN’s Defense of Cuomo’s Special COVID Privileges is Grotesque (Greenwald)
Secret Service Inserted Itself Into Case Of Hunter Biden’s Gun (Pol.)
Tesla & Bitcoin Are Perfect Bedfellows (Mitch Feierstein)
US Imports Record Volumes Of Russian Oil Amid Growing Political Tensions (RT)
The Impending Saudi Defeat in Yemen (MPN)
‘It Might Take Weeks’ To Free ‘Beached Whale’ Ship Stuck In Suez Canal (RT)
Free Us From The Roving Cavaliers of Credit (Steve Keen)

 

 

Boris Johnson, 2004

“If I am ever asked to produce my ID card as evidence that I am who I say I am, when I have done nothing wrong then I will take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded that I produce it”

 

 

Dana Carvey does Joe Biden

 

 

Actual Washington Post headline: “Biden Excels At His First News Conference. The Media Embarrass Themselves.”

Biden’s Press Conference: Get Ready For President Kamala Harris (Malic)

Well, now we know why Democrat strategists were more than happy to let Joe Biden sit in his basement during the campaign, and kept him away from the press for the first 64 days in office – and it’s definitely not the coronavirus. Biden was almost 15 minutes late to his own very first “formal press conference” since taking office. He dodged questions, spouted platitudes and talking points, went off on tangents at times while getting angry and uttering what may have sounded like threats at others. No doubt some of that could be down to his advanced age, but let’s assume for lack of another explanation that the words were indeed his and that he truly meant what he said. And, oh brother, is the US in trouble.

In Thursday’s presser, Biden actually repeated – twice – the previous day’s talking points, down to the description of someone “sitting at their kitchen table” in Central America, about why tens of thousands of migrants are coming to the US. He knows why, better than they do. Never mind that the tide began the day he was announced winner of the 2020 election, or the migrants who literally told reporters they decided to come because Biden got elected, or wear T-shirts with his campaign logo and the words “please let us in.” Nope, you’re supposed to ignore your lying eyes and believe Uncle Joe, because his great-grandfather had no choice but to leave Ireland in a “coffin ship.” What are you, a lying dog-faced pony soldier? Come on, man!

This sort of emotionally manipulative imagery is nothing new for Biden; he did it in the pandemic speech earlier this month, as well as his inaugural and his convention address. The press keeps falling for it, though, every single time. No wonder Dana Carvey was catching flak this week; his impersonation of Biden – not just his voice, but his mannerism and verbal tics – was spot on.

Tucker

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Google translate

These people must have read VadenBossche. We need much more discussion like this.

Also in Holland: GPs will now be fined for prescribing HCQ or ivermectin. As infection numbers are soaring back up to where they were early January.

Better Not Vaccinate Everyone: The Virus Will Not Disappear Anyway (G.nl)

Vaccinating children and young, healthy people against corona does not help. Group immunity is unfeasible, the corona virus will no longer disappear and will continue to appear in new variants. This is the opinion of Jona Walk, who recently obtained his PhD in vaccine immunology, and medical microbiologist Bert Mulder today in the magazine Medisch Contact. Both doctors of the Nijmegen Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital therefore question the policy of the cabinet and health institute to vaccinate the entire population in order to return to “normal”. They are supported by a recent article “Five reasons why COVID herd immunity is probably impossible” in the leading scientific medical journal Nature.

Vaccinations can prevent people from becoming seriously ill and ending up in hospital, but it is an illusion to think that they also stop the virus from spreading. “Research done in Oxford shows that people can also be virus carriers after they have been vaccinated,” says Walk. More research needs to be done on this, but it is already clear that current vaccines do not work against all new variants of the virus. South Africa, for example, has already stopped using AstraZeneca because that vaccine does not work against the variant that is dominant there. “The effectiveness against that specific variant appears to be really zero,” says Mulder. The constant emergence of new variants therefore means that the vaccinations will be less effective in the future than appears at the moment.

“In fact, if a vaccine against a particular variant doesn’t work, only that version of the virus will continue to spread among people, and that refractory variant may eventually become dominant in the vaccinated population,” says Walk.“This happens especially if you vaccinate while a lot of virus is circulating, you create an ideal environment for new mutations,” Mulder adds. Walk: “The unnecessary vaccination is also against our medical principles. If you cannot become seriously ill from the virus and do not protect anyone with it when you get vaccinated, why would you run the risk of side effects that we are certainly not aware of in the long term? “” She points to the fact that for the time being there are only data on safety during the first two months after vaccination. Longer studies are needed to get a full picture of the benefits and risks.

