Mar 262021
 


Filothei Skitzi Strapping girl 2021

 

 

Yesterday was Greece’s version of Independence Day, in their case the day the War of Independence from the Ottoman empire started in 1821. Unfortunately, it was so brutally cold -for Greece, that is, at 0ºC- that festivities were “dampened”. Moreover, due to Covid restrictions, people were barred from attending the traditional military parade (due to 1821, and having Turkey as a neighbor, many Greeks still love having an army) in the streets of Athens.

The only ones “allowed” to watch the parade were now the likes of Prince Charles and his horse wife, plus some ambassadors etc. While after almost 5 months of severe lockdown, and spring on the horizon, people really needed some relief in the form of a party. And a national party works best for that. Oh well, spring will come soon, and then soon after that, 39.9ºC. That’s where the weather service always seems to stop counting. It’s like the Y2K bug. A running gag.

I was re-reading the last things I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen, November and December 2020, just to get back in the spirit, and to find things that I have already talked about, so as not to repeat myself. Cooking food is not the most exciting activity in the world by itself, to write about, or to film, as I always notice when I happenstance upon some TV cooking show.

 

What’s interesting about the social kitchen we run here is all the stories around it, not the cooking itself. I -and you, my readers- have been supporting this initiative for almost 6 years already, imagine that!. Many things have happened, many things have changed along the way, and wouldn’t you know, in the hardest time of all, the lockdowns that take everyone’s breath and life away, being involved in “the kitchen” -as we call it- feels better than ever.

It’s not just that the homeless need us more than ever before, though that is undoubtedly true, it’s also that the volunteers who work in the kitchen get even more of a sense of pride and self-worth from doing something that really changes human lives. Don’t underestimate the loss of pride, of having a goal in life, there are so many facets to this, of not being able to do your job for 5 months. And then to be able to contribute to helping the neediest people in your society, it gains a whole new meaning.

After a year of lockdowns, off and on, societies that have lived through them will irreparably change, even if the people that live in them, will not recognize that now. Most people still think of a return to “normal”. There will be no such thing. Once governments stop propping up businesses and workers financially, which they will have to, there will be a flood of unemployment and business closures. We will need a new “paradigm”, but that will take time.

Greece depends on tourism and hospitality to a much larger extent than most economies. And tourism won’t come back to former heights, this year or next. The virus is not gone, and vaccinating everyone will not solve the issue. Not that politicians and “experts” won’t pretend it will. Greece will win back some part of its tourism industry, but that risks bringing more virus into the country. And tourists, like the British, will be told not to come, by their own governments. Some “repair”, but far short of full.

So once the bars and restaurants open here, they are going to start firing people. The government is well aware of this, and talks about 100s of 1000s of job losses. This will happen everywhere, but in an economy so dependent on hospitality, much more. Summer will feel sort of okay, but after that, we will have many more clients in the Monastiraki kitchen. It’s as clear as day.

 

 

 

Filothei and I went to purchase €1,000 more in supermarket checks, from your donations, on Tuesday. She managed to spread the first €1,000 worth out over 3 months. Me, I like that she is aware of value, respect etc., but I also say sometimes that it’s alright to spend some money. For her, it‘s about every penny, every comma. But that has disadvantages as well: she spends so much time trying to get the best deal on everything that at some point I am sure that her time could be spent in a better way. And that people will understand that.

Example: the kitchen needs plates. We had a donation, 2 years ago, from a company that makes them, of 21,000 plates (they were misprints). We want, in industry terms, “bio-boxes”. As in, not plastic, but paper/cardboard. Those plates are now gone, and we need more. But these things are expensive, and Filothei thinks all donations should go to buying food. I agree, but at the same time, a social kitchen must do what it should do. I personally think some company should donate them to us, and they can put their logo on it, and feel good about supporting us, but in lockdown, no companies make any money. And we still need the plates.

We will buy maybe 6,000 of them soon, and pay maybe €600 for that, and yes, it’s not food, but it’s necessary. In these times, you can look at these companies’ websites, and their products, but most “bio-boxes” are for sandwiches, not hot meals. Yeah, entirely new issues for me too 😉 And all the companies are closed too, so it’s very hard to go check them out. That’s when you realize how crazy these times really are.

 

Other things we did this winter: we bought an umbrella. I told you the place where the cooking takes place is a little stone yard, with no roof. I also said we would pay the €200 for the umbrella with €100 from donations and I would pay the rest. And then it took 40 days, 30 phone calls, and people from the kitchen going there themselves, to finally get it. Welcome to the lockdown economy .

 

 

But isn’t it beautiful? It covers almost the entire yard. Yeah, again, it’s money not spent on food, but it’s needed nonetheless. It has been on several occasions already, and it will be there for years to come. Money well spent.

 

 

Another thing I bought is more facemasks, I paid for those myself, not from your donations. I don’t like the mandates for them much, with people wearing masks outside in the street, that doesn’t make much sense. But for the kitchen, with people working close together, and later handing out the food to the homeless, it does. Risk assessment. Only, wear the best ones then, why wouldn’t you? Why wear a sock on your face when you can get actual protection? These are FFP3 masks, in US terms that would be N95+, they have extra strips inside to connect them to your face, and their active ingredient is activated carbon, not salt. Why not do it well if you do it anyway?

 

 

Oh wait, that’s true, Filothei last week made 60 kilos (!) of lemon marmalade (which probably took 70 kilos of sugar) to hand out, because “the homeless need sugar and salt when it’s cold outside”.

 

 

We are up to 2 cookings a week at Monastiraki now, plus another one at Piraeus that depends on our staples to a large extent. And we’re not going to stop, or halt, or pause. Yes, the summer weather will relieve the pressure somewhat on the “immediate front”, but we need to look ahead too. The economic troubles won’t go away, and neither will the virus. And the people to be first hurt by that are always the same, the poorest, and their legions are growing. And that’s why we do what we do. This team is unbeatable. Despite all the police threats of fines and prison and what not, people always show up for “work”, and the food always gets delivered.

And we do it with love. Lots of it.

 

I’ll leave you with the same last paragraphs I’ve used the past few times when I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen. You know how this works.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also went to the kitchen this winter).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

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

 

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.

Read more …

 

 

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Jim Rickards – Great Reset

 

 

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


Paul Gauguin Farm in Brittany 1894

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

UK politics has gone completely bonkers….

We Are Living Through a Time of Fear (Cook)

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

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

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

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

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… and I mean completely.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Google translate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It is a weird piece of legislation.

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

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

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

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

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Too late now.

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

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

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

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

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

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Whatever Big Oil backs can never be good.

Big Oil Backs Carbon Tax (Reason)

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

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

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

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Drilling under the Mississippi. Leave it be.

Minnesota Police Ready For Pipeline Resistance (IC)

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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God Save the Queen

 

 

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Mar 232021
 


Emanuel Leutze Washington Crossing the Delaware 1851

 

World’s 1st Oral Covid-19 Vaccine Could Soon Begin Human Trials (RT)
Dexamethasone Hailed As Lifesaver For A Million Covid Patients Worldwide (G.)
Masks And Distancing Could Be Required For Several More Years – UK Expert (RT)
UK Faces ‘Covid Decade’ Due To Damage Done By Pandemic (G.)
Germany To Impose Its Harshest Covid-19 Lockdown Yet For Easter (RT)
6-Foot Social Distancing ‘Wasn’t Based On Clear Science’ – Gottlieb (JTN)
Care Home Workers In England Face Mandatory Covid Jabs Under Plans (G.)
Judge Rejects Third Bail Request By Epstein Confidante Ghislaine Maxwell (RT)
Sidney Powell: Election Fraud Claims Just ‘Political Rhetoric’ (RT)
Domestic Dark Money Dwarfs All Foreign Influence on 2020 Election (MPN)
ECB Invokes Banknote Paradox to Explain Cash in Contactless Age (BBG)
Yield Curve Control: Another Recipe for Stagnation (Lacalle)
Border Facility Photos Show Hundreds Of Children In “Terrible Conditions” (ZH)
In the Shadows of Shadowland (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

“we are more than 100% sure that the technology works and is promising.”

Hmmm. I still want to know what’s in it.

World’s 1st Oral Covid-19 Vaccine Could Soon Begin Human Trials (RT)

A coronavirus vaccine that can be swallowed like a pill and administered at home could begin clinical trials in the near future after its developers reported promising preliminary data. The trailblazing drug, called Oravax, is being developed by Israeli-American Oramed Pharmaceuticals and India-based Premas Biotech. The two companies have teamed up to create Oravax Medical Inc., which hopes to combine Oramed’s oral delivery technology with Premas’ vaccine expertise to create a new method of inoculation against Covid-19. A pilot study conducted on animals found that the oral vaccine helped produce antibodies that create immunity against the virus, the company claims.

The promising results were achieved by administering a single Oravax capsule, potentially setting the drug apart from some of the other vaccines which require two doses. Prabuddha Kundu, co-founder of Premas Biotech, told Indian media that administering the vaccine would be “like taking a vitamin pill” and that “we are more than 100% sure that the technology works and is promising.” Results from the preliminary animal tests would soon be published in a scientific journal, he added. Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron told the Jerusalem Post that the oral drug would eliminate logistical problems that have arisen from worldwide mass vaccination drives, and that the pill could even be taken by individuals from the comfort of their home.

The drug can be moved at refrigerator temperature and even stored at room temperature, alleviating some of the issues with some traditional vaccines, which must be kept extremely cold before use. Kidron also claimed that orally administering the vaccine could result in fewer side effects. The capsules would become particularly useful if Covid-19 vaccines are eventually “recommended annually like the standard flu shot,” he said. Oravax Medical is currently applying to conduct human trials in several countries, including the United States, Israel, Mexico, and Europe. Studies could begin as soon as July.

Read more …

Problem: it’s cheap and generic.

Dexamethasone Hailed As Lifesaver For A Million Covid Patients Worldwide (G.)

Dexamethasone – the inexpensive steroid that quickly emerged as a highly effective Covid therapy thanks to a large drug testing programme pioneered by UK scientists – has so far saved the lives of an estimated million people globally, including 22,000 in the UK, according to NHS England. Called Recovery, the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drug trial commenced in March 2020 to evaluate the suitability of a suite of different drugs to help hospitalised Covid patients. The study has since been carried out by thousands of doctors and nurses on tens of thousands of patients in hospitals across Britain. As Covid-19 emerged in late 2019, Oxford University’s Peter Horby, an infectious disease specialist, had begun working on Covid drug trials in Wuhan.

But studies were shelved as fierce lockdown restrictions dried up infections in China. Meanwhile, cases began to pop up in Europe. Horby joined forces with Oxford colleague Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, to set up Recovery. It took them only nine days from drafting their first protocol to the enrolling of the first patient, a process that typically takes nine months. Less than 100 days after the programme kicked off, trial investigators produced a staggering result – the first medicine that demonstrably improved Covid-19 survival chances. Dexamethasone, a widely available and affordable generic steroid, was shown to cut the risk of death by a third for Covid patients on ventilators, and by nearly a fifth for those on oxygen therapy.

“It was hard to know how many lives would be saved because we didn’t know what the trajectory of the pandemic was going to be, or how well accepted the results would be,” said Horby. The results were celebrated – and embraced globally. Although Britain was criticised for its initial sluggish response to the pandemic and its bungled testing programmes, Recovery scientists were generously lauded for their heroic efforts to combat the disease. “It’s clear that dexamethasone has had a big impact,” noted Horby. “A million is a big number … It’s an estimate that could well be lower than that or higher than that. We don’t know.”

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Here’s a warning: this is not going to happen.

Masks And Distancing Could Be Required For Several More Years – UK Expert (RT)

The UK may be racing ahead of its European neighbours in getting its population vaccinated, but Brits might have to stay masked up for “several years” if public health experts get their way. New cases of Covid-19 in the UK have dropped tenfold since early January, and more than 27 million Britons – over half the adult population – have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Compared to rising cases on the continent and an EU average vaccination rate of around 10%, the UK appears to be winning its war against Covid-19. Brits looking for a total reprieve from the country’s punishing lockdown, however, shouldn’t hold their breath. That’s according to Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England.


Ramsay told the BBC on Sunday that masks and social distancing could be required for “several years,” or “at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere.” With vaccines being distributed unequally around the world, and people in the poorest nations facing a years-long wait to get vaccinated, Ramsay’s prediction may be a realistic one, should the British government listen to her advice. As a government body, Public Health England certainly has a say in determining the UK’s Covid-19 response. Her view is not a minority one, either. As the government looks to relax restrictions from the end of March onwards, Prof. Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, told MPs earlier this month that “simple interventions,” face masks among them, would be needed beyond the summer.

