Jan 172021
 


Salvador Dalí Cadaques 1923

 

Further Year Of Covid Curbs Needed – Irish Official (IT)
55 Americans Died Following COVID Vaccination, Norway Deaths Rise To 29 (ZH)
Second COVID Variant From Brazil ‘Likely’ Already In The UK (Sky)
UK Children’s Welfare Becoming A National Emergency (G.)
A Year Of Lockdowns Can’t Take The Shine Off Goldmans Sachs Profits (G.)
Trump Trial Pending, McConnell Calls It ‘Vote Of Conscience’ (AP)
Should Donald Trump Skip Out On The Senate Impeachment Trial? (Turley)
Biden Fills Out State Department Team With Obama Veterans (AP)
Silicon Valley Can No Longer Conceal Its Power (Ferguson)
Massive Inflation in Shipping Costs. And the Reasons (WS)
FBI, State Officials Aware Early Of Major Steele Mistake, Ignored It (JTN)
Democrats Still Serve Militarism And Corporatism – Glenn Greenwald (RT)

 

 

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
– Confucius

 

 

 

 

No efforts to prevent infection, other than lockdowns and masks. But an entire year of it. Based on the illusion that mass mRNA vaccination can achieve herd immunity.

The “science” has stood still for a year.

Further Year Of Covid Curbs Needed – Irish Official (IT)

Another year of restrictions related to Covid-19 would be necessary before the number of people vaccinated would be sufficient to protect the public in general from the disease, a top health official has said. Meanwhile, close to 6,500 HSE staff are currently out sick with Covid-19, the HSE chief Paul Reid has stated. Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer at the HSE, said in radio comments that social distancing and restrictions in some form were likely for the rest of 2021 at least, until enough of the population could be vaccinated to grant general or herd immunity. “The answer, and not everyone likes it but it’s the truth… is that the public in general won’t have protection from Covid-19 for at least a year… In the meantime, it’s more important than ever to abide by the public health guidance so that we can stop the spread of the virus,” he told Máirín Ní Ghadhra on Raidió na Gaeltachta.


“We’re in the middle of the main wave now… and we can see the damage that has been wrought. The vaccine is coming, and we’ll come out of this if we can stick to the public health guidelines until everyone has been vaccinated.” Meanwhile, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the hospital system is “completely tightening up” and has “formally gone into surge capacity”. The national critical care surge group had been mobilised and close to 6,500 HSE staff are currently out sick with Covid-19, with about 4,000 of those having been working in hospitals, he said.

Read more …

Not from the Pfizer PR squad.

55 Americans Died Following COVID Vaccination, Norway Deaths Rise To 29 (ZH)

Amid increasing calls for suspension of the use of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines produced by companies such as Pfizer, especially among elderly people, the situation in Norway has escalated significantly as the Scandi nation has now registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who’ve had their first COVID-19 vaccination shot. As Bloomberg reports, this adds six to the number of known fatalities in Norway, and also lowers the age group thought to be affected from 80. “Until Friday, Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway, and “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine,” the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a written response to Bloomberg on Saturday. “There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed,” the agency said. All the reported deaths related to “elderly people with serious basic disorders,” it said.

[..] Norway’s experience has prompted the country to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for the very old and terminally ill… the exact group that ‘the science’ shows are actually at risk from this virus. Pfizer and BioNTech are working with the Norwegian regulator to investigate the deaths in Norway, Pfizer said in an e-mailed statement. The agency found that “the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations,” Pfizer said. However, it’s not just Norway as The Epoch Times’ Zachary Stieber reports that fifty-five people in the United States have died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, according to reports submitted to a federal system. Deaths have occurred among people receiving both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, according to the reports. In some cases, patients died within days of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“One man, a 66-year-old senior home resident in Colorado, was sleepy and stayed in bed a day after getting Moderna’s vaccine. Early the next morning, on Christmas Day, the resident “was observed in bed lying still, pale, eyes half open and foam coming from mouth and unresponsive,” the VAERS report states. “He was not breathing and with no pulse.” In another case, a 93-year-old South Dakota man was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan. 4 around 11 a.m. About two hours later, he said he was tired and couldn’t continue with the physical therapy he was doing any longer. He was taken back to his room, where he said his legs felt heavy. Soon after, he stopped breathing. A nurse declared a do-not-resuscitate order.

In addition to the deaths, people have reported 96 life-threatening events following COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as 24 permanent disabilities, 225 hospitalizations, and 1,388 emergency room visits. It’s not just the old and frail, in Israel, which proudly lays claim to the greatest vaccination effort in the world (largest percentage of the population inoculated), As RT reports, at least 13 Israelis have experienced facial paralysis after being administered the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, a month after the US Food and Drug Administration reported similar issues but said they weren’t linked to the jab. Israeli outlet Ynet reported, citing the Health Ministry, that officials believe the number of such cases could be higher.

“For at least 28 hours I walked around with it [facial paralysis],” one person who had the side effect told Ynet. “I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.” Ynet quoted Prof. Galia Rahav, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center, who said she did not feel “comfortable” with administering the second dose to someone who had received the first jab and subsequently suffered from paralysis. “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose,” she told the outlet.

Read more …

Ever more variants popping up.

Second COVID Variant From Brazil ‘Likely’ Already In The UK (Sky)

The second of two new coronavirus variants from Brazil is likely to already be in the UK despite the government imposing a travel ban, a leading epidemiologist has warned. Eight cases of the first variant, which has a small number of mutations, have been identified in the UK. The second, which has been detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus and in travellers arriving in Japan, has not been detected in the UK so far. There are concerns that this variant could be more transmissible and reinfect those who have recovered from COVID, although such possibilities remain unproven. Professor John Edmunds has said he would it “unusual” if the second variant was not present here.

Professor Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of the South African one, we had imported cases already by the time we put in additional restrictions for South African travellers. “For the Brazilian one… I don’t think there is evidence that we’ve imported cases of the Manaus strain, as far as I’m aware at least, but it is likely that we probably have quite honestly. “We are one of the most connected countries in the world so I would find it unusual if we hadn’t imported some cases into the UK.” The government banned flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde on Thursday after the emergence of the new variants, having previously banned travel from South Africa because of a new coronavirus mutation.

In addition, all quarantine-free travel into the UK will be suspended on Monday in a bid to keep out other variants. The new policy means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK. Labour accused the government of “closing the door after the horse has bolted”, saying the announcement was too late to have stopped the arrival of “worrying” strains.

Read more …

Mental health.

UK Children’s Welfare Becoming A National Emergency (G.)

Boris Johnson is facing demands from doctors, senior politicians and charities for a wide-ranging commission to examine the pandemic’s “devastating effect” on children, amid growing concerns about its impact on their education, development and mental health. A major coalition of child health experts warns that many families are being “swept into poverty” by the pandemic, which is set to significantly add to the 4 million children living in deprivation before the Covid crisis. In a letter to the Observer, they also warn of a “yawning gap” in attainment between rich and poor due to school closures, while the number of children facing mental health issues and distress will rise “with every day that lockdown keeps them isolated and uncertain about their futures”.

“Children’s welfare has become a national emergency,” says the letter, whose signatories include the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the National Children’s Bureau and some of the country’s leading child health academics. “An independent commission, to inform a cross-government strategy to steer children and young people clear from the lingering effects of Covid-19, could avert this deepening crisis. At present we have piecemeal solutions and stop-gap measures. The next generation deserves better.” It warns that the challenges have been made harder by a decade of cuts to services families rely on. Some 1.5 million children under 18 will either need new or additional mental health support as a result of the pandemic.

A third of those are new cases, according to the Centre for Mental Health. Lee Hudson, a consultant paediatrician and chief of mental health at Great Ormond Street hospital, said: “We know from the data that children and young people’s mental health has been deteriorating in this pandemic. Clinicians are seeing the effects of that every day: for example, the numbers of children presenting with eating disorders have dramatically increased. For children living in poverty, the risks are even greater. We’ve never needed a long-term strategy for child mental health more.”

Read more …

Remember the $10 trillion stimulus in a $21 trillion economy.

A Year Of Lockdowns Can’t Take The Shine Off Goldmans Sachs Profits (G.)

What is $900m to a Wall Street giant like Goldman Sachs? Relatively little, when it counts the drop in profits for a year of record-setting market swings and economic turmoil, all sparked by a pandemic. The firm should regard itself as lucky to be poised for profits of about $7bn (£5bn) for the whole of 2020. That average analyst forecast, compiled by Refinitiv, is a mere 11% drop from the $7.9bn it made in 2019, a year when the phrase “Covid lockdown” had never been uttered. The projected decline is smaller than the $2.8bn it put aside to cover a potential jump in defaults within the first nine months of the year alone, a number estimates suggest could rise to $3.1bn for the 12 months to December.


Those provisions pale in comparison with those of European peers such as HSBC, which already put by $7.6bn to cover Covid-linked loan losses by the third quarter. The bank’s results will emerge unscathed from the $2.9bn settlement it reached in October with global regulators and the US Department of Justice, over its alleged role in the 1MDB corruption scandal. The announcement came just months after Goldman agreed to pay $3.9bn to the Malaysian government, amid claims it allegedly turned a blind eye while $4.5bn was looted from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. Goldman bosses, including chairman and chief executive David Solomon, will feel the pinch of a $31m cut to their combined 2020 pay over the scandal, but hefty provisions previously put aside for the 1MDB case will largely cover the settlements.

Read more …

The GOP is tempted to turn on Trump. Opportunism pur sang.

Trump Trial Pending, McConnell Calls It ‘Vote Of Conscience’ (AP)

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is likely to start after Joe Biden’s inauguration, and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president over the Capitol riot will be a “vote of conscience.” The timing for the trial, the first of a president no longer in office, has not yet been set. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Friday that Democrats intend to move swiftly on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief. Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday. Pelosi called the recovery package a “matter of complete urgency.”

The uncertainty of the scheduling, despite the House’s swift impeachment of Trump just a week after the deadly Jan. 6 siege, reflects the fact that Democrats do not want the Senate trial to dominate the opening days of the Biden administration. With security forces on alert over the threat of more potential violence heading into the inauguration, the Senate is also moving quickly to prepare for confirming Biden’s nominee for national intelligence director, Avril Haines. A committee hearing is set for the day before the inauguration, signaling a confirmation vote could come swiftly once the new president is in office.

Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. But others have urged a slower pace as the Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the newly Democratic-led Congress considers priorities like the coronavirus plan. Biden’s incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Friday the Senate can do both. “The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people,” she said. Psaki noted that during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, the Senate continued to hold hearings each day. “There is some precedent,” she said.

Read more …

“It was a reckless speech — but, in a court of law, it would constitute protected speech.”

Should Donald Trump Skip Out On The Senate Impeachment Trial? (Turley)

In a matter of days, this country will face an unprecedented Senate trial. The Senate not only will try a president for a second time but will do so after he has left office. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris assures us the Senate can politically “multitask” to deal with an impeachment, an incoming Biden administration and a pandemic. However, the threshold question is whether this is constitutionally one of those tasks — and for soon-to-be citizen Donald Trump, the best defense may be no defense at all. In fairness, people on both sides are struggling to deal with this novel impeachment. While I have stated that I do not wish to serve as the president’s counsel, I have spoken to members of Congress and the White House on the historical and constitutional backgrounds for a trial.

From a purely strategic perspective, I believe Trump may be wise to skip any trial. For a notorious counterpuncher, avoiding a fight might be the most difficult decision of all, particularly because he has obvious defenses. First, he was denied due process when the House held an unprecedented “snap impeachment” without a hearing or inquiry even though a trial likely would not occur immediately. Even a one-day hearing would have allowed evidence to be discussed as well as a formal request for a response. Second, the impeachment article is poorly crafted and poorly conceived, built around assertions that Trump’s Jan. 6 speech to supporters was an “incitement to insurrection.” His speech raised potentially impeachable grounds; I condemned it as he gave it and opposed his challenge of electoral votes from the outset.

But as I wrote previously, it would have been far better to censure him for it in a bipartisan, bicameral resolution. While impeachment can be based on noncriminal grounds, Trump’s speech alone did not amount to criminal incitement. Absent direct evidence of intent, a criminal charge would likely collapse in an actual trial or on appeal on First Amendment grounds. Trump expressly called for his supporters “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” He told them to go to the Capitol “to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” to “fight like hell” to challenge the election, and to remind unsupportive Republicans that their actions would not be forgotten. It was a reckless speech — but, in a court of law, it would constitute protected speech.

Read more …

Globalism wins.

Biden Fills Out State Department Team With Obama Veterans (AP)

President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday filled out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signaling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump. Biden will nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the second- and third-highest ranking posts, respectively. They were among the 11 officials announced to serve under the incoming secretary of state, Antony Blinken. The team “embodies my core belief that America is strongest when it works with our allies,” Biden said in a statement. He said he was confident “they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back.”


Among the others are: —longtime Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon, to be deputy secretary of state for management. That deputy position has been vacant for some time and McKeon and Sherman are expected to share duties as the department’s No. 3 official. —former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya, to be under secretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights, respectively. —Derek Chollet, a familiar Democratic foreign policy hand, to be State Department counselor. —former U.N. official Salman Ahmed, who also served as head of strategic planning in the Obama National Security Council, as director of policy planning. —Suzy George, who was a senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, will be Blinken’s chief of staff. —Ned Price, a former Obama NSC staffer and career CIA official who resigned in protest in the early days of the Trump administration, will serve as the public face of the department, taking on the role of spokesman.

Read more …

I’m not a fan of Niall Ferguson at all, but the topic demands attention.

Silicon Valley Can No Longer Conceal Its Power (Ferguson)

‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,’ George Orwell famously observed. He was talking not about everyday life but about politics, where it is ‘quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously’. The examples he gave in his 1946 essay included the paradox that ‘for years before the war, nearly all enlightened people were in favour of standing up to Germany: the majority of them were also against having enough armaments to make such a stand effective’. Last week provided a near-perfect analogy. For years before the 2020 election, nearly all American conservatives were in favour of standing up to big tech: the majority of them were also against changing the laws and regulations enough to make such a stand effective.

The difference is that, unlike the German threat, which was geographically remote, the threat from Silicon Valley was literally in front of our noses, day and night: on our mobile phones, our tablets and our laptops. Writing in this magazine more than three years ago, I warned of a coming collision between Donald Trump and Silicon Valley. ‘Social media helped Donald Trump take the White House,’ I wrote. ‘Silicon Valley won’t let it happen again.’ The conclusion of my book The Square and the Tower was that the new online network platforms represented a new kind of power that posed a fundamental challenge to the traditional hierarchical power of the state. By the network platforms, I mean Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google and Apple, or FATGA for short — companies that have established a dominance over the public sphere not seen since the heyday of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church.

FATGA had humble enough origins in garages and dorm rooms. As recently as 2008, not one of them could be found among the world’s largest companies by market capitalisation. Today, they occupy first, third, fourth and fifth places in the market cap league table, just above their Chinese counterparts, Tencent and Alibaba. What happened was that the network platforms turned the originally decentralised worldwide web into an oligarchically organised and hierarchical public sphere from which they made money and to which they controlled access. That the original, superficially libertarian inclinations of these companies’ founders would rapidly crumble under political pressure from the left was also perfectly obvious, if one bothered to look a little beyond one’s proboscis.

Following the violent far-right rally at Charlottesville in August 2017, Matthew Prince, chief executive of the internet service provider Cloudflare, described how he had responded: ‘Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.’ On the basis that ‘the people behind the [white supremacist magazine] Daily Stormer are assholes’, he denied their website access to the internet. ‘No one should have that power,’ he admitted. ‘We need to have a discussion around this with clear rules and clear frameworks. My whims and those of Jeff [Bezos] and Larry [Page] and … Mark [Zuckerberg] shouldn’t be what determines what should be online.’

