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 …

 

 

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 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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.

Read more …

“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.

Read more …

“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”.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

“..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.

Read more …

”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.

Read more …

“..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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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%.

Read more …

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save the bees

 

 

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

 

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.

Read more …

“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.

Read more …

‘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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

“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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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%!

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

“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 …

 

 

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.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

 

 

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 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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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).

Read more …

“..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 …

 

 

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.

 

Feb 212021
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Abraham and the angels 1646

 

 

A little thought experiment that should have been much more, but for which time now has passed: What would various governments and their science advisers have done if lockdowns would have been impossible, due to a legal decision or some other reason? Presumably, they would have had to think of other means to stop COVID from spreading.

They would have had to be creative, which feels like the opposite of lockdown. Seen in that way, a lockdown is simply an extremely lazy way to approach a problem such as COVID. And though lockdowns are not new or unique, they have never, or very rarely, been used to lock up/down entire populations of perfectly healthy people.

Whether these people will still be healthy once the lockdown is lifted remains to be seen. It’s also very lazy to just assume that everyone will be mentally tip-top after seeing their social lives ground to a halt for a year or more. Humans live in herds, they do not live alone; it’s one of the most defining characteristics of the species.

Why all that laziness? It would appear to be due to a combination of panic, incompetence and lack of knowledge. If and when politicians get their “expert” advice only from virologists and epidemiologists, it’s obvious that most science falls by the wayside. To assess the effects of a lockdown, before, during and after it is implemented, you would need a much broader level of expertise.

Still, how many psychologists and psychiatrists have you seen in all the government “expert” committees? I’ve said before, they’re not listening to “the science”, they’re at best listening to “a science”, and in reality to just a very little bit of science.

 

Of course, the blunt refusal to do any kind of research into the mental health threats posed by lockdowns does not stand alone. There’s also the evenly blunt refusal to look at substances that can serve as prophylaxis. A topic the Automatic Earth has covered to such an extent that it feels almost embarrassing to bring it up yet another time.

And we still don’t know why there is no large scale investigation of the potential of vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin to counter COVID infections and mortality. Premeditated murder? That’s a big term, can you use it when deaths are the result of sheer incompetence?

But there’s certainly a serious possibility that the absence of prophylactics has caused thousands of deaths and millions of infections. We will probably never know for sure, because no-one will research it. It’s a vicious circle of blunt incompetence justifying its own mistakes and laziness.

And make no mistake: if these cheap prophylactics, proven harmless through decades of being provided to 10s or 100s of millions of people, would have been only half as successful as their advocates claim, not only would more lives have been saved than we can count, but the entire lockdown policies may well have been avoided. Health care systems might not have been under strain, entire industries, indeed the whole economy, might have been able to keep functioning.

 

Instead, we are told to get vaccinated -or else-, injecting substances into our veins that have never been properly tested. Can we offer 100% evidence that vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin would have -mostly- prevented the pandemic? No, we can’t, but in the same way that we have no proof the vaccines are safe or successful: a refusal to do proper testing. It all hangs together from laziness and lack of knowledge.

Similarly, perhaps the experimental vaccines will solve part of the COVID problem. But so would the prophylactics have. We can discuss how big a part either would have solved, but not only is that in the future, we will also be told only half a story, because we never tested the prophylactics.

There are plenty negative stories about all of them, but those are mostly based on faulty experiments, on giving people large doses of HCQ and vit. D when they’re already gravely ill. These stories don’t prove anything other than bad intentions on the part of those who tell them.

One thing is for sure: the vaccines will be challenged by new strains of the virus at some point, and there’s no guarantee they can be adapted for those strains. The prophylactics have no such issue. Boosting your immune system provides you with overall protection. And you don’t need 100%: bring down infections by 50%, and everything changes.

 

To get back to lockdowns: the way I personally experience the one here in Athens is that life itself is standing still. And that feels weirder by the day. If you ask people how it affects them, they can’t really answer, because it’s the first time they’ve ever lived through one. How would they know how it will affect them long term? The best they can do is say that it sucks.

For the elderly it means having to spend their last years and days in near absolute solitude. If you would ask them, many would say: just give me the virus, as long as I can see my children and grandchildren and friends while I’m still alive. But nobody asks them. They spent their entire lives just to be silenced. In order to eradicate a virus, we eradicate the very people who built the world we inherited from them.

For the very young it means stunted development. There is a ton of literature about how the first 5 or 10 years shape a child for life. Well, we just took a full year and counting away from that shape. We have no way of knowing to what extent that will affect them, but it won’t be zero. People are adaptive, sure, but that can be a negative thing just as much as a positive one. Caged animals adapt too; with neurosis. Children need to interact with each other, and with adults, to find their place in the world. How are they going to find that place now? For all of the rest of us, we don’t know either. We can only guess.

Meanwhile, there’s not only the prophylactics that are ignored, we also have the exact same PCR tests used for a year, whose own inventor says they’re not fit for the purpose, we have facemasks on every weak immune system for which it’s doubtful that they have much effect, unless they’re N95, FFP2-3, and even then.

And we have an almost complete lack of attention for the fact that we now know the virus is airborne, and doesn’t stick to surfaces. From which follows the lack of scrutiny of air filtration systems, HVAC, HEPA, that might actually help, and perhaps allow schools, restaurants etc. to open up again. Lazy, shoddy, hardly science.

 

There can be no doubt that at some point in the future we will define something as the Lockdown Syndrome. What it will look like, we don’t know. It will be somethinng similar to what Long Covid is today. But it will be sold as inevitable, and that is a very doubtful take. Because it’s man made. We made the syndrome. We’re creating it as we speak. Day by empty, lazy and incompetent day.

We’ve basically accepted that a virus is superior to us, we threw the towel, even if just temporarily. And then we say we rely on science to beat it, but only if that science is brand new. Older science need not apply. We’re not a very confident species, then, are we? If we were, we’d have said: screw you, we’ll keep on doing what we did before.

 

 

 

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 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Feb 042021
 


John William Godward Dolce Far Niente (Sweet Idleness, or A Pompeian Fishpond) 1904

 

 

One year into the continuing COVID emergency, it’s high time to ask questions about the “legal status” of various measures and restrictions applied by various governments- as well as their other policies. Having those questions asked out in the open is good for everyone, not least for the governments themselves. If only because a government doesn’t make law, it is only supposed to abide by it while governing.

Which means the law has to be tested by courts. That someone would have to start a court case to do this in these unusual and “extreme” times is already a step too far; courts should take that upon themselves (and I know, courts don’t usually do that). Whenever a government announces another measure or restriction, its legality should be tested immediately. It is not a good sign that this hardly appears to happen. The government itself should initiate the process.

Imagine if a court waits a year or more to issue an opinion on the measures, and finds -some of- them to be illegal. How do you explain that to people, as a government, or as a court? People who’ve lost their jobs, their savings, their businesses, and are then told it was all illegal to begin with?! Nobody should want that mess.

 

Much of what governments decide is presented as being justified by the term “emergency”. But this particular “emergency” has lasted for a year now, and you could begin by asking a court how long an “emergency” can and should be able to last. Also, what extra powers can a government claim just because it chooses to label something an emergency? Before you know it, it starts to feel like a dictatorship.

Applicable legislation will differ from country to country, but there is little doubt that in most western democracies, laws concerning the legal powers of a government will be quite similar. If only because they copied from each other all the time. Governments do all appear to think they have a lot of power, though, and I personally would like to see where that power is engraved in their respective laws, and what part of it is truly democratic.