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One problem not mentioned here: tax hikes.

UK Faces ‘Covid Decade’ Due To Damage Done By Pandemic (G.)

Britain faces a “Covid decade” of social and cultural upheaval marked by growing inequality and deepening economic deprivation, a landmark review has concluded. Major changes to the way society is run in the wake of the pandemic are needed to mitigate the impact of the “long shadow” cast by the virus, including declining public trust and an explosion in mental illness, the British Academy report found. Published on the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, the report brings together more than 200 academic social science and humanities experts and hundreds of research projects. It was set up last year at the behest of the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

The British Academy warned that failure to understand the scale of the challenge ahead and deliver changes would result in a rapid slide towards poorer societal health, more extreme patterns of inequality and fragmenting national unity. Government-led intervention including major investment in public services is required to repair the “profound social damage” caused or exacerbated by coronavirus across areas including the economy, mental health, public trust and education, it said. “With the advent of vaccines and the imminent ending of lockdowns, we might think that the impact of Covid-19 is coming to an end. This would be wrong. We are in a Covid decade: the social, economic and cultural effects of the pandemic will cast a long shadow into the future – perhaps longer than a decade,” it said.

[..] Areas for action highlighted by the report include: • Declining public trust: after an initial surge in the first months of the pandemic, trust in UK government and feelings of national unity collapsed, with little sign that progress on vaccinations has halted the trend. Unless addressed, this will erode social cohesion and undermine future public health campaigns. • Widening inequalities: geographic, health, racial, gender, digital and economic inequalities have been exacerbated by Covid. If not tackled, they risk becoming permanently locked in, scarring the prospects of groups disproportionately affected by the social impact of the virus, such as young people. • Worsening mental health: soaring mental illness, especially among children, low-income households and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, risks embedding long-term problems if the underlying causes are not tackled.

Read more …

Merkel lost too.

Germany To Impose Its Harshest Covid-19 Lockdown Yet For Easter (RT)

Germany is set to bring its tightest coronavirus lockdown yet, shuttering all but the most vital of services, including religious gatherings for Easter, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced following a meeting with regional leaders. Noting that the country is in a “race” to combat the pandemic, Merkel outlined the nationwide shutdown during a news conference early on Tuesday, saying that not only will existing restrictions be extended to April 18, but that most businesses will be made to close their doors for at least five days beginning on the first of the month, just before the Easter holiday. “We are now in a very serious situation,” the chancellor told reporters after a contentious marathon meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states, which lasted nearly 12 hours.


During the five-day period, only shops that sell food, as well as coronavirus testing and vaccination sites, will be open across Germany, in what will likely be the country’s strictest lockdown since the pandemic kicked off in late 2019. Merkel said there should be “quiet days” and reduced social contacts in the time between April 1 and 5. In addition to the business closures, Germans will be barred from holding private gatherings of more than five adults from two different households, while all travel abroad will be strongly discouraged. Churches have also been asked to hold virtual services only during that time, even on Easter itself. Moreover, the new measures will make airlines responsible for testing all travelers and crew members heading back to Germany, but stopped short of mandating quarantine for anyone returning from abroad.

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“This 6-foot distancing requirement has probably been the single-costliest mitigation tactic that we’ve employed..”

6-Foot Social Distancing ‘Wasn’t Based On Clear Science’ – Gottlieb (JTN)

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that 6-foot social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 “wasn’t based on clear science.” He also says the health-safety tactic – to help stop the virus spread through the air – isn’t as effective as medical experts thought when the pandemic started. “This 6-foot distancing requirement has probably been the single-costliest mitigation tactic that we’ve employed in response to COVID, and it really wasn’t based on clear science,” Gottlieb said in an interview for CNBC Friday. In the interview, it’s unclear what exact costs to which he was referring. Gottlieb said that in the beginning, the government and health organizations treated the spread of COVID-19 as though it were the flu, which he says is spread primarily through droplets.


“We’ve subsequently learned that COVID is spreading through aerosols, not just droplets, so probably six feet isn’t as effective as it would be if it was a purely droplet-based transmission,” Gottlieb said. “There’s nothing wrong with having followed that flu-based model and been wrong, but we should have been evaluating this along the way.” Gottlieb made the comment as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its recommendation on social distancing in schools – to three feet from six feet. Gottlieb said that “we need to see light at the end of the tunnel and have guidance that prescribes an environment where people can start doing things again,” as reported by The Epoch Times.

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Yeah, sinister indeed.

Care Home Workers In England Face Mandatory Covid Jabs Under Plans (G.)

Care home workers in England could be legally required to have a Covid-19 vaccination under plans being considered by the government. According to details of a paper submitted to the Covid-19 operations cabinet subcommittee last week and leaked to the Telegraph, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, have agreed to the proposal in order to protect vulnerable residents. The move would prove highly controversial and could result in legal challenges. The cabinet subcommittee paper warned a large number of social care workers may quit if the change is made, and said that lawsuits on human rights grounds could be possible. A government spokesman insisted “no final decisions have been made” but did not rule out jabs being made compulsory for care workers.

The government is also reviewing the introduction of vaccination passports. If the change is approved it would affect most of the 1.5 million workers in England’s adult social care sector, who would be obliged by law to have a Covid jab. The paper also makes clear that a similar legal requirement is being considered for some frontline healthcare workers, including those on wards, but a decision on that has yet to be taken. One line is said to read: “The prime minister and the secretary of state [Hancock] have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to immunise social care workers against Covid-19 and have agreed – in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients – to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.”

Legally forcing workers to have a vaccine raises serious legal and ethical questions. Government ministers including Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, have previously called similar ideas mandating vaccination, including vaccine passports, “discriminatory”. A previous report of a government plan to force all NHS and care staff in England to get vaccinated was criticised as “sinister” by Unison. “Forced vaccinations are the wrong way to go, and send out a sinister and worrying message,” said Christina McAnea, the general secretary of Unison, which represents about 100,000 NHS staff.

Read more …

She can stop trying now.

Judge Rejects Third Bail Request By Epstein Confidante Ghislaine Maxwell (RT)

A US judge denied Ghislaine Maxwell’s third bail request even after the former girlfriend of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein tried to allay concern over potential flight risk by offering to renounce her citizenship in the UK and France. US District Court Judge Alison Nathan ruled on Monday that Maxwell will have to remain incarcerated, rather than being allowed to post bail and be released while awaiting her trial. Nathan said none of Maxwell’s new arguments and offers – which also included putting her and her spouse’s assets in a court-monitored account – changed her opinion that the socialite poses a flight risk. The judge also closed the door on prospects for bail being granted if Maxwell makes some other concessions, saying, “There are no combination of conditions that can reasonably assure her appearance” in court.


Maxwell’s lawyers had argued that by renouncing her British and French citizenships, she would ensure that she wouldn’t be able to seek the extradition protections that apply to citizens of the two countries. Putting assets in a monitored account would ensure that she wouldn’t use the money to flee from prosecution, her lawyers said. [..] Lawyers for Maxwell earlier this year filed a motion seeking dismissal of the charges against her based on any of a dozen claims, including an argument that the grand jury that indicted her didn’t have enough black and Hispanic people. The fact that Maxwell is white “does not deprive her of standing to raise this challenge,” her lawyers said.

Read more …

What a fall from grace.

Sidney Powell: Election Fraud Claims Just ‘Political Rhetoric’ (RT)

Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell has asked a judge to scrap a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed over her claims of election fraud, insisting her assertions were mere political rhetoric protected by the Constitution. Powell’s attorneys called for dismissal in a Monday court filing, arguing that the case brought by Dominion Voting Systems was filed in the wrong jurisdiction, and that Powell’s claims about the company and its alleged role in rigging the 2020 race were covered under the First Amendment. While the attorneys maintained that Powell continues to believe her allegations of fraud are true, they also argued that her claims were never meant to be taken as factual assertions, but rather as political rhetoric, and that “no reasonable person would conclude” they were “truly statements of fact.”


“All the allegedly defamatory statements attributed to [Powell] were made as part of the normal process of litigating issues of momentous significance and immense public interest,” the court filing reads. Powell’s lawyers cited previous cases which ruled that courts should “shelter strong, even outrageous political speech” on the grounds that “the ordinary reader or listener, in the context of political debate” will take those statements as “some form of political opinion neither demonstrably true nor demonstrably false.” They added that “reasonable people” understand the “language of the political arena… is often vituperative, abusive and inexact.”

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“More than $1 billion worth of secret donations were made during the 2020 election”

For sale.

“Given the relatively close race, it is entirely plausible that this massive cash injection swung the balance in favor of the 78-year-old Delawarean..”

Domestic Dark Money Dwarfs All Foreign Influence on 2020 Election (MPN)

More than $1 billion worth of secret donations were made during the 2020 election. This included around $660 million in contributions to big-money political groups, more than $300 million in advertising, and $88 million in FEC-reported spending. Few people, even political junkies, know the names of these organizations. But dark-money groups — organizations trying to influence politics that do not disclose the source of their funding, such as Duty & Honor and America Votes — have considerably more influence over who rules the United States than do any foreign leaders. The largest of these groups in terms of political spending is One Nation America, a Republican organization masterminded by former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. The organization spent over $125 million during the last election cycle.

However, it was the Democrats who benefitted the most from dark money sourced from wealthy, shadowy donors. Democrats outraised the GOP by well over two-to-one, with Biden’s bid attracting more than six times the amount of money from anonymous sources than did Trump’s. Given the relatively close race, it is entirely plausible that this massive cash injection swung the balance in favor of the 78-year-old Delawarean and away from the incumbent. In 2016, the St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency is said to have spent around $100,000 in online ads targeting American readers. But four years later, the Center for Responsive Politics calculates that opaque non-profits shelled out $132 million on the same thing — more than a thousand times as much.

In politics, money talks. Since 2000, the party spending the most cash has won between 85% and 98% of all House and 71% and 85% of all Senate races, depending on the year. Election 2020 was by far the costliest election in history, coming in at $14.4 billion. That figure is more than double the price of the 2016 election, which cost around $6.5 billion. The six most expensive Senate races of all time occurred in this cycle. Democrats comfortably outraised and outspent Republicans in 2020. The two Senate elections in Georgia — regular and special, which both went to runoffs that saw Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock elected — wound up with nearly $830 million spent on the two races alone. Democrats relied on hefty donations from tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and AT&T, while Republicans counted on support from financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and from money from the Koch Brothers.

This disparity in coverage between the two reports suggests that, while unapproved foreign interference is a major scandal, corporations and the ultra-wealthy essentially buying elections is simply (big) business as usual.

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“..maybe as much as 50% by value, is physically stored by households, companies and banks.”

ECB Invokes Banknote Paradox to Explain Cash in Contactless Age (BBG)

Cash is alive and thriving in the euro zone despite the rise of debit cards and contactless payment, and the pandemic has even accelerated that trend, according to the European Central Bank. While notes and coins account for a shrinking share of daily transactions in the currency bloc, the value of cash in circulation almost doubled in the last decade, the ECB said in its economic bulletin. Once dubbed the “paradox of banknotes” by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, the phenomenon is mainly down to two reasons: demand for the currency outside the bloc, and Europeans hoarding cash to store their wealth, the ECB researchers wrote.

More than 1.4 trillion euros ($1.7 trillion) of banknotes were circulating at the end of 2020, up 11% from a year earlier. Yet the evidence suggests that only about a fifth of that is used for transactions within the currency area. Studies have shown that 30-50% by value is held outside the bloc, such as in developing economies with underdeveloped payment infrastructure and a lack of credible savings options. The rest, maybe as much as 50% by value, is physically stored by households, companies and banks. One survey showed that a third of euro-area households kept cash reserves at home in 2019 — mostly small amounts but in some cases over 10,000 euros.

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“Central banks don’t manage risk, they disguise it.”

Yield Curve Control: Another Recipe for Stagnation (Lacalle)

Central banks don’t manage risk, they disguise it. You know you live in a bubble when a small bounce in sovereign bond yields generates an immediate panic reaction from central banks trying to prevent those yields from rising further. It’s particularly evident when the alleged soar in yields comes after years of their having been artificially depressed with negative rates and asset purchases. It’s scary to read that the European Central Bank (ECB) will implement more asset purchases to control a small move in yields that still left sovereign issuers’ bonds with negative nominal and real interest rates. It’s even scarier to see that market participants hail the decision to disguise risk with even more liquidity. No one seemed to complain about the fact that sovereign issuers with alarming solvency problems were issuing bonds with negative yields.