How the news works

Read more …

No, sorry, that is not inflation.

Massive Inflation in Shipping Costs. And the Reasons (WS)

The dollar-amount spent by shippers, such as manufacturers or retailers, on shipping their goods jumped by 13% in December from a year earlier, driving the Cass Freight Index of Expenditures to a new record (red line). The amount spent on freight is a function of shipment volume and freight rates:

The Cass Freight Index covers shipments by all modes of transportation, but is heavily concentrated on shipments by truck, with truckload accounting for over half of the expenditures, followed by less-than-truckload (LTL), rail, parcel services, etc. It does not cover commodities. The freight rates embedded in the index jumped by 6.0% in December compared to a year earlier. “Based in part on spot trends, the acceleration in freight rates is likely to persist in the coming months,” Cass said in the report. Shipment volume surged 6.7% year-over-year, given the Pandemic shift in consumer spending to goods that need to be shipped, from services that are not shipped. But shipment volume in December (red line in the chart below) remained below the levels of 2018 (black) and 2017 (brown) at this time of the year:

Read more …

To understand why, look no further than who organized and paid for the Steele dossier.

FBI, State Officials Aware Early Of Major Steele Mistake, Ignored It (JTN)

Shortly before the FBI used his dossier to secure a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign, Christopher Steele met with State Department officials and relayed information suggesting Moscow was running an operation out of the Russian consulate in Miami. There was just one problem with his intelligence: The Russians didn’t have a consulate in Florida’s largest city. The anecdote, captured in contemporaneous memos and newly released testimony, illustrates just how bad some of Steele’s intelligence reporting was and how widely that was known inside the FBI, even as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was being assured by the bureau that Steele was deemed credible and there was no derogatory information about his work.

Kenneth Laycock, the FBI’s current Executive Assistant Director, was a section chief for Eurasian intelligence in fall 2016 when Steele made a visit to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec at the State Department. During the October 2016 meeting, Steele admitted he was leaking to the news media while working as an FBI informant, a violation of his confidential human source agreement. (He later was terminated for it.) And he also relayed the anecdote about the Russian operation out of the Miami consulate, which officials immediately flagged as false, according to Kavalec’s own notes of the meeting. “It is important to note that there is no Russian Consulate in Miami,” Kavalec wrote.

Laycock said Kavalec relayed her concerns to the FBI and that others working on the now-discredited Russia collusion investigation codenamed Crossfire Hurricane were also aware of Steele’s mistake. “Do you recall — just trying to jog your memory here in case you do recall — Ms. Kavalec conveying information to you that Steele conveyed to her information about a Russian consulate being located in Miami and that was an inaccurate assessment on Steele’s part?” a Senate investigator asked Laycock in testimony taken last year but made public on Friday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I recall a conversation about a consulate in Miami independent of what she had mentioned regarding what Mr. Steele said to her,” Laycock answered.

He added: “It came up in some other discussion regarding if there was a consulate in Miami, which we both knew is not true because we know where all the consulates and embassies are around the country. That’s where I would handle normally in my purview as the section chief of the Eurasia program. So when it came up in a discussion, it was like, we don’t have a consulate in Miami.” He said FBI headquarters was aware of Steele’s mistaken claim outside of Kavalec’s report as well. “Yes, independent of the Mr. Steele piece in here, it came up through other discussions,” he testified.

Read more …

“The Democrats are very good at creating a brand that is radically different from their reality.”

Democrats Still Serve Militarism And Corporatism – Glenn Greenwald (RT)

Democrats are cheering for censorship as a means to root out “fascism,” even as they serve corporate interests that continue to exacerbate the social and economic issues that gave rise to Donald Trump, Glenn Greenwald told RT. The acclaimed American journalist issued a scathing critique of the American Left during a conversation with Chris Hedges, host of RT’s On Contact. The interview will air in full on Sunday. Pointing to Donald Trump’s indefinite Twitter suspension, Greenwald accused Democrats of appealing to Big Tech to police speech that could undermine their hold on power, using the pretext of fighting far-right extremism to quash dissent. “They’re on their knees pleading with billionaires and oligarchs and monopolists and Silicon Valley to censor in a way that they believe is politically advantageous.”

He added that the crackdown on free speech was particularly egregious because it was being carried out by a “tiny number of Silicon Valley oligarchs” who operate outside of the realm of democratic accountability. Greenwald argued that the profoundly illiberal cheerleading for corporate speech-policing should come as no surprise to anyone, noting that the Democratic Party is funded by and “believes in” corporate power, despite whatever claims it makes to the contrary. “The Democrats are very good at creating a brand that is radically different from their reality. But essentially the Democratic Party serves militarism, imperialism, and corporatism.”

There should also be no illusions about whether the incoming Biden administration will be able to mend the deep political divide in the country, the American journalist warned. He agreed with Hedges’ premise that Trump won the White House in 2016 by capitalizing on widespread frustration over Barack Obama, and his VP Joe Biden’s, ineffectual eight years in office.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 282020
 


Eugene Delacroix Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi 1826

 

 

A little personal thank you note from the Automatic Earth is in order. 2020 has been an annus horribilis across the world, but we have been blessed with lots of attention and comments, as well as great support from our readers throughout the year, both for the Automatic Earth itself and for the Monastiraki social kitchen in Athens. Problem is, I have so many people to say thank you to.

We started covering the coronavirus early on, in January, and never looked back. Many people got their first exposure to the virus through us (pun very much intended). What developed throughout 2020 was not just a solid reader-base, but also a maturing comments section, that taught me as much as it did readers.

Thank you for that. The comments from medical professionals and others became a strong part of the entire story. And it was by no means a one-sided thing; opinions were always all over the place, as they should be.

That’s the big problem in my view that we face these days: our media have become one-dimensional, the exact opposite of what they should be. This became clear through the Trump era, and the incessant hammering of one actor vs the deafening silence about all others in the same theater and on the same stage.

 

And we see that again today: try, if you can, to find in the MSM a critical opinion about lockdowns, or facemasks, or about the newly-fangled vaccines. It’s very hard if not impossible. This one-dimensionality hides behind “the science”. Which is something that doesn’t really exist, as we know because scientists in different countries contradict each other, as do those in the same country, and scientists even often contradict themselves.

If you want people to “follow the science”, you need to convince them that this is the right thing to do. You can’t just force them to do it. Or, rather, you can try that for a short period of time, and then they will come after you. People don’t live their lives in one dimension; they can’t.

Are facemasks useful? Sure, in crowded indoor spaces. But outdoors? I have yet to see the first evidence of that, and I do read an awful lot. Let’s inject some nuance here: if there is a risk of 1 in 100,000 that someone gets infected outdoors, it that worth forcing 99,999 people to put facemasks on? Or would you rather ask them to wear those where it demonstrably matters?

Are lockdowns useful? Sure, but they can only ever be emergency measures, short and “sweet”. Because they risk destroying entire economies and societies. Lockdowns should only be used when there are no other measures available anymore.

But we haven’t exhausted the scope of all other measures, not at all. There are no governments promoting the large scale use of vitamin D, or the proper use of hydroxychloroquine, and Chris Martenson even sees his videos about ivermectin banned from YouTube. As all three substances show great promise in preventing infections, and/or limiting the consequences of being infected.

We’ve been reduced to one-dimensional lives. By now, politicians and “scientists” would rather see everyone be infected, and then “cured” by a vaccine, then not get infected in the first place. In one dimension, the world easily gets turned upside down. You just wouldn’t be able to see it, because you need three dimensions to recognize what “upside down” looks like.

 

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines may work very well, but we don’t know, because we haven’t researched that. Which, if you want to “follow the science”, is a very strange thing to do. Of course we would all like the virus to be gone, but ignoring the science doesn’t look like the way to achieve that. And that’s what we’re doing: we’re not following the science, we’re ignoring it where that fits our purposes.

We don’t know if the Pfizer vaccine protects you from being infected, we don’t know if it keeps you from infecting others, but we do know governments and airlines are talking about requiring evidence that you’ve received a dose. But for what purpose, then, exactly? Just to let all the MPs and CEOs people claim they did what they could?

-Too- many people have lost their jobs and their businesses without any country seriously having tried to stop people from becoming infected through the use of vit. D, HCQ, ivermectin. Many of these jobs and businesses will never come back. Is this worth it? Maybe if we could say we tried everything we could, but we obviously haven’t.

We sold our souls to the “science” and then to the vaccine. Which are two very very different things.

If there’s ever been a time to ask questions, it must be now. About lockdowns, facemasks and viruses, about people, communities, societies, economies. That we are being pressured into not asking those questions, makes them even more necessary.

 

Anyway, those are all issues and questions that will need to be addressed in 2021, we’ve run out of 2020 time. It’s just that it wouldn’t have been necessary; we could easily have done much if not most of it this year. But we have become information-poor, and by design to boot. Which is the opposite of what the Automatic Earth wants to be and do. We want to present all the information, and that without paywalls or things like that.

There are too many of those already, and their main effect is to restrict information at a time when people arguably need more of it. Our model of increasingly relying on donations has worked out alright in 2020, and we hope the same will be true in the new year. Thank you again so kindly for making that possible.

 

A last word, again, about the Monastiraki kitchen: when you see things get harder for yourself, as so many have, it should be a natural reflex to wonder how they are for those less fortunate, because it’s a safe bet they will be hit even harder. It took me way too long to learn that. The team at the kitchen have that down: give, give, and never take. Enormous thanks to all of them.

That you allow me to support them is an honor, and a great responsibility which I take very seriously, both to those who donate and those who receive. Thank you, all of you.

One day when you’re old, and you ask yourself what has been the most important thing you did in your life, the answer will have to be what you did for other people. That is both the only possible outcome, and it’s also at the same time the very thing that is threatened most by the incessant lockdowns and facemask mandates. People need people.

Have a great 2021, stick with the Automatic Earth, and stick with each other.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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Dec 222020
 
 December 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Banks of the Seine with Pont de Clichy in the Spring 1887

 

Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus (AIER)
Yuletide Visitations (Kunstler)
Chris Krebs Takes Blame For Massive Hack: ‘It Happened On My Watch’ (NYP)
Krebs’ CISA Was Flagged Repeatedly For Poor Performance (JTN)
Dominion Voting Website Scrubbed Of Reference To SolarWinds (JTN)
House Passes 5593 Page Stimulus Bill Without Anyone Having Read It (ZH)
Pelosi Calls $600 COVID19 Payments To Americans ‘Significant’ (JTN)
A Slap in the Face: Anger at Pelosi, Democrats Over $600 Stimulus Check (MPN)
COVID19 Relief Bill Doubles Health Care Budget – For Congress (IC)
Barack Obama Has Nothing to Say About Central America (Goodfriend)
A Pandemic of ‘Russian Hacking’ (McGovern/Lauria)
If Assange’s Fate Were Up To a Jury, He, Too, Might Have Walked Free (Glass)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1341027010353750016

 

 

A very long list of research. We can’t afford not to ask questions.

Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus (AIER)

The use of universal lockdowns in the event of the appearance of a new pathogen has no precedent. It has been a science experiment in real time, with most of the human population used as lab rats. The costs are legion. The question is whether lockdowns worked to control the virus in a way that is scientifically verifiable. Based on the following studies, the answer is no and for a variety of reasons: bad data, no correlations, no causal demonstration, anomalous exceptions, and so on. There is no relationship between lockdowns (or whatever else people want to call them to mask their true nature) and virus control.

Perhaps this is a shocking revelation, given that universal social and economic controls are becoming the new orthodoxy. In a saner world, the burden of proof really should belong to the lockdowners, since it is they who overthrew 100 years of public-health wisdom and replaced it with an untested, top-down imposition on freedom and human rights. They never accepted that burden. They took it as axiomatic that a virus could be intimidated and frightened by credentials, edicts, speeches, and masked gendarmes. The pro-lockdown evidence is shockingly thin, and based largely on comparing real-world outcomes against dire computer-generated forecasts derived from empirically untested models, and then merely positing that stringencies and “nonpharmaceutical interventions” account for the difference between the fictionalized vs. the real outcome.

The anti-lockdown studies, on the other hand, are evidence-based, robust, and thorough, grappling with the data we have (with all its flaws) and looking at the results in light of controls on the population. Much of the following list has been put together by data engineer Ivor Cummins, who has waged a year-long educational effort to upend intellectual support for lockdowns. AIER has added its own and the summaries. The upshot is that the virus is going to do as viruses do, same as always in the history of infectious disease. We have extremely limited control over them, and that which we do have is bound up with time and place. Fear, panic, and coercion are not ideal strategies for managing viruses. Intelligence and medical therapeutics fare much better.

Read more …

“She acts like someone who knows something, and knows that the something she knows is not altogether a good something. Notice the giggling has ceased.”

Yuletide Visitations (Kunstler)

It says something, does it not, that the corporeal Joe Biden is missing-in-action? You’d think he’d be bustling around like crazy out there, trying to, at least, give some impression of being at-large-and-in-charge, preparing to launch a score of battles against the enemies of peace and prosperity lately afflicting this sore-beset nation, yo-yo-ing back and forth between Jake Tapper and Rachel Maddow to reassure their cringing viewers of Wokedom come, wolfing down plates of field peas, ham hocks, and cornbread to display his allyship with the downtrodden masses of this-and-that color, gender, flavor, and texture, comforting the homeless on the pitiless streets of the ailing cities, volunteering to get stuck with vaccine needles of every pharma company on the S & P, with side orders of hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, and famotidine, huddling with the nabobs of Wall Street to halt the sinking dollar, visiting the troops with plane-loads of turkey dinners — you know… rallying the worried people of this anxious land in their time of trouble….

And what of Kamala Harris? Did she steal off to some Caribbean beach to mull over her options? It appears that she’s still holds that seat in the US Senate, let’s face it, a very cushy sinecure that “fixes” its exalted members for life, and in more ways than one, if you know what I mean. Of all the thoughts racing through Ms. Harris’s skull these dark days, I suspect the dimmest of them concerns the actual possibility she may actually end up as president. She acts like someone who knows something, and knows that the something she knows is not altogether a good something. Notice the giggling has ceased.

And so, we pass through a weekend of predictable news that Congress has authorized another gazillion dollars to bail out stock markets and banks, under the guise of helping ordinary Americans hopelessly crushed by lockdowns and government-induced small business failures, and we hurtle toward what’s likely to be the bluest Christmas in memory with the republic in the balance. The president… that would be Mr. Trump… is portrayed in the nervous mainstream news media as flailing wildly around the West Wing, confabbing with Krakens, battling with his “closest advisors,” all importuning him to concede the election. D’ya think so? Maybe, but I’m not so sure.

Read more …

Not long ago, Krebs said the 2020 elections were the safest and most secure in history. Where are the questions to him?

Chris Krebs Takes Blame For Massive Hack: ‘It Happened On My Watch’ (NYP)

The former head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security accepted the blame for the hack that infiltrated the computer systems of a number of federal agencies, including the Pentagon, and scores of companies in the private sector. In a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was asked by host Jake Tapper who was at fault for the breach. “So, the way I look at it is, yes, it happened on my watch at CISA. And we missed it. A bunch of other folks missed it,” he responded. Krebs, who was fired by President Trump last month for contradicting him over whether there was fraud during the 2020 election, said he didn’t become aware of the hack that was launched in March until it became public last week.