“Another problem is that we do not yet know whether once someone has been vaccinated, they will later make good antibodies against other corona variants.” “A new vaccination against a new variant may therefore be less effective. “There is still a lot of research to be done in this area,” the researchers emphasize. But they are now coming up with their analysis because the vaccination policy is still aimed at vaccinating as many people as possible against corona by July. Mulder: ,, But we cannot eradicate corona. So you should rethink that policy: vaccinating only if someone benefits from it on an individual level, you should first focus on the elderly and at-risk groups and then look at who wants to be vaccinated further. “”

Ron Paul Testing

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Natural immunity.

Herd Immunity Is Near, Despite Fauci’s Denial (WSJ)

Anthony Fauci has been saying that the country needs to vaccinate 70% to 85% of the population to reach herd immunity from Covid-19. But he inexplicably ignores natural immunity. If you account for previous infections, herd immunity is likely close at hand. Data from the California Department of Public Health, released earlier this month, show that while only 8.7% of the state’s population has ever tested positive for Covid-19, at least 38.5% of the population has antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Those numbers are from Jan. 30 to Feb. 20. Adjusting for cases between now and then, and accounting for the amount of time it takes for the body to make antibodies, we can estimate that as many as half of Californians have natural immunity today.


The same report found that 45% of people in Los Angeles had Covid-19 antibodies. Again, the number can only be higher today. Between “half and two-thirds of our population has antibodies in it now,” due to Covid exposure or vaccination, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” That would explain why cases in Los Angeles are down 95% in the past 11 weeks and the positivity rate among those tested is now 1.7%. Undercounting or removing the many Americans with natural immunity from any tally of herd immunity is a scientific error of omission. When people wonder why President Biden talks about limiting Fourth of July gatherings, it’s because his most prominent medical adviser has dismissed the contribution of natural immunity, artificially extending the timeline.

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“The University of Chicago researchers said their study reached a different conclusion because of differing methodology.”

But what a warped logic. Destroying economies was useless, but not pointless.

US Lockdowns Didn’t Stop Covid – But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Pointless (F.)

U.S. states with shelter-in-place orders and other strict Covid-19 rules did not report fewer infections and deaths last year, a study released Thursday argues, disputing other recent research about the pandemic—but this doesn’t mean social distancing efforts were ineffective. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy found states that imposed shelter-in-place orders, mandatory business closures and other tight restrictions didn’t see a significant difference in the number of coronavirus infections or deaths during the virus’ first U.S. surge last spring. Shelter-in-place orders also appeared to have very little impact on people’s mobility, which researchers measured using cell phone data.

However, researchers did not cast this as proof that social distancing is unnecessary: Instead, it could mean scores of Americans changed their habits regardless of whether their state imposed restrictions, often because health officials encouraged them to. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of social distancing measures was likely reduced because some people—partly due to politics—refused to comply with these efforts even if they came with a government mandate, the researchers noted in their paper, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team said their results “should not be taken to imply that the actions of government officials had little effect on the pandemic.”

“To be clear, our findings do not mean that sheltering in place and social distancing behaviors had no effect on the disease,” the study’s authors wrote. “Indeed, the health benefits of [shelter-in-place] orders were likely limited because many people were already social distancing before the introduction of SIP orders.” This study contradicts two papers from last year—published in Nature and by the National Bureau of Economic Research—that found shelter-in-place orders significantly reduced Covid-19 infections in the United States and other countries, especially if they were imposed early. The University of Chicago researchers said their study reached a different conclusion because of differing methodology.

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While there were no tests available.

CNN’s Defense of Cuomo’s Special COVID Privileges is Grotesque (Greenwald)

Ever since the COVID pandemic subsumed most countries on the planet, there have been numerous scandals and controversies relating to those who corruptly obtain medical privileges and other exemptions unavailable to ordinary citizens. These scandals typically arise when someone uses their wealth, power or connections to jump in front of others for access to potentially life-saving procedures or medications or grant themselves and their friends license to ignore what everyone else must endure. Right now in Brazil, for instance, there is a burgeoning scandal from reports that a group of businesspeople with ties to the government arranged to purchase their own private stash of vaccines for use for themselves, families and friends in violation of the law.

In the U.S., people were outraged when very young members of Congress were among the first to receive the vaccine (though the law permitted them to do so); those young Congressmembers justified their line-jumping on the ground that they were doing so selflessly to encourage others. Meanwhile, other members of Congress refused this privilege on the ground, as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) put it, that it is “shameful” for young lawmakers to believe they “are more important” than workers. Repeatedly in the U.S., politicians were caught exempting themselves from lockdown orders they were imposing on everyone else. But those pale in comparison to the abuse of power by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, as reported on Wednesday by The Albany-Times Union and The Washington Post.