No one seemed to be concerned about the fact that the ECB bought more than 100 percent of net issuances from eurozone states. The thing that shows what a bubble we live in is that market participants find it logical to see a central bank taking aggressive action to prevent bond yields from rising—to 0.3 percent in Spain or 0.6 percent in Italy. This is the evidence of a massive bubble. If the ECB wasn’t there to repurchase all eurozone sovereign issuances, what yield would investors demand for Spain, Italy, or Portugal? Three, four, five times the current level on the 10-year? Probably. That’s why developed central banks are trapped in their own policy. They can’t hint at normalizing even when the economy is recovering strongly, and inflation is rising.

Market participants may be happy thinking these actions will drive equities and risky assets higher, but they also make economic cycles weaker, shorter, and more abrupt. Central banks have exhausted tools such as repurchasing bonds and cutting rates; the diminishing returns are evident. Now they look to Japan, of all places, to look at yield curve control (YCC) policies. Many articles hail the Bank of Japan’s curve control strategy as a big success. It has managed to keep bond yields inside a narrow range around 0 percent since it adopted its YCC policy in 2016. However, all this has done is disguise risk and lead the economy to massively indebted stagnation.

Why? The central bank applies constant changes in its purchases of sovereign bonds with different maturities to prevent the yield curve from steepening and bond yields from rising above a certain level, which could cause an economic crisis as risk-off takes over. There’s a deeply flawed view of markets in this theory. YCC doesn’t reduce the risk of a crisis, it simply disguises it by manipulating the price of sovereign bonds, the alleged lowest risk asset. As such, market participants always take significantly more risk than they want to or should, because the price of risk and the shape of the curve is artificially managed by the central bank.

Read more …

What. A. Mess.

Border Facility Photos Show Hundreds Of Children In “Terrible Conditions” (ZH)

Photos from inside a US Customs and Border Protection overflow facility have leaked, revealing hundreds of children huddling on the floor of eight ‘pods’ – each of which are supposed to hold 260 people – yet one of which had over 400 unaccompanied male minors crammed together, according to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who provided the photos to Axios to raise awareness about the situation. The photos, taken over the weekend by someone else, come amid a media embargo by the Biden administration, which has refused to allow press into the facilities to observe and document what’s going on.

Cueller, who toured the Donna, Texas facility but did not take the photos himself, described the setting as “terrible conditions for the children,” who he said need to quickly be moved into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services – which is currently at capacity due to a surge of migrants into the United States following President Biden’s pro-illegal policies.

More via Axios: “Border Patrol agents are “doing the best they can under the circumstances” but are “not equipped to care for kids” and “need help from the administration,” he said. “We have to stop kids and families from making the dangerous trek across Mexico to come to the United States. We have to work with Mexico and Central American countries to have them apply for asylum in their countries.” As of Saturday, there were 10,000 migrants in CBP custody overall. Nearly half were unaccompanied minors — thousands of whom had been waiting for more than 3 days in border patrol facilities, according to government data provided to Axios by another source.


“I have said repeatedly from the very outset a Border Patrol station is no place for a child,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a Sunday interview on CNN – discussing the situation he helped to create. “That is why we are working around the clock to move these children out of the Border Patrol facilities into the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services that shelters them.”

Veritas Kids in Cages

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“I’d venture to suppose that Mr. Brennan continued to influence and even direct these agit-prop operations long after he was removed as CIA Director..”

In the Shadows of Shadowland (Jim Kunstler)

Who or what is this shadow government? I’d say it amounts to a small group around former president Obama and former attorney general Eric Holder, plus a coterie of Intel Community figures led by John Brennan, all awkwardly funneling instructions through Susan Rice to the hacks in the White House, who form a flimsy cocoon around the barely-pulsating organism within: Mr. Biden. I will boldly suggest that this cabal is actually controlling the executive branch of the government, and doing it with stunning incompetence. If it sounds like a conspiracy, that’s probably because it is a conspiracy.

What were those crimes of theirs? Mainly the actions they took the past four years to cover-up their intense and sedulous ongoing corruption of previous years, especially all the channels of moneygrubbing that ran from Wall Street and K Street through the halls of Congress, and secondarily their political agenda to destroy by any means necessary the opposition vested in a weak and ineffectual Republican Party at odds with its own elected leader, Mr. Trump. The “means” turned out to be one dishonest exploit after another aimed at disabling and eliminating the uncontrollable Mr. Trump: RussiaGate, the Flynn case, the Mueller Investigation, Ukraine Phone Call Gate (impeachment No. 1), Coronavirus hysteria, identity politics hysteria (including the 2020 summer riots), the social media companies’ censorship and “cancellation” initiative, and, finally, the engineered ballot fraud in the 2020 national election, with a re-play in the Georgia senatorial special election of January, 2021.

How did you miss all this? I think it worked this way: John Brennan’s CIA enlisted a desperately failing news media in an ideological campaign to propagandize and lie to the American public based on Brennan’s own past ideological disposition as a self-declared “communist.” Yes, he actually said that about himself, though his Marxism and that of his allies was a mash-up of foolish utopianisms used to cover a sheer wish to annihilate any opposition frustrating their will-to-power. I’d venture to suppose that Mr. Brennan continued to influence and even direct these agit-prop operations long after he was removed as CIA Director, even as he fought off accusations for his role in helping Hillary Clinton gin up RussiaGate.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 212021
 


“Flora” (Roman Goddess of Spring), Villa di Arianna 1st Century A.D.

 

 

 

[..] the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks, water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges, dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in

Bob Dylan, Jokerman

 

I’ve seen huge amounts of riot police in many cities this weekend, in Holland, Germany, UK, Sweden, Canada, Florida and money more places (Miami Beach declared a state of emergency), using water cannons, horses, dogs, in some cases tear gas, to disperse relatively small and peaceful crowds. These things are normally used in case of serious rioting. But now the “justification” is that people are standing and walking too close together, and not obeying the “measures” and restrictions.

But that is exactly what they’re protesting. If you protest the measures, and they say you can only do that if you comply with those same measures, which includes asking permission beforehand, that is not a protest, that is theater. And the right to protest is not something that can just arbitrarily be taken away in a democratic country. Until now. Until Covid came along.

Here’s a clip of 14 countries with protests. They don’t include the water cannons etc. footage, which is fine by me.

 

 

Almost all countries have rising numbers of Covid cases again, so their only response will be re-activated: lockdown. Well, yes, the response now also includes vaccines as our only hope out of this, but those will take a long time to arrive everywhere, and both their efficacy and adverse effects remain major and untested questions.

So we’ll need another 130 billion facemasks per month in the world, and we won’t do vitamin D or ivermectin or HCQ, not even zinc. How much longer will that work, though? What will the protests look like next weekend? Hard to imagine they’ll get smaller. Easy to imagine they’ll get bigger and more widespread. And then what? More dogs and horses and water cannons, more tear gas? Or are we going to use live ammo next time around?

It’s been a year since the pandemic started, and in many places 5 months since the lockdowns did. Meanwhile, we’ve sold our souls to Big Pharma. Or they’ve been sold for us, if you will. Technology is now the only thing that can save us, and it must be brand new; the newer and more expensive, the better.

 

In Israel there was a 20,000 strong mass protest, but not really against lockdown, against PM Netanyahu. Given that Israel has run a faster vaccine rollout than anyone else, some political leaders must now think the people are never satisfied.

 

I liked this from Eva Bartlett in Canada, at least some people still have a semblance of a functioning brain. What editor comes up with that kind of headline, though?

Vive La Lockdown Révolution! Growing Rebellion Against Draconian Covid Restrictions By Easygoing Canadians Shows The World The Way

Some Canadians, armed with knowledge of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, aren’t complying with the draconian and absurd measures, and instead are walking out of airports instead of being incarcerated in quarantine hotels. In March, nurse Jessica Faraone made headlines for doing just that and walking out of Toronto’s Pearson airport instead of subjecting herself to a costly $2,000-plus quarantine hotel stay.

In a later interview, Faraone said a border guard had attempted to intimidate and shut her up, but she knew her rights. She added: “I have worked in the hospitals and more than ever I’m seeing suicide, depression, strokes, heart attacks, addiction issues. Masking people and children, oppressing health-care workers’ opinions that go against the grain, socially isolating people, and instilling fear into Canadians… is not how we solve this problem.”

And it’s not just well-informed individuals who are contesting the drastic measures. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has been active in challenging the government both on quarantine hotels and on tickets issued to citizens for alleged violations of public health orders. The centre is also disseminating resources for Canadians to know their rights regarding Covid measures.

Liberty Coalition Canada was formed after Covid restrictions were brought in. The coalition is a “national network of clergymen, elected officials, small business owners, legal experts and other concerned citizens” that now has a number of sub-groups addressing specific aspects of the measures Canada has taken. These include the social media campaign Save Our Youth, Reopen Ontario Churches, and the End the Lockdowns Caucus.

The latter comprises a number of current and former elected representatives who came together in February “resolved to ensure there is open, honest, and public debate regarding the Covid government response.” This body espouses what many ordinary Canadians have been feeling: “After careful examination and scrutiny of mitigation measures undertaken by all levels of government, it is now evident that the lockdowns cause more harm than the virus and must be brought to an end.”

Likewise, the newly-formed Professionals Against Lockdowns – already listing over 100 professionals, including doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, legal experts, police and teachers – aims to provide “evidence-based, scientific research that will educate and empower the public.”

Noting the widespread censorship of any dissenting voices on issues Covid, its statement reads: “It is our professional duty to protect the public, our communities, and our children. We will advocate for what is right and speak up against harm. Together, we will continue to be the voice for the voiceless to ensure that the truth about these lockdowns is heard. “The government’s response has lacked a risk variant analysis on all our populations. We are seeing the harm being done first-hand. We know lockdowns, isolation of healthy individuals, and the violation of our rights are causing more harm than good.”

 

You’re going to have to take this to the courts, I’ve been saying it for ages now. Or your government, wherever you are, will usurp all the powers they desire. Still, unless there are enemy bombers targeting you, there’s no such thing as a year long emergency.

 

Another tidbit I noticed today: In Holland, from 6 million people who were actively exercising in Jan 2020, only 2 million remained in Jan 2021. So everyone’s immune systems are seriously compromised by the lockdowns, and now also by the closure of gyms and other sports facilities. We’re on a roll. All we need is a jab, we don’t need to be healthy, we don’t need exercise, or vitamins, or repurposed drugs. If you just remember to inoculate your 6-month old as well, we will all be fine by 2024.

I’ve seen claims that Covid affects the brain too, but I never imagined that it would do so in this way.

 

This fine gym bro got it right a whole year ago:

 

 

 

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Mar 212021
 


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) German artist, philosopher, composer, mystic Cosmic Tree

 

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)
Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)
How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)
Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)
FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)
UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)
Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)
How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)
Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)
NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)
The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)
Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

 

 

 

 

Germany Deaths
https://twitter.com/i/status/1373207960420253697

 

 

UK has already said: forget about summer travel abroad.

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)

Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled Covid-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carriers lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings.

The summer outlook also has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere, and a suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries over health fears. Several countries announced resumption of use of the AstraZeneca shot this week after the European Medicines Agency said the benefits clearly outweigh its risks. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes.

But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging more contagious virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40%-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious.

Read more …

Much of this stuff is brutal. Police state material.

Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)

Thousands, and possibly tens-of-thousands of protesters across Europe marched on Saturday against continued government lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions based on questionable science – which have resulted in mass unemployment, destroyed small businesses, stoked widespread depression and mental illness, and cost taxpayers trillions to keep the whole ship from sinking. Protesters in London, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Vienna and elsewhere came out for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom. In central London, thousands of anti-lockdown activists were seen walking through Hyde Park, chanting “stand up, take our freedom back!”


In Germany, police used pepper spray on protesters in the city of Kassel, where 15,000 – 20,000 demonstrators showed up, according to the Daily Mail. Some 1,800 officers were placed on standby in Berlin. “Several thousand people gathered at the main protest site on a square in Kessel’s city centre, packed closely together without wearing face masks, an AFP reporter saw. Scuffles erupted when a group of demonstrators tried to break through a police cordon to join up with other protesters, resulting in shoving and prompting officers to use pepper spray.” -Daily Mail.

Read more …

Fascinating. Orla Hegarty in Ireland focuses on cleaning the air inside buildings to prevent transmission. Chicago, after a massive campaign, in 1918 re-opened in 6 weeks, no vaccine. Lots of pics from that time here.

Where is the focus on clean air these days?