A bit of an aside, something I’ve talked about multiple times, and something I think perhaps originates in legal overreach: Our societies appear to have become one dimensional (never a good idea) : governments act as if there is only one problem, COVID, and discard all others, cancers, mental health, economic bereavement.

Also one dimensional: the only response to COVID is a vaccine; all other possible responses are ignored. This is curious in a 3-dimensional world, though perhaps not in a one dimensional one. Still, even there too, the law must be tested.

 

Back to legal issues: Does a government have the legal standing to force millions of people not to work, millions of businesses not to open, millions of kids not to go to school? My answer would be: perhaps, but certainly never before they’ve exhausted every single other avenue to solve the problem they seek to solve.

And that is something no government I’ve seen has done. Still, what does the law say? If and when you, as a government, allow an emergency to last for a year, then what part of the blame for that falls on you?

For instance, none have attempted to boost the immune systems of their citizens, they’ve simply put facemasks on weak immune systems. But COVID is a disease that attacks weaknesses in the immune system. And we know most westerners have a vitamin D deficiency, especially in winter, which hugely weakens their immune systems. Still, governments declare month after month of lockdowns and measures without having provided adequate vitamin D, which is dirt cheap, to their citizens, and then tell them to go get vaccinated, or else.

And there’s more: Professor of Medicine Dr Peter McCullough says: “..the virus invades inside cells, so we have to use drugs that go inside the cell and work to reduce viral replication“. “The drugs that work within the cell and actually reduce viral replication are hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, doxycycline and azithromycin” Have you seen those drugs made available, let alone promoted, where you live?

You don’t even have to make vitamin D and ivermectin mandatory to make them work, people will take them voluntarily. Plenty studies say that boosting your vitamin D levels decreases your risk of getting infected with COVID as well as dying from it by 50% or more. And then you take it from there: things will add up: 50% now, becomes 50%+x next week, and so on. Who needs a vaccine at all? And that’s before you even mention ivermectin, of which Dr Pierre Kory said: “If you take ivermectin, you won’t get sick”. As in: end of story, end of problem.

 

Whether a government can make a vaccine mandatory is questionable to begin with. But a vaccine that hasn’t been approved, other than through an emergency authorization, and for which proper research won’t be completed for at least two-three years? What is the legal basis for that? On top of that, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology that has never before been tested on humans. How do you legally make those mandatory? How slippery is this legal scale, and how far have we already slid down it?

And then we want to issue vaccination passports to prove people have had a jab or two of these untested things? Look, they may well work, but we don’t know that, and we won’t for quite some time. But in the meantime we still want to curtail people’s freedom of movement for not getting an untested vaccine?

These questions have nothing to do with anti-vaxxers, if anything they’re about blind pro-vaxxers. And about the law. Go ask a judge, go ask the highest court in your land, what their respective laws say about this situation.

 

The following, sent to me by a friend, is from a Greek lady, Nelly Psarrou, who has a background in Political science and Law. She’s asking the questions in her country that everybody should ask in theirs. You can’t let a government absorb emergency powers without asking these questions. It is too dangerous.

 

 

Whether or not you get vaccinated, get informed!

 

1. Vaccination, like any medical action, requires citizen consent. Consent is not regarded as valid if it is not fully informed, nor “if it is the result of deceit, fraud or threat, or conflicts with the demands of decency” (Medical Code of Ethics, Greek law 3418/2005). Failing this, the consent is waived and the person/body who has exerted the pressure or extortion to vaccinate is subject to penal sanctions and/or civil damages in the event of harm.

2. Vaccination is not a prerequisite for the exercise of any other institutional requirement, such as education or otherwise recognized basic right such as the right to employment and free movement. Correspondingly, no private company has the legal authority to impose restrictions violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Discrimination and Stigmatization are forbidden (Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO). Moreover, imposition of a medical action in any manner constitutes torture and is illegal.

3. Non-consensual participation by citizens in medical research is specifically forbidden, as prescribed by the Nuremberg Code instituted following the trial of the Nazi-collaborator doctors. Any coercion of people to participate in research transforms them into experimental animals and amounts to a reintroduction of Nazi practices and crimes on a public health pretext.

The COVID19 vaccine has an emergency licence (not final approval), which means that research and clinical studies are still under way (they are to be completed in 2023)! It is INVESTIGATIONAL, as declared by the companies themselves, and any forced vaccination with it by any means (legal obligation, extortion, fraud) falls in the category of coercion in research, which is BANNED under numerous laws and international agreements and has penal and civil consequences.

4. As indicated by doctors and companies, the vaccines HAVE NOT BEEN STUDIED to determine whether they reduce viral infection or to ascertain the duration of immunity and/or the effects of their interaction with other drugs or vaccines. Therefore, neither are other people protected from infection by the virus, nor will restrictions be lifted – as is now announced.

5. The measures themselves which have been imposed are both illegal and unscientific. They are illegal in so far as they impose medical actions (e.g. the mask), they impose individual administrative measures restricting freedoms without individual legal mandate (Article 5 of the Constitution) and THEY ARE NOT EMERGENCY AND TEMPORARY (for example since June everybody talks about a second wave of viral infection, and this has already lasted for months).

The measures are unscientific in many ways. Specifically a) they ignore the strengthening of primary health care, which is demanded by all scientific specialists. b) they impose lockdown, which is classifiable, from a medical viewpoint, as a criminal policy (it does not reduce infections and it increases mortality from other causes, worsening health overall – mental illness, cancellation of programmed examinations and operations, c) they impose masks (which is a medical action) outdoors, which does not provide protection against the virus as they themselves assert: “they are a “symbolic measure”, a slogan which says MASKS EVERYWHERE! ) d) they focus on vaccination as the only solution, instead of including the existing possibility of effective treatment with pharmaceutical drugs.

6. From the moment that vaccinations started, serious side-effects have already been recorded, auto-immune reactions but also deaths, which are, however, attributed to underlying conditions. The provision of new vaccines stopped immediately, the official justification being the impossibility of production – which had just commenced. At the same time doctors working with the government as advisors are evidently in receipt of funding from the same companies that are producing the vaccines: that amounts to, and/or would amount to, “conflict of interest”. Finally, the Prime Minister has claimed falsely that vaccination is voluntary, yet as early as 25/2/2020 the Parliament had voted the relevant laws: they are simply not in a position yet to enforce them because they do not have the vaccines.

What is most important is that citizens are denied information and doctors of alternative persuasion are muzzled, ridiculed and hounded! The mass media have already been paid for spreading this disinformation, with the 40 million euros “for strengthening information on the Corona virus” and the writing off of 30 million euros of debt. And we know that information is the most precious value in a society of freely thinking citizens. This, informing our fellow human beings is the number one priority and a socially responsible action. Seek out the information and disseminate it freely.

1. For all the above, articles with data: www.nellypsarrou.com
2. The views of numerous specialists: Radio Crete (the programs of the journalist Sachinis (in Greek) https://www.youtube.com/user/984radio

 

 

As for point 6 and 7, I think it’s not very useful to claim doctors and media are being paid off, without linking to evidence you have of that. Stick with the legal issues if you can’t.

And the legal issues raised by Nelly Psarrou look strong. Time for a lawyer and a court.