“High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration,” reported the Times-Union. “Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times,” it added. In particular, Gov. Cuomo abused state resources to ensure that his then-49-year-old brother, Chris, received fast COVID testing at a time when tests were very scarce. “The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, who visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family,” The Post reported. The article also contains these damning details:

“The same doctor who tested Chris Cuomo, Eleanor Adams, now a top adviser to the state health commissioner, also was enlisted to test multiple other Cuomo family members….The coronavirus test specimens were then rushed — at times driven by state police troopers — to the Wadsworth Center, a state public health lab in Albany, where they were processed immediately, the people said. At times, employees in the state health laboratory were kept past their shifts until late into the night to process results of those close to Cuomo, two people said.” All of this commandeering of state resources to provide the CNN host with very specialized medical attention occurred while “media reports were full of accounts from New Yorkers desperate to get tested — including some with symptoms and recent travel history who were turned away because of scarcity.”

Cuomo brothers

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Still no sign of Hunter.

Secret Service Inserted Itself Into Case Of Hunter Biden’s Gun (Pol.)

On Oct. 23, 2018, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and daughter in law Hallie were involved in a bizarre incident in which Hallie took Hunter’s gun and threw it in a trash can behind a grocery store, only to return later to find it gone. Delaware police began investigating, concerned that the trash can was across from a high school and that the missing gun could be used in a crime, according to law enforcement officials and a copy of the police report obtained by POLITICO. But a curious thing happened at the time: Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people, one of whom has firsthand knowledge of the episode and the other was briefed by a Secret Service agent after the fact.

The gun store owner refused to supply the paperwork, suspecting that the Secret Service officers wanted to hide Hunter’s ownership of the missing gun in case it were to be involved in a crime, the two people said. The owner, Ron Palmieri, later turned over the papers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws. The Secret Service says it has no record of its agents investigating the incident, and Joe Biden, who was not under protection at the time, said through a spokesperson he has no knowledge of any Secret Service involvement. Days later, the gun was returned by an older man who regularly rummages through the grocery’s store’s trash to collect recyclable items, according to people familiar with the situation.

[..] At the time of the gun incident, Hunter was in a romantic relationship with Hallie, the widow of his late brother, Beau. The incident began when Hallie searched Hunter’s pickup, which was parked at her home in Wilmington, because of unspecified “suspicions she had,” according to the Delaware State Police report. Inside the truck, she found a .38 revolver. Hallie took the gun to Janssen’s Market, a nearby high-end grocery store where the Bidens are longtime regular customers. There, she tossed the gun, wrapped in a black shopping bag, into a trash bin outside of the store. Later that day, Hallie informed Hunter of what she had done, and he instructed her to retrieve the gun, according to the police report. When Hallie returned to the grocery store, she found that the gun was missing from the garbage bin and reported the issue to the store.

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“Tesla’s valuation will one day be a Harvard Business School study on the irrationality of market manias.”

Tesla & Bitcoin Are Perfect Bedfellows (Mitch Feierstein)

In 2021, Tesla has made over one billion dollars by speculating in bitcoin. That bet made bigger profits for Musk’s Tesla than the firm made selling its electric vehicles in a similar time frame (though, given its poor sales record, that’s perhaps not surprising). Now the multi-billionaire has created new headlines by announcing that the cryptocurrency will soon be accepted as payment for his cars, a move that saw the price of bitcoin enjoy a short-lived jump of almost 5%. There are some who say that Tesla and Bitcoin make perfect bedfellows. Both are decidedly risky ventures where you’re just about guaranteed to lose your whole wardrobe, let alone a shirt or two. Bitcoin has exhibited extreme volatility and has seen a stratospheric rise in its price during the past few months, hitting new highs approaching $60,000 and prompting some to claim it will go up by a further 500%.

Its surge illustrates how reckless central banks worldwide have destroyed fiat (paper) currencies that are backed by nothing other than a promise to repay debt by insolvent governments with a printing press. It signals a mania that will eventually see an end to US dollar hegemony. Bitcoin is binary – it can go to a million or zero – so no one speculating on it should risk what they cannot afford to lose. And as I’ve warned many times before: NEVER listen to the Musk-rat hype. It’s not the first time Musk has used Tesla’s balance sheet to speculate. In 2016, Tesla spent $2.6 billion bailing out one of his other companies, SolarCity, which was, according to Ernst & Young, completely insolvent.

Additionally, as chairman, CEO, CTO and majority shareholder of SpaceX, Musk used his position to leverage that company’s balance sheet by buying around $300 million of SolarCity bonds in 2015-16. In 2017, Tesla shareholders filed a lawsuit against the company’s directors and Musk. The basis of the lawsuit, according to Reuters, was: “Tesla shareholders have alleged Musk breached his fiduciary duties, squandered Tesla’s assets and unjustly enriched himself by pushing to buy the money-losing solar company in which he was the biggest investor.”