“This came out in the public after I was terminated,” he said. But Trump has not blamed Krebs for the attack. During the interview, Krebs said he trusts the “intelligence community” that Russia was behind the hack, a stand contrary to the president, who has claimed it was China. “Everything I have heard, whether it’s from private-sector cybersecurity threat intelligence experts, things I have heard out of Congress and the intelligence community, it’s Russia,” Krebs said. “I mean, they’re exceptionally good at this, particularly the foreign intelligence service, the SVR. They’re good. They’re quiet. They’re deliberate. They’re patient and they’re careful,” he continued.

Read more …

If anything, Trump fired him far too late.

Krebs’ CISA Was Flagged Repeatedly For Poor Performance (JTN)

In the weeks just before President Trump fired its leader, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was repeatedly flagged by the Homeland Security Department’s watchdog for poor performance, including inadequate physical security planning for election sites, poor intelligence sharing with its private and public partners and weak information security for its own systems, internal reports show. The repeated Inspector General’s warnings in September and October about CISA — under then-Director Chris Krebs’ leadership — provide a stark contrast to Democrats’ and the news media’s portrayal of Krebs as a skilled leader whose firing jeopardized national security.


The internal memos, reviewed by Just the News, also provide some fodder to understand how the U.S. government could have failed to detect for nine months one of the largest cyberattacks in history, which was finally revealed earlier this month. CISA is primarily responsible for quarterbacking cybersecurity at civilian federal agencies. “Risks to the Nation’s systems and networks continue to increase as security threats evolve and become more sophisticated. As such, the cyber threat information DHS provides to Federal agencies and private sector entities must be actionable to help better manage this growing threat,” the inspector general warned in one report earlier this fall. “Until CISA improves the quality of its information sharing, AIS participants remain restricted in their ability to safeguard their systems and the data they process from attack, loss, or compromise.”

Read more …

A special counsel seems called for. Sidney Powell has reportedly visited the White House almost every day lately.

Dominion Voting Website Scrubbed Of Reference To SolarWinds (JTN)

Dominion Voting Systems recently scrubbed a reference on its web site to a company at the center of a major cybersecurity breach allegedly carried out by Russian hackers. The Austin, Texas-based software company SolarWinds has been the subject of explosive controversy, due to revelations that a hacker or group of hackers, possibly originating from Russia, used vulnerabilities in its software to breach “U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and private sector organizations” starting in at least March 2020, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said Thursday.

The breach occurred in part via SolarWinds’s Orion platform, which CISA described as “an enterprise network management software suite that includes performance and application monitoring and network configuration management along with several different types of analyzing tools.” SolarWinds said on its website that the hack “could potentially allow an attacker to compromise the server on which the Orion products run.” The company “currently believes the actual number of customers that may have had an installation of the Orion products that contained this vulnerability to be fewer than 18,000,” SolarWinds said in SEC filings on Monday.

Multiple government agencies including the Treasury, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security may have been affected by the breach, according to reports. Dominion Voting Systems, the company that for the last six weeks has been at the center of controversy and allegations surrounding the 2020 election, had a reference on its Web site until sometime last week indicating it used SolarWinds to manage its DVS file share system, according to archival web captures. Dominion’s Web site suggested it utilized SolarWinds’s Serv-U FTP file transfer platform to manage that system. Yet some time between Dec. 14 and Dec. 18, the company scrubbed the reference to SolarWinds from the current FTP login page.

Read more …

When will we all realize that this is all Washington is capable of anymore? That it has nothing to do with which party you vote for?

House Passes 5593 Page Stimulus Bill Without Anyone Having Read It (ZH)

In the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” Because, as Utah Senator Mike Lee so rambunctiously pointed out tonight, the bill is so huge that Lee said it will take three hours just to print out. And they’ll still have to vote on the bill tonight. It’s unreal. Lee noted that “this is by far the longest bill I’ve ever seen,” and added that members won’t be allowed to amend the bill in any way: “Here’s the really sad thing: we’re being told that there will be no opportunity to amend or improve it. As a result, nearly every member of Congress – House and Senate, Democrat or Republican – will have been excluded from the process of developing this bill, which will cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.


“This process, by which members of Congress are asked to defer blindly to legislation negotiated entirely in secret by four of their colleagues, must come to an end. It won’t come to an end until no longer works for those empowered by it. That can happen, but only when most members of both houses and both political parties stop voting for bills they haven’t read—and, by design, cannot read until after it’s too late.”

Read more …

They come up with these things together, and then blame each other for the failures.

“Pelosi, it’s worth noting, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated at more than $100 million (she makes $223,000 a year in salary)”

Pelosi Calls $600 COVID19 Payments To Americans ‘Significant’ (JTN)

A $900 billion compromise bill heading toward passage on Capitol Hill includes a $600 check for Americans struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, an amount that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls “significant.” Under the last stimulus bill passed by Congress in March, more than 150 million Americans received $1,200 payments as the government returned nearly $270 billion to Americans. In a short statement on the House floor on Monday, Pelosi took the opportunity to bash President Trump as she discussed the new relief checks. “I would like them bigger, but they are significant, and they will be going out soon,” Pelosi said.


“The president may insist on having his name on the check. But make no mistake, those checks are from the American people. The American people’s name should be on that check, no individual.” Pelosi, it’s worth noting, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated at more than $100 million (she makes $223,000 a year in salary). And for the record, when Trump signed into law tax cuts that prompted numerous businesses to give $1,000-$2,5000 bonuses to millions of workers, Pelosi called that amount “crumbs.”

Read more …

“Congress just decided you get $600. Add that to the $1,200 from March, and it totals $6.69 a day since the country shut down in March. Both parties don’t care if we live or die or sleep in a box on a sidewalk in January..”

A Slap in the Face: Anger at Pelosi, Democrats Over $600 Stimulus Check (MPN)

Lawmakers in Washington agreed to a new $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package yesterday. The bill, like the previous CARES Act, appears to include huge new tax breaks for corporations and the very wealthy. However, of most note to average Americans is the means-tested check of up to $600 plus $600 per child that Republicans and Democrats decided on. Although far less than the $1,200 checks mailed out to Americans in the spring, Democratic lawmakers are presenting the deal as a triumph. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York described it as “a strong, strong shot in the arm to get things going.” Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi agreed, although she blamed the GOP for holding the agreement up. “What took so long is because we could not get our Republican colleagues to crush the virus…Why would they not want to invest in the science?” she said at a press conference on Sunday.

The bill also includes a $300 boost to federal unemployment benefits (half of what it was six months ago) and a pause on evictions for an unspecified length of time. Despite senior Democrats’ spin, it appeared that the primary public reaction to the deal was one of anger, judging by comments on social media. “Congress just decided you get $600. Add that to the $1,200 from March, and it totals $6.69 a day since the country shut down in March. Both parties don’t care if we live or die or sleep in a box on a sidewalk in January,” said Professor Anthony Zenkus of the Columbia School of Social Work. “This country sucks,” and “Congress is laughing at the $600. They don’t give a shit about you,” were also popular refrains. Others described the $600 as “a slap in the face” rather than a shot in the arm.

David Sirota, a former speechwriter and senior advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders, described the bill as a “victory for an austerity ideology that somehow still reigns supreme in Washington,” and “not even the bare minimum that should be considered acceptable during an economic meltdown that has been punctuated by mass starvation and intensifying poverty.” There was also considerable anger aimed at Speaker Pelosi herself. “You are corrupt and despicable,” wrote Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah, “You denied people relief before the election as a political ploy and you still lost seats. Now you give people who are losing jobs and homes $600. The ice cream in your freezer is worth more than that!”

Read more …

Pork for Christmas.

COVID19 Relief Bill Doubles Health Care Budget – For Congress (IC)

In a flurry of last-minute legislating over coronavirus relief, congressional leaders abandoned hazard pay for essential workers and emergency funding for local governments that may be on the brink of municipal bankruptcy. But lawmakers did find funding to dramatically increase the budget for the exclusive government-run health clinic that serves Congress. The Office of Attending Physician, which provides medical services to lawmakers, received a special boost of $5 million, more than doubling its annual budget, which is currently around $4.27 million. The increase in funding to the OAP, if passed, is the third budget hike Congress has provided to its own health clinic over the last year. The 2019 omnibus provided an increase in funding to the OAP, along with the CARES Act, which passed this past March.

The OAP, described as “some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care,” employs several physicians and nurses to provide on-call treatment to legislators on Capitol Hill. The new funding is justified by new services required for confronting the pandemic, though the office also provides lawmakers with the services of a chiropractor, on-site physical therapy, radiology, routine examinations, and a pharmacist. The office, led by Dr. Brian Monahan, has been in the news in recent days for administering the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer to congressional leaders. The office has treated lawmakers who have been infected by the virus and provided guidance for reopening Congress after the initial surge of infections earlier this year.

The significant increase in funding for congressional health services comes as some provisions for working-class Americans were sharply curtailed or eliminated entirely. Earlier versions of the second round of stimulus legislation included $200 billion to pay front-line essential workers an additional $13 per hour. The special funding would have provided a special boost to nurses and other front-line medical workers. That provision did not make it to the final bill released on Monday. The proposed $1,200 stimulus checks were also reduced to $600. The coronavirus relief legislation also contains dozens of provisions that benefit business owners and investors, including tax benefits for owners of racehorses, the full expansion of the “three-martini lunch” tax deduction for business meals, and the so-called double dip tax deduction for recipients of Paycheck Protection Program stimulus money to use tax-free grants from the federal government to reduce taxable income.

Read more …

“..an extraordinarily self-indulgent exercise that oscillates between false modesty, petty recrimination, sputtering justification, and auto-hagiography.”

Barack Obama Has Nothing to Say About Central America (Goodfriend)

Barack Obama’s seven-hundred-page memoir — nine hundred including photos and notes — is an extraordinarily self-indulgent exercise that oscillates between false modesty, petty recrimination, sputtering justification, and auto-hagiography. Many have noted how Obama takes the opportunity to rewrite history, asserting new explanations for controversial actions. But the book is also notable for its omissions. Despite the painful absence of an editor’s hand to curb the president’s excesses, significant events, even entire regions, have been deleted from Obama’s account of his rise to power and first term in office.

In 1981, Reagan’s UN Ambassador called Central America “the most important place in the world for the United States.” The site of US bloody counterrevolutionary interventions during the Cold War, a laboratory of neoliberal restructuring in the 1990s and 2000s, and the source of increasingly criminalized and stigmatized mass migration to the United States, Central America and Central Americans have occupied an outsized role in US policy and political discourse over the last fifty years. Yet Central America is among the casualties of Obama’s book, assigned to oblivion together with other unsavory notables like Hugo Chávez or Bernie Sanders.

On June 1, 2009, Obama’s secretary of state Hillary Clinton traveled to El Salvador to attend the inauguration of President Mauricio Funes, a progressive journalist who made history as the first leftist president ever to govern the country, elected on the ticket of the party of the former Marxist-Leninist insurgency that fought the US-backed military dictatorship to a draw in 1992. Just weeks later, Clinton’s State Department rushed to legitimize a military coup against Manuel Zelaya, the democratically-elected, increasingly left-leaning president of Honduras next door. The coup shocked the hemisphere and was the first brazen attack in a cascade of reaction against the progressive and left governments that had been elected throughout Latin America over the course of the previous decade.

In her 2014 memoir, Clinton dedicated two pages to the affair, writing that in the coup’s aftermath, “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot and give the Honduran people a chance to choose their own future.” That line, together with the entire account of the coup, was quietly eliminated from the paperback edition. Obama learned Clinton’s lesson and then some. Honduras receives no mention in his book, save a single reference with respect to Tim Kaine’s mission work. Indeed, Central America as a whole is mentioned precisely once, in a passing comment on migration. Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Belize do not appear at all.

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Bipartisan: failed stimulus and Russiagate.

A Pandemic of ‘Russian Hacking’ (McGovern/Lauria)

The hyperbolic, evidence-free media reports on the “fresh outbreak” of the Russian-hacking disease seems an obvious attempt by intelligence to handcuff President-elect Joe Biden into a strong anti-Russian posture as he prepares to enter the White House. Biden might well need to be inoculated against the Russophobe fever. There are obvious Biden intentions worrying the intelligence agencies, such as renewing the Iran nuclear deal and restarting talks on strategic arms limitation with Russia. Both carry the inherent “risk” of thawing the new Cold War. Instead, New Cold Warriors are bent on preventing any such rapprochement with strong support from the intelligence community’s mouthpiece media. U.S. hardliners are clearly still on the rise.

Interestingly, this latest hack story came out a day before the Electoral College formally elected Biden, and after the intelligence community, despite numerous previous warnings, said nothing about Russia interfering in the election. One wonders whether that would have been the assessment had Trump won. Instead Russia decided to hack the U.S. government. Except there is (typically) no hard evidence pinning it on Moscow. The official story is Russia hacked into U.S. “government networks, including in the Treasury and Commerce Departments,” as David Sanger of The New York Times reported. But plenty of things are uncertain. First, Sanger wrote last Sunday that “hackers have had free rein for much of the year, though it is not clear how many email and other systems they chose to enter.”

The motive of the hack is uncertain, as well what damage may have been done. “The motive for the attack on the agency and the Treasury Department remains elusive, two people familiar with the matter said,” Sanger reported. “One government official said it was too soon to tell how damaging the attacks were and how much material was lost.” On Friday, five days after the story first broke, in an article misleadingly headlined, “Suspected Russian hack is much worse than first feared,” NBC News admitted: “At this stage, it’s not clear what the hackers have done beyond accessing top-secret government networks and monitoring data.” Who conducted the hack is also not certain.

NBC reported that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “has not said who it thinks is the ‘advanced persistent threat actor’ behind the ‘significant and ongoing’ campaign, but many experts are pointing to Russia.” At first Sanger was certain in his piece that Russia was behind the attack. He refers to FireEye, “a computer security firm that first raised the alarm about the Russian campaign after its own systems were pierced.” But later in the same piece, Sanger loses his certainty: “If the Russia connection is confirmed,” he writes. In the absence of firm evidence that damage has been done, this may well be an intrusion into other governments’ networks routinely carried out by intelligence agencies around the world, including, if not chiefly, by the United States. It is what spies do.

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A delightful angle.

If Assange’s Fate Were Up To a Jury, He, Too, Might Have Walked Free (Glass)

When the magistrate presiding last September at Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, Vanessa Baraitser, confined the defendant to a bullet-proof glass cage at the back of the court, she had precedent on her side. All who entered her courtroom at London’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, had to pass a plaque memorializing a case against another defender of free speech and thought. The finely wrought marble plaque reads:

Near this Site
William Penn and William Mead
were tried in 1670
for preaching to an unlawful assembly
in Grace Church Street
This tablet Commemorates
The courage and endurance of the Jury, Thos. Vere, Edward Bushell
and ten others who refused to give a verdict
against them and were fined for their final
Verdict of Not Guilty…

William Penn, then a 26-year old Quaker firebrand, stood accused of preaching doctrines anathema to the established Church of England during an unlawful assembly. When the judges asked how he pleaded, Penn demanded to know which law he had broken. Sir John Howell, the recorder of London, told him he was charged under common law. Penn asked, “Where is that common law?” The exchange continued:

HOWELl: You must not think that I am able to run up so many years, and over so many adjudged cases, which we call common law, to answer your curiosity.

PENN: This answer, I am sure, is very short of my question, for if it is common, it should not be so very hard to produce.

HOWELL: The question is, whether you are guilty of the indictment.

PENN: The question is not, whether I am guilty of this indictment, but whether this Indictment is legal.

The recorder called him “an impertinent fellow” and banished him to the bale-dock for the rest of the trial. Like Assange’s glass box, the bale-dock was a locked cubicle separated from the rest of the court. Its underfloor location prevented Penn from witnessing the proceedings—and the jurors from seeing him.