 

 

 

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 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 272020
 


Winslow Homer Spanish Girl with Fan 1885

 

Developers of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Tied to UK Eugenics Movement (Webb)
The Breakthrough Medicines That Could Change The Course Of Covid (G.)
Japan Halts All Foreign Arrivals Over UK COVID Variant (AP)
Britain First To Infect Healthy Volunteers With Covid19 For Research (NYP)
Scientists Call For UK Lockdown After Rapid Spread Of Covid19 Variant (G.)
Two Pandemic Assistance Programs Expire, Leaving 12 Million Without Benefits (ZH)
RussiaGate 2.0, Right on Schedule (Luongo)
This Brexit Deal Is Emphatically Nothing To Celebrate (Lis)
Glenn Greenwald: Coverage Of Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Media Misconduct’ (Hill)

 

 

 

 

Whitney Webb. Long read.

Developers of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Tied to UK Eugenics Movement (Webb)

For much of 2020, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was treated as an early front-runner, though its lead would later be marred by scandals related to its clinical trials, including the death of participants, sudden trial pauses, the use of a problematic “placebo” with its own host of side effects and the “unintentional” mis-dosing of some participants that skewed its self-reported efficacy rate. The significant issues that emerged during trials have provoked little concern from the vaccine’s two lead developers, despite critical attention from even mainstream media of its complications. The lead developer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Adrian Hill, told NBC on December 9th that the experimental vaccine should be approved and distributed to the public before the conclusion of the safety trials, saying,”to wait for the end of the trial would be the middle of next year. That’s too late, this vaccine is effective, available at large scale and easily deployed.”

Sarah Gilbert, the other lead researcher on the vaccine, seemed to believe that pre-mature safety approval was likely, telling the BBC on December 13 that the chances of rolling out the vaccine by the end of the year are “pretty high.” Now, the UK is expected to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shortly after Christmas, with India also set to approve the vaccine next week. While the controversies surrounding the vaccine’s trials did ultimately undermine its previous frontrunner status, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine remains heavily promoted as the vaccine of choice for the developing world, as it is cheaper and has much less complicated storage requirement than its main competitors, Pfizer and Moderna.

Earlier this month, Dr. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, told CNBC that “The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is the vaccine right now that is going to be able to immunize the planet more effectively, more rapidly than any other vaccine we have” in large part because it is a “vaccine that can get to lower middle-income countries.” CNBC also quoted Andrew Baum, global head of health care for Citi Group, as saying that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “is really the only vaccine that is going to suppress or even eradicate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the many millions of individuals in the developing world.”

In addition to longstanding claims that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be the vaccine of choice for the developing world, this vaccine candidate has also been treated by several outlets in the mainstream and even independent media as “good for people, bad for profits” due to the partnership’s “explicit intention of supplying [the vaccine] around the world on a not-for-profit basis, meaning that the poorest nations on the planet will not have to worry about being shut out of a cure due to lack of funds.” However, investigation into the vaccine’s developers and the realities of their “no-profit pledge” reveals a very different story than that which has been spun for most of the year by corporate press releases, experts and academics tied to the vaccine and the mainstream press.

For instance, mainstream media has had little, if anything, to say about the role of the vaccine developers’ private company – Vaccitech – in the Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership, a company whose main investors include former top Deutsche Bank executives, Silicon Valley behemoth Google and the UK government. All of them stand to profit from the vaccine alongside the vaccine’s two developers, Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert, who retain an estimated 10% stake in the company. Another overlooked point is the plan to dramatically alter the current sales model for the vaccine following the initial wave of its administration, which would see profits soar, especially if the now obvious push to make COVID-19 vaccination an annual affair for the foreseeable future is made reality.

Yet, arguably most troubling of all is the direct link of the vaccine’s lead developers to the Wellcome Trust and, in the case of Adrian Hill, the Galton Institute, two groups with longstanding ties to the UK Eugenics movement. The latter organization, named for the “father of eugenics” Francis Galton, is the re-named UK Eugenics Society, a group notorious for its promotion of racist pseudoscience and efforts to “improve racial stock” by reducing the population of those deemed inferior for over a century.

Read more …

Is this a Guardian infomercial? Meant to cast doubt on HCQ and azithromycin, and promote dexamethasone?

The Breakthrough Medicines That Could Change The Course Of Covid (G.)

It remains one of the most dramatically successful outcomes in the battle against Covid-19. A cheap treatment for inflammation was found to save lives of seriously ill patients while a trio of much-touted therapies were shown to have no effect. It is now estimated that the discovery of the effectiveness of the drug dexamethasone has saved around 650,000 lives across the world, according to Professor Martin Landray, a founder of the Recovery programme – the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drugs trial – which revealed the medicine’s anti-Covid properties last summer. “In the UK alone, dexamethasone has already prevented more than 12,000 deaths,” he told the Observer.

The breakthrough demonstrates the power of large-scale randomised trials in pinpointing effective medicines and will be followed, in the next few weeks, with results from another handful of promising treatments being studied as part of the Recovery programme. These medicines, which could be crucial in the fight to contain Covid-19 next year, are: convalescent plasma, taken from recovering Covid patients; monoclonal antibodies, made by Regeneron, that were used to treat Donald Trump; two anti-inflammatory drugs, tocilizumab and colchicine; and aspirin. All are undergoing trials carried out by thousands of doctors and nurses on tens of thousands of patients in hospitals across Britain. First results are expected in January or early February.

Recovery was set up by Landray and Peter Horby at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The two Oxford scientists realised doctors would soon be looking for treatments once cases started pouring into hospitals but would need a clinical trial to find which were effective. It took them nine days from drafting their first protocol to the enrolling of their first patient, a process that normally takes nine months. One in 10 patients hospitalised with Covid have since entered the trial. And such numbers have been crucial to success, added Landray. Comparing 100 people who get a drug with 100 who do not can produce highly variable results. However, by randomising thousands of patients to get contrasting treatments, robust answers are produced.

“You find out which actually work,” said Landray. “In addition, we can discover which patients will benefit most. Will it be the old or the young or the immuno-compromised? You can only find that out if you have a trial with thousands of people in it.” So far, Recovery – short for Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy – has pronounced on four medicines: azithromycin, an antibiotic; the drug combination lopinavir-ritonavir; hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria and rheumatic diseases; and dexamethasone. Only the last saved lives or aided recovery. A hit rate of only one in four might seem poor value. However, the extraordinary numbers of lives saved thanks to dexamethasone demonstrates the value of the Recovery programme, the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drug trial.

The programme also ensured time and money have not been wasted on medicines that were found not to help patients. And that will become an increasingly important issue, Landray said. “When we started Recovery we looked at cheap, widely available but promising drugs, and found one of them – dexamethasone – worked. But the medicines we’re looking at now will cost hundreds of pounds per treatment, so we need to be really sure they work before we deploy them on wide scale,” Landray said.

Read more …

The world keeps getting smaller.

Japan Halts All Foreign Arrivals Over UK COVID Variant (AP)

Japan is barring entry of all nonresident foreign nationals as a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain. The Foreign Ministry says the entry ban will start Monday and last through Jan. 31. Last week, Japan banned nonresident foreigners coming from Britain and South Africa after confirming the new variant in seven people over the last two days — five from Britain who tested positive at airports and two others in Tokyo. Japan is also suspending the exemption of a 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and resident foreigners in a short-track program that began in November.