[..] Musk’s track record on autonomous driving, vehicle production numbers and Tesla profits has been abysmal. For example, Musk has said “Full Self Driving” hardware would be capable of a “coast-to-coast” autonomous trip by the end of 2017. In February of 2019, Musk promised, “Full self-driving would be available in 2020.” Tesla’s valuation builds in earnings from a non-existent robot taxi model. The point: Musk makes new bold claims nearly every quarter yet consistently fails to deliver. In fact, if it were not for the money Tesla has enjoyed from government subsidies and the selling of carbon-emission credits, the business would be profitless. Tesla’s valuation will one day be a Harvard Business School study on the irrationality of market manias.

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Ha ha ha.

US Imports Record Volumes Of Russian Oil Amid Growing Political Tensions (RT)

Tough talk on energy issues doesn’t stop the US from purchasing a record share of Russian crude in 2020. American refineries reportedly loaded 538,000 barrels of Russian crude and oil products daily, breaking a decade-old record. According to the data tracked by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US has bought the most Russian crude since 2011, when the import volumes or Russian oil totaled 624,000 barrels per day (bpd). In 2020, Russia became the third-largest oil supplier to the US, outpacing Saudi Arabia, world’s biggest exporter, according to Bloomberg calculations based on customs and EIA data. Russia’s share of American oil exports currently stands at a record-high seven percent.


Meanwhile, Canada and Mexico were the leading exporters of crude to the US last year. Canada shipped 4.1 million bpd, while Mexico sold about 750,000 bpd. The average imports of oil from Saudi Arabia reportedly totaled just 522,000 bpd in 2020. The growth of oil exports from Russia was reportedly caused by the lack of access to Venezuelan crude, targeted by US sanctions. Moreover, shipments of crude from OPEC nations were significantly reduced amid the cartel’s pact on cutting output. US energy majors, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Valero Energy were among the key buyers of oil and petroleum products from Russian producers.

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Boeing and Raytheon will find another country to destroy.

The Impending Saudi Defeat in Yemen (MPN)

Major advances by Houthi forces on the strategically vital oil and gas hub of Marib last week have forced Saudi Arabia to offer a ceasefire agreement to the rebels. The offer came on Monday, after the rebel army seized Mount Hilan, threatening the Yemeni military’s first line of defense and causing a disruption in global energy prices. The ceasefire proposal includes collecting “taxes, customs and other fees generated” by oil imports in the Red Sea port of Hodeida in a joint account that would be accessible to the Houthis. Further evidence that the Saudi-led coalition finds itself with their backs against the wall is the partial loosening of the oil blockade, as four fuel ships were given the go-ahead to dock at Hodeida on Wednesday.

The bid for a truce came two days after Saudi Coalition-manned American warplanes carried out airstrikes against Houthi targets in Marib, with Saudi media claiming heavy losses on the side of the rebel forces. But the partial lifting of the blockade by the Saudi Coalition and the UN-backed Yemeni government indicates that it is the Houthis who are making headway. The fall of Marib would mean Houthi control of one of the key production centers of natural gas in Yemen — one that supplies the entire country — as well as oil fields owned by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco. Given that the Houthis already control most of Yemen’s urban centers, taking Marib would likely tilt the momentum irreversibly in the Houthis’ favor.

In light of the Houthis’ bolstered position in the conflict, Biden’s decision to remove them from the list of global terrorist organizations, while overtly maintaining continued U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s “security” needs could very well be a signal that Washington has tacitly admitted that their proxy war in Yemen is not yielding the desired results. Meanwhile, in a joint statement, last week as preparations for Friday’s major attack on Marib were in the offing, Western governments attempted to make a show of strength in the press in lieu of actual results on the battlefield. “We, the governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America,” said the statement, “condemn the sustained Houthi offensive on the Yemeni city of Marib and the major escalation of attacks the Houthis have conducted and claimed against Saudi Arabia.”

UNHCR Yemen

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March 25 11 AM EST: QUEUE OF SHIPS WAITING AT SUEZ CANAL NOW STANDS AT 237

‘It Might Take Weeks’ To Free ‘Beached Whale’ Ship Stuck In Suez Canal (RT)

The firm working to dislodge the container ship that’s blocking traffic in the Suez Canal has warned that “it might take weeks” to free the tanker, comparing it to trying to remove “an enormous beached whale.” The vessel, ‘Ever Given’, operated by Taiwan-based firm Evergreen, became lodged diagonally in the canal on Tuesday morning after losing control and running aground amid high winds, bringing traffic through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels to a halt. The CEO of Boskalis, a dredging firm that is working to try and free the ship, warned on Thursday that it “can’t exclude [that] it might take weeks,” as they may have to reduce the weight of the vessel, removing containers, oil and water, as well as using tug boats and clearing sand and mud from around it.