Just as Assange admitted publishing American government documents that exposed war crimes, Penn did not deny preaching to his fellow Quakers. If ever a jury deserved the accolade “12 good men and true,” Penn’s did. Foreman Edward Bushell and the other 11 jurors retired to consider their verdict. When they returned, they declared Penn not guilty. The furious Recorder ordered that “you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco…. We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.” For two days, they starved. When they still refused to recant, the court fined them 40 marks, a large sum for the time, and sent them to prison. The jurors appealed, the chief justice ordered their release, and the principle of jury independence was enshrined in English law. Penn went free and 12 years later established the colony of Pennsylvania on the principles of religious tolerance and free thought.

Cut to New York, 1735. Another free thinker, printer John Peter Zenger, was tried for seditious libel over allegations leveled in the New York Weekly Journal at Royal Governor William Cosby. Cosby, in common with the US Justice Department’s vendetta against Assange, sought to prosecute Zenger at any cost. He had copies of the Journal burned. Although two grand juries refused to indict Zenger, Cosby threw him into prison anyway and brought him to trial. Zenger was fortunate in his choice of lawyer, Pennsylvanian Andrew Hamilton. Hamilton’s strategy was to present evidence of Cosby’s corruption—proving that Zenger had published the truth. The prosecutor answered that “being true is an aggravation of the crime.” As in the Assange case, truth appeared not to be a defense so much as evidence of guilt. Hamilton appealed to the jurors rather than the bench. As former US senator Charles Goodell wrote in his 1973 Political Prisoners in America, “Hamilton asked the twelve to do what the judges refused to do, and what they ruled the jury had no right to do, to consider Cosby’s record as a justification for Zenger’s crime.” The Bushell-Penn precedent gave the jury the right to overrule the judges, and they did. Zenger’s newspaper resumed its vilification of Cosby, who died in disgrace two years later.

Read more …

 

 

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There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
– G.K. Chesterton

 

 

Xylophone plays Bach in a forest.

 

 

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Dec 192020
 


Sergio Larraín Valparaiso Passage Bavestrello 1952

 

Facebook Joins Twitter In Reverting To Pre-Election News Feed Algorithms (RT)
Lawmakers Ask Whether Massive Hack Amounted To Act Of War (Hill)
California Reports Record COVID Cases and Deaths—Despite Strict Lockdown (FEE)
Research Suggests COVID19 Enters The Brain, May Be Autoimmune Disease (RT)
Trump Blasts John McCain After New Texts From FBI Lover Peter Strzok (DM)
Steele Dossier Was ‘Intended To Influence’ Media – Strzok (RT)
The Gyre Widens (Jim Kunstler)
When Deplorables Become Ungovernables (Escobar)
Peter Navarro Releases Report About The 2020 Presidential Election (JTN)
Tesla, the Largest-Cap Stock Ever to Enter S&P 500 (RA)
FDR Knew Exactly How to Solve Today’s Unemployment Crisis (Ellen Brown)
LeBron James To Be Appointed As Ambassador To China (BBee)

 

 

John Hussman:

 

 

Just in time delivery.

Facebook Joins Twitter In Reverting To Pre-Election News Feed Algorithms (RT)

Facebook has reversed its election-season policy of prioritizing mainstream media stories in News Feed after a similar move from Twitter. This is as Mark Zuckerberg is sued for allegedly helping tip the vote in favor of Joe Biden. An algorithm tweak that saw Facebook users deluged with mainstream media stories following last month’s elections has been reversed, the social media behemoth told the New York Times on Wednesday, insisting that the change – which significantly boosted traffic for establishment outlets like CNN, NPR, and the Times itself while suppressing alt-media and right-wing sites – was never meant to be permanent.

Boosting the importance of “news ecosystem quality,” essentially a reputational score applied to news outlets, was “a temporary change we made to help limit the spread of inaccurate claims about the election,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the outlet. He explained that the platform was still prioritizing so-called “authoritative and informative news” on “important global topics like elections, Covid-19 and climate change.” The tech giant opted to return to pre-election policies despite the protests of some employees who preferred the “nicer news feed,” sources present at one post-vote Facebook meeting claimed, describing the prioritization of establishment sources as one of several “break glass measures” designed for the care and feeding of a desirable post-election narrative.

Twitter also admitted that adding ‘context’ to its Trending section – which essentially turned the feature into a yawn-inducing list of mainstream media headlines accompanied by the ‘correct’ opinion users should have about them – made it “less relevant for many people’s interests.” Both platforms liberally applied “misinformation” warnings to content questioning the integrity of last month’s election results, despite allowing – even encouraging – users to question the legitimacy of 2016’s presidential election for years after the fact. Supporters of President Donald Trump cried foul, especially after dozens of the commander-in-chief’s own posts regarding alleged election fraud were censored, hidden, and otherwise suppressed.

Read more …

Twitter and Facebook will now deliver this sort of insanity.

Lawmakers Ask Whether Massive Hack Amounted To Act Of War (Hill)

Lawmakers are raising questions about whether the attack on the federal government widely attributed to Russia constitutes an act of war. The hacking may represent the biggest cyberattack in U.S history, and officials are scrambling to respond. The response is further complicated by the presidential transition — President Trump has yet to comment publicly on the attack — and the fact that the U.S. has no clear cyber warfare strategy. “We can’t be buddies with Vladimir Putin and have him at the same time making this kind of cyberattack on America,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of the attack during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “This is virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States and we should take that seriously.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday compared the incident to Russian bombers “flying undetected over the entire country,” and harshly criticized Trump for not doing enough to counter the attack. “Our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable,” Romney said on SiriusXM’s “The Big Picture with Olivier Knox.” “In this setting, not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary.” Hackers believed to be part of a nation state have had access to federal networks since March after exploiting a vulnerability in updates to IT group SolarWinds’s Orion software. The hack has compromised the Treasury, State and Homeland Security departments and branches of the Pentagon, though it is expected to get worse. SolarWinds counts many more federal agencies as customers, along with the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies.

On Thursday, Politico reported that the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, was also compromised, further raising the stakes. Lawmakers say the scope of the attack, widely presumed to be by Russia, which has denied responsibility, demands some kind of response. “No response is not appropriate, and that’s been our national policy by and large for the past 10 or 15 years,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), the co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), said during an event hosted by Defense One on Thursday. “I want somebody in the Kremlin, sitting around that table to say, ‘wait a minute boss, if we do this we are liable to get whacked in some way,’ and right now they are not making that calculus.”

Read more …

Time for questions. High time.

California Reports Record COVID Cases and Deaths—Despite Strict Lockdown (FEE)

Newsom’s decision to reimpose lockdowns in light of the evidence we have today has left some California public officials puzzled. “During the first Shelter in Place order, which I wholeheartedly endorsed, the virus was brand new and had the capability of spreading exponentially due to zero immunity and people’s complete lack of awareness,” San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow recently observed on the county’s website. “[That order] was very much consistent with my long-held views about the judicious use of power.…However, I very quickly rescinded my initial orders shuttering society and focused my new orders on the personal behaviors that are driving the pandemic… .” Morrow implied that many of the actions being taken suggest California officials have learned little since the spring.

“Just because one has the legal authority to do something, doesn’t mean one has to use it, or that using it is the best course of action,” he wrote. “What I believed back in May, and what I believe now, is the power and authority to control this pandemic lies primarily in your hands, not mine.” Morrow was blunt in his appraisal of the restrictions being imposed across the Golden State. “I’m not sure we know what we’re doing,” he wrote. “I look at surrounding counties who have been much more restrictive than I have been, and wonder what it’s bought them.” Morrow appears to have gleaned an insight once observed by the economist Milton Friedman. “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results,” Friedman famously observed.

With every passing week the results of government lockdowns become more clear. They cause tremendous and widespread harms—no one disagrees on this point—but the supposed benefits of the policies remain tenuous. Despite the bevy of evidence they possess, lawmakers continue to embrace restrictions because of bad incentives. The great economist Ludwig von Mises noted long ago that a great deal of modern social conflict is a struggle over who gets to design the world, individuals or authorities. Mises believed that individuals, if left to their own devices, would generally make rational decisions based on their own self interest. This is why he saw few things as dangerous as central planners who seek to supplant individual planning with their own (despite their knowledge limitations) in an effort to create a more perfect society.

“The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans,” Mises wrote in Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis. “He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute pre-eminence of his own plan.” The Washington Post reported yesterday that nearly 8 million Americans have slipped into poverty since summer. When one considers the damage government lockdowns have wrought compared to the positive results they’ve achieved, one begins to see why Mises saw the unchecked power of authorities as such a threat.

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Autoantibodies.

Research Suggests COVID19 Enters The Brain, May Be Autoimmune Disease (RT)

A new study by Yale University has found that critical Covid-19 patients disproportionately possess so-called ‘autoantibodies’ that weaponize their immune systems against them, making their condition far worse. Researchers used an advanced screening technique on 170 hospitalized patients to detect “autoantibodies” that inflict collateral damage on the patient by attacking their own organs and immune system as opposed to targeting the virus. They compared the antibodies to those who had milder or asymptomatic infections, as well as those who had not been infected. In the hospitalized Covid-19 patients, they found autoantibodies – such as interferons, natural killer cells, and T cells – that could disrupt the work of the body’s frontline immune system troops, which had essentially been made to defect to the enemy, on the viral side.

The presence of autoantibodies was repeatedly detected in the most critical Covid-19 patients, and tests on mice indicated that the autoantibodies likely exacerbated the disease. Unfortunately, the researchers did not find any Covid-19 specific autoantibodies that might alert medical staff to an impending, developing severe case of Covid-19 in patients. The mystery surrounding the varying severity of the disease remains, but the research suggests that people with pre-existing autoantibodies in their systems are likely at higher risk of a severe bout of Covid-19. The research, which has yet to be peer reviewed, supports the idea that, for some unfortunate patients at least, Covid-19 could well be considered an autoimmune disease triggered by the coronavirus.

Several previous studies revealed that patients without a history of autoimmune disease had been found to have developed these autoantibodies after contracting Covid-19. Elsewhere, other research found that patients with severe Covid-19 infections can also develop autoantibodies to interferons – another key component of humans’ ability to fight viral infections.

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Yes, sure, Durham is investigating, but…

Trump Blasts John McCain After New Texts From FBI Lover Peter Strzok (DM)

President Donald Trump has vented his fury at late Senator John McCain, following the release of newly declassified text messages from former FBI agent Peter Strzok indicating that McCain leaked the infamous ‘dirty dossier’ to legendary journalist Carl Bernstein.’Check out last in his class John McCain, one of the most overrated people in D.C.’ Trump tweeted late on Wednesday of the Arizona Republican who died of brain cancer in 2018, linking to a report on the new messages. The text messages, released by Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley on Wednesday, include a January 9, 2017 exchange between Strzok and Lisa Page, then the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair.

‘Carl Bernstein (yes that Carl) called [Office of Public Affairs], said he got a ‘dossier’ from McCain,’ Strzok texted Page, who quickly replied: ‘Awesome, let Carl run it down then.’ McCain aide David Kramer has previously testified that he leaked British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier to journalists including Bernstein. Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate scandal alongside Bob Woodward, had a byline on the January 12, 2017 CNN report that revealed the existence of the so-called ‘dirty dossier’. The dossier, which included salacious allegations, was funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Some of its allegations have been discredited, and others remain unproven.

The dossier became a key piece of intelligence under-girding Strzok’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Strzok, who also ran the FBI’s ‘Midyear Exam’ probe into Clinton’s private email server, later joined Special Counsel Robert Muller’s team, along with Page. Both Strzok and Page left the FBI in disgrace after their secret love affair was discovered by supervisors. Mueller’s probe failed to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. The legality of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation is now the subject of a separate probe, led by US Attorney John Durham, who himself was appointed as a special counsel earlier this month.

The new text messages revealed on Wednesday also suggest that the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe was opened earlier that has been officially admitted. A Justice Department Inspector General report in December 2019 claimed that the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation on July 31, 2016, after receiving a tip from an Australian diplomat. However, a Stzrok text message to Page on July 28, 2017, the same day the Australian tip was received, says he wants to discuss ‘[o]ur open C[ounter-]I[ntelligence] investigations relating to Trump’s Russian connections’.

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“I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.”

Steele Dossier Was ‘Intended To Influence’ Media – Strzok (RT)

A report filled with unverified claims about Donald Trump that prompted a probe into his alleged ties to Russia, was tailored to score points with the press, ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok suggests, in a recently declassified message. Senate Republicans on Thursday released a new batch of text messages from Strzok, who was fired by the FBI in 2018 after internal communications showed that he wanted to use the agency’s investigation into Russian collusion as an “insurance policy” to attack Trump if he won the White House. In one newly revealed message dated September 23, 2016, Strzok appears to acknowledge that the dodgy dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and later used by the FBI to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, could at the very least be used to create a media narrative.

Referring to a Yahoo article based on an unnamed source that alleged Trump campaign adviser Carter Page attended a secret summit in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders, Strzok wrote: “I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.” The FBI ended its relationship with Steele after it became clear that he was leaking information to the press. However, the agency failed to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that Steele had been a source for the Yahoo article, which was used to corroborate the dossier and obtain a warrant to spy on Page. In January 2020, a court ruled that two of the four warrant applications submitted by the FBI to snoop on Page were “invalid.”

Another newly-released Strzok message, from January 12, 2017, shows that the FBI recorded a phone call between former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an unnamed executive at Fox News. Notably, the Justice Department never obtained a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos or Fox, and likely used a so-called National Security Letter to carry out the surveillance.

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“..America’s own domestic enemies, who must be neutralized first before we’re capable of dealing with outsiders..”

The Gyre Widens (Jim Kunstler)

The trouble is, Mr. Trump actually does have the evidence, and he intends to use it after four years of being remorselessly fucked around by his antagonists. So, the nation is at the point in this long, winding drama that has become a fight to the death and there will be no rituals of torch-passing just to keep up appearances that everything is functioning normally. Mr. Trump has the evidence of widespread, yes widespread, ballot fraud. He is the president, after all, and he has all the information. As he’s said more than once, he’s caught them all. And they know it. Of course, the CIA and the FBI, those pillars of the Intel Community, are still trying to withhold what they can, but the president is not having it.

He’s taking away the CIA’s most precious asset: its resources for making mischief on-the ground — its airplane fleet and its armaments, handing them over to the Pentagon — reducing the CIA to the simple task of analyzing signals from the world scene. And so, the CIA has been refusing to cooperate with the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, as a last gasp to preserve its long-running illicit prerogatives. That will eventually trigger the president’s invocation of the 2018 Executive order 13848, allowing, at long last, the arrest and prosecution of many desperate characters who tried to run away with the US Government. But probably not before the last legal avenues have been traveled: Sidney Powell’s case against the Dominion vote system in the Supreme Court, a long-shot like all the other cases that the court is loath to touch..

[..] and the business of the alternate electoral college slates to be hashed out in the Senate on January 6, Vice-President Mike Pence, presiding. Democrats and their coastal elite supporters are not going to like it. If they call out their Antifa troops, those feckless weenies with their hoisted cell phones and stupid umbrellas are going to be crushed this time, not indulged like three-year-olds. The wild-card all of a sudden is what the nation will also do about the foreign actors reportedly messing around with the government’s most critical computer systems. China? Iran? Russia? They’re a match for America’s own domestic enemies, who must be neutralized first before we’re capable of dealing with outsiders. The gyre widens.

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“The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”

When Deplorables Become Ungovernables (Escobar)

China, Russia and Iran are the top three existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the National Security Strategy. Three features distinguish the top three. They are all sovereign powers. They are under varying degrees of sanctions. And they are the top three nodes of the 21st century’s most important, evolving geopolitical process: Eurasia integration. What do the three sovereigns see when they examine the dystopia that took over Exceptionalistan? They see, once again, three – discombobulated – nodes in conflict: 1) the post-historic Pacific and Atlantic coasts; 2) the South – a sort of expanded Dixieland; and 3) the Midwest – what would be the American heartland.