The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival. Japan is struggling with surging cases since November. It has confirmed a total of 217,312 cases including 3,213 deaths, up 3,700 from the previous 24-hour period. Tokyo alone reported 949 cases, setting a new record, despite calls by experts and government officials for people to spend a “quiet” holiday season.

Read more …

“..an experimental nasal vaccine..”

Britain First To Infect Healthy Volunteers With Covid19 For Research (NYP)

The world’s first COVID-19 human challenge is about to start. Britain will infect 2,500 healthy volunteers with coronavirus to study how the infection behaves in the body — specifically the amount it takes before a person develops Covid-19, the Sun reported. The government has budgeted $45 million for the research, which is being conducted by Imperial College, the National Health Service’s Royal Free Hospital and pharmaceutical company hVIVO, a pioneer in viral human challenge models. Human challenge studies aren’t used often because of the ethical questions raised about infecting healthy people.


The Brits, ages 18 to 30, will get a dose of an experimental nasal vaccine, then be infected. The project gets underway in January; scientists expect the first results in May. Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, 18, of Stoke-on-Trent, raised his hand because he wants to help “bring the world out of the pandemic sooner.. “I can’t let this opportunity to do something, to really do something, pass me by when I’m at such low risk.” Fraser-Urquhart and his fellow volunteers will be paid about $5,300 for their three-week stay at the hospital’s specialist diseases clinic, where they will be monitored around the clock, the Mail Online reported. Later, researchers will use the human challenge model to find out how vaccines work to prevent coronavirus.

Read more …

January will be dark and bleak in many places.

Scientists Call For UK Lockdown After Rapid Spread Of Covid19 Variant (G.)

Cases of the new variant Covid-19 virus were confirmed in several European countries on Saturday, including Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All were linked to people who had arrived from the UK. Meanwhile, Japan has announced it is banning all new entries of foreign nationals from Monday following the discovery of the variant in travellers from the UK. The news came at the same time as a further six million people in east and south-east England had tier 4 conditions, England’s strictest Covid level, imposed on them on Boxing Day. Lockdowns were also introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Around 24 million people in England, more than 40% of the population, are now living in tier 4, as pressure mounts for the whole country to be put in this category.

Scientists from the Independent Sage group have urged that all regions of England be placed in tier 4, meaning that non-essential shops, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues must close. Devolved nations were advised to bring forward their own national lockdowns. Tier 4 should include enhanced travel restrictions, the group said, while arguing that an emergency plan be introduced to enable safe education in January and February. This idea is supported by teaching unions, who have demanded that the government keeps schools closed as evidence has grown that the new virus variant is proving to be particularly infectious among children.

This point was backed by Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia. “If this new variant is behind the increase in this age group, then that is a big worry,” he said. France announced this weekend that it has discovered its first case of the new variant – a French citizen who arrived in Tours after travelling from London a week ago, according to health officials. In Madrid, Spanish officials said three cases of the new variant recently discovered in the country involved relatives of a man who had arrived from the UK on Christmas Eve, while the fourth case also involved a traveller from the UK. None of the patients was reported to be seriously ill.

Read more …

Blame it on Trump. But never on Pelosi and Schumer. Let alone Biden.

Two Pandemic Assistance Programs Expire, Leaving 12 Million Without Benefits (ZH)

With Congressional leaders feigning productivity for two months on a renewed stimulus – only for President Trump to veto their 11th hour porkfest and demand they increase direct stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person – a series of assistance programs are set to lapse into the new year. Two of them, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, will expire Saturday night, leaving around 12 million Americans without the assistance. As we noted in November, this would roughly translate into an income shortfall of $39BN in 1Q if these workers are unable to find work or alternative income support. BofA calculates that based on its work on fiscal multipliers, income loss of $39BN would translate into a 1.2% hit to growth on an annualized basis in 1Q 2021.

One of the two programs expiring Saturday, the PUA, provided unemployment benefits to around 7.3 million gig workers and others not eligible for traditional unemployment, according to the Century Foundation. The expiring programs come after lawmakers cobbled a $900 billion pandemic stimulus package to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, which President Trump vetoed over the sheer amount of pork and $600 direct checks, which he deemed to small. House Democrats will vote on a standalone bill Monday for $2,000 checks, while Congressional Republicans are expected to flatly reject it. Meanwhile, several additional programs are set to expire on December 31.

Additionally, the concurrent expiration of eviction moratorium, mortgage forbearance programs, and suspension of student loan payments could all be headwinds early next year, creating further obstacles. Unless Trump reverses course and signs the package on Tuesday, the government will shut down – sans another short-term bill to keep it limp things along into 2021.

Read more …

“..whoever it was behind this attack the one group who was definitely NOT behind it was the Russians.”

RussiaGate 2.0, Right on Schedule (Luongo)

Without offering any evidence or specifics, Pompeo said Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the cyberattack during an appearance on the conservative talk radio Mark Levin Show. “I can’t say much more, as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of US government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well,” Pompeo explained. Notice how there is no evidence given, just the typical intelligence agency, “believe me” line, which is your first clue that whoever it was behind this attack the one group who was definitely NOT behind it was the Russians.

This week’s cyber attack on the U.S. government was perfectly timed with the Electoral College submitting its votes to the Congress and Joe Biden claiming he’s president-elect. The reason why the release of this ‘attack’ on our government was perfectly timed is because it is a distraction from the growing unrest over the Democrats’ having stolen the election and cowering the courts into irrelevance. This is classic CIA-level misdirection from what was more likely a Chinese or, dare I say it, homegrown operation for the very purpose of blaming the Russians to tamp down the anger and confuse the MAGA crowd. And it resurrects the ghost of RussiaGate for the libs by putting Trump in a Catch-22.

If he doesn’t respond to this it keeps alive the smoldering embers of the TDS crowd watching Rachel Maddow that Trump really does have deep, covert ties to Russia. If he does react, what possible reaction could he take to escalate the tensions with Russia that are already one step below open warfare? Oh, and he has to respond to this while also fighting an uphill battle against the courts and his own bureaucracy to invoke his executive order involving outside interference into the election. [..] Provoking the exact reaction you’d expect from the BlueChecked Sneetches among the Twitterati. RussiaGate was an embarrassment that should have died years ago but it persists precisely because Trump refuses to formally concede and continues to give his people the opportunity to fight the Swamp.

The only way Putin and the Russians were behind this attack on the U.S. government was as a 5-d chess move where Trump invited them to do it on his behalf to ‘prove’ external interference in the election and allow Trump to cross the Rubicon, invoke the Insurrection Act and his 2018 EO on election interference. Yeah, by the way, John Le Carre died this week, life ain’t a movie and Trump isn’t that savvy a player. Ye gods, I wish he was. That we are in this mess proves he isn’t. This pronouncement by Pompeo was just good ol’ fashioned swamp double talk who continues his job of maintaining continuity of U.S. foreign policy on behalf of the Neoconservatives whose raison d’etre is the destruction of Russia to the exclusion of nearly every other consideration of any other human on the planet.

Don’t be confused by this nonsense. Whoever was behind this attack wasn’t the Russians. The motive for this operation lies squarely with China, The Davos Crowd, the Democrats and our own intelligence agencies trying to move the Overton Window away from the real problem, a stolen election. Outing Solarwinds and tying it directly to Dominion Voting Systems is your smoking gun.

Read more …

“The certainty of no tariffs, yes—but also of trade barriers, red tape and reduced future prosperity.”