“It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand.” The 220,000-ton vessel was partially refloated on Wednesday, as tug boats worked to reopen the canal, which can see as many as 50 ships pass through it a day. However, the ship remains wedged on the sand, with its GPS tracking data showing that it has only experienced minor changes in its position in the past 24 hours. The incident has created a significant shipping backlog and some firms have warned that if the canal is not fully reopened in the next 24-48 hours, they will have to find a new route for their vessels, adding a week to their journey time and delaying the arrival of goods that rely on the Suez Canal.

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In honour of David Graeber

Free Us From The Roving Cavaliers of Credit (Steve Keen)

As Graeber pointed out in Debt: The First 5000 Years, the assumption that money originated in barter is an enduring myth in economics: “First comes barter, then money; credit only develops later” (Graeber 2011, Chapter 2). This myth permeates the discipline, from Adam Smith’s assertion in 1776 that “the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another” (Smith 1776, Chapter 2) was an innate characteristic of humans, to modern economics textbooks, like Gregory Mankiw’s Macroeconomics, that argue that an economy without money would be “a barter economy” (Mankiw 2016, p. 82). Armed with this myth, economists have constructed a fantasy model of capitalism in which money plays no significant role: it is a mere trifle that sensible economists look through, to see the real face of barter lying behind the veil of money.

Consequently, mainstream economists ignore banks, debt and money, while credit plays no role in their mathematical models of the macroeconomy. This is why they not only didn’t see the 2007 Global Financial Crisis coming, but in fact expected 2008 to be a cracker of a year. The OECD’s Economic Outlook in June 2007 trumpeted that “sustained growth in OECD economies would be underpinned by strong job creation and falling unemployment” (Cotis 2007, p. 5). Yeah, right. Two months after this forecast was published, the biggest economic crisis before Covid-19 and since the Great Depression began. Why were they so wrong? Because they ignore Graeber’s central message that debt and credit drive the development, and sometimes the collapse, of economies.

Their logic rests, as usual, on a naïve assumption. They assume that banks are simply “intermediaries” between people who save money, and people who borrow money, and therefore that redistributing this money has little effect on economic activity. As ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put it, “Absent implausibly large differences in marginal spending propensities among the groups … pure redistributions should have no significant macroeconomic effects.” (Bernanke 2000, p. 24). What the hell does that jargon mean? It means that mainstream economists pretend that banks don’t create money when they lend—something that they can no longer do after The Bank of England categorically said that they do (McLeay, Radia et al. 2014)—or that this doesn’t really matter. A little arithmetic is enough to show they’re wrong, and David was right.

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Jim Rickards – Great Reset
https://twitter.com/i/status/1375034375985901572

 

 

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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.

Read more …

“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.”

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 302020
 


Juan Gris Guitar on a chair 1913

 

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)
ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)
Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)
Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)
McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)
Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)
10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)
Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)
Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)
UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)
Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

 

 

 

 

Carlin immune system

 

 

I’m afraid I lost the plot line along the way. If the chief WHO scientist says there’s no evidence the vaccine protects you from being infected, or even from infecting others, what is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)

Travelers may need to show proof that they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel in 2021. “Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries,” CBS-Miami reported. “The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba,” the station reported.

Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business that a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a “digital yellow card,” could be the answer. Last week, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “immunity passports” for Americans to prove they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine might help the country get “back to a new normal.” Dr. Thomas Frieden told CBS that “done right, immunity passports could be one of a series of things that could help us get to a new normal as soon as possible.” “We don’t know if this is going to happen, but fundamentally we’re seeing companies and countries giving people a certificate of vaccination,” he said. “The risk of this is it will make inequality even worse. If people have both susceptibility to the virus and less access to the vaccine, they’ll have even more problems.”

Frieden, who served as director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, said for the passports to work, there would need to be “absolute privacy,” adding that the vaccine should be “absolutely opt in.” “Fundamentally, we’re facing a very difficult few weeks and few months. There’s not enough vaccine yet and we’re seeing the highest levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths the U.S. has since the start of this pandemic,” he said. In an op-ed published this week in The Washington Post, Frieden and co-author Aaron Schwid, a human rights lawyer, wrote: “As more and more people are vaccinated, it’s time to carefully design a system of ‘immunity passports.'” “These passports would serve as a form of proof of immunity, allowing people who have immunity to engage in some activities others cannot. That could make it possible to ratchet down protective measures, such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, without increasing health risks,” they wrote.

Read more …

We’ll have to see a lot more of these stories before someone admits there may be a problem.

ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)

A California nurse has tested positive for COVID-19 just eight days after receiving the vaccination. ER nurse Matthew W., received the Pfizer vaccine on December 18, according to a post from Instagram. ‘Got my Covid vaccine! The 15 minutes afterward sitting around with a bunch of others while health care workers asked us how we felt made me think of an opium den. I’ll report back if I start to grow a third arm,’ Matthew wrote. But on Christmas Eve, Matthew, who works at two different hospitals in San Diego, began feeling sick after working a shift in the COVID-19 unit. He told ABC 10 News, that he first got the chills before coming down with muscle aches and fatigue. On December 26, he went to a hospital to get tested for the virus and tested positive.


And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. Dr Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, told the station: ‘It’s not unexpected at all. If you work through the numbers, this is exactly what we’d expect to happen if someone was exposed.’ And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. ‘That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%,’ Ramers added. Matthew says he is feeling better since his symptoms appeared last week.

Read more …

“..the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity.”

Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)

The coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, with the impact to be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control, the country’s leading psychiatrist has said. Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said a combination of the disease, its social consequences and the economic fallout were having a profound effect on mental health that would continue long after the epidemic is reined in. As many as 10 million people, including 1.5 million children, are thought to need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the crisis. The prediction comes as the virus surges in the UK, and highlights the need for a plan that ensures those who develop mental illness or see existing conditions worsen have swift access to effective support in the years ahead.

“This is going to have a profound effect on mental health,” James said. “It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.” Demand for mental health services dropped at the start of the pandemic as people stayed away from GP surgeries and hospitals, or thought treatment was unavailable. But the dip was followed by a surge in people seeking help that shows no sign of abating. Data from NHS Digital reveals that the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity. “The whole system is clearly under pressure,” James said.

Modelling by the Centre for Mental Health forecasts that as many as 10 million people will need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the coronavirus epidemic. About 1.3 million people who have not had mental health problems before are expected to need treatment for moderate to severe anxiety, and 1.8 million treatment for moderate to severe depression, it found. The overall figure includes 1.5 million children at risk of anxiety and depression brought about or aggravated by social isolation, quarantine or the hospitalisation or death of family members. The numbers may rise as the full impact becomes clear on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, care homes and people with disabilities.

Read more …

The UK is moving into danger territory. If only they had not cut their medical facilities in half.

Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)

The new, faster-spreading coronavirus variant makes up the majority of new cases in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News. A recent surge of COVID-19 cases is largely due to the variant which may be up to 70% more infectious than the original one, Mr Hancock said. “The ‘suppress the virus’ bit has got a whole lot harder since the new variant really got going over December,” he said. “Now the majority of the new cases in the UK are the new variant. It is much, much easier to transmit from one person to another.”


The faster transmission had put extreme pressure on the NHS, Mr Hancock added. “It is absolutely critical that people follow the rules and do everything they can to stop the spread, particularly of the new variant of this virus that transmits so much faster.” “So, the challenge of suppressing the virus has got harder, but thankfully, the cavalry has arrived in terms of not one, but two vaccines – and we’ve got to get them into people’s arms at the speed at which they can be manufactured”.

Read more …

“..the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.”

McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to set up a stand-alone vote on increasing the amount of recently passed stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both tried to get consent for the Senate to bring up legislation that passed the House in a 273-134 vote on Monday. The GOP leader did not directly address why he objected, but under the Senate’s rules any one senator can block efforts to set up votes or pass bills. McConnell signaled separately that he could package the increase in direct stimulus checks, with a repeal of a tech shield that has emerged as a top target for Trump and election-related investigations.


Trump, in his statement on signing the $2.3 trillion package, said the Senate would “start the process for a vote” that tackles the three issues. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said. “Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together. This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he added. McConnell did not provide additional details during his floor speech about how he might bring the measures up. But the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.

Read more …

“Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day..”

Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)

For most of the last few decades, budget standoffs in Washington tended to follow the same script: Republicans threatened to block some domestic spending bill or fully shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to let the GOP own the libs with something bad like a JPMorgan giveaway, a tax break for the rich, or a draconian cut to a social program. When Democrats controlled Congress, they never mustered the courage to respond with their own version of the same shrewd tactics. Even toward the end of the Bush era when the Iraq War was deeply unpopular, they never made a serious attempt to hold up a bloated GOP-written Pentagon bill in order to try to get their way on a progressive initiative. But at the end of one of the worst years in recent history, it seems things are changing.

In a long overdue script-flipping move, Sen. Bernie Sanders is now moving to halt a major defense bill until and unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell allows a full vote on legislation to give millions of starving Americans $2,000 in emergency aid. That legislation passed the House yesterday over opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who tried their best to deny their own constituents much-needed aid. Now the bill is in McConnell’s hands, and Sanders is pulling a McConnell on McConnell. He is imperiling the GOP boss’s top priority — the defense bill that authorizes pay increases for soldiers, military training, new weapons systems, while also complicating attempts to draw down troops deployed in Afghanistan. That McConnell-backed legislation could be stalled unless he agrees to Sanders’ demands and stops obstructing a progressive priority.