How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)

[Thread] Chicago didn’t have a second wave of Spanish Flu.. so what did they do, & how did the city re-open when there was no vaccine? #Ventilation #COVID19 1/ ..here are the public health measures that Chicago took on the autumn of 1918 ‘open window ventilation in all school rooms.. pupils warmly dressed.. daily check on pupils & absentees in schools.. use of masks.. landlords required to heat homes.. ’ 2/ documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri… ..’isolation & quarantine.. home nursing provided (see my thread on home nursing).. churches required to improve ventilation.. 150 city health officers on full time service’ 3/ ..’closure of dance halls, theatres, restaurants in order to keep schools open .. ventilation of public transport.. public health doctors & nurses’ 4/

& then by late October/early November (just 6 weeks into the outbreak) theatres were allowed to reopen, social functions & public meetings resumed 5/ So what was happening to make this re-opening possible? The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation (1911-18 report) 6/ ..who understood airborne disease & spread in buildings ‘the most important factor in prevention is the air that we breath’ ‘buildings merit earnest study & attention in a program of real & effective work in preventing the spread of disease’ 7/ they had boots on the ground, ‘one man for every 100,000 of population’ & a regime of regulating, inspecting, investigating & enforcing ventilation standards in buildings for public health 8/ ..they had very detailed ventilation standards & buildings were inspected.. including measuring air temperature, humidity, velocity, dust particles &.. CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitoring was used to catch inadequate ventilation 9/

& Chicago had a head start on other cities, having been the first to regulate in 1911, & then having targeted improvements every year in picture-houses, street-cars, restaurants, garages etc .. then in September 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic arrived /10 Chicago had 1,700 street-cars, so ventilation on public transport received a lot of attention.. there were concerns about the cost of improving poor ventilation /11 but The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation prevailed.. 12/ so the Spanish Flu epidemic in Chicago pandemic was fought on the ground with building inspectors.. who measured, targeted & eliminated actual public health risks in actual buildings ‘while the work involved was enormous, the results obtained outweighed the difficulties’ /13

Read more …

“Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play.”

Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)

The coronavirus has dominated all of our lives in recent months. Radical paths were taken by politicians in the form of lockdowns to contain the pandemic. But we should recognize that even if the coronavirus is a (major) challenge for us, we always have to keep a holistic view of world events. Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play. It is precisely these other factors that are so often forgotten in the panicky reporting, in the constant, manic tracking of the current infection numbers, that we want to take a look at in our series “The Costs of Coronavirus Lockdowns” in the coming weeks.

Monetary policy is the second primary tool, alongside fiscal policy, used by governments to influence economic activity. When a crisis hits, an economy is stimulated either by the state budget – which arises from the taxpayers – or silently through monetary expansion. By either lowering interest rates, issuing government-backed securities, or even purchasing corporate bonds the central banks increase the money supply in the economy. Ever since the beginning of the crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve has done all of the above. One of the most popular measures of the money supply used by economists is M1. It consists of the most highly liquid assets. In other words, the most easily exchangeable assets are used as payment for goods and services.

As Trading Economics data shows, the Fed has created 39% of all the “dollars” in the economy in 2020. To put it on its head, in 2020 the Fed has created more money than in almost a hundred years of its existence. Monetary policy effectiveness has its boundaries. As good as it might seem at first glance, creating money “out of thin air” doesn’t bring prosperity. It is true, inflation still hasn’t start banging on our doors. But looking no further than the asset prices, we can see that the low inflation rate is masked by the asset price inflation. Even with the sharp drop of the GDP and an unemployment rate that stands more than double the rate before the crisis started, the S&P 500 is more than 10% higher than on the day the pandemic rolled around. This also shows who profits from the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis: those with assets, i.e. those already wealthy anyway.

Read more …

We know they did. His aid literally said so.

FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)

The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false numbers to the DOJ on nursing home deaths in New York state. Lawyers for the aides have been contacted by the FBI and his office has been subpoenaed, as first reported in the New York Times. According to the Times, interviews with aides have included questions on the reporting of COVID deaths in the state. The FBI traveled to some aides’ homes and interviewed others over the phone. A lawyer for Cuomo’s office said the original numbers submitted to the FBI months ago are factual.


“The submission in response to D.O.J.’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false,” lawyer Elkan Abramowitz said. The news comes as Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, told the New Yorker former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is no longer her “hero” because of her reaction to the Cuomo accusations. “These stories are difficult to read,” the former secretary of state said in a March 1 statement, “and the allegations brought forth raise serious questions that the women who have come forward and all New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

Read more …

Lots of lawsuits, but…

UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)

Earlier this week, Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said during an antitrust hearing that “Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have reached monopoly status, and their behavior won’t change until Congress acts, the enforcement agencies do their job, and the courts move quickly to rein in their predatory conduct.” On Friday, sources told FT that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is preparing an antitrust investigation into Facebook within the coming months, which is the latest crackdown on Silicon Valley’s big tech dominance. Similar probes were launched into Apple and Google earlier this year. Sources said CMA “would take a sweeping look at the way Facebook allegedly uses customer data to squash rivals in social media and online advertising.”

CMA’s potential investigation into Facebook comes as the government agency recently announced inquiries into Apple’s App Store fees and Google’s privacy settings. CMA expects to follow European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into Facebook, launched in December. She told lawmakers in Brussels how big tech is increasingly facing more stringent scrutiny around the world. “It’s a sign that the debate on tech dominance has been shifting over the last couple of years,” Vestager said of the US antitrust move. A person close to the CMA said the focus of the upcoming investigation would be on the social media platform’s digital advertising.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, vowed to take on Facebook and other big tech companies with a series of antitrust cases. He’ll be working with lawmakers in Brussels to combat big tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Facebook requested a federal judge earlier this month to dismiss landmark antitrust suits against it, claiming that its “innovative free products deliver value” is helpful to users, adding there’s no evidence whatsoever of anti-competitively. The Federal Trade Commission and almost every state have filed lawsuits against the social media platform for its market power abuse after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

Read more …

Thomas Frank.

Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)

The Republicans didn’t suffer the landslide defeat they deserved last November; the right is still as potent as ever; therefore Trumpist untruth is responsible for the malfunctioning public mind. Under no circumstances was it the result of the Democrats’ own lackluster performance, their refusal to reach out to the alienated millions with some kind of FDR-style vision of social solidarity. Or perhaps this new taste for censorship is an indication of Democratic healthiness. This is a party that has courted professional-managerial elites for decades, and now they have succeeded in winning them over, along with most of the wealthy areas where such people live. Liberals scold and supervise like an offended ruling class because to a certain extent that’s who they are.

More and more, they represent the well-credentialed people who monitor us in the workplace, and more and more do they act like it. What all this censorship talk really is, though, is a declaration of defeat – defeat before the Biden administration has really begun. To give up on free speech is to despair of reason itself. (Misinformation, we read in the New York Times, is impervious to critical thinking.) The people simply cannot be persuaded; something more forceful is in order; they must be guided by we, the enlightened; and the first step in such a program is to shut off America’s many burbling fountains of bad takes.

Let me confess: every time I read one of these stories calling on us to get over free speech or calling on Mark Zuckerberg to press that big red “mute” button on our political opponents, I feel a wave of incredulity sweep over me. Liberals believe in liberty, I tell myself. This can’t really be happening here in the USA. But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right’s class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for – a betrayal that we will spend years living down – may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true.

Read more …

“..journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia..”

How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)

[..] The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” [..] the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid.

Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform. Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”

And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials.

[..] The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia.

Read more …

“Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet..”

Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)

A federal judge this week said that the Democrat Party is close to controlling the press as he detailed what he described as shocking bias against Republicans. D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman outlined his opposition to the Supreme Court’s key decision in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan, which has since protected many media outlets from lawsuits. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, wrote that the ruling is “a threat to American Democracy” and must be overturned. “The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions. Our court was once concerned about the institutional consolidation of the press leading to a ‘bland and homogenous’ marketplace of ideas. It turns out that ideological consolidation of the press (helped along by economic consolidation) is the far greater threat,” he continued.


“Although the bias against the Republican Party—not just controversial individuals—is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along,” he added.

Read more …

Project Veritas hardly ever loses a suit.

NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)

A defamation suit from Project Veritas against the New York Times is moving forward, as a judge has ruled the newspaper posed opinion as fact in their coverage of the conservative news outlet. A New York Supreme Court judge handed Veritas, known for its undercover and whistleblowing videos, a big “win” this week, allowing a defamation suit against the paper and two reporters to proceed forward. In the ruling denying a motion to dismiss the suit, the Times was accused of acting with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” in multiple articles covering a 2020 video report from Veritas on alleged illegal voting practices taking place in Minnesota. It was not the only voter fraud allegation Veritas covered in 2020, with one video expose actually leading to the arrest of a Texas political consultant on charges of election fraud and illegal voting.


In the Minnesota video, multiple people are seen taking part in or discussing ballot harvesting and linking the act to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). The report alleged ballots were being paid for and even filled out for voters to favor certain candidates. One ballot harvester featured in the video, Liban Osman, has since claimed footage of him was heavily edited and that he was offered money to connect the alleged fraud to Omar – an allegation Project Veritas denied. The five Times articles in question called Veritas’ Minnesota videos deceptive, but Justice Charles Wood determined this was not fact, but rather opinion from reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu. “The Articles that are the subject of this action called the Video ‘deceptive,’ but the dictionary definitions of ‘disinformation’ and ‘deceptive’ provided by defendants’ counsel certainly apply to Astor’s and Hsu’s failure to note that they injected their opinions in news articles, as they now claim,” he wrote in his decision.

Read more …

“..a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.”

The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)

By some estimates, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans manage to avoid paying about a quarter trillion dollars of owed taxes every single year. Now, new government data show that audits of the super-rich and large corporations have hit a new low, leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments. In response, two progressive Democratic lawmakers have authored legislation cracking down on tax evasion. The new Internal Revenue Service figures compiled by Syracuse University researchers show that in the last eight years, there has been a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.


Source: Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Similarly, there has also been a 55-percent drop in the number of audits of America’s largest corporations. In 2012, almost all corporate giants were audited. In 2020, however, almost two thirds of those corporations were not subjected to audits. Amid this decline in scrutiny of the rich, a letter to the Biden administration from 88 progressive groups pointed out: “Since 2011, audit rates for millionaires, who are disproportionately white, have dropped more than twice as much as for taxpayers claiming the (Earned Income Tax Credit), who are disproportionately people of color. Audit coverage is now the heaviest in many low-income majority-Black counties.” The sharp reduction in audits of the rich contributes to the tax gap between the amount of taxes owed and paid.


In 2012, audits of wealthy individuals and large corporations recovered roughly $29 billion of revenue. Eight years later, the far fewer audits recovered less than $7 billion. IRS referrals for criminal prosecution and Justice Department tax convictions have both hit an all-time low. “At a time when Americans face growing economic inequality and financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS is letting billions of dollars in tax revenue slip through its fingers,” wrote Syracuse researchers. “As public attention focuses on how the country can restore faith in our democratic institutions, one area that should not be overlooked is how the nation can better ensure that our income tax laws are fairly and effectively administered.”

Read more …

“The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution../”

Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

What matters more: Rulings from overseas courts, or laws made by politicians back home? That’s the question Russian officials are weighing up, after a string of court orders they say are at odds with the country’s own principles. An international legal battle over the collapsed Yukos oil empire has been raging for more than a decade in courts across the world, most notably in the Netherlands and the US. A record-breaking $57 billion legal bill now hangs in the balance. Former shareholders in the now-defunct company accuse the Russian government, which regards them as oligarchs acting in bad faith, of “appropriating” its assets and causing it to go bankrupt. Appealing initial decisions by a Dutch tribunal in favor of the claimants, the country’s lawyers have said that judges had failed to take into account Russian laws against corruption and fraud.

According to Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko, the case is part of a “legal war” being waged against the country in international courts. “The situation is very difficult and serious,” he said. “Russia must adequately defend itself, and sometimes even attack back.” Quite how the state might strike back became clear in December, when the Constitutional Court, one of its highest judicial bodies, ruled that Moscow should refuse to pay the colossal sum if it loses the latest ongoing appeal over Yukos. The case is being litigated under the terms of the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed up to but never ratified, with foreign courts insisting they still have jurisdiction. The Russian judges claim that entering into the pact and supposedly agreeing to foreign mediation broke a fundamental provision of the country’s constitution.

Specifically, judges said, subjugating national laws to international rulings is against those principles, and therefore, when Boris Yeltsin’s government entered into the treaty in 1994, it did so on an invalid basis. No leader, the court claimed, has the right to trade away the sovereign right of self-determination, or to “challenge the competence” of Russian courts. If the judges in The Hague eventually uphold the decision to hand the multibillion-dollar sum to those who lost cash after the collapse of Yukos, stumping up the funds would therefore be optional, the ruling insists. This decision would effectively cut Moscow free from any obligations to foreign courts under the terms of treaties it might have signed, and acting on it would put the country on a collision course with the West, which could look to take unilateral action to enforce any settlement.