This Brexit Deal Is Emphatically Nothing To Celebrate (Lis)

And so the long wait is finally over. Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, at the precise moment businesses were shutting up shop for a four-day national holiday, Boris Johnson took to a podium in Downing Street to herald a trade deal with the European Union. This was a good deal, he said. It allowed us to take back control of our money, borders, laws and fisheries. It provided certainty for businesses. Of course, the Prime Minister was wrong on almost all counts. This was the thinnest deal available within the ruinous red lines he had laid out, and preferable only to no deal at all. We already had control of everything he claimed to have won back—even fisheries, whose viability depends on exporting British catches into the EU. On only one point was he correct: his deal does indeed provide certainty. The certainty of no tariffs, yes—but also of trade barriers, red tape and reduced future prosperity.

The alternate press conferences in London and Brussels amply demonstrated who had made the concessions. This was an inevitable consequence of differential power, wealth and size, and the UK fell short. While both sides seem to have budged on fish, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised the EU’s success in ensuring the far more important level playing field for competition. The UK would lose key rights such as financial passporting. It would no longer enjoy automatic access to the EU’s invaluable security databases. Fundamentally it was a question of how power is exercised. Sovereignty in the 21st century, she said, meant “pulling each other up, instead of trying to get back to your feet alone.”

While von der Leyen combined detailed information with sensitivity in tone, Johnson took to bluster. He dismissed the media question about security, asserting, without evidence, that everything would work out. He preposterously declared that the deal would eliminate non-tariff barriers, when the truth is our departure from the single market and customs union necessitate the greatest introduction of new bureaucracy and commercial obstacles in recent history. And he batted away the ending of UK access to the Erasmus scheme, which has offered new horizons to thousands of students across the continent. The new “Turing scheme,” he insisted bombastically, would be better and wider reaching.

Read more …

“.. they’re just manipulating this messaging to sanction certain events that they find politically palatable while demanding everybody stay home for the things that they don’t value .”

Glenn Greenwald: Coverage Of Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Media Misconduct’ (Hill)

Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, said the media’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic was the “worst event of media misconduct.” Speaking on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Greenwald said that the media’s coverage of the pandemic was initially geared toward forcing people to stay home, and shaming those who went outside for acting irresponsibly. Greenwald then added that the media shifted its tone around its coverage after the protests against police brutality over the summer following the police killing of George Floyd in May.


“Suddenly, it all turned to ‘What these people are doing is noble,’” he said. “And not only do you no longer have the obligation to stay at home, you now have the obligation to go and march against racism on the grounds that racism is the worst public [threat] than the coronavirus pandemic.” Greenwald noted that despite its coverage of the protests, the media continued to shame people who went to church or gathered for outdoor protests for different causes. “What it really made it seem like was there’s no trust or confidence due to public health authorities or media narratives surrounding this pandemic,” he said. “That they’re just manipulating this messaging to sanction certain events that they find politically palatable while demanding everybody stay home for the things that they don’t value .”

Read more …

 

 

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.

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

 

 

“Cherish those that seek the truth but beware of those that find it.”
– Voltaire

 

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 172020
 
 December 17, 2020  Posted by at 6:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Filothei Skitzi Human puzzle on COVID19 days 2020

 

 

I know, I know, I’ve been largely silent about most “usual suspect topics” lately, other than in the Debt Rattles, but I must admit, those topics have been draining me, along with the full lockdown here in Greece. I understand why politicians want to do lockdowns, but I also understand why they shouldn’t.

Lockdowns drain life out of societies and communities, and there’s no guarantee that this life will ever come back. As I wrote earlier today, when we wake back up, the world will have changed beyond recognition. And we cannot NOT ask if that is worth the price we pay.

A vaccine is hurriedly being promoted and rolled out that is drowning in question marks, while skipping much of what is considered normal in vaccine development. As things like vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin are cast in a media cloud of doubt, though there are no such questions about them. Vaccine: no time for research. Everything else: years more research needed.

As for the other main topic in recent months, the US elections, all I see is people calling each other traitors and seditionists planning coups, and that has gone too far now. Let the legal process play out and the dice roll, and stop the clickbaiting propaganda. People are getting hurt.

In that light, I’d much prefer to write about better and happier things, and the Monastiraki kitchen in Athens is certainly one of those. It’s Christmas time, a time you’re supposed to care about, and for, people. I told you I’d have an update, and here it is. I think I’ll let the photos do most of the talking this time.

 

First of all, things haven’t gotten any easier out there. The lockdown, the police and the homeless are a strange combination. 100 people gathering to wait for a meal is no longer acceptable. So now the team have to go look for many of them. That takes time, because some are quite far away, but at least they know where to find most. These are crazy days, and everyone’s just simply trying their best.

I told you about the Greek athletes’ Love Van initiative last time, and they delivered: tons of winter coats and blankets and sleeping bags and shoes. It was plain to see that the police were standing by wondering what their orders were, but decided that denying people a warm coat was not in their job prescription. It was a wonderful little mess and anarchy for the hour it lasted, though.

But there is always the lingering fear that we, or everyone, might get arrested, or fined €300 each. There are still plenty regular kitchen volunteers who don’t come in because of that fear. They simply don’t have that kind of money.

 

 

 

In reaction to my November 20 article Automatic Earth in Athens November 2020, our very very generous readers donated some €3,000. That is inevitably an estimate because of the way Paypal donations work. I used to take the approximate amount in US dollars, and presume those were euros. But that was when the exchange rate was $1.10 or lower. Today, it’s $1.22.

And that’s not all. Paypal takes a percentage of every donation (2-4%?!), and then more when the dollars are converted to euros (their rate is over $1.26 right now). We could apply for charity status, but then we would have to 1) set up a separate account for the kitchen and 2) be registered as a charity in either the US or EU, which requires a ton of paperwork, rules, regulations, obligations.

We’re not going to do that, for much of the same reasons we won’t register the kitchen as an NGO. We want to be independent. Even if that costs some money. I’ll continue to round off everything in favor of the kitchen, and pay the difference myself, as long as it is somewhat reasonable.

 

 

 

On to happier tidings. The private space I told you about where the cooking takes place now is a small stone yard without a roof.

 

 

And since it rains in winter sometimes, we decided to buy one of those big umbrellas you see outside bars and restaurants, it seems the only way to get some shelter while cooking. They’re €200. I said we’ll use €100 from the donations, and I’ll pay the other half. That way we involve all of you to an extent, in day-to-day operations. Maybe we’ll even need two, but we’ll tackle that as the time comes.

 

 

Also, I purchased our first new €1,000 batch of supermarket checks (50x€20) on Tuesday, paid for with your fresh donations (Filothei and I are both painfully camera-shy, but the Acropolis in the background more than makes up for that ;-):

 

 

And Filothei did a big shopping trip with the checks yesterday:

 

 

 

 

What I didn’t know last time is that the kitchen still has a pretty solid amount of staples in storage, oil, pasta, tomato paste etc. That takes away some of the pressure, and it will be needed.