The Vermont independent appears ready to play hardball: He is doing his best impression of Marc Maron’s cameo in Almost Famous, effectively screaming “lock the gates!” and threatening to force Senate Republicans to remain in Washington, rather than flee while the country withers. The American Prospect reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), with the backing of the Senate Democratic caucus, is prepared to make life miserable for Senate Republicans if they do not put a clean vote on the floor to increase one-time emergency payments to most Americans approved in the recent COVID relief package from $600 to $2,000. Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day, inconveniencing Senators of both parties, particularly the incumbent Republicans from Georgia, who are in their final full week of campaigning for runoff elections on January 5….

The Senate operates on the principle of unanimous consent. It’s not impossible to get things done if one Senator objects, but it’s quite a bit slower. The majority needs to hold votes and waste time to muscle past an objecting Senator. For this reason, Sanders can prevent quick passage of the defense bill override, the only thing McConnell really wants to accomplish in the last week of the Senate session. This ramps up pressure on McConnell to just hold a vote on the $2,000 checks. Senators don’t want to be stuck in Washington on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day if they can prevent it.“

Read more …

“3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).”

10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)

1. The total cost of $2,000 checks ($465 billion) is less than half the amount that American billionaires have made during the pandemic ($1 trillion). The total cost of the checks is less than the amount that just 16 American billionaires increased their net worth by during the pandemic ($471 billion).

2. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk gained more wealth during the pandemic ($158 billion) than Congress just authorized for additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans ($120 billion).

3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).

4. Congressional lawmakers are being paid $3,300 of government money every week to come up with ways to block $2,000 checks to millions of Americans.

5. It took Congress less than a month to pass legislation giving a $700 billion bailout to bank executives during the financial crisis. It has taken Congress more than 8 months to even seriously consider a far less expensive bill to give $2,000 checks to millions of Americans during this economic crisis.

6. A $2,000 survival check would give the average soldier more money than the proposed 3 percent military pay increase that is included in defense legislation that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey are filibustering in order to force a vote on the survival checks.

7. The richest 5 percent of Americans received more in Trump tax cuts in 2020 ($145 billion) than Congress is spending on increased unemployment benefits for millions of Americans during the economic crisis ($120 billion).

8. In 2016, “children, elderly, disabled people, and students made up around 70 percent of the poor,” according to the People’s Policy Project. Unlike unemployment benefits, $2,000 checks would help them.

9. About 60 percent of Georgia households make less than $75,000, meaning Georgia Republican senators allowing $2,000 checks to be blocked would deny aid to roughly 2 million of their state’s households as they run for reelection.

10. As Republicans try to block the $2,000 check legislation, a new national survey found that 78 percent of Americans support it, even as some pundits insist that the proposal is “divisive.”

Read more …

Can we bury this story too?

Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)

From the introduction: “At one of the first press conferences about a year ago, we showed bank transactions for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the family of former US Vice President Joe Biden, namely to his son Robert Hunter Biden. The latter was a member of the board of directors of the infamous gas production company Burisma. Burisma belongs to the fugitive Yanukovych-era minister Mykola Zlochevsky. The inclusion of Biden in the Burisma leadership and payment for his services is nothing more than a political cover that protected Zlochevsky from the Ukrainian law, namely from the criminal code.”

Two foreign witnesses whose identities are protected – Witness 1 and Witness 2 – came forward to testify about the facts of the case. Konstantyn Kulyk, the Head of the Group of Prosecutors of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, explained what the witnesses offered: “One quote from a statement by a Witness: “All the described financial transactions were fictitious. And a lot of money was paid in Ukraine so that the state authorities turned a blind eye to it.” [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the Witnesses noticed strange recurring payments that, at the direction of Oleh Nelin (Zlochevsky’s assistant in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), were sent from the account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD, which was opened for the personal needs of Mykola Zlochevsky, in the Latvian PrivatBank AS to the account of the American company ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC.”

“The witnesses drew attention to these payments since about 20 times the same uneven amount was recurring – $83,333.33 as payment for consulting services. [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the money stolen from Ukrainians, located on account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD with the Latvian PrivatBank AS, was transferred to the account of ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC in the American bank MORGAN STANLEY in payments in total amounting to $3.4 million for consulting services. [snip] This is a payment for the political “cover” that Biden provided to Zlochevsky.” The video offers a graphic image showing the flow of money and favors:

Andrii Derkach picked up the narrative. He focused on Joe Biden’s conversations with Former President Poroshenko when Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor, started looking into Zlochevsky’s graft. As we all know, Biden openly boasted about holding up money from the U.S. unless Poroshenko fired Shokin. The press conference included audio from a November 16, 2016 conversation between Biden and Poroshenko. Biden was wheeling and dealing for influence and money – and conducting foreign policy behind Trump’s back. The men spoke again in February 2017, at which time Biden smothered Poroshenko with fulsome compliments. Ukraine’s government is gunning for Joe Biden. The Ukrainians know Biden helped prop up a corrupt government in their country and that he profited mightily from doing so. No wonder this video has gone viral.