[..] Speaking ahead of a national vote on the constitution last year, President Vladimir Putin set out in no uncertain terms that he views domestic laws as more important than overseas rulings, a position that he shares at times with leaders in the US and China. “I believe that the time has come to make some changes,” he said, “which directly guarantees the priority of the Russian constitution in our legal environment.” “The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution,” Putin added.

[..] Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the country to release jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The anti-corruption activist is serving time in prison after being found guilty of breaching the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud. In a statement, the Strasbourg-based court said “a Chamber of Seven judges of the Court decided… to indicate to the Government of Russia… to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect.” However, the country’s Justice Ministry rejected the calls outright, saying that they were “unenforceable” and unprecedented for a number of reasons. “Firstly, this is a clear and gross interference in the activities of the judiciary of a sovereign state. Secondly, this demand is unreasonable and unlawful, since… it does not include a single rule of law that would allow the court to make such a decision.”

Read more …

 

 

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


Pablo Picasso Woman sitting in a armchair 1910

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will they know the difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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Growacet.

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

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

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


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

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That’s less than vitamin D?!

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

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

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


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

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It’s become a joke.

Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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Drip every day drip.

Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)

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


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

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What job did they give Victoria Nuland in the end?

The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)

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

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


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

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AOC!

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

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


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

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

CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)

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

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


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

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It’s been turned into a joke.

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

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

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


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

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


Paul Gauguin Yellow haystacks (Golden harvest) 1889

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rights Of The Naturally Immune (AIER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From Greece. Dysfunctional.

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

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


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

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

Generation Threatened As Pandemic Sets Back Childhood Development (Barrons)

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


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

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‘opinion corridor’

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

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

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

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

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Inevitable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“thromboembolic events.”

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

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


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

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Drip.

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

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

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

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

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Where is the press? Where is AOC?

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

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

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

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

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CPI is of Course Complete Baloney, But

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

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


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

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The real WWIII?

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

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


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

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Glad I have a platform.

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers (Greenwald)

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Question — Time vs Money (Ren.)

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Words are sacred. They
deserve respect. If you
get the right ones, in
the right order, you
can nudge the world
a little…

– Tom Stoppard

 

 

fed chairs

 

 

 

 

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Mar 102021
 
 March 10, 2021  Posted by at 10:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  38 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Pink peach trees (Souvenir de mauve) 1888

 

Lockdowns the ‘Biggest Public Health Mistake We’ve Ever Made’ (NW)
Coronavirus Variants To Evolve, Escape Current Generation Of Vaccines (RT)
Growing Covid Inequality Virus To Fuel Popular Rebellions Across The World (RT)
In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab (Pol.)
Incompetence and Corruption Allegations Blight Germany’s Handling Of Covid (RT)
Covid Has Exposed Dire Position Of England’s Local Councils (G.)
The Best Way to Rob a Bank (Ben Hunt)
European Parliament Lifts Immunity Of Catalonia MEPs (RT)
Cuomo Gave Bond Deals To His Wall Street Donors (IBT)
Twitter Sues Texas AG (ZH)
Massive Secret UK Propaganda Campaign in Former Soviet Republics (MPN)
White House Won’t Admit Biden’s Dealing With A Border Crisis (RT)
Secret Service Agent Saves Biden As Reporter Tries To Ask A Question (BBee)
OECD Believes Biden Stimulus Will Boost World GDP (ZH)
The Biden Blitz Is Coming (Pol.)

 

 

Giant iceberg.

 

 

 

 

 

I know I wrote a year ago that lockdowns work. But obviously, that was not about year-long ones. A few weeks when nothing is clear about a virus makes sense. What happens now does not.

“The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.”

Lockdowns the ‘Biggest Public Health Mistake We’ve Ever Made’ (NW)

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School, recently said that COVID-19 lockdowns are the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made…The harm to people is catastrophic.” Several U.S. states have started to ease their COVID-19 restrictions over the past few weeks. Bhattacharya, who made the comments during an interview with the Daily Clout, co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that calls for the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, claiming that they are “producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.” As of Monday, the Great Barrington Declaration has received signatures from over 13,000 medical and public health scientists, more than 41,000 medical practitioners and at least 754,399 “concerned citizens.”

During the interview last month, Bhattacharya said that the declaration comes from “two basic facts.” “One is that people who are older have a much higher risk from dying from COVID than people who are younger…and that’s a really important fact because we know who his most vulnerable, it’s people that are older. So the first plank of the Great Barrington Declaration: let’s protect the vulnerable,” Bhattacharya said. “The other idea is that the lockdowns themselves impose great harm on people. Lockdowns are not a natural normal way to live.” He continued, “it’s also not very equal. People who are poor face much more hardship from the lockdowns than people who are rich.”

In an email sent to Newsweek, Bhattacharya wrote: “I stand behind my comment that the lockdowns are the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years. We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms, imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth, for a generation. At the same time, they have not served to control the epidemic in the places where they have been most vigorously imposed. In the US, they have – at best – protected the “non-essential” class from COVID, while exposing the essential working class to the disease. The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.”

Read more …

Get healthy. Now.

Coronavirus Variants To Evolve, Escape Current Generation Of Vaccines (RT)

A new study examining the efficacy of current generation of vaccines against the UK and South Africa variants of SARS-CoV-2 makes for sobering reading, and raises the specter of widespread reinfection. The study, published in Nature on March 8, warns that the current generation of vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments may lose the arms race against the coronavirus, raising the daunting, open-ended possibility of reinfection unless vaccine rollout is greatly expedited worldwide to prevent further mutations. The study’s findings are currently being borne out amid the latest results concerning the Novavax vaccine, which reported a 90 percent efficacy rate against the UK variant but only 49.4 percent efficacy in combating the South African variant.

“Our study and the new clinical trial data show that the virus is traveling in a direction that is causing it to escape from our current vaccines and therapies that are directed against the viral spike,” says the study’s lead author, David Ho. Ho warned that, with continuing “rampant spread” of the virus in certain areas of the globe, humanity “may be condemned to chasing after the evolving SARS-CoV-2 continually, as we have long done for influenza virus.” He called for redoubled mitigation efforts in concert with expedited vaccine rollouts, arguing that time is of the essence when it comes to eradicating the threat posed by the coronavirus permanently, rather than allowing it to mutate and linger indefinitely.

Ho and his team found that antibodies in recipients of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines were less effective at neutralizing the UK and South African variants, with a two-fold drop in efficacy in the case of the former, and up to an 8.5-fold drop in neutralizing activity with the latter. “The drop in neutralizing activity against the South Africa variant is appreciable, and we’re now seeing, based on the Novavax results, that this is causing a reduction in protective efficacy,” Ho says.

Read more …

“As we come out of our lockdowns blinking in the light of our empty and boarded up town centres, global civil unrest seems inevitable.”

Growing Covid Inequality Virus To Fuel Popular Rebellions Across The World (RT)

As the gap between rich and poor rapidly worsens during the pandemic, you can detect a surge in support for revolutions and remedies. But instead of truly tackling the underlying problems, governments will react with repression. There’s a sense of some relief in the UK that the Covid-19 year of lockdowns, illness and industrial-scale death tolls that have seen our health care services overwhelmed may finally be coming to an end. Even a Tory-hating cynic like me has to grudgingly admit that the country’s vaccination programme has been a success. The sheer numbers of people getting the jab – 20m-plus as of the start of this week – has been impressive. It has started to open debates about possible summer holidays, travelling to see family, even going to festivals and gigs – a welcome silver lining. But the rhetoric coming from the government that better times are on the way is just political BS. The hope of a brighter future is misplaced.

There are some dark storm clouds of reality moving in at a fast pace that may well be more deadly that the virus: the spectres of growing global inequality, of widespread poverty and mass unemployment, and of the vast majority of us being under the control of an emboldened elite that through the pandemic has increased its wealth, power and political influence. Research shows that those who were already rich have increased that wealth exponentially, while those who were at the bottom have sunk even lower. An Oxfam report earlier this year showed not only that wealth inequality was deepening and becoming more entrenched, but also that policies enacted by governments around the world have resulted in giving even more billions to the super-rich while denuding the poorest.

[..] As we come out of our lockdowns blinking in the light of our empty and boarded up town centres, global civil unrest seems inevitable. Studies have shown that when inequality worsens, revolutionary fervour grows and states become unstable and unsafe. We can see the first rumblings, from anger in Poland, riots in the Netherlands, to protests in Denmark, Belgium and France and sporadic demonstrations in other countries. How far will it go lies in the hands of governments. In past times of hardship, governments have used the welfare state as a prop to keep their populations from the edge of starvation and away from full-blown insurrection. But most are running out of road this time. They’ve hugely increased borrowing to keep a semblance of their economies going during the shutdowns, and have little room for maneuver.

After the banking crash of 2008, most governments slashed and burned their welfare states to bail out the bankers and now do not have that crutch. Governments all over the globe are going to have to make tough choices. Are they going to genuinely confront the growing wealth inequality, which they know destabilizes democracies as the social contract is compromised and broken?

Read more …

“..the name of the laboratory was familiar. Its research on bat viruses had already drawn the attention of U.S. diplomats and officials at the Beijing Embassy in late 2017..”

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab (Pol.)

On January 15, in its last days, President Donald Trump’s State Department put out a statement with serious claims about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement said the U.S. intelligence community had evidence that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory were sick with Covid-like symptoms in autumn 2019—implying the Chinese government had hidden crucial information about the outbreak for months—and that the WIV lab, despite “presenting itself as a civilian institution,” was conducting secret research projects with the Chinese military. The State Department alleged a Chinese government cover-up and asserted that “Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.”

The exact origin of the new coronavirus remains a mystery to this day, but the search for answers is not just about assigning blame. Unless the source is located, the true path of the virus can’t be traced, and scientists can’t properly study the best ways to prevent future outbreaks. The original Chinese government story, that the pandemic spread from a seafood market in Wuhan, was the first and therefore most widely accepted theory. But cracks in that theory slowly emerged throughout the late winter and spring of 2020. The first known case of Covid-19 in Wuhan, it was revealed in February, had no connection to the market. The Chinese government closed the market in January and sanitized it before proper samples could be taken. It wouldn’t be until May that the Chinese Centers for Disease Control disavowed the market theory, admitting it had no idea how the outbreak began, but by then it had become the story of record, in China and internationally.

In the spring of 2020, inside the U.S. government, some officials began to see and collect evidence of a different, perhaps more troubling theory—that the outbreak had a connection to one of the laboratories in Wuhan, among them the WIV, a world leading center of research on bat coronaviruses. To some inside the government, the name of the laboratory was familiar. Its research on bat viruses had already drawn the attention of U.S. diplomats and officials at the Beijing Embassy in late 2017, prompting them to alert Washington that the lab’s own scientists had reported “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.” But their cables to Washington were ignored.

When I published the warnings from these cables in April 2020, they added fuel to a debate that had already gone from a scientific and forensic question to a hot-button political issue, as the previously internal U.S. government debate over the lab’s possible connection spilled into public view. The next day, Trump said he was “investigating,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Beijing to “come clean” about the origin of the outbreak. Two weeks later, Pompeo said there was “enormous evidence” pointing to the lab, but he didn’t provide any of said evidence. As Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s relationship unraveled and administration officials openly blamed the Wuhan lab, the U.S.-China relationship only went further downhill.

Read more …

“..he was paid €600,000 for lobbying a mask supplier..”

Incompetence and Corruption Allegations Blight Germany’s Handling Of Covid (RT)

Allegations of German politicians at the highest level of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government profiteering from the pandemic have rocked a nation sick of lockdown restrictions, struggling with a stubborn Covid-19 infection rate and a shambolic vaccine rollout. A leading figure in Germany’s largest opposition party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Euro MP Gunnar Beck, fears the corruption could go deeper, telling me, “While two of Mrs. Merkel’s allies have been found out and resigned from their parties so far, the odds are there are significantly more involved in this corrupt behaviour.”

German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that up to a dozen MPs might be involved in the face-masks-for-kickbacks scandal where two key MPs were allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of euros in exchange for facilitating lucrative government contracts. Beck said the environment for corruption became apparent at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak. “There was an acute shortage of face masks and other relevant equipment in Germany and predominantly foreign companies were looking to shift production and take advantage of that situation,” he said. “They were looking for quick and smooth access to government deals and it appears that some MPs provided such access in return for significant financial gain that was straightforwardly unlawful.