The hyper-modern Pacific-Atlantic nodes congregate high-tech and finance, profit from Pentagon techno-breakthroughs and benefit from the “America rules the waves” ethos that guarantees the global primacy of the U.S. dollar. The rest of America is largely considered by the Pacific-Atlantic as just a collection of flyover states: the South – which regards itself as the real, authentic America; and the Midwest, largely disciplined and quite practical-minded, squeezed ideologically between the littoral powerhouses and the South. Superstructure, though, is key: no matter what happens, whatever the fractures, this remains an Empire, where only a tiny elite, a de facto plutocratic oligarchy, rules.

It would be too schematic, even though essentially correct, to assert that in the presidential election, invisible campaigner Joe Biden represented the Pacific-Atlantic nodes, and Trump represented the whole South. Assuming the election was not fraudulent – and that remains a big “if” – the Midwest eventually swung based on three issues. 1) Trump, as much as he relied on a sanctions juggernaut, could not bring back manufacturing jobs home. 2) He could not reduce the military footprint across the Greater Middle East. 3) And, before Covid-19, he could not bring down immigration. Everything that lies ahead points to the irreconcilable – pitting the absolute majority that voted Dem in the Atlantic-Pacific nodes versus the South and a deeply divided Midwest. As much as Biden-Harris is bound to isolate the South even more, their prospects of “pacifying” the Midwest are less than zero.

Whose ground control? Beyond the raucous altercations on whether the presidential election was fraudulent, these are the key factual points. 1) A series of rules in mostly swing states were changed, through courts, bypassing state legislatures, without transparence, before the election, paving the way to facilitate fraud schemes. 2) Biden was de facto coronated by AP, Google and Twitter even before the final, official result, and weeks before the electoral college vote this past Monday. 3) Every serious, professional audit to determine whether all received and tabulated votes were valid was de facto squashed. In any Global South latitude where the empire did “interfere” in local elections, color revolution-style, this set of facts would be regarded by scores of imperial officials, in a relentless propaganda blitz, as evidence of a coup.

On the recent Supreme Court ruling, a Deep State intel source told me, “the Supreme Court did not like to see half the country rioting against them, and preferred the decision be made by each state in the House of Representatives. That is the only way to handle this without jeopardizing the union. Even prominent Democrats I know realize that the fix took place. The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”

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‘The Immaculate Deception’

Peter Navarro Releases Report About The 2020 Presidential Election (JTN)

Dr. Peter Navarro released a report on Thursday related to the 2020 election titled “The Immaculate Deception: Six Key Dimensions of Election Irregularities.” “From the findings of this report, it is possible to infer what may well have been a coordinated strategy to effectively stack the election deck against the Trump-Pence ticket,” the report states. “Indeed, the observed patterns of election irregularities are so consistent across the six battleground states that they suggest a coordinated strategy to, if not steal the election outright, strategically game the election process in such a way as to ‘stuff the ballot box’ and unfairly tilt the playing field in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket.” The report argues that the election results could shift to a win for President Trump, even if just some of the ballots related to “identified election irregularities” were tossed out as unlawful.


“The ballots in question because of the identified election irregularities are more than sufficient to swing the outcome in favor of President Trump should even a relatively small portion of these ballots be ruled illegal,” the report states. Navarro, who advises President Trump as the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, hosted a call on Thursday “in his capacity as a private citizen” to speak about his findings, according to a press release. The report warns that without a rigorous investigation, many Americans will consider a Joe Biden presidency to be illegitimate: “Absent a thorough investigation prior to Inauguration Day, a cloud and a stain will hang over what will be perceived by many Americans as an illegitimate Biden administration,” the report says.

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“By the close of trading on December 21, index funds, ETFs, and other index-tracking strategies will have purchased Tesla shares valued at nearly $220 billion..”

Tesla, the Largest-Cap Stock Ever to Enter S&P 500 (RA)

Tesla is entering the S&P 500 with a stupendously high valuation and will likely be ranked sixth in the index. Traditional cap-weighted indices, such as the S&P 500, are structured to buy high and sell low—and Tesla is a prime example of this maxim. The eightfold increase in Tesla’s share price since its March low meets our two-part definition of a bubble: 1) implausible assumptions are needed to justify its valuation, and 2) buyer interest is based on a great narrative rather than being supported by a conventional valuation model. Our research shows that a continuation of Tesla’s 2020 share-price performance is vulnerable on two additional fronts: 1) as a top-dog stock (top 10 market-cap stocks), the odds are against its remaining a top-dog stock, and 2) as an addition to the S&P 500, history indicates it is likely to underperform the market (S&P 500) in the year after entry.

[..] On November 16, S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that Tesla will (finally) join the prestigious S&P 500 Index on December 21. From the beginning of 2020 to the announcement date, Tesla’s share price rose 400% from $83.67 to $408.09. Most of that run-up occurred after the media began speculating in March about Tesla’s likely addition to the index. From the announcement date through December 7, Tesla’s share price rose another 49% to $608.32. That’s an eightfold increase from its March low. Given Tesla’s very large market-cap, the US Index Committee, which maintains the S&P 500, did consider a gradual transition into the index rather than adding the company’s full weight at one time.

Currently about $11 trillion in assets track the index,1 and a substantial portion will seek to buy Tesla at the exact closing price on December 21. On December 1 the Index Committee announced that Tesla will be added all in one go, which prompted another 10% share-price increase the following week. The result is that founder Elon Musk now has the second-largest fortune in history. For now, only Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is wealthier. Tesla will be the largest stock to enter the S&P 500 in the history of the index, by both rank (likely the sixth largest company in the index2) and absolute market capitalization ($608 billion as of the December 7, 2020, market close). By the close of trading on December 21, index funds, ETFs, and other index-tracking strategies will have purchased Tesla shares valued at nearly $220 billion, most seeking to trade at the opening price.

To make way for this purchase, these funds and strategies will sell a similar dollar amount from the other 505 stocks in the index (corporate actions have pushed the number of S&P 500 holdings to 505 names). At well under 1% of the outstanding market-cap of these companies, the requisite sales are not likely to precipitate major price moves. Because Tesla’s addition to the index is not a secret, we can comfortably surmise that hedge fund managers and other liquidity suppliers have already stockpiled most of the $220 billion and are ready to supply the shares to the indexers for this largest single trade in history. What does it all mean for investors?

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“A self-funding national infrastructure bank..”

FDR Knew Exactly How to Solve Today’s Unemployment Crisis (Ellen Brown)

A self-funding national infrastructure bank modeled on the “American System” of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt would help solve not one but two of the country’s biggest problems. Millions of Americans have joined the ranks of the unemployed, and government relief checks and savings are running out; meanwhile, the country still needs trillions of dollars in infrastructure. Putting the unemployed to work on those infrastructure projects seems an obvious solution, especially given that the $600 or $700 stimulus checks Congress is planning on issuing will do little to address the growing crisis. Various plans for solving the infrastructure crisis involving public-private partnerships have been proposed, but they’ll invariably result in private investors reaping the profits while the public bears the costs and liabilities. We have relied for too long on private, often global, capital, while the Chinese run circles around us building infrastructure with credit simply created on the books of their government-owned banks.

Earlier publicly-owned U.S. national banks and U.S. Treasuries pulled off similar feats, using what Sen. Henry Clay, U.S. statesman from 1806 to 1852, named the “American System” – funding national production simply with “sovereign” money and credit. They included the First (1791-1811) and Second (1816-1836) Banks of the United States, President Lincoln’s federal treasury and banking system, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) (1932-1957). Chester Morrill, former Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, wrote of the RFC: [I]t became apparent almost immediately, to many Congressmen and Senators, that here was a device which would enable them to provide for activities that they favored for which government funds would be required, but without any apparent increase in appropriations. . . . [T]here need be no more appropriations and its activities could be enlarged indefinitely, as they were, almost to fantastic proportions.

Even the Federal Reserve with its “quantitative easing” cannot fund infrastructure without driving up federal expenditures or debt, at least without changes to the Federal Reserve Act. The Fed is not allowed to spend money directly into the economy or to lend directly to Congress. It must go through the private banking system and its “primary dealers.” The Fed can create and pay only with “reserves” credited to the reserve accounts of banks. These reserves are a completely separate system from the deposits circulating in the real producer/consumer economy; and those deposits are chiefly created by banks when they make loans. New liquidity gets into the real economy when banks make loans to local businesses and individuals; and in risky environments like that today, banks are not lending adequately even with massive reserves on their books.

A publicly-owned national infrastructure bank, on the other hand, would be mandated to lend into the real economy; and if the loans were of the “self funding” sort characterizing most infrastructure projects (generating fees to pay off the loans), they would be repaid, canceling out the debt by which the money was created. That is how China built 12,000 miles of high-speed rail in a decade: credit created on the books of government-owned banks was advanced to pay for workers and materials, and the loans were repaid with profits from passenger fees. Unlike the QE pumped into financial markets, which creates asset bubbles in stocks and housing, this sort of public credit mechanism is not inflationary. Credit money advanced for productive purposes balances the circulating money supply with new goods and services in the real economy. Supply and demand rise together, keeping prices stable. China increased its money supply by nearly 1800% over 24 years (from 1996 to 2020) without driving up price inflation, by increasing GDP in step with the money supply.

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“Colin Kaepernick was also floated but ultimately didn’t get picked.”

LeBron James To Be Appointed As Ambassador To China (BBee)

The incoming Biden administration has floated LeBron James as its ambassador to China, sources learned today. James says he’s “excited” to be able to once again normalize relations between the two countries and make sure that the United States doesn’t do anything to upset the world power, like call attention to its slave labor camps and poor conditions for workers, or the fact that it unleashed a deadly virus on the globe. “LeBron will do a great job ensuring we do everything China wants us to,” said Joe Biden. “He’s a great football player, one of the best. In my day, the leagues were segregated, but that’s all behind us now. You know, I played a little pigskin in my day. You know why they call it pigskin? Well, we used to cook up a little bacon and some pulled pork, and we’d take the leftover pig and roll it up in a little ball and start hucking it at one another, as was the style in those days.” Colin Kaepernick was also floated but ultimately didn’t get picked.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 282020
 


Hieronymus Bosch The Conjurer 1502

 

Lockdowns Destroy What Makes Us Human (Yost)
Johns Hopkins Posted Then Deleted Article Questioning US COVID Death Rate (JTN)
A Closer Look At US Deaths Due To COVID-19 (Gu)
Landmark Legal Ruling Finds That Covid PCR Tests Are Not Fit For Purpose (RT)
Chinese Academics Say Coronavirus Spread In India Months Before Wuhan (RT)
Russia’s 2nd COVID19 Vaccine ‘EpiVacCorona’ Set For Release In December (RT)
Side Effects From COVID19 Vaccine Won’t Be A ‘Walk In The Park’ (JTN)
President Swamp (Jim Kunstler)
Renowned Expert Concludes 2020 Election Results Were Fraudulent (CTH)
Jill Stein Won Right to Examine Voting Machine Source Code (GP)
Claims The UK Has ‘Maxed Out’ Its Credit Card Are Bad Economics (Gabor)
19 Million Americans Could Face Eviction When Limits Expire Dec. 31 (CBS)
China To Impose Temp Anti-Dumping Measures On Australian Wine Imports (R.)

 

 

 

 

Hacking democracy

 

 

Along the lines of “if a tree falls in a forest”, people are not alive without other people.

Lockdowns Destroy What Makes Us Human (Yost)

Nearly every culture and religion throughout human history has held that humans are both material and spiritual beings. However, living in the secular age as we do, the material aspect of our existence has supplanted the spiritual to such an extent that it is barely recognized to exist. Russell Kirk goes so far as to claim that the dividing line in contemporary politics hinges on this difference in understanding, stating that “on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.”

A purely material outlook on human existence will of course lead to certain policy prescriptions, especially in the face of a pandemic. To deny the spiritual existence of man is to deny the possibility of life after death—only the void of annihilation awaits. From this perspective, it makes sense that one might conclude that earthly life must continue on at any cost—that no tradeoff is too high to put off the coming oblivion. In contrast, those who retain a more traditional conception of human nature, no matter the specific religion or creed to which they belong, can easily see an entire world of costs to lockdowns that those with a purely materialist perspective are not even capable of understanding. Humans are social beings. Our very existence and development as human persons rests upon this social nature.

Social contract thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau may fantasize about a solitary human existence, but all evidence from feral or isolated children indicates that without other humans a solitary individual would swiftly perish, not to mention fail to develop self-awareness or the ability to think and speak with language. Some personalist scholars, such as political theorist David Walsh, argue that our entire conception of self can only be formed in relation to other persons. In contrast to Descartes’s famous line that “I think, therefore I am” a personalist would argue that we are not even capable of understanding the existence of “I” until we have first understood the existence of an “I” in others. Much like we can never truly see our own face, but only the faces of others, which in turn allows us to understand our own unseen face, we cannot become aware of ourselves until we find ourselves in the context of others, and through them recognize the mutual nature of our interior lives that makes us persons.

Read more …

More on that Johns Hopkins paper.

Johns Hopkins Posted Then Deleted Article Questioning US COVID Death Rate (JTN)

Last week, Johns Hopkins University published a now-deleted article explaining a study examining the effects of the novel coronavirus on United States death totals using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genevieve Briand, the assistant program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program at Johns Hopkins, determined, in the study, that there have been 1.7 million deaths in the U.S. between March 2020 and September 2020, 12% (or roughly 200,000) of which have been coronavirus-related. Briand posits that the only way to understand the significance of the U.S. coronavirus death rate is by comparing it to the number of total deaths in the country.

According to Briand, who compared the total deaths per age category from both before and after the onset of the global pandemic, the death rate of older people stayed the same before and after coronavirus. “The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” wrote Briand. She also noted that between 50,000 and 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after the emergence of the virus, meaning that, according to her analysis, coronavirus has had no effect on the percentage of total deaths of older people, nor has it increased the total number of deaths in the category.

These results contradict the way most people see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately affects the elderly population. Briand believes, after reviewing the numbers, that coronavirus deaths are being over-exaggerated. After seeing that in 2020, coronavirus-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart disease — the leading cause of death in the U.S. for many years prior — Briand began to suspect that the coronavirus death toll figure may be misleading. Briand found that “the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19,” according to the original JHU newsletter.

“If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks and all the other death causes doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some misclassification,” said Briand.

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And here’s the original Newsletter that was deleted. Because it “could lead to misinformation”?!

A Closer Look At US Deaths Due To COVID-19 (Gu)

According to new data, the U.S. currently ranks first in total COVID-19 cases, new cases per day and deaths. Genevieve Briand, assistant program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program at Hopkins, critically analyzed the effect of COVID-19 on U.S. deaths using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in her webinar titled “COVID-19 Deaths: A Look at U.S. Data.” From mid-March to mid-September, U.S. total deaths have reached 1.7 million, of which 200,000, or 12% of total deaths, are COVID-19-related. Instead of looking directly at COVID-19 deaths, Briand focused on total deaths per age group and per cause of death in the U.S. and used this information to shed light on the effects of COVID-19.

She explained that the significance of COVID-19 on U.S. deaths can be fully understood only through comparison to the number of total deaths in the United States. After retrieving data on the CDC website, Briand compiled a graph representing percentages of total deaths per age category from early February to early September, which includes the period from before COVID-19 was detected in the U.S. to after infection rates soared. Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said. Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.

Read more …

From yesterday’s article.