Read more …

“She is the affable assassin..”

Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)

Even before President-elect Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee may start hearings on his nomination of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence. Barack Obama’s top lawyer on the National Security Council from 2010 to 2013 followed by CIA Deputy Director from 2013 to 2015, Haines is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the affable assassin who, according to Newsweek, would be summoned in the middle of the night to decide if a citizen of any country, including our own, should be incinerated in a U.S. drone strike in a distant land in the greater Middle East. Haines also played a key role in covering up the U.S. torture program, known euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included repeated waterboarding, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dousing naked prisoners with ice-cold water, and rectal rehydration.

For these reasons, among others, the activist groups CODEPINK, Progressive Democrats of America, World Beyond War, and Roots Action have launched a campaign calling on the Senate to reject her confirmation. These same groups ran successful campaigns to dissuade Biden from choosing two other warmongering candidates for critical foreign policy positions: China-hawk Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense and torture apologist Mike Morell for CIA Director. By hosting calling parties to Senators, launching petitions and publishing Open Letters from DNC delegates, feminists—including Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem—and Guantanamo torture survivors, activists helped derail candidates who were once considered shoo-ins for Biden’s cabinet. Now activists are challenging Avril Haines.

In 2015, when Haines was CIA Deputy Director, CIA agents illegally hacked the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to thwart the Committee’s investigation into the spy agency’s detention and interrogation program. Haines overruled the CIA’s own Inspector General in failing to discipline the CIA agents who violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. According to former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, she not only shielded the hackers from accountability but even awarded them the Career Intelligence Medal. And there’s more. When the exhaustive 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture was finally complete, after five years of investigation and research, Haines took charge of redacting it to deny the public’s right to know its full details, reducing the document to a 500-page, black-ink-smeared summary.

Read more …

By no means just in the UK. As the economy shrinks bigtime.

UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)

British house prices rose faster than expected in December to record their biggest annual increase in six years, as tax incentives and COVID-driven appetite for larger homes continued to boost demand, mortgage lender Nationwide said. House prices rose by 0.8% in December alone, barely slowing from the 0.9% recorded in November, and were 7.3% higher than a year earlier, well above forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 6.7% rise. After a collapse in house purchases during the first months of lockdown, there has been a surge in demand to move house, driven in part by a temporary exemption of property purchase taxes which will expire at the end of March.


Nationwide said the strength of the housing market contrasted with weakness in some other parts of the economy – especially those exposed to renewed COVID-19 restrictions – and said the outlook for prices in 2021 was highly uncertain. “Housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March,” Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said. So far furlough payments and similar support for the self-employed had limited the impact of a historic 26% fall in economic output on the housing market, against most economists’ earlier expectations, he added.

Read more …

Propaganda.

Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

The paper of record in 2020 shifted dramatically to the most illiberal stance possible on the virus, pushing for full lockdowns, and ignoring or burying any information that might contradict the case for this unprecedented experiment in social and economic control. This article highlights the exceptions. The first shocking sign of the placing of a persistent bias was a podcast with reporter Donald McNeil on February 27. This was the beginning. It was grossly irresponsible. He asserted that half the American public would get this disease and that it would have a case fatality rate of 2.5%, or 25 times as deadly as flu, hence 4.8 million dead people. No consideration of demographic gradients in risk and no knowledge of viral basics such as the tradeoff between severity and prevalence.

Even if you leave aside the fog of fatality misclassification, he exaggerated the risk by 12 times but still spoke with a sense of certainty designed to create panic. Host Michael Barbaro himself seemed shocked: “I thought you were here to bring calm, Donald.” “I’m trying to bring a sense that if things don’t change, a lot of us might die,” he said. “If you have 300 relatively close friends and acquaintances, six of them would die.” The primal fear of disease is thus thrown into massive overdrive, following 100 years in which public health tried to bring rationality to the topic. That podcast was followed by an op-ed by the same journalist/pundit: “To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It.”

It seemed incredible that such a responsible outlet would advocate the overthrow of a century of public-health wisdom and even immunological basics, but that’s what they did. At this point, the New York Times was fully committed to the narrative that we must dismantle society to save it. And there it has been for nearly a year of unbearably biased coverage. Even within the blatant and aggressive pro-lockdown bias, and consistent with the way the New York Times does its work, the paper has not been entirely barren of truth about Covid and lockdowns. Below I list five times that the news section of the paper, however inadvertently and however buried deep within the paper, actually told the truth.

Read more …

 

 

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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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