“So not only do we have incompetence that led to a shortage of protective equipment in the first place, it seems we have incontrovertible evidence of widespread corruption. Incompetent and corrupt; those are the two adjectives that characterise the German government’s whole approach to the coronavirus crisis.” The two politicians embroiled in the scandal have quit not only their parliamentary posts but their political parties as well, with the Christian Democrats’ (CDU) Nikolas Loebel, 34, announcing that he was to quit politics altogether, leaving his parliamentary seat, a post on the Foreign Affairs Committee and his party with immediate effect.

Resigning, Loebel said: “I take responsibility for my actions and draw the necessary political consequences.” He had admitted that a firm he ran earned €250,000 commission from face mask sales. Georg Nuesslein, a 51-year-old MP with Christian Socialist Union (CSU) the sister party of Merkel’s CDU has denied charges stemming from an inquiry into alleged bribery after accusations were made that he was paid €600,000 for lobbying a mask supplier during the first wave of the pandemic.

Read more …

This we will see all over the world. Local governments have lost far too much revenue.

Covid Has Exposed Dire Position Of England’s Local Councils (G.)

The pandemic has a habit of bringing hidden social crises into the open. Now it reveals the precarious position of local government, the provider of vital services from care homes to public health and bin collection, which has helped keep the show on the road in the UK’s biggest national emergency since the second world war. The National Audit Office (NAO) account of the near implosion of England’s local councils during Covid is sobering: only by the government’s swift, if grudging, injection of billions of pounds of emergency cash into council coffers over recent months did ministers avert what the auditors call “system-wide financial failure”.

The watchdog rightly praises ministers for this: the consequences of scores of local authorities having to declare bankruptcy in the middle of lockdown are frightening. But it makes two other points: first, that 10 years of austerity made municipal finances structurally fragile; and second, that councils’ budget crisis isn’t over. It makes clear successive Tory governments not only dismantled the town hall roof but failed to fix it by the time hurricane Covid blew in. Council spending was cut by a third, rising demand for social care was ignored and council budgets made reliant on the whims of local income, whether council tax or car parking charges.

Grand, longstanding government plans to reform local government and social care funding failed to materialise. For years, councils patched up their threadbare budgets by using up financial reserves and cutting frontline services. The more ambitious borrowed billions to spend on risky office and retail investments. So when Covid arrived, council spending rocketed, income crashed and many found they had little in the way of rainy-day cash reserves. As the NAO puts it: “Funding reductions … means that authorities’ finances were potentially more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic that they would have been otherwise.”

Read more …

… is to own a bank. Greensill is a pretty unbelievable story.

The Best Way to Rob a Bank (Ben Hunt)

Is this a Madoff Moment for the unicorn market? Honestly, if you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you that a Madoff Moment was impossible in our narrative-consumed, speak-no-evil market world of 2021. Now I’m not sure. We’ll see, but I think this has legs. By all rights, Greensill – the eponymously named investment bank started by former Citigroup and Morgan Stanley banker Lex Greensill in 2011 – should have been shot between the eyes in 2019. That’s when their “supply-chain finance” loans, in this case to the steel and energy companies of the UK’s “Savior of Steel”, Sanjeev Gupta, blew up Swiss asset manager GAM’s $11 billion flagship fund, the Absolute Return Bond Fund (ARBF).

It’s a story as old as capital markets … Greensill lent Gupta a lot of money, Greensill wined and dined and private jetted ARBF portfolio manager Tim Haywood, and so naturally Haywood bought as much of the Greensill-originated loans as humanly possible, topping out at 12% of ARBF NAV. LOL. The loans, of course, were not as they seem, Gupta’s companies were nowhere near as solid as they were represented, and GAM ended up firing Haywood and seeing their stock price crater. The GAM CEO got fired, lots of people lost lots of money … end of the road for Greensill, right? Nope. Enter Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, who ended up putting $1.5 billion into Greensill in 2019 through Softbank and then another $1.5 billion into Greensill through the Vision Fund, becoming Greensill’s largest investor and diluting the prior largest investor – General Atlantic – from a 15% to a 7% position. And then the fun begins.

Since that 2019 rescue, Greensill has lent billions of dollars to Softbank and General Atlantic affiliates (mostly Softbank, but GA looks plenty stinky here), loans that were then bought by Credit Suisse funds and laundered by Greensill’s German bank subsidiary. Now when I say ‘laundered’, I don’t mean that metaphorically. The German banking and markets regulator, BaFin, has suspended Greensill’s banking license and referred the case for criminal prosecution.

Here’s an example of how the scam worked. Again, it’s a story as old as capital markets. In early 2020, Greensill lent Softbank portfolio company Katerra $435 million. The company ran into … errr … operational difficulties, and Softbank ponied up $200 million in additional capital last December. For its part, Greensill wrote off the $435 million loan in exchange for … again, wait for it … 5% of common equity. LOL. The $9 billion valuation for Katerra (I am not making this up) was determined by Softbank, of course, and so the Greensill German bank subsidiary reported on its balance sheet that all was well. A $435 million senior loan, secured by trade receivables, was exchanged for a 5% equity position in a bankrupt company, with no loss reported. Seems fair! As always, the best way to rob a bank is to own a bank.

Read more …

This doesn’t smell right.

European Parliament Lifts Immunity Of Catalonia MEPs (RT)

The European Parliament has voted to strip MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati of immunity, paving the way for their extradition to Spain over their roles in the outlawed 2017 Catalonia independence referendum. The three politicians were elected to the European Parliament in 2019, after having fled Spain two years earlier to avoid arrest warrants for sedition, after they helped to organize and run the 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, despite it being banned by Spain’s central government. Spain had asked the European Parliament to vote to strip the three politicians of immunity last year but that vote had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Puigdemont lost his immunity in a 400-248 vote, while Comin and Ponsati lost their protection in a 404 to 247 ballot, confirming a recommendation that was made by a European parliament committee last month. The committee’s report had laid out how the three individuals should lose their protection against the charges filed by Spain, as the crimes they are accused of committing occurred before they took office and was unrelated to their work as MEPs. The three individuals will now be at risk of being extradited back to Spain to face charges, with the countries they are currently seeking refuge in left to decide whether to fulfil the judicial request from Spain. Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, and Comin, the region’s former education minister, both reside in Belgium, while Ponsati, the ex-health minister, is currently living in Scotland.

Read more …

Drip.

Cuomo Gave Bond Deals To His Wall Street Donors (IBT)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has since 2012 taken in more than $131,000 in campaign contributions from three major financial firms that were then tapped by his administration to manage state bond work, according to an International Business Times review of campaign finance documents and state bond prospectuses. The Democratic governor accepted the money — and his officials handed out the government business without competitive bids — despite federal rules that bar campaign contributors from receiving taxpayer-financed state bond work. Last week, Cuomo officials designated the three banks that contributed the campaign funds — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America — as the dealers for a $33 million bond issue, enabling the firms to reap lucrative fees.

That came on top of the Cuomo administration assigning the firms to manage a $68 million bond issue last fall, even as federal law enforcement officials were investigating allegations that New York lawmakers were doing favors for political donors. Federal rules bar states from awarding bond work to parties who have donated to gubernatorial campaigns within the last two years (more than $86,000 of the campaign cash from the firms flowed to Cuomo in the last two years). The rules aim to prevent financial firms from gaining influence over officials who have the power to select which firms receive the lucrative bond business. The rules explicitly seek to stop financial companies from circumventing those strictures: They prohibit firms from channeling contributions to bond overseers through PACs, which are giant pools of money distributed to multiple campaign war chests.

“The pay-to-play rules are very clear,” said Craig Holman, an ethics expert at the watchdog group Public Citizen. “If Andrew Cuomo’s receiving any money from a PAC controlled by a municipal dealer, he’d be in violation of pay-to-play rules.”

Read more …

Split it up into baby Twiiters.

Twitter Sues Texas AG (ZH)

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming that he used his office to retaliate against the social media giant for banning former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, according to the Associated Press. Following Trump’s banishment by several left-leaning companies, Paxton announced that his office was investigating Twitter, Apple, Google and Amazon for what he called “the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President.” He made several document requests related to their content moderation policies, as well as internal communications. Twitter demands that the court effectively halt Paxton’s investigation.

“Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees,” wrote Twitter’s lawyers in the suit filed in a Northern California court. Twitter’s counterpunch comes as states, in addition to federal lawmakers and governments outside the U.S., are cracking down on tech companies they see as having amassed too much power in the past decade. This includes antitrust and anti-monopoly regulation, internet privacy laws as well as attempts to regulate how platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others moderate their sites.

In December, Paxton led 10 Republican attorneys general in suing Google for allegedly running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly in cahoots with Facebook. GOP politicians in roughly two dozen states have also introduced bills that would allow for civil lawsuits against platforms for what they call the “censorship” of posts. Almost always, this means what they view as the censorship of conservative or Christian religious viewpoints. -Associated Press Paxton cited the First Amendment while launching his investigation, claiming that tech companies’ deplatforming of Trump “chills free speech” and “wholly silences” his detractors.

Read more …

Bellingcat.

Massive Secret UK Propaganda Campaign in Former Soviet Republics (MPN)

Standing against the scorching blue backdrop at the EU podium in late 2017, then British Prime Minister Theresa May mendaciously promised to “counter [Russian] disinformation” in all the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Baltics by pledging €110 Million ($130 Million) over five years to fight the Kremlin’s influence in the region. A massive data leak published by the Anonymous hacktivist group this past February has revealed how some of that money was used to create and disseminate disinformation, alternate narratives and effectuate the outright manipulation of media by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) through a number of partnerships with stalwart disinformation outfits like Bellingcat, established information warfare specialist firms like the Zinc Network among dozens more that were working in secret with the governmental entity responsible for promoting British interests around the world.

Several different operations dedicated to a specific region or country have been discovered so far, as reporters sift through the trove of documents. Highly sophisticated and disturbingly insidious propaganda campaigns to influence society, mold perceptions about Russia, and affect political outcomes were carried out by teams of Western media organizations, consultants, paid assets, and operatives from the Baltics to the shores of the Mediterranean. The Open Information Partnership (OIP), as one of these far-reaching operations is named, received funding from the FCDO, according to RT, of at least £10 Million and was comprised of 44 partners, among which the aforementioned Bellingcat and Zinc, were joined by the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab and London-based NGO Media Diversity Institute and others.

Billed as a “diverse network of organisations and individuals united in our determination to expose and counter disinformation,” OIP’s partners had their agents strewn across Central and Eastern Europe to deliver on the scope of work delineated in its contracts with the FCDO, which would determine what locations to target at any given moment. North Macedonia was selected early on and Zinc initiated the operation by identifying the largest media outlet in the country, MOST Network. The information warfare outfit and OIP partners approached DFRLab and Bellingcat to offer a two-week course on “cyber security training, mentoring on digital forensics, open source investigation and media ethics.”

Although the documents don’t provide specific dates, it is inferred that the 2019 election in North Macedonia was what moved the FCDO to prioritize it at that time, given the choice between pro-EU and pro-Russia candidates. A recent RT exposé revealed disinformation efforts by the UK that predate May’s speech by at least a year, targeting ethnic Russians in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. A 2016 request for proposal issued by the FCDO seeks contractors to “provide overt innovative soft power interventions that will foster better links between the United Kingdom and individuals in the Baltic States whose primary language is Russian.”

Read more …

“.. if illegal crossing attempts continue at the rate they’ve been going in the last four months, the final tally by the end of this fiscal year will surpass 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined.”

White House Won’t Admit Biden’s Dealing With A Border Crisis (RT)

The fruits of Joe Biden’s border policies are already apparent: a tripling of children detained at the border, and crossings set to hit record levels. Yet the administration refuses to acknowledge it has a crisis on its hands. The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern US border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. These children are filling the same Customs and Border Patrol facilities that Biden himself called “inhumane” during his 2020 campaign, and the “overflow shelters” opened by the Biden administration are nearing capacity. On top of the surge in child arrivals, agents encountered 78,000 migrants attempting to cross the border in January, the highest number for that month in more than a decade.

John Modlin, the interim chief in charge of the Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona sector, told Sinclair reporter Sharyl Attkisson on Sunday that if illegal crossing attempts continue at the rate they’ve been going in the last four months, the final tally by the end of this fiscal year will surpass 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined. This uptick in illegal immigration has been directly linked to Biden’s near-total reversal of former president Donald Trump’s tougher border policies. Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was eliminated by executive order, and migrants awaiting their asylum claims in Mexico have now begun heading north to the US. Biden has also modified Trump’s policy of turning back all border crossers during the Covid-19 pandemic, carving out an exception for under-18s, hence the surge in unaccompanied minors highlighted by the New York Times.