Landmark Legal Ruling Finds That Covid PCR Tests Are Not Fit For Purpose (RT)

Four German holidaymakers who were illegally quarantined in Portugal after one was judged to be positive for Covid-19 have won their case, in a verdict that condemns the widely-used PCR test as being up to 97-percent unreliable. Earlier this month, Portuguese judges upheld a decision from a lower court that found the forced quarantine of four holidaymakers to be unlawful. The case centred on the reliability (or lack thereof) of Covid-19 PCR tests. The verdict, delivered on November 11, followed an appeal against a writ of habeas corpus filed by four Germans against the Azores Regional Health Authority. This body had been appealing a ruling from a lower court which had found in favour of the tourists, who claimed that they were illegally confined to a hotel without their consent.

The tourists were ordered to stay in the hotel over the summer after one of them tested positive for coronavirus in a PCR test – the other three were labelled close contacts and therefore made to quarantine as well. The deliberation of the Lisbon Appeal Court is comprehensive and fascinating. It ruled that the Azores Regional Health Authority had violated both Portuguese and international law by confining the Germans to the hotel. The judges also said that only a doctor can “diagnose” someone with a disease, and were critical of the fact that they were apparently never assessed by one. They were also scathing about the reliability of the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, the most commonly used check for Covid.

The conclusion of their 34-page ruling included the following: “In view of current scientific evidence, this test shows itself to be unable to determine beyond reasonable doubt that such positivity corresponds, in fact, to the infection of a person by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” In the eyes of this court, then, a positive test does not correspond to a Covid case. The two most important reasons for this, said the judges, are that, “the test’s reliability depends on the number of cycles used’’ and that “the test’s reliability depends on the viral load present.’’ In other words, there are simply too many unknowns surrounding PCR testing.

This is not the first challenge to the credibility of PCR tests. Many people will be aware that their results have a lot to do with the number of amplifications that are performed, or the ‘cycle threshold.’ This number in most American and European labs is 35–40 cycles, but experts have claimed that even 35 cycles is far too many, and that a more reasonable protocol would call for 25–30 cycles. (Each cycle exponentially increases the amount of viral DNA in the sample). [..] The Portuguese judges cited a study conducted by “some of the leading European and world specialists,” which was published by Oxford Academic at the end of September. It showed that if someone tested positive for Covid at a cycle threshold of 35 or higher, the chances of that person actually being infected is less than three percent, and that “the probability of… receiving a false positive is 97% or higher.”

Read more …

Just as the WHO team is set to start investigating the origin. Good timing.

Chinese Academics Say Coronavirus Spread In India Months Before Wuhan (RT)

The coronavirus did not start in Wuhan, but instead emerged in India last summer, Chinese academics have boldly claimed, as tensions continue to flare between the two states and amid the ongoing search for the origins of Covid-19. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences claim the pandemic actually originated in India, explaining that a heatwave there from May to June 2019 spawned a water crisis, which in turn led to increased close contact between humans and wild animals such as monkeys. In a preprint paper with the Lancet medical journal – meaning it has yet to be formally peer reviewed – the Chinese researchers outline their explanation of the “zoonotic transmission” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from monkeys to humans as they shared water resources.


The researchers also say that India’s poor hygiene conditions and “less efficient” public medical system, as well as its “tropical climate” and “very young population”, were all contributing factors in the virus’s spread. They estimate that the first “human-to-human transmission” of Covid-19 in India was in July or August. Back in March, Chinese officials blamed the coronavirus outbreak on US soldiers visiting Wuhan, while last week China pointed the finger at Italy after a study from Milan suggested the virus had been circulating locally since last year. The identification of India as the possible source of the virus comes after New Delhi last week fortified its military capabilities in Eastern Ladakh, the region by the Chinese border, by building camps for tens of thousands of soldiers. In June, 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese were killed as the two sides engaged in a skirmish in the contested border area.

Read more …

What’s the technology behind this one?

“As for the immune response that it creates, there is a lot of hope for the vaccine, in contrast to the immunity formed as a result of infection..”

Russia’s 2nd COVID19 Vaccine ‘EpiVacCorona’ Set For Release In December (RT)

With Sputnik V set for launch after its phase-three trial is completed, another Russian Covid-19 vaccine, EpiVacCorona, will be made available to the public next month. It is hoped that mass inoculation can begin in the New Year. Developed by Siberia’s Vector Center, results from testing are ready to be presented, and an international publication is being sought to publish them, according to the head of the research body’s zoonotic infections and influenza department. “I think that in 2021 it will appear in almost all regions of Russia,” Alexander Ryzhikov explained. “The earliest date of receipt of the vaccine in civil circulation is December 10. In the future, mass vaccination will begin in 2021.”

On November 17, EpiVacCorona began third-phase, post-registration trials. Batches of the formula were delivered to nine medical centers around the country, with 30,000 volunteers due to receive the jab. Another separate trial for over 60s is taking place simultaneously, which will involve 150 people. Once the vaccine is received, a second booster jab is necessary six to 10 months later, with the current plan to revaccinate patients again every three years. “As for the immune response that it creates, there is a lot of hope for the vaccine, in contrast to the immunity formed as a result of infection,” Ryzhikov explained. “Immunity created as a result of infection and recovery has already been shown to be insufficient. After five to seven months, antibodies disappear.”

Unlike many other potential Covid-19 vaccines, EpiVacCorona does not need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures. The vector vaccine can be stored between two and eight degrees, significantly reducing the logistical burden. In contrast, the formula proposed by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer needs to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius.

Read more …

Which vaccine though?

Side Effects From COVID19 Vaccine Won’t Be A ‘Walk In The Park’ (JTN)

Doctors are suggesting that the CDC warn the public that the new coronavirus vaccines, which are expected to be approved by the FDA in the next few weeks, will have unpleasant effects on patients. Pfizer and Moderna each have acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects similar to the virus itself, with possible muscle pains, chills and headache. In a Monday meeting with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers, doctors said public health officials and drugmakers need to warn people about the rough side effects so they are prepared and not scared away from getting the second dose.

Both vaccines that are in the process of approval by the Federal Drug Administration require two doses, according to Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association. Fryhofer says she’s warned that her patients won’t come back for the second dose if the side effects are bad enough. “We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said during a virtual meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside group of medical experts that advise the CDC. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”

Participants in the September vaccine trials reported symptoms including a high fever, body aches and daylong exhaustion after receiving the vaccine. The side effects also raise the question about whether getting the vaccine outweighs the risk of getting the virus. A 50-year-old participant in the Moderna study said she suffered a bad migraine and loss of energy. “If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up,” she said. “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure. … You will need to take a day off after the second dose.”

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“The deadline for adjudicating the janky election is soon upon us, and upon the SCOTUS justices, so the country will know shortly whether it has become the Honduras of the north.”

President Swamp (Jim Kunstler)

Donald Trump found out the hard way how illusory his powers as POTUS really were, conditioned against the inertia, malice, and bad faith resistance of the bureaucratic establishment, a.k.a. the Swamp. He also knows that the Swamp just worked the system it created to elect itself president as (it likes to think) a final act of revenge against the orange interloper who threatened to drain it and, alas, failed to. All hail President Swamp!Unless that doesn’t pan out, and there’s a fair chance it won’t, since a 2020 election fraud case will eventually land in the Supreme Court where at least five justices might not be so inclined to let what remains of the Republic roll into a Woke sludge of lawlessness. Do you suppose Clarence Thomas & Co haven’t been paying attention the past four years to the swampish doings in the other branches of government?

And that they are, just perhaps, good and goddam sick of it? Everything from RussiaGate and the manipulation of the FISA court through the attempted character assassination of Justice Kavanaugh, to the Eric Ciaramella “whistleblower” impeachment caper starring Rep. Adam Schiff, plus all the side dishes of Antifa / BLM street anarchy, Covid-19 lockdown tyranny, French Laundry hypocrisy, and the gaslighting of America by the news-and-social media, with a transsexual reading hour cherry-on-top?I hope the justices are pissed off a little bit at the hijacking of this country by a party that laughs at the law the way, for one example, DC District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan blew raspberries at the Department of Justice and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals when they both told him to drop the Flynn case.

The deadline for adjudicating the janky election is soon upon us, and upon the SCOTUS justices, so the country will know shortly whether it has become the Honduras of the north. In a just universe, the SCOTUS would invalidate the election results in several states and send the matter into the House of Representatives as the constitution stipulates. Heads would explode from sea to shining sea as heroes of the Resistance — Brennan, Comey, Weissmann, Strzok, and many more — realize they will not be getting their get-out-of-jail-free cards after all. Hunter B would retreat to the Chateau Marmont with his crack pipe for one last lost weekend. Nancy Pelosi would melt into a puddle of rage, prednisone, and hairspray in the capitol rotunda. And for Ol’ White Joe Biden it would be just another day of fog and stillness.

Read more …

“Dr. Keshavarz-Nia is not a stranger to the mainstream media. In fact The New York Times published a glowing report on Dr. Navid Keshavarz-Nia way back in September writing, “Navid Keshavarz-Nia, those who worked with him said, ‘was always the smartest person in the room.’”

Renowned Expert Concludes 2020 Election Results Were Fraudulent (CTH)

Dr. Navid Keshavarz-Nia, is an experienced cybercrimes investigator and digital security executive, who has worked with the CIA, NSA, FBI, and U.S. military counterintelligence. In addition to his work with U.S. intelligence agencies Dr. Keshavarz-Nia works on cyber security and fraud with financial giants like Deutsche Bank and Stripe. Within the documents filed by Sidney Powell in Georgia Wednesday, Dr. Keshavarz-Nia shares this bombshell assessment in his affidavit. Ms. Powell has some high-powered experts in support of her court filings.

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It took her four years to get that right.

Jill Stein Won Right to Examine Voting Machine Source Code (GP)

Let’s hope this makes it to the Trump Campaign. On October 30, 2020 2016 Green Party Candidate Jill Stein FINALLY won her groundbreaking case that gave her campaign the right to examine voting machine source code in Wisconsin.It took Jill Stein four years to win this court case. After witnessing the historic level of fraud in this year’s election it makes us all question the numbers in past elections. In 2016 Libertarian voters kept Donald Trump from adding New Hampshire, Minnesota and Maine to his electoral haul. Were those actual Libertarian votes in 2016 or were they switched from Trump to Gary Johnson to prevent him from winning those states? Dr. Jill Stein celebrated this win with a string of tweets on October 30th.


The Trump campaign should take notice. Confiscating the voting machines in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada may be crucial to exposing the fraud in this year’s election.

Jill Stein
https://twitter.com/DrJillStein/status/1322251491781058566

Read more …

“Rather than making cuts, the government should be using this opportunity to borrow more in order to finance the country’s recovery.”

Claims The UK Has ‘Maxed Out’ Its Credit Card Are Bad Economics (Gabor)

When fiscal fundamentalists announce the government has “maxed out its credit card”, they belittle the experience of every poor family that has been forced to live on credit and pay higher interest as they borrow more. The truth is that the government can afford to take on debt. But acknowledging this reality would invalidate the fiscal fundamentalists’ beloved rhetoric of “tough choices”, which you will likely hear over the next few years from those attempting to make austerity palatable again. The fiscal centrists, meanwhile, know that Rishi Sunak has already effectively introduced austerity through a combination of public sector pay freezes, higher council taxes hidden in the small print and cuts to planned non-Covid spending in the future.

Centrists also worry – rightfully so – about where the money is going. When the crisis forced them to spend, the Conservative party gave Covid contracts to their friends and rewarded their voters, all the while pretending that there was no money available to feed children in poverty. While accepting that spending and taxing are political choices, centrists pray to the God of pragmatism. They believe the British public will not listen to politicians who forever throw money at social and economic problems, and that economic credibility is hard to earn and easy to lose. This is why they share the fundamentalists’ view that in the long run “tough choices” must be made.

This “tough choices” narrative – raise taxes or cut spending to reduce the deficit and bring public debt down – is compelling for centrists not because it is correct, but because it chimes with the public’s common sense, which has been shaped by decades of media coverage and political discourse venerating balanced budgets. The fiscal centrists, captive to their audience and unwilling to engage into the Herculean task of changing minds, can only ever promise to cut and tax better or slower than the Conservatives. The government is not a household, and it does not have a credit card that can be maxed out. Fiscal heretics know this, and reject the idea that we face a public debt crisis. There are numerous reasons why this narrative is flawed.

The government, unlike a household, has a central bank that can keep borrowing costs under control. The Bank of England, like other central banks across Europe, has this year bought more than 80% of all debt issued by the British government. It hasn’t done so under political pressure, but because independent central banks have come to accept that large-scale purchases of government bonds are a legitimate and effective monetary policy instrument. And unlike households, governments can rely on the financial sector to buy their debt in times of crisis. Modern financial institutions view government debt as the ultimate risk-free asset, a safe haven to run to when economic shocks hit. For instance, on 26 November, one day after Sunak warned that “the economic emergency has just begun”, investors were prepared to lend for 50 years to the UK government at an interest rate of less than 1%.

These two forces combined – the central bank and the City – explain why interest rates on public debt are at historical lows. Rather than making cuts, the government should be using this opportunity to borrow more in order to finance the country’s recovery.

Read more …

This is serious.

19 Million Americans Could Face Eviction When Limits Expire Dec. 31 (CBS)

Millions of Americans are in danger of losing their homes when federal and local limits on evictions expire at the end of the year, a growing body of research shows. A report issued this month from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the University of Arizona estimates that 6.7 million households could be evicted in the coming months. That amounts to 19 million people potentially losing their homes, rivaling the dislocation that foreclosures caused after the subprime housing bust. Apart from being a humanitarian disaster, the crisis threatens to exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic, according to a forthcoming study in the Journal of Urban Health.


“Our concern is we’re going to see a huge increase in evictions after the CDC moratorium is lifted,” said Andrew Aurand, vice president of research at the NLIHC and a co-author of the report. The number of Americans struggling to pay rent has steadily risen since this summer, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. In the latest survey, from early November, 11.6 million people indicated they wouldn’t be able to pay the rent or mortgage next month. Meanwhile, some renters who are still paying rent are relying on “unsustainable” income to make ends meet. Among those who report trouble making rent, “More than half are borrowing from family and friends to meet their spending needs, one-third are using credit cards, and one-third are spending down savings,” the NLIHC report found.

Read more …

No, not political at all…

China To Impose Temp Anti-Dumping Measures On Australian Wine Imports (R.)

Australia has responded defiantly to China imposing anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine, saying the “seriously concerning development” looks to be about diplomatic grievances and not any action by winemakers. China will impose temporary anti-dumping tariffs of 107.1% to 212.1% on wine imported from Australia from Nov. 28, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Friday. Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham said the tariffs were unjustifiable and it was a distressing time for hundreds of wine producers because it “will render unviable for many businesses, their wine trade with China”. China takes 37 per cent of Australia’s total wine exports, an industry worth AU$2.9 billion, the government said.


Last week China outlined a list of grievances about Australia’s foreign investment, national security and human rights policy, saying Canberra needed to correct its actions to restore the bilateral relationship with its largest trading partner. “China’s recent comments gives the perception that it’s more about their grievances around those matters, rather than in fact around anything any industry has done wrong,” Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud told media on Friday. He added, “It just doesn’t worry Australian exporters, it worries exporters from around the world.”