 

 

 

And then of course, wouldn’t you know, the crew decided they’re going to add a second day every week to cook. Purely led by increased demand and need. Not a huge surprise, that need is everywhere, just look at US and UK foodbanks. But we will still need to find a way to fund it. Nudge nudge wink wink. Someone like Filothei just says: we will do what must be done, whereas I then say: and how are we going to do that? You know, at €240 per meal? You just doubled the costs…

And still I’m pretty sure we indeed will make it happen, just because we have to. We must find a way, and therefore we will, with your help. And a bit of good cheer goes a long way:

 

 

Those Santa hats are brilliant, they change the entire mood and picture. As do these facemasks for the homeless, made by girls who themselves are too “vulnerable” healthwise to come in, but still want to contribute. I love those things:

 

 

Same goes for the winterhats (can you say “tuque”?)

 

 

As the cherry on the pie, and because everyone deserves a real Christmas, especially if they live on the streets, and very especially in a lockdown, we’re going to hand all our clients a big package of sweets for the festive season.

 

 

And then if you’ll allow me, I’ll repeat my last paragraph of the November 20 article, With one main difference: twice the meals will mean twice the costs, by and large. But hey, it’s Christmas. The time when miracles come true!

Sure, I’m a little apprehensive about January and February, with the Christmas hope and spirit gone, and temperatures dipping, but I also know that 4 days from now, the days will start getting longer again in our hemisphere.

 

 

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, especially for Christmas-. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also went to the kitchen the past month).

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. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500-2,000 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.

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.

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

 

 

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

 

Dec 092020
 


Paul Cézanne Curtains 1885

 

Many Aren’t Buying Public Officials’ ‘Stay-at-home’ Message (LAT)
Nine Out Of 10 In Poor Nations To Miss Out On Vaccines (G.)
Tenants, Landlords Face Imminent Crisis As Pandemic Lifelines Expire (ZH)
Texas Files Lawsuit To SCOTUS Challenging Election Results In 4 States (JTN)
Professor: Probability of Biden Winning ‘Less Than One In A Quadrillion’ (EW)
Swalwell Suggests Trump Is Behind Blockbuster Axios Report (Fox)
Biden Defense Secretary Nominee Under Fire For Industry Connections (IC)
Former Clinton Aide Confirms Ties to Epstein, MSM Silence Deafening (MPN)
Trump Exits Somalia (OffG)
Where’s the Hitler? (CJ Hopkins)
Melzer Calls For Immediate Release Of Assange After 10 Years Of Detention (UN)
American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress (Onion)

 

 

Passionate science: Ivermectin is the miracle drug

 

 

I see a tsunami of violent lockdown protests in our immediate future. Maybe it’ll wait till 2021, but not much longer.

“..harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether..”

Many Aren’t Buying Public Officials’ ‘Stay-at-home’ Message (LAT)

With the coronavirus running rampant in Los Angeles and hospitals projected to overflow by Christmas, officials have fallen back on a familiar refrain: Stay home. “My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. “If you’re able to stay home, stay home.” Some 33 million Californians are now under a new regional stay-at-home order that began Sunday night, a last-ditch effort to turn the corner on an alarming rise in coronavirus cases statewide. The blunt messaging worked to bend the curve in the spring, when fear of the novel virus and the insidious ways it might spread kept many indoors. But nine months later, the words seem to have lost their meaning.

The percentage of Angelenos staying home except for essential activities has remained unchanged since mid-June — around 55% — despite pleas from health officials in recent weeks for people to cut down on their activities, according to a survey conducted by USC. A similar story has played out nationwide, as millions of Americans zigzagged across the country to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday, flouting the advice of health officials. “It’s not because the public is irresponsible; it’s because they are losing trust in public health officials who put out arbitrary restrictions,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Francisco. “We are failing in our public health messaging.” Health officials are up against a fatigued public, as well as a number of people who don’t believe in the danger of the virus, Gandhi said.

But she is also part of a growing number of experts who think there’s a better way to engage those who do want to take the pandemic seriously — by taking a lesson from the public health strategy known as harm reduction. Typically used to describe sex-education programs and needle exchanges for drug users, harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a harm-reduction approach would encourage masking and social distancing instead of demanding that people have no contact at all with friends or family they don’t live with. In other words, even during a pandemic, abstinence-only isn’t effective.

L.A., however, has adopted more of a “just say no” attitude. Last week the county became one of the only places in the nation to halt all outdoor gatherings among people who aren’t in the same household, prohibiting two friends from meeting up in a park or going on a hike with masks on. Gov. Gavin Newsom followed suit and included the ban in his regional stay-at-home order. California officials are desperate to reverse an unprecedented flood of new coronavirus cases up and down the state, and even their critics acknowledge the impossibility of the situation. But banning relatively safe outdoor activities risks alienating people who want to follow the rules but feel exhausted, disregarded and sometimes confused by them, Brown University health economist Emily Oster said. “Some of the things they’re telling you not to do are incredibly low-risk,” Oster said. “When you are so strict about what people can do, they stop listening.”

Read more …

Close the borders! But seriously, vaccines have become an entirely critiqueless issue. And thereby uninteresting. Once something is blown up to the status of a religion, it’s time to tune out.

Nine Out Of 10 In Poor Nations To Miss Out On Vaccines (G.)

Nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year because the majority of the most promising vaccines coming on-stream have been bought up by the west, campaigners have said. As the first people get vaccinated in the UK, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is warning that the deals done by rich countries’ governments will leave the poor at the mercy of the rampaging virus. Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the most promising vaccines. Canada has bought more doses per head of population than any other – enough to vaccinate each Canadian five times, said the alliance, which includes Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam.

“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager. “But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.” Supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, approved in the UK last week, will almost all go to rich countries – 96% of doses have been bought by the west. The Moderna vaccine uses a similar technology, which also is claimed to have 95% efficacy, and is going exclusively to rich countries. The prices of both vaccines are high and access for low-income countries will be complicated by the ultra low temperatures at which they need to be stored.

By contrast, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has 70% efficacy, is stable at normal fridge temperatures and the price has been set deliberately low for global access. The manufacturers have said 64% of doses will go to people in the developing world. The campaigners applaud this commitment, but said one company alone cannot supply the whole world. At most Oxford/AstraZeneca can reach 18% of the world’s population next year. The alliance has used data from science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the global deals with the eight leading vaccine candidates. They found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from the pandemic. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them.

Read more …

You can’t go out, except when you get evicted.

Tenants, Landlords Face Imminent Crisis As Pandemic Lifelines Expire (ZH)

January is going to be a mess. America’s small-time landlords, along with their tenants, are in trouble as safety nets are set to expire. Tenants haven’t paid rent in months, with a looming eviction moratorium expiring at the end of December. According to Reuters, the lack of rental income for landlords has also been troublesome, with many skipping mortgage payments, potentially resulting in a firesale of properties in the year ahead. For 12 million Americans and their families – this Christmas will be their worst – as the extended unemployment benefits that have kept many of them afloat are set to expire later this month. Then on New Year’s Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires, which could result in a massive wave of evictions in the first half of 2021.

At the moment, $70 billion in unpaid back rent and utilities are set to come due, according to a new report via Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Last month, Maryland utility companies began to terminate customers with overdue bills, many of which were unable to pay because of job loss due to the coronavirus downturn. New research from the Aspen Institute warns 40 million people could be threatened with eviction over the coming months as the real economic crisis is only beginning. According to Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the Kansas City Regional Housing Alliance, landlords are also in deep turmoil. She said more than 40% of the landlords surveyed in her coalition said they will have to sell their units because of the lack of rental income.