Among his flurry of executive orders overturning Trump’s border policies, Biden resurrected the so-called ‘Catch and Release’ program, an Obama-era policy suspended by Trump, under which migrants apprehended at the border would be released in the US, on the condition that they later show up for an immigration court hearing. Unsurprisingly, few ever do, and even those who play by the rules face a wait time of up to 689 days. Critics claim that ‘Catch and Release’ effectively invites migrants to make the journey to the US, and Biden has faced criticism even from within his own party for reinstating the policy. “I don’t think, quite frankly, the Biden administration was aware of what’s happening on the ground here,” Texas State Senator Juan Hinojosa told The Hill on Sunday. “The Border Patrol is overwhelmed, they’re throwing their hands up because they don’t know what to do.”

Psaki

Read more …

“My training kicked in and I leapt into action. I’m just happy I was able to make a difference.”

Secret Service Agent Saves Biden As Reporter Tries To Ask A Question (BBee)

In an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism, a Secret Service agent dove in front of Biden to block a question from a pesky reporter. As Biden slowly stepped out of his vehicle, a nosy reporter rudely attempted to ask him intrusive questions about things that were none of her business. “Nooooooooooo!” said agent James Carter as the CBS reporter raised her hand to ask a completely inappropriate question– possibly about the Middle East, or executive orders. Carter ran up to the president, arms outstretched, and dove through the air to shield the president from the incoming query.


“It’s like everything went into slow motion,” said Agent Carter. “My training kicked in and I leapt into action. I’m just happy I was able to make a difference.” Carter took the entire force of the blow from the incoming question before collapsing to the ground. “Hey– lookie there, they fly now!” said President Biden. “Hey there young man, would you mind not flying in front of me while I exit my vehicle? I have to get to the Oval Office in time for Matlock.” The Secret Service agent sustained minor injuries but is grateful to have saved the president from a reporter’s unwelcome question. “Just doing my job,” he said.

Read more …

Moar.

OECD Believes Biden Stimulus Will Boost World GDP (ZH)

A global economic recovery is coming in hotter and faster than previously anticipated by the OECD as President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus program will boost not just the domestic economy but the world. The Paris-based organization upgraded its outlook for global growth on Tuesday in a note titled “The need for speed: faster vaccine rollout critical to stronger recovery,” where it explains global output could surge above pre-pandemic levels by the second half of 2021 as vaccine rollouts and stimulus aid the recovery but warned of unevenness. In Europe, measures to boost output will result in slower growth, with the OECD lowering France and Italy’s outlook this year. It also warned accommodative policies should not be prematurely tightened.

OECD estimates global GDP growth will print around 5.6% this year, an upward revision of more than one percentage point since its December 2020 report. Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist, told the Financial Times that the stimulus bill – known as the American Rescue Plan – will add one percentage point to global economic growth in 2021. There are consequences to governments and monetary authorities across the planet printing like there was no tomorrow – that is – a sharp rise in inflation expectations are putting pressure on central banks to adopt some form of the yield curve control to cap the long end of the curve. It has also added to a violent shift from growth to value, where the once favored tech stocks have lost their luster, such as TSLA, NFLX, and AMZN, as investors pivot to value companies like XOM.

Boone doesn’t believe the stimulus package will increase domestic inflation to dangerous levels because “there is a lot of slack in US labor markets,” she said. “The amazing fiscal support everywhere means that we have preserved the economic fabric across OECD countries. Even in emerging markets, we’ve seen amazing policy support,” Boone said.

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Babylon Bee outdone by Politico. “A sales job”. Indeed.

The Biden Blitz Is Coming (Pol.)

President Joe Biden spent the first months of his presidency hunkered down as he worked on getting more vaccines into people’s arms and a massive bill to deal with the pandemic to his desk. With that $1.9 trillion legislation set to clear Congress and the pace of vaccinations picking up, the White House is preparing to embark on a new, far more public-facing phase. Biden is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address as president Thursday, which will focus on the Covid crisis. Later this month, he’ll hold the first press conference of his young presidency. He’s committed to making a still-unscheduled address to Congress. And officials are busy preparing for a sprawling sales campaign designed to draw attention to the benefits of the Covid-relief package. Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and others will hit the road to tout, among other things: the $1,400 checks, how billions of dollars in the bill will reopen schools, and the investments being made in increasing the numbers of vaccinations.

“There are a lot of people who use the term ‘victory lap’ in a derogatory way. I’ve already heard people saying that Biden is about to take a victory lap. Well, that’s a lot of crap,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close Biden ally. “One of the—if not the biggest—mistakes that Obama made, in my opinion, was getting the Recovery Act done and not explaining to people what he had done.” Biden and top administration officials acknowledged they’ll have to do more to ensure the benefits of their package sink into the public’s consciousness. And they’ve spent weeks carefully planning how best to begin their efforts while much of the country remains consumed by the pandemic. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that once the American Rescue Plan is signed, “We will need to do some work and use our best voices.”

Part of the White House strategy before the Covid package passed was aimed at avoiding the kinds of storyline distractions that Biden can sometimes create in less guarded moments. That’s one reason the White House so far has avoided putting Biden in front of reporters for more in-depth questioning. The upcoming sales job will require Biden to assume a new posture: fewer scripted events and private dealings with lawmakers, more interactions with the press and appearances before the public. That will give the president opportunities to make more emotional appeals, such as highlighting older family members finally being able to get together with their grandchildren.

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Mar 052021
 
 March 5, 2021  Posted by at 10:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Landscape with House and Ploughman 1889

 

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)
Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)
eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)
WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)
Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)
Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)
White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)
How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)
Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)
Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)
Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)
The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)
71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)
Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

 

 

Bit of a strange news day, it seems incoherent, maybe that’s just me. What I do notice is the increasing pressure to promote vaccines, as in this:

Washington Post: The anti-vaccine movement is comparable to domestic terrorism, and must be treated that way

Pfizer not only gets governments to first fund research, then purchase billions of doses, it now also gets them to pay for their advertizing.

They’ll shame and threaten you for asking questions about untested substances, and call you anti-vaxxers.

 

 

 

 

“In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Who’s doing the denying here?

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)

In England, the NHS signed up Elton John and Michael Caine for a lighthearted social media campaign aiming to convince the public that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. In Germany, a more sober public information campaign has been led by a virologist and health workers. And in France and elsewhere there have been no mass campaigns aimed at driving up vaccine acceptance. Government attempts to drive up vaccine acceptance will come under increasing scrutiny in the coming months as more jabs are made available. Public health experts say they have to walk a fine line between boosting trust and not being seen to force the jab on the public.

Germany’s campaign, called Germany Pulls Up Its Sleeves, has run across radio, regional newspapers and billboard posters. At a time when the public is being urged to stay at home and avoid commuting, the health ministry chose to spend more than half of its €25m campaign budget on outdoor advertising. A new campaign aimed at spreading confidence among younger people is due to launch when the vaccine becomes more widely available. In France there has been no major mass information campaign. Instead, the prime minister, Jean Castex, the health minister, Olivier Véran, and the country’s “Monsieur Vaccin”, Prof Alain Fischer, who is overseeing the programme, give weekly televised press conferences to update on progress and announce when different groups will be eligible for a shot.

In the US, the federal government is holding off on a nationwide push to raise awareness until vaccine supply increases, and is instead focusing its efforts on vaccine-hesitant minority communities. “When it comes to shifting attitudes to vaccines, it is crucial to distinguish between public information campaigns that seek to educate the public and those that seek to persuade them,” said Philipp Schmid, a behavioural scientist researching vaccine scepticism at the University of Erfurt. “In Germany at least, the latter would risk a backlash. But if you don’t proactively tackle the problem at all, you end up playing catch-up with the anti-vaxxers. In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Read more …

Jonathan Cook gets a bit lost in this very long piece. But he means well. And the Dr. Seuss is a great find.

Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)

For decades our societies have worshipped a single value with two faces: money and power. But we are suddenly being told by the very people who atomised our communities, who created an economic system of dog eat dog, who wrecked the planet with their greed – the people who made a religion of neoliberal orthodoxy – that we must trust that they have our best interests at heart during the pandemic. They cared not one whit for the common good until now. But suddenly, after many months of economic contraction, when corporations finally have a chance to make a quick buck again – either by producing and selling vaccines to desperate governments and their populations or by demanding a hurried return to business as usual through enforced vaccination programmes – the corporations and their dutiful servants in the media and political class are shocked that some of the public, those most betrayed, are indicating a lack of “trust”.

Nick Cohen offers an interesting survey result: “In Birmingham – the only city to have produced detailed statistics – just 60% of people over 80 accepted the jab in Alum Rock, a deprived and racially mixed part of the inner city, while 95% accepted it in Sutton Four Oaks, an overwhelmingly white commuter suburb.” Why would that be? Why would affluent white people whom the system has always favoured be quicker to trust a system that cared for them than the poor and ethnic minorities who have always been treated with contempt by that system? To ask the question is to answer it. Affluent liberals like Cohen understand that too. Which is why they hope to revive social controls that tightly police or censor information not to their liking, leaving them once again with exclusive rights to tell the poor and marginalised what constitutes the truth, to define for them what is in their interests.

An alien studying western societies from the heavens for the past half-century could better explain the problem than Cohen. People are being asked to trust the corporate medicine industry, the corporate media and the politicians dependent on the good will of profit-obsessed corporations to decide what is best for us, to believe that this time the corporate elite won’t take short cuts, that they won’t conceal information, that they won’t cause harm, that they won’t externalise the costs on to us, the public. That this time it will be different.

These are exactly the same corporations and their functionaries who in the past destroyed manufacturing industries that were the lifeblood of now-decimated communities; that approved the intensified militarisation of institutionally racist and corrupt police forces, turning them into domestic armies; and that are engaged in ransacking and destroying the planet on which we all depend.

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We do not ban nor burn books.

eBay still sells Mein Kampf.

eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)

On Thursday, reports surfaced that eBay, the online auction and shopping website, had blocked the sale of certain Dr. Seuss books. One eBay lister received the following response: “We had to remove your listing because it didn’t follow our Offensive material policy. Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed. What activity didn’t follow the policy[:] Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped the publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account. Please review our Offensive Materials Policy prohibits this item for more information. What you need to do next. You can’t relist items we’ve ended. Please ensure your current and future listings follow this policy.

[..] In light of the fact that books such as “Mein Kampf” can be offered on eBay while some Dr. Seuss books are banned, it is important to examine what the company’s Offensive materials policy states: Listings that promote, perpetuate or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination, including on the grounds of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, aren’t allowed. This includes but is not limited to the following: • Slurs or epithets of any kind • Slavery items, including reproductions, such as tags, shackles, documents, bills of sale, etc. • Items with racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise demeaning portrayals, for example through caricatures or other exaggerated features, including figurines, cartoons, housewares, historical advertisements, and golliwogs • Black Americana items that are discriminatory •Confederate battle flag and related items with its image • Historical Holocaust-related and Nazi-related items, including reproductions • Any item that is anti-Semitic or any item from after 1933 that bears a swastika • Media identified as Nazi propaganda • Listings that imply or promote support of, membership in, or funding of a terrorist organization

This week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press that the books “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” portrayed “people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” adding, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” “Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the company continued. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”

Read more …

Running down the clock.

WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)

A World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new inquiry, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. “The full report is expected in coming weeks,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters news agency. No further information was immediately available about the reasons for the delay in publishing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were detected in late 2019.

In an open letter (PDF), a group of 26 scientists called on Thursday for a new international inquiry. They claim that “structural limitations” made it “all but impossible” for the WHO mission to adequately pursue its investigation. Among other issues, the scientists questioned the scientific independence of the “Chinese citizens” composing half of the team. “We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses – whether natural spillover or laboratory/research related incident,” read the letter.

China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a WHO-led team investigating the origins of the pandemic, Dominic Dwyer, one of the team’s investigators, said last month, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began. The investigation had been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research. The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

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Doesn’t say which aspects.

Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)

A new opinion poll in the UK finds that over half of Brits say they will miss either “some” or “many” aspects of lockdown despite the country now having been under some form of restrictions for nearly a year. Yes, really. The YouGov survey asked participants, “Do you think you will or will not miss any aspects of lockdown when it is over?” 9 per cent of respondents said they would miss “many” aspects of lockdown while 46 per cent said they would miss “some” aspects of lockdown – a combined total of 55 per cent. Just 39 per cent of respondents said they won’t miss any aspects of lockdown.