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 152020
 


Pablo Picasso Les femmes d’Alger Version 0 1955

 

New US Defense Chief Tells Troops ‘Time To Come Home’ (F24)
Biden’s Transition Team: War Profiteers, Beltway Chickenhawks (GZ)
The Filthy Rich War Hawks That Make up Biden’s New Foreign Policy Team (MPN)
Cecilia Muñoz Defended Family Separations Under Obama, Joins Biden Team (DN)
Biden Will Fail To Bring Back ‘Normal’ Politics (Cook)
How Pence & GOP Senators Could Try To Steal The Election (DP)
Donald Trump’s Likeliest Path To Staying In Office (du Quenoy)
Everybody Knows the Fight was Fixed (Curtin)
Lockdowns Haven’t Brought Down COVID Mortality, But Killed Millions Of Jobs (Mises)
COVID19 Vaccines May Have Potentially Unpleasant Side Effects (Kaiser)
Australia Revels In Covid-free Days (G.)
The Huge New Trade Deal ‘Western’ Media Do Not Like To Talk About (MoA)
The Housing Bubble is Even Bigger Than the Stock Market Bubble (Mish)
The EU Funds Global iPhone And Facebook Surveillance (F.)
Bay Area Food Bank Now Serves 500k Working-Poor As Demand “Doubles” (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Great War of 2020
https://twitter.com/i/status/1327831816313704448

 

 

“We are not a people of perpetual war — it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end,” the memo reads. “Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”

New US Defense Chief Tells Troops ‘Time To Come Home’ (F24)

Newly appointed Pentagon chief Christopher Miller signaled Saturday that he could accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying, “It’s time to come home.” “All wars must end,” Miller, named acting defense secretary by President Donald Trump on Monday, said in his first message to the US armed services. He said that the US is committed to defeating Al Qaeda, 19 years after the September 11 attacks on the United States, and is “on the verge of defeating” the group. “Many are weary of war — I’m one of them,” he wrote in the message, dated Friday but posted early Saturday on the Defense Department’s website. “But this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role,” he said.

“Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.” Miller did not mention specific US troop deployments, but the reference to Al Qaeda appeared to single out Afghanistan and Iraq, where US troops were deployed after the September 11 attacks. The former US special forces officer and counterterrorism expert was named to lead the Department of Defense after Trump fired Mark Esper. Trump, who lost to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 election, has been pressing to pull US forces out of both countries since he came into office four years ago. Any such action would have to come in the 67 days before Biden takes office on January 20.

Esper cut US forces in Afghanistan by nearly two-thirds in the wake of the February 29 US-Taliban peace deal. But, drawing a line, he said he would hold troop numbers at 4,500 after this month until the Taliban, as they negotiate with the government in Kabul, follow through on pledged reductions in violence. Trump, however, has pushed for continued cuts, tweeting that he wants the troops “home by Christmas,” December 25. His national security advisor Robert O’Brien has said the goal is to cut to 2,500 by February.

Read more …

It’s a long list.

Biden’s Transition Team: War Profiteers, Beltway Chickenhawks (GZ)

A glance at the Biden-Harris agency review teams should provide a rude awakening to anyone who believed a Biden administration could be “pushed to the left” An eye-popping array of corporate consultants, war profiteers, and national security hawks have been appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to agency review teams that will set the agenda for his administration. A substantial percentage of them worked in the United States government when Barack Obama was president. The appointments should provide a rude awakening to anyone who believed a Biden administration could be pressured to move in a progressive direction, especially on foreign policy. If the agency teams are any indication, Biden will be firmly insulated from any pressure to depart from the neoliberal status quo, which the former vice president has pledged to restore.

Instead, he is likely to be pushed in an opposite direction, towards an interventionist foreign policy dictated by elite Beltway interests and consumed by Cold War fever. A prime example of the interventionist-minded establishment-oriented figures filling the Biden-Harris Defense Department agency team is Lisa Sawyer. She served as director for NATO and European strategic affairs for the National Security Council from 2014 to 2015, and worked for Wall Street’s JPMorgan Chase as a foreign policy adviser. Sawyer was part of the Center for a New American Security’s “Task Force on the Future of US Coercive Economic Statecraft,” which essentially means she participated in meetings that focused on methods of economic warfare that could be used to destabilize countries that refused to bow to American empire.

Sawyer believes the US government is not doing enough to deter Russian “aggression,” US troop levels in Europe should return to the levels they were at in 2012, and offensive weapons shipments to Ukraine should continue and increase in violation of the Minsk Agreements. “Instead of saying we will lift sanctions when Russia decides to comply with the next agreement, say that we will raise them until they do. Instead of kowtowing to Russia’s supposed spears of influence, provide Ukraine the lethal assistance it so desperately needs and increase US support to vulnerable nations in the gray zone,” Sawyer declared when testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017.

US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield was appointed leader of the Biden-Harris State Department team. She is a stalwart ally of former US national security adviser Susan Rice, who pushed for war in Libya, supported the invasion of Iraq, and was involved in the decision to remove peacekeepers from the United Nations which enabled Rwanda genocide. As a developer and manager for US policy toward sub-Saharan Africa, she cheered President George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Account, a neocolonialist policy designed to privilege US corporations and facilitate the economic exploitation of so-called emerging African economies.

Read more …

And then there’s more. Enjoy your cabal.

The Filthy Rich War Hawks That Make up Biden’s New Foreign Policy Team (MPN)

Biden is no stranger to the rich and powerful. He kicked off his presidential campaign last year with a dinner for ultra-rich patrons at a Manhattan hotel, insisting that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he were elected, reassuring them that he would never demonize the rich and that they were not at fault for growing inequality. “I need you very badly,” he concluded. The former vice-president’s team is also looking to be made up of extremely wealthy individuals as well. His transition task squad has been, in his website’s words, crafted to ensure they “reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration,” and includes executives from Lyft, Amazon, Capital One, Uber, Visa, and JP Morgan.

One name being strongly floated for a cabinet position is former mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, a move being met with vocal opposition from the left. Emanuel’s first tour of duty in the White House came under President Bill Clinton, where he was one of the key architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal that decimated manufacturing in the Midwest, hobbled union power, and sent well paying blue-collar jobs to Mexico. In 2016, Trump constantly brought up NAFTA as a weapon to attack Hillary Clinton, winning him votes (and states) across the region. Emanuel also pushed through welfare “reform” bills that sharply reduced benefits for the poor and worked with Biden on the now-infamous 1994 Crime Bill, a key accelerator of mass incarceration.

He then left politics to pursue a lucrative career in finance — something that quickly netted him a reported $16 million fortune — before returning and becoming President Obama’s advisor and enforcer. Many of the president-elect’s potential picks for foreign policy positions — including Susan Rice and Michele Flourney — have onlookers worried. “With a Biden administration, we can expect a continuation of the Middle East wars and possible escalations in places like Syria. Biden could be better than Trump on Iran and Yemen, but judging by his potential cabinet picks, that should not be expected without significant pressure from antiwar activists and lobbyists in Washington,” Dave DeCamp, assistant news editor of AntiWar.com told MintPress.

“His administration will likely be more successful than Trump at expanding the empire, with a more diplomatic and coherent approach at building alliances to face Russia and China.” Rice, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor under Obama, has amassed a fortune of around $40 million. After leaving office, she was given a spot on the board of Netflix, being paid $366,666 as a base salary. On top of that, she was given $2.3 million worth of the company’s stock. However, it is her husband, former ABC News executive producer Ian O. Cameron (whose father was a super-wealthy industrialist), who is the prime source of her wealth. She was a key driver in U.S. action in Libya, and also successfully lobbied Obama to place harsher sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

Read more …

Unpossible, that was all Trump, remember?

Cecilia Muñoz Defended Family Separations Under Obama, Joins Biden Team (DN)

Joe Biden has named President Obama’s former top immigration adviser Cecilia Muñoz to his transition team. During her time in the White House, Muñoz often justified Obama’s harsh immigration enforcement policies, including the administration’s deportation of thousands of Central American children and its decision to kill an executive order that would have halted deportations. In 2011, Muñoz was interviewed by PBS’s Maria Hinojosa. Cecilia Muñoz: “At the end of the day, when you have an immigration law that’s broken and you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen, even if the law is executed with perfection. There will be parents separated from their children. We don’t have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws. And the answer to that problem is reforming the law.”

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“Those now bleating about how dangerous his current assertions of election fraud are should remember they were the ones who smashed that particular glass house..”

Biden Will Fail To Bring Back ‘Normal’ Politics (Cook)

The narrowly averted Trump second term has at least prompted liberal pundits to draw one significant lesson that is being endlessly repeated: Biden must avoid returning to the old “normal”, the one that existed before Trump, because that version of “normal” was exactly what delivered Trump in the first place. These commentators fear that, if Biden doesn’t play his cards wisely, we will end up in 2024 with a Trump 2.0, or even a rerun from Trump himself, reinvigorated after four years of tweet-sniping from the sidelines. They are right to be worried. But their analysis does not properly explain the political drama that is unfolding, or where it heads next. There is a two-fold problem with the “no return to normal” argument.

The first is that the liberal media and political class making this argument are doing so in entirely bad-faith. For four years they have turned US politics and its coverage into a simple-minded, ratings-grabbing horror show. A vile, narcissist businessman, in collusion with an evil Russian mastermind, usurped the title of most powerful person on the planet that should have been bestowed on Hillary Clinton. As Krystal Ball has rightly mocked, even now the media are whipping up fears that the “Orange Mussolini” may stage some kind of cack-handed coup to block the handover to Biden. These stories have been narrated to us by much of the corporate media over and over again – and precisely so that we do not think too hard about why Trump beat Clinton in 2016.

The reality, far too troubling for most liberals to admit, is that Trump proved popular because a lot of the problems he identified were true, even if he raised them in bad faith himself and had no intention of doing anything meaningful to fix them. Trump was right about the need for the US to stop interfering in the affairs of the rest of the world under the pretence of humanitarian concern and a supposed desire to spread democracy at the end of the barrel of a gun. In practice, however, lumbered with that permanent bureaucracy, delegating his authority to the usual war hawks like John Bolton, and eager to please the Christian evangelical and Israel lobbies, Trump did little to stop such destructive meddling. But at least he was correct rhetorically.

Equally, Trump looked all too right in berating the establishment media for promoting “fake news”, especially as coverage of his presidency was dominated by an evidence-free narrative claiming he had colluded with Russia to steal the election. Those now bleating about how dangerous his current assertions of election fraud are should remember they were the ones who smashed that particular glass house with their own volley of stones back in 2016.

Read more …

Steal? You sure?

How Pence & GOP Senators Could Try To Steal The Election (DP)

Since Donald Trump lost the election, he and GOP state legislators have suggested that the race was marred by voter fraud, and Trump administration officials have been publicly talking about Trump remaining president. On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told a conservative group that there is already a “plan” for a second Trump term. Though Republicans have not produced any evidence to substantiate the fraud claims, they have continued to promote the fraud allegations — which could serve as a rationale for state legislatures, Republican electors and Mike Pence to try to use the Electoral College system to hand Trump a second term.

The unlikely-but-possible scenario revolves around the prospect of competing slates of electors. That situation has only arisen once in the modern era, when in 1960 then-vice president Richard Nixon faced a decision on whether to recognize Hawaii’s Republican or Democratic electors during the joint session of Congress to certify that year’s election results. The mini controversy spotlighted the pivotal role that the vice president can potentially play in the Electoral College system — and according to Harvard University law professor Larry Lessig, it should worry everyone right now.

In an interview with The Daily Poster, Lessig explained how Vice President Mike Pence could try to recognize slates of Republican electors sent to Congress from five Biden states where GOP legislators have started voicing allegations of voter fraud. In that situation, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would be in a position to decide on Pence’s move — and if they backed him up, Lessig says they could potentially throw the presidency to Trump. So far, GOP leaders in four of those states are saying they will not try to replace Biden electors with Trump electors in defiance of certified election results. Lessig’s group Equal Citizens is launching a petition on its website that calls on Republican U.S. senators to commit right now to uphold elector slates that represent the will of the popular vote in all states.

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“26 out of the 50 state delegations are majority Republican. Assuming they deliver strict party-line votes, Trump would win the contingent election and be constitutionally re-elected..”

Donald Trump’s Likeliest Path To Staying In Office (du Quenoy)

So far, the media debate revolves almost entirely around the final tabulation of votes. If enough evidence of fraud surfaces, and if court rulings based on that evidence favour Trump decisively, it is possible that he could win by court decision. Another scenario, however, lies in the recesses of the American Constitution. A significant part of Trump’s legal strategy is oriented toward preventing crucial states from certifying results that would be averse to him. All states require vote certification before electors are dispatched. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, allow slates of electors to be split in their support of candidates, but neither is among the states in contention. If Trump can throw sufficient dirt on the electoral process to convince the courts to issue injunctions against certification in just enough states, neither candidate would win the majority of 270 electoral votes needed to triumph in the Electoral College.

In that scenario, Article Two of the US Constitution, as modified by the Twelfth Amendment, provides for a “contingent election” in which the president is chosen by the House of Representatives from among the top three electoral vote winners, while the vice president is chosen by the Senate (recall that the electoral voting for president and vice president are separate). A “contingent election” provides for the vice president to be elected by a simple majority of votes cast by individual Senators. With a Republican Senate majority in the current Congress, Mike Pence would presumably win re-election as vice president. In the bigger contest, however, the House’s vote for president is not by individual ballot, but rather by state delegation en bloc. That means that all the Representatives from each state would cast one collective vote for president.

In the current Congress, 26 out of the 50 state delegations are majority Republican. Assuming they deliver strict party-line votes, Trump would win the contingent election and be constitutionally re-elected. This procedure is obscure, but not unprecedented in choosing American presidents. Thomas Jefferson was elected president in a contingent election in 1801, when the electoral vote in the previous year’s election resulted in a tie between him and incumbent president John Adams. In 1825, Adams’s son John Quincy Adams also won the presidency in a contingent election, in which four candidates split the Electoral College vote that resulted from the election of 1824. The younger Adams prevailed over Andrew Jackson, who had won large pluralities in both the popular and electoral votes.

Read more …

“Neither has the guts or the intelligence. They are nowhere men who fear the fate that John Kennedy faced squarely when he turned against the CIA and the war machine.”

Everybody Knows the Fight was Fixed (Curtin)

At the end of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, Nora, the aggrieved wife, leaves her husband’s house and all the illusions that sustained its marriage of lies. She chooses freedom over fantasy. She will no longer be played with like a doll but will try to become a free woman – a singular one. “There is another task I must undertake first. I must try and educate myself,” she tells her husband Torvald, a man completely incapable of understanding the social programming that has made him society’s slave. When Nora closes the doll’s house door behind her, the sound is like a hammer blow of freedom. For anyone who has seen the play, even when knowing the outcome in advance, that sound is profound. It keeps echoing. It interrogates one’s conscience.

The echo asks: Do you live inside America’s doll house where a vast tapestry of lies, bad faith, and cheap grace keep you caged in comfort, as you repeat the habits that have been drilled into you? In this doll’s house of propaganda into which America has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory. Americans who voted for either Trump or Biden in the 2020 election are like Torvald clones. They refuse to open that door so they might close it behind them. They live in the doll’s house – all 146+ million of them. Like Torvald, they are comforted. They are programmed and propagandized, embracing the illusion that the electoral system is not structured and controlled to make sure no significant change can occur, no matter who is president. It is a sad reality promoted as democracy.

They will prattle on and give all sorts of reasons why they voted, and for whom, and how if you don’t vote you have no right to bitch, and how it’s this sacred right to vote that makes democracy great, blah blah blah. It’s all sheer nonsense. For the U.S.A. is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy run by the wealthy for the wealthy. This is not a big secret. Everybody knows this is true; knows the electoral system is sheer show business with the presidential extravaganza drawing the big money from corporate lobbyists, investment bankers, credit card companies, lawyers, business and hedge fund executives, Silicon Valley honchos, think tanks, Wall Street gamblers, millionaires, billionaires, et. al. Biden and Trump spent over 3 billion dollars on the election. They are owned by the money people.