“They are sheltering our citizens free of charge, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Johnson-Cosby. “This is their retirement income.” She said small landlords are frightened to speak out about non-paying tenants because social justice warriors and their “Cancel Rent” groups have attacked landlords. “What they don’t realize is that if they run us out and we fail, it will be private equity and Wall Street firms that buy up all our properties, just like they did with houses after the last foreclosure crash.”

Read more …

Louisiana followed suit.

Texas Files Lawsuit To SCOTUS Challenging Election Results In 4 States (JTN)

In a novel legal strike, the state of Texas has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, arguing officials in those four battleground states violated the Constitution by making changes to how ballots were cast and counted without legislative approval. The lawsuit filed late Monday night by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the justices to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the states “from taking action to certify presidential electors or to have such electors take any official action including without limitation participating in the electoral college.” The suit argues that changes made by the state’s governors, secretaries of states and election supervisors were “inconsistent with relevant state laws and were made by non-legislative entities, without any consent by the state legislatures. The acts of these officials thus directly violated the Constitution.”

“I’m worried about the credibility of elections, not just right now, but I’m worried about the credibility of elections going forward,” Paxton told Just the News on Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview. “I’m not making a fraud argument, I’m making an argument based on the Constitution. And what we know happened, which was that we know state law was changed by people other than the state legislature, which is the only constitutionally authorized changes that are allowed … My argument is that the law was violated, the constitution was violated. I’m not addressing whether there was 2 million fraudulent ballots cast in Pennsylvania. I don’t know, and there’s no way to know, the way the system got set up, the way the rules got changed.”

States are allowed in certain circumstances to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing lower federal courts, in disputes involving other states. Paxton argued the state of Texas was wrongly harmed by the unconstitutional acts of the other states. “These non-legislative changes … facilitated the casting and counting of ballots in violation of state law, which, in turn, violated the Electors Clause of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution,” the suit stated. “By these unlawful acts, the Defendant States have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens vote, but their actions have also debased the votes of citizens in Plaintiff State and other States that remained loyal to the Constitution.”

Read more …

Because Trump was so far ahead as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020.

Professor: Probability of Biden Winning ‘Less Than One In A Quadrillion’ (EW)

In a new lawsuit filed today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, from casting “unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes” in the Electoral College. In the brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Texas includes a declaration from Pacific Economics Group member and USC economics professor, Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D. Dr. Cicchetti is the former Deputy Director at the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government and received his Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University.


According to Dr. Cicchetti, his calculations show the probability of Joe Biden winning the popular vote in the four states independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion. Dr. Cicchetti’s analysis calculates that for Joe Biden to win all four states collectively, the odds of that event happening decrease to less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power (1 in 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,0004). Stop and think about that. Given President Trump’s massive early lead on election night, the odds — according to Dr. Cicchetti — that Biden came from behind and beat Trump in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are so unlikely that it’s next to impossible. Dr. Cicchett’s work raises serious suspicions. How did Biden pull off this extraordinarily improbable win?

Read more …

You mean the report was false?

“Yes, noted pro-Trump, right-wing media outlet *Axios* spent a full year investigating a Chinese spy that infiltrated California politics because of Swalwell’s criticisms of the president.”

Swalwell Suggests Trump Is Behind Blockbuster Axios Report (Fox)

Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested Tuesday that President Trump was behind Axios’ bombshell report revealing that he was one of several politicians who was entangled with someone suspected to be a Chinese spy. Axios reported on Monday that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif. Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions. According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.

Swalwell, who was one of the most outspoken lawmakers who pushed the Russia collusion narrative since Trump took office, is now hinting that the president was behind Axios’ explosive reporting during an interview with Politico. “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him. The timing feels like that should be looked at,” Swalwell said on Tuesday. Swalwell revealed that Axios first approached him about his ties to Fang in July 2019, which was also when he ended his short-lived presidential campaign. But the Democratic lawmaker seemed to suggest that intelligence officials involved in Axios’ reporting were trying to “weaponize” his cooperation with authorities.

“What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do. But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone,” Swalwell told Politico. According to Politico, Swalwell “refused to discuss his relationship with Fang” after Axios reported that she had sexual relations with at least two other politicians. He did, however, express confidence that he will maintain his seat on the House Intelligence Commitee. “As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” Swalwell told Politico.

Read more …

The swamp.

Biden Defense Secretary Nominee Under Fire For Industry Connections (IC)

Last month, two progressive members of Congress sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter requesting that he commit to nominating a secretary of defense with no previous ties to weapons manufacturers. The letter, from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., and Rep. Barbara Lee D-Calif., cited President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper — a former lobbyist for Raytheon, one the country’s largest defense contractors — and called on Biden to adopt a different standard and find a nominee with “no prior employment history with a defense contractor.” But on Tuesday, Biden announced that he will nominate retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin III, once the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and now a member of the board of directors at Raytheon.

The company has been in the spotlight during the Trump administration in part because it supplies air-to-ground munitions for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and Austin’s role with Raytheon could be central to his confirmation fight. Austin oversaw U.S. operations in the Middle East until March of 2016, a year after the Saudi-led intervention began. He retired from the military the next month and later joined the board of United Technologies, a defense contractor that merged with Raytheon earlier this year. In 2019, Raytheon proceeded with an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which included air-to-ground munitions. After congressional Democrats blocked the sale on human rights grounds, the Trump administration helped force the sale through by declaring a state of emergency.

“Raytheon manufactures the bomb components that are used in Yemen. He bears a direct responsibility,” Phyllis Bennis, who directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, told The Intercept. “He was making money as a board member of this company that is directly responsible for the death and destruction there.” William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told The Intercept that picking Austin was “tantamount to making the position of Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense Contractors.” “The potential for conflicts is huge,” Hartung said. “Raytheon is deeply involved in controversial programs from unworkable missile defense projects to nuclear weapons — the new nuclear-armed cruise missile — to precision-guided bombs that have killed untold numbers of civilians in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. If Gen. Austin were to recuse himself from decisions on programs and policies involving Raytheon he could not carry out large parts of his job as defense secretary.”

Read more …

Mysteriously vanishing topics. There’s a lot of them.

Former Clinton Aide Confirms Ties to Epstein, MSM Silence Deafening (MPN)

A top Clinton insider has revealed that the former president visited the Caribbean home of notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. In a long interview last week with Vanity Fair, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band, noted that, contrary to the official line, his boss did indeed spend time on Little Saint James, the private island that the billionaire pedophile used as a base to traffick and rape women and children. Neither Band nor his interviewer appeared to realize the gravity of what he was revealing, the subject being touched upon only briefly towards the end of a wide-ranging 7,000-word conversation in which he noted that in January 2003, Clinton flew on Epstein’s notorious “Lolita Express” private jet to the island.

Band appeared to bring the incident up only as a way of distancing himself from the disgraced pedophile, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Manhattan prison in July last year. Band insisted that he knew nothing of Epstein’s misdeeds, but “got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship,” refusing to travel aboard Epstein’s jet with his employer. Flight logs show Clinton made around two dozen trips on the infamous airplane. Band is certainly a source in the know. For years he served as Clinton’s most trusted aide and confidant, traveling by his side and arranging his appointments for him. The former president famously did not carry even a cellphone, meaning that everyone from journalists to even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would have had to go through Band to speak to him.