Previous polls have routinely showed majority or plurality support for lockdown, with little concern for what innumerable observers have called the biggest imposition on civil liberties in British history. One aspect that many will “miss” about lockdown is undoubtedly getting paid for doing nothing. Under the government’s furlough scheme, those who can’t work from home have had 80 per cent of their wages covered by the state for almost a year, with that program to be extended until September despite the government saying all restrictions will be lifted by the end of June. The prospect of having to work for their money will become a reality for some once again soon, although not for all given that the UK’s economy contracted the most in 300 years as a result of the lockdown, leading to 726,000 job losses.

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Biden’s entire presidency under siege.

Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)

The U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked the Pentagon to keep National Guard troops stationed at the Capitol past March 12 – the date at which they are scheduled to depart, citing a 93% increase in threats to lawmakers this year. In a statement, the Capitol Police announced that acting Cchief Yogananda Pittman “formally asked the Department of Defense to extend the support provided by the National Guard.” The statement didn’t specify the length of time for which the Guard troops have been requested, though multiple outlets reported Pittman wants them for an additional 60 days. The statement noted Pittman’s testimony in a House appropriations subcommittee hearing that “threats to members are up 93% during the first two months of this year” compared to 2020.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the chair of that committee, credited the National Guard presence in part for his belief that a Jan. 6-style attack on the Capitol could now be effectively dealt with. The statement noted the Pentagon “takes its mission seriously and will do whatever is necessary to achieve that mission,” adding that the Capitol Police is “extremely grateful” for their support. Thousands of National Guard troops have been stationed in and around the Capitol since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which Trump supporters stormed Capitol Police and attempted to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory. “We understand the Guard has a tremendous service need back home responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement concluded.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the request for an extension is “an outrage,” according to pool reports. “That’s not their function, that’s not their mission. They cannot do it,” he said, claiming it’s “destroying careers of people.”

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He promised.

White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)

The White House is weighing whether to engage in talks with Republicans on a minimum wage hike once Congress passes its Covid relief bill, two sources with knowledge of their strategic thinking say. White House aides said they believe there’s room to bring Republicans into the fold because raising the minimum wage is popular across ideological grounds. They pointed to the recent $15-an-hour wage increase passed in Florida, a state that voted for Donald Trump, as evidence that the issue has widespread support. In a sign that the White House is looking to broaden the coalition behind a wage hike, administration officials reached out to trade groups last week to gauge their willingness to support legislation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations with Republicans would be another step entirely. And it would likely frustrate progressives and raise alarms among labor and advocacy groups who are looking to Biden to make good on his promise to deliver a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Progressives argue that a phased-in $15 floor over five years is already a compromise and would likely oppose any deal that would go significantly lower. “They don’t want to blow up the world politically and pay a huge political cost, but if the politics aligned for a smaller increase, Joe Biden generally wants to get deals done,” said a source with knowledge of the administration’s thinking. The White House is “not doctrinaire on policy grounds about what it is they sign” the source added.

Cedric Richmond, a White House senior adviser, would only say that the administration is “exploring all options,” and that internal deliberations were still in the preliminary stages. “It’s still early in the game,” Richmond said. “This is not the point where you lay your whole strategy out for the world to see.”

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Oh sure, let’s pretend that Manchin keeps Biden from keeping his promises.

How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)

For the last week, Americans paying attention to politics have learned an important truth: Joe Biden may live in the White House, but conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is effectively president. This depressing reality can certainly be fixed, but only if progressive Democrats in Congress are willing to actually change the dynamic — and they have a rare opportunity to do that right now by using their power to raise the minimum wage. But so far, they aren’t choosing to use their power — which is a huge structural problem not just now, but also for the foreseeable future. Some have argued that the way to fix this situation is by ending the filibuster, but that’s a catch-22: It is absolutely a necessary reform, but President Manchin is pledging to veto it.

Even if Democrats were to eliminate the filibuster, they would still need Manchin’s stamp of approval for virtually all legislation, given the Senate’s current 50-50 split. The way to fix this dynamic is for a decisive number of House Democrats or Democratic senators to make clear, line-in-the-sand demands, and demonstrate they will vote down Democratic legislation that does not honor those demands. And they must do this specifically on must-pass legislation for which Biden can find zero GOP votes. That is the way to force Biden to stop pretending he has no agency and instead motivate him to use the overwhelming power of the executive branch to press the conservative wing of the party to back down. It is also the way to get Manchin himself to negotiate — right now, he gets to operate with impunity because there is no counterforce.

The COVID relief bill provides progressives this game-changing opportunity, and in the process they can heroically deliver not on some unimportant issue or tangential agenda item — but instead on the crucial cause of delivering a desperately needed higher minimum wage to millions of Americans. The debate over the legislation also gives the public a way to see whether self-identified progressive heroes are as serious about actually using power as President Manchin is. We can see this opportunity in the current wrangling over a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, where Manchin has successfully pressured the executive branch to support further limiting eligibility for survival checks, devising a phase-out policy so absurdly punitive that even reliably partisan Democratic pundits and centrist think tank wonks can’t support it. The payments — which are $1,400 instead of the $2,000 people were promised — will likely now go to 17 million fewer people than the last round of checks under Donald Trump, as a result of Manchin’s handiwork.

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Boris: “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable..”

Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)

Brussels has warned it will launch legal action “very soon” following a move by the UK to unilaterally delay implementation of part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. The European commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, said the announcement by the government on Wednesday had come as a “very negative surprise”. David Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, said the UK was extending a series of “grace periods” designed to ease trade between Northern Ireland – which remains in the EU single market for goods – and Great Britain while permanent arrangements are worked out. It provoked a furious response in Brussels, with the EU accusing Britain of going back on its treaty obligations in the Brexit withdrawal agreement intended to ensure there is no return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.


In an interview with the Financial Times, Sefcovic – who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement – said the European commission was now working on “infringement proceedings” against the UK. “We are currently preparing it and it would be really something coming to our table very soon. The most precise term I can give you is really very soon,” he said. His warning came after Boris Johnson had sought to play down the dispute, saying the government was simply taking some “temporary and technical measures” to ensure that trade kept flowing. “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable,” he said on Thursday.

Read more …

Where is that money?

Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)

The father of Michael Brown and other activists from Ferguson, Missouri, are demanding financial support from Black Lives Matter after the organization revealed it raised over $90 million last year. Michael Brown Sr., whose son was fatally shot by a white police officer in August 2014, along with the other activists who helped propel the movement, want $20 million from the group to help their community. “Where is all that money going?” Brown Sr. asked in a Tuesday press release from the International Black Freedom Alliance. “How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”


The police shooting of Michael Brown sparked months of unrest in Ferguson and helped solidify the national Black Lives Matter movement. “We’re not asking for a handout, but for the funding to keep the movement strong where it began,” said Tory Russell, a Ferguson activist and co-founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance. The funds in Ferguson would be used in part to build a community center in honor of Michael Brown, the press release said. Last month the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation shared its funding numbers in an impact report first provided to the Associated Press.

Read more …

Alhambra’s Jeffrey Snider says deflation.

Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)

The ISM reported its manufacturing index at highs on Monday, then today releases its non-manufacturing headline falling sharply. The result is an odd appendage to post-2008 history where these sentiment indicators are concerned; they are upside down to the usual configuration when it’s been more likely manufacturing suffers while services are to a greater extent immune to each successive suppressing downturn influence. The most notable aspect of the non-manufacturing index has to be the specific segments most responsible for the sharp decline. The overall number had been relatively flat/sideways stuck around 57 or 58 going back to last June; and had bumped up slightly to 58.7 for January 2021 as government money hit the stores. The February reading instead comes back to 55.3, the lowest since the earliest days of reopening.

Not only that, around 55 places the number into the same context as mid-2019 (or early 2016) when the US economy, like the rest of the world, was facing increasingly serious downturn pressures. Its employment subcomponent had indicated a contrary bump up in hiring of late (when compared to the more austere rebound in payroll estimates for these same few months) that likewise fell back in February. The subindex had reached 55.2 in January, the highest since late 2019 (so, not that impressive) only to decline to 52.7 last month.

New Orders, these apparently plummeted for reasons that aren’t well explained at the moment. Not only have COVID restrictions increasingly been removed, vaccines plus two full months of that $600 helicopter drop should’ve (if you believe in these things) produced more than a single January effect (as in retail sales). As for the ISM, forward-indicated orders in the service sector crashed by very nearly an even ten points (-9.9). As of this February figure, the New Orders index stands at just 51.9, which, outside of last April and May, isn’t close to anything since 2016’s Euro$ #3 bottoming out.

This is made all the more unsettling given the similar direction and intensity in Chinese sentiment of late. As if determined to further corroborate this interpretation, private payroll processing firm ADP reports also today another serious shortfall in the employment rebound. First, the series had undergone benchmark revisions which stripped a few hundred thousand jobs from the series (meaning they probably never happened) and then reported that for the month of February private payrolls gained just 117,000 last month (compared to revised +195,000 in January and Economist expectations for about the same). Around one hundred thousand would have been considered an alarmingly weak month before 2020; in this situation with the labor market struggling to gain any momentum, it’s yet another contrary signal (deflation, rather than the other one).

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“..grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches…”

The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)

I turned fifty-one this week. Terror of age is becoming a key comic subtext of my life. The first line of a novel I tried to write recently read, He looked in the mirror and shrieked. There’s a scene in Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat where the hero, a dim and nervous clerk named Akaky Akakievich, goes to the tailor to try to patch up his ancient greatcoat. It’s coming apart at the seams, the victim of St. Petersburg’s relentless winters and too many years of service. Akaky asks for one last repair job, but the merciless tailor Petrovich, having laid the coat out on a table, quickly pronounces the patient dead. “No, it can’t be repaired, the wretched garment,” he snaps. Akaky, in denial, tries to protest: it’s just a bit worn on the shoulders! Petrovich cuts him off. “The stuff is rotten, if you put a needle in it, it would give way.” “Let it give way, but you must patch it,” counters Akaky. “There is nothing to put a patch on,” Petrovich says, and Akaky recoils in horror, grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches.


Gogol, my childhood hero, died 169 years ago today, on March 4, 1852. Fitting for him, it might have been the most preposterously horrific act of self-destruction in literary history.Gogol was a genius, but a peculiar and probably very unpleasant kind. If Mozart came out of the womb hearing symphonies, the baby born in Sorochintsy, Ukraine in 1809 had a different fate. It was as if God whacked him with a shovel, locking his brain in the moment of hearing the funniest joke ever told. That may sound wonderful, but there’s a reason we eventually have to stop laughing — it hurts. The line between hilarity and terror is a thin one, as people who drop acid find out all the time. Gogol was a depressive who cheered himself up by imagining the funniest situations possible, but his gift in that area was so prodigious that he ultimately scared himself to death.

Read more …

“The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life.”

71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)

Indian vets have extracted 71 kilograms (156.5 pounds) of plastic, nails and other garbage from a pregnant cow, but both the animal and her baby died. The case has highlighted the country’s twin problems of pollution and stray cattle. An estimated five million cows roam India’s cities, with many gorging on the vast amounts of plastic litter on the streets. This cow was rescued after a road accident in late February by the People For Animals Trust Faridabad. A vet soon noticed the pregnant bovine was struggling. In a four-hour operation on February 21, vets found nails, plastic, marbles and other garbage in its stomach, said trust president Ravi Dubay.


They also attempted a premature delivery. “The baby did not have enough space to grow in her mother’s belly so she died,” Dubay told AFP. Three days later, the cow also died. “In my 13 years of experience, this is the most garbage we have taken from a cow… we had to use muscle power to get it all out,” Dubay said. Previous surgeries done by the organisation based in the northern Indian state of Haryana have found up to 50 kilograms of waste in cows’ stomachs. “The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life. In every corner in every city they eat the waste,” Dubay added.

Read more …

The horror!

Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

We were warned. Only one day after Texas succumbed to neanderthal thinking and reversed the mask mandate, experts reported an estimated 9 billion people around the world have already died as a direct result of this foolish action. “We estimate there are now negative 1.3 billion people alive,” said one expert solemnly. “We’ve never had a negative number like that before. Shucks– I’m not even alive anymore, come to think of it. Sad.” Scientists have followed the science very scientifically to determine this catastrophic end to all human life on Earth immediately began after Governor Greg Abbott called his press conference, announcing his plan to literally murder everyone by not making them wear t-shirt fabric on their faces.


“Too bad, humanity had a good run,” said another expert, who is also dead now. “That’s what we get for electing Republicans. Hopefully, humanity learned its lesson.” The expert, who was literally dead from the Texas mask mandate reversal, then joined his friends at the local bar for some beers.

Read more …

 

 

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