Band’s testimony adds weight to others who have already said they saw him on the island. Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre previously stated that Clinton “strolled into” Epstein’s private villa with “two lovely girls” in his arms. “There was no modesty between any of them,” she said. “I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here,” Giuffre said in an interview earlier this year, “and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor.’” Epstein’s former IT and maintenance contractor also said he saw the former president on the island, an assertion that Clinton has denied. The former president was also photographed receiving a massage from Epstein victim Chauntae Davies while at an airport, on route via the Lolita Express.

While the press might be forgiven for focussing more on the pandemic and the election, the virtual silence from corporate media has been deafening. The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant — whom friends describe as being like a “son” to him — has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN, with no relevant results appearing in searches on their websites. ABC News, which for three years sat on information that could have resulted in an arrest, also did not cover the story.

Read more …

Well, he appears to be trying.

Trump Exits Somalia (OffG)

These are things that might have been done earlier. During the last, flickering days of the Trump administration, activity is being witnessed across countries which have a US troop presence. Numbers are being reduced. Security wonks are getting the jitters. Is the imperium shrinking? Will President elect Joe Biden wake up and reverse the trend? With the Beltway foreign policy Blob advising him, most likely. In November, acting defence secretary Christopher Miller announced that the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would fall from 4,500 to 2,500 and 3,500 to 2,500 respectively. Somalia has been added to the list of countries which will see US withdrawals in some number. The current troop presence stands at 700, tasked with assisting an African Union-backed peacekeeping force combat the al-Shabaab insurgency.

A good number are also there to train and support Danab, the Somali special forces with eyes on capturing and killing leaders of the insurgent movement. The ultimate objective of US Africa Command in East Africa, then, “is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the US homeland, US persons, international allies or destabilize the region.” This is a conflict that has a relentless air of eternity to it. Al-Shabaab counts itself as yet another, albeit more formidable militant group, that has thrived in Somalia’s unruly environment. Its claim to radicalised fame came with Ethiopia’s December 2006 invasion of the country. It was encouraged by the Somalian transitional government, with the intention of ousting al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu, captured by the fundamentalist alliance that June.

According to Robert Wise, the Ethiopian occupation transformed al-Shabaab “from a small relatively unimportant part of a more moderate Islamic movement into the most powerful and radical armed faction in the country.” Yet another salient lesson in the perils of foreign intervention. US administrations might have feared the messiness of the Somali scene. The death of 18 US soldiers in October 1993 in a failed effort to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu stung. Cruise-missile humanitarians and interventionists would have to wait for the republic to find its feet again. The attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States furnished the moment, incarnating the global terrorist phenomenon and the pretext for an international deployment of US forces, officially and covertly. On March 19, 2003, the capture and interrogation of Suleiman Abdallah heralded the return of US troops to Somalia.

Read more …

Good question. But good luck trying to find people who’ve read all this stuff for four years and now acknowledge they’ve been had 100%.

Where’s the Hitler? (CJ Hopkins)

All right, that’s it. I’ve run out of patience. No more excuses. Where’s the Hitler? Yes, you heard me. I’m talking to you. You respectable journalists and political pundits. You Intelligence officials and politicians. You fanatical liberals. You pseudo anti-fascists. All you members of the GloboCap “Resistance” who have been hysterically shrieking that “Trump is Hitler!” since he won the nomination back in 2016. Well, OK, it’s November 2020. The show is almost over. When do we get Hitler No, do not tell me “any day now.” You’ve been telling us that for four straight years. Do we look like a bunch of gullible idiots that you can whip up into a four-year frenzy of mindless hatred and paranoia by screaming “Hitler!” over and over, and then not produce an actual Hitler?

Well, we’re not. We remember what you said. You promised us Hitler, and we want Hitler, or at least a decent facsimile of Hitler. And don’t even think of trying to pretend that you didn’t actually promise us Hitler. You did. You want me to prove it? OK. Remember back in 2016, when The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Inquirer, and other such “leading respectable broadsheets,” and online magazines like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and countless others, warned that Trump was sending secret anti-Semitic “dog whistle” signals to his underground army of Nazi terrorists by talking about “international banks,” “global elites,” the “political establishment,” and even “corporations” and “lobbyists” … all of which was supposedly code for “the Jews,” who he was going to exterminate if won the election?

I do. I remember that, distinctly. How about after he won the election, when The Guardian reported that “white supremacy ha[d] triumphed!,” and The New York Times, NPR, Keith Olberman, and other verified news sources warned that America had descended into “racial Orwellianism,” or Zionist Anti-Semitism, or the “bottomless pit of fascism,” or whatever? Or when Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post confirmed that “Donald Trump is actually a fascist”? Do you remember all that? Because I certainly do. Remember Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter warning her that millions of “Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans [were] shaking in their shoes” as they waited for Trump to round them all up and send them to the camps, along with the “Jewish Coastal Elites”?

Read more …

He’s done this 1000 times.

Melzer Calls For Urgent Release Of Assange After 10 Years Of Detention (UN)

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, today appealed to British authorities to immediately release Julian Assange from prison or to place him under guarded house arrest during US extradition proceedings. He made the urgent call 10 years after Mr. Assange’s first arrest on 7 December 2010, amid an outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh prison. Reports say 65 of approximately 160 inmates, including a number in the wing where Mr. Assange is being held, have tested positive. In an opinion rendered in December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that since his arrest on 7 December 2010, Mr. Assange had been subjected to various forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, including 10 days of detention in London’s Wandsworth prison; 550 days of house arrest, and the continuation of the deprivation of liberty in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London which lasted almost seven years.

Since 11 April 2019, Mr. Assange has been held in near total isolation at Belmarsh. “The British authorities initially detained Mr. Assange on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Sweden in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct that have since been formally dropped due to lack of evidence. Today, he is detained for exclusively preventative purposes, to ensure his presence during the ongoing US extradition trial, a proceeding which may well last several years,” said Melzer. “Mr. Assange is not a criminal convict and poses no threat to anyone, so his prolonged solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis.”

The progressively severe suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange, as a result of his prolonged solitary confinement, amounts not only to arbitrary detention, but also to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Melzer said. He expressed particular concern about Mr. Assange’s exposure to COVID-19 given his pre-existing medical condition. “Prison decongestion measures seen around the world in response to COVID-19 should be extended to all inmates whose imprisonment is not absolutely necessary,” the expert said. “First and foremost, alternative non-custodial measures should be extended to those with specific vulnerabilities such as Mr. Assange who suffers from a pre-existing respiratory health condition.”

Read more …

“Jack Weldon gives us that access.”

American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress (Onion)

Citing a desire to gain influence in Washington, the American people confirmed Friday that they have hired high-powered D.C. lobbyist Jack Weldon of the firm Patton Boggs to help advance their agenda in Congress. Known among Beltway insiders for his ability to sway public policy on behalf of massive corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, and AT&T, Weldon, 53, is expected to use his vast network of political connections to give his new client a voice in the legislative process. Weldon is reportedly charging the American people $795 an hour. “Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals,” a statement from the nation read in part. “Jack Weldon gives us that access.”


“His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table,” the statement continued. “And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington.” The 310-million-member group said it will rely on Weldon’s considerable clout to ensure its concerns are taken into account when Congress addresses issues such as education, immigration, national security, health care, transportation, the economy, affordable college tuition, infrastructure, jobs, equal rights, taxes, Social Security, the environment, housing, the national debt, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, nutrition, imports, exports, foreign relations, the arts, and crime.

Read more …

 

 

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.

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

 

 

In two weeks time, days will start getting longer again in the northern hemisphere.

 

 

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