Both are old men with long, shameful histories. A quick inquiry will show how the rich have profited immensely from their tenures in office. There is not one hint that they could change and have a miraculous conversion while in future office, like JFK. Neither has the guts or the intelligence. They are nowhere men who fear the fate that John Kennedy faced squarely when he turned against the CIA and the war machine. They join the craven company of Johnson, Ford, Carter, Reagan G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. They all got the message that was sent from the streets of Dallas in 1963: You don’t want to die, do you?

Read more …

But it’s easy to find the exact opposite view as well.

Lockdowns Haven’t Brought Down COVID Mortality, But Killed Millions Of Jobs (Mises)

[..] many proponents of lockdowns still contend that every covid infection is a failure of public policy. But this position is largely a luxury of white-collar workers who can afford to work from home. Lockdowns have been described as “the worst assault on the working class in half a century.” Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, says, “the blue-collar class is ‘out there working, including high-risk people in their 60s.” Kulldorff’s colleague Jay Bhattacharya notes that one reason “minority populations have had higher mortality in the U.S. from the epidemic is because they don’t often have the option…to stay at home.” In effect, top-down lockdown policies are “regressive” and reflect a “monomania,” says Dr. Bhattacharya. With this in mind, it is easy to see why more affluent Americans tend to view restrictive measures as the appropriate response.

For many Americans, prolonged periods of time without gainful employment, income, or social interaction are not only impossible but potentially deadly. Martin Kulldorff notes that covid-19 restrictions do not consider broader public health issues and create collateral damage; among the collateral damage is a “worsening incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and an alarming decline in immunization.” Dr. Bhattacharya correctly notes that society will be “counting the health harms from these lockdowns for a very long time.” Bhattacharya emphasized the politicization of these restrictions: “When Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the spring, ‘1,300 epidemiologists signed a letter saying that the gatherings were consistent with good public health practice,’” while those same epidemiologists argued that “we should essentially quarantine in place.”

Such a contradiction defies logic and undercuts arguments about the lethality of this virus. If this novel virus truly were as devastating to the broader public as advertised, then political leaders supporting mass protests and riots during a pandemic seem to be ill founded. This contradiction has been cited in countless lawsuits challenging the validity and constitutionality of covid-19 restrictions. Separately, these often heavy-handed restrictions have targeted constitutionally protected rights like the freedom of religion. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized the Nevada governor’s restrictions saying, “that Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees may not come as a surprise…We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility.” This scathing criticism, however, did not gain the support of the Supreme Court as a 5–4 majority deferred to the governor’s “responsibility to protect the public in a pandemic.”

Read more …

“We are asking people to take a vaccine that is going to hurt..”

COVID19 Vaccines May Have Potentially Unpleasant Side Effects (Kaiser)

Pfizer is expected to seek federal permission to release its Covid-19 vaccine by the end of November, a move that holds promise for quelling the pandemic but also sets up a tight time frame to make sure consumers understand what it will mean to get the shots. The vaccine, and likely most others, will require two doses to work, injections that must be given weeks apart, company protocols show. Scientists anticipate that the shots will cause enervating flu-like side effects — including sore arms, muscle aches and fever — that could last days and temporarily sideline some people from work or school. And even if a vaccine proves 90 percent effective, the rate Pfizer touted for its product, 1 in 10 recipients would still be vulnerable. That means, at least in the short term, as population-level immunity grows, people can’t stop social distancing and throw away their masks.

[..] Pfizer and its partner, the German company BioNTech, said Monday that their vaccine appears to protect 9 in 10 people from getting Covid-19, although they didn’t release underlying data. It’s the first of four Covid-19 vaccines in large-scale efficacy tests in the U.S. to have posted results. Data from early trials of several Covid-19 vaccines suggest that consumers will need to be prepared for side effects that, while technically mild, could disrupt daily life. A senior Pfizer executive told the news outlet Stat that side effects from the company’s vaccine appear to be comparable to those of standard adult vaccines but worse than those of the company’s pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar, or typical flu shots.

The two-dose Shingrix vaccine, for instance, which protects older adults against the virus that causes painful shingles, results in sore arms in 78 percent of recipients and muscle pain and fatigue in more than 40 percent of those who take it. Prevnar and common flu shots can cause injection-site pain, aches and fever. “We are asking people to take a vaccine that is going to hurt,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “There are lots of sore arms and substantial numbers of people who feel crummy, with headaches and muscle pain, for a day or two.”

Read more …

For how long?

Australia Revels In Covid-free Days (G.)

When the premier of Queensland held her regular Covid-19 update on Friday she couldn’t help letting a smile creep across her face. “Now, here’s a good one,” Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. “I think all Queenslanders are going to be happy about it.” She went on to announce that Brisbane’s Suncorp stadium would host a capacity 52,500 crowd for the forthcoming State of Origin rugby league decider against New South Wales next week. “The cauldron can be filled to 100% capacity,” she said. In the midst of the pandemic, the idea of responsible leaders encouraging citizens to gather in large crowds to sit or stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers might seem to be a case of extreme recklessness.


But in Australia, where the Covid-19 pandemic has largely been controlled after months of lockdowns, border closures and strict limits on gatherings, moments like these are becoming more and more common. Last month, footage from a packed nightclub in Western Australia went viral, offering a surreal image of pre-Covid normality even as countries in the northern hemisphere began to return to lockdowns amid surging case numbers. In Sydney, about 40,000 fans were present for the rugby league grand final last month. The country has reason to be bullish about its successes. On Friday, Australia recorded no new cases of the virus for the fifth day in a row. In Victoria, where a second-wave spike of the virus forced Melbourne into a months-long lockdown and left hundreds dead, Friday marked the 14th day in a row with no new cases.

Read more …

Includes Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Huge New Trade Deal ‘Western’ Media Do Not Like To Talk About (MoA)

Tomorrow a new trade agreement between 15 Asian states will be signed. It will soon be seen as a milestone in the global economic history. But only very few ‘western’ media have taken note of it or of the huge consequences the new agreement will have. The agreement is also a huge victory for China over U.S. hegemony in Asia: Fifteen Asia-Pacific nations including China and Japan plan to sign the world’s biggest free trade deal this weekend. The FTA will cut tariffs, strengthen supply chains with common rules of origin, and codify new e-commerce rules. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is expected to be announced at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, which Vietnam is hosting virtually.


It will involve the ten member states of the ASEAN bloc – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as their trade partners Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The new economic bloc will thus represent around a third of the world’s gross domestic product and population. It will become the first-ever free trade agreement to include China, Japan, and South Korea – Asia’s first, second and fourth-largest economies. The economies of the RCEP members are growing faster than the rest of the world. The agreement is likely to accelerate their growth. India is the only country that was invited but is missing in the deal. Its Hindu-fascist Modi regime had bet on the U.S. led anti-Chinese QUAD initiative pressed for by Trump and Pompeo and thereby lost out in trade terms.

Read more …

Bubbles “R” The Economy

The Housing Bubble is Even Bigger Than the Stock Market Bubble (Mish)

Stocks may be expensive based on historical measures, but it’s nothing compared to skyrocketing home values says Robert Shiller.


“Consider that the Case-Shiller National Home Price index has gained in excess of 6% per year on average since January 2012, while net rental income has barely kept up with inflation, increasing just less than 2% per year. The result is that home prices seem as overvalued as they were in the spring of 2005, nine months before the peak. One way to measure home valuations is with a cyclically adjusted price to earnings (CAPE) ratio developed by Yale University professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller for stocks. The concept can be applied to a broad swath of assets by dividing the current price of an asset by the average annual inflation-adjusted earnings over the prior 10 years. The chart above shows CAPE for U.S. home prices and the S&P 500 Index since 1996.

The bad news is all previous history came at higher mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell below 3% for the first time in August 2020, and rates are close to the lowest possible levels given the credit risk and costs of writing mortgages. It’s one thing to be a peak valuation, it’s another to be at peak valuation with no discernable upside.” Shiller compared home prices to stocks based on CAPE. To compute the CAPE for housing he used rent. My chart looks at household income vs the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Both indexes have a base year of 2000. Household income is annual and the latest year available is 2019. I used Case-Shiller quarterly data. Since 2000, median household income is up about 64%. Home prices are up 118%. Robert Shiller calls this a bubble and so do I.

Read more …

Just lovely.

The EU Funds Global iPhone And Facebook Surveillance (F.)

Police across the world are getting special training from a little-known European Union agency on how best to snoop on Facebook and Apple iPhones, according to documents obtained by nonprofit Privacy International. The files reveal that CEPOL, the EU’s law enforcement training agency, instructed officers across the globe, from within Europe and in Africa, on how to use malware and other tools to gain access to citizens’ phones and monitor social networks. In some cases, the training was funded by EU aid coffers and went to countries with histories of human rights abuses, Privacy International warned. Furious about the previously secret initiatives that are aiding surveillance rather than protecting people from it, Privacy International and fellow human rights organizations are calling for reform, demanding that aid money going to intelligence training be diverted to more altruistic programs.


The revelations land just days after the EU Parliament announced plans to curb spy tool exports where human rights abuses were possible. “Today’s revelations confirm our worst fears about the diversion and securitization of EU aid,” said Edin Omanovic, advocacy director of Privacy International. “Instead of helping people who face daily threats from unaccountable surveillance agencies, including activists, journalists and people just looking for better lives, this ‘aid’ risks doing the very opposite. “The EU as the world’s largest provider of aid and a powerful force for change must enact urgent reforms to these secretive and unacceptable programmes. Failure to do so is a betrayal not just of the purpose of aid and the people it’s supposed to benefit, but of the EU’s own values.”

Read more …

Silicon Valley.

Bay Area Food Bank Now Serves 500k Working-Poor As Demand “Doubles” (ZH)

The virus pandemic is threatening another lost decade, similar to the Great Recession of 2007-2009, or even the Great Depression of the 1930s, for America’s working poor. Widespread permanent job loss and the collapse of small and medium-sized enterprises have become a severe risk to the broader recovery – as the economic fallout from the virus-induced downturn could linger for years. Case in point, the San Francisco Bay Area has lost 350,000 jobs this year – leaving many households with food and housing insecurity problems ahead of the holiday season. Local news station KQED offers a sobering reminder of the economic devastation left behind from the virus – and one that will likely continue to intensify as virus cases explode to new highs, forcing state officials to reimpose new social distancing restrictions.

KQED said, “food banks are racing to keep up with increased demand for food — and volunteers.” One of the top food banks in the state, called Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, has “literally doubled the amount of food we’re distributing,” said CEO Leslie Bacho. Bacho continued: “We already serving a quarter-million people. Now we’re serving a half million people.” She said many of the folks picking up care packages at food banks across the Bay Area are coming for the first time. “This is a testament to how the pandemic-induced economic crisis is disproportionately impacting low-wage workers,” she added.

“We are seeing so many people who are already just living on the edge, having to then burn through their savings,” Bacho said. “More than half the people we’re serving now have never sought food assistance before.” Someone named “Gabriel” sent Second Harvest of Silicon Valley a donation of around $1,300 – the letter Gabriel received from the food bank outlines the dire situation playing out in the Bay Area.

Read more …

 

 

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Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
– Albert Einstein

 

 

This is extremely dangerous to our democracy
https://twitter.com/i/status/1327597849849131008

 

 

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Nov 112020
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Student at a table by candlelight c.1642

 

 

We would by now have expected the narrative surrounding COVID19 to be simpler to understand, but it’s not. We may understand much more about the disease and everything that has to do with it, but we’re finding there is so much that has been left unsaid, not discussed, neglected.

The discussion has been stuck in an All Else Being Equal (Ceteris Paribus) mode, but all things do not remain equal. It’s not even as if you get rid of the disease, all your problems go away. Not only do various COVID measures inflict huge damage on economies, on people’s jobs and incomes, they also cause entire new sets of health problems.

Epidemiologists and virologists are not equipped for such massive problems. They may be able to say the odd wise word in their field -and even that will be 90% rear-view mirror stuff, because they must compare what they see to what happened in the past-, but the disease doesn’t only affect their field. It affects many fields they have no knowledge of.

Their ideas are then taken on board by economists, not exactly the most scientific of sciences, and off go the government policies. But that was 6-7 months ago, and we learned so much since, right? By now we have involved for instance mental health experts on a large scale, right? Yeah, sure.

The point is, you can’t force lockdowns, masks etc. onto people, without looking at what the consequences of that will be. Because all things do not remain equal for 6-7 months.

A nice example comes from a July 2020 study published in the Lancet, which indicates that “..the number of smokers in a population was correlated with a 3% decrease in covid deaths.. Wow, that’s great. Let’s get everybody smoking, said … nobody. But if your sole focus is COVID19, and for many governments it is, why not? That’s of course because smoking is one thing people recognize as “bad”. But how about other things, that are not?

That same Lancet study, as interpreted by a Sebastian Rushworth MD, also says there is no proof that lockdowns work:

 

Does Lockdown Prevent COVID Deaths?

The factors that most strongly predicted the number of people who died of covid in a country were rate of obesity, average age, and level of income disparity. Each percentage point increase in the rate of obesity resulted in a 12% increase in covid deaths. Each additional average year of age in the population increased covid deaths by 10% . On the opposite end of the spectrum, each point in the direction of greater equality on the gini-coefficient (a scale used to determine how evenly resources are distributed across a population) resulted in a 12% decrease in covid deaths. All these results were statistically significant.


Another factor that had an effect that was significant, but more weakly so, was smoking. Each percentage point increase in the number of smokers in a population was correlated with a 3% decrease in covid deaths. Ok, let’s get to the most important thing, which the authors seem to have tried to hide, because they make so little mention of it. Lockdown and covid deaths. The authors found no correlation whatsoever between severity of lockdown and number of covid deaths. And they didn’t find any correlation between border closures and covid deaths either. And there was no correlation between mass testing and covid deaths either, for that matter. Basically, nothing that various world governments have done to combat covid seems to have had any effect whatsoever on the number of deaths.

Which is intriguing, because countries like France, Belgium, Netherlands appear to have had spectacular success with their recent new lockdowns.

 

 

 

Problem is, you can’t lock down countries and people forever. And if the coronavirus has become endemic in the population, the “success” would seem to be inevitably short-lived. In the Netherlands just now, numbers were announced that already are 15% or so up from the 24 hours before. What if a lockdown is not the answer, or not anymore at least? I don’t have the impression that there is a Plan B.

But it would appear to be useful to by now stop throwing all “cases” on one heap, and find a better definition, for instance “positive PCR tests”. Or even “positive PCR tests that require medical attention.” And you will also have to define much better who requires that attention, and who dies. If you’re talking, say 90%, only about people who are either very old and/or have severe underlying conditions, maybe a general lockdown is not your thing.

Maybe you should aim to protect these vulnerable groups, and leave the rest alone. Maybe obese people, who are very much at risk, should be locked down, but not their fit and slimmer neighbors. Maybe you should ban food that causes obesity and diabetes, maybe you should hand out Vitamin D to everybody. Maybe you should simply accept that some people are going to die of the disease.

Whatever else you do, maybe you should prepare for the risk that the virus is endemic, and it’s here to stay. And then take it from there. Because, for one thing, it’s not all that obvious, it’s all still riddled with misconceptions. Renowned medical site medrxiv.org has this:

 

Association Between Living With Children And Outcomes From COVID-19

Close contact with children may provide cross-reactive immunity to SARs-CoV-2 due to more frequent prior coryzal infections from seasonal coronaviruses. Alternatively, close contact with children may increase risk of SARs-CoV-2 infection. We investigated whether risk of infection with SARs-CoV-2 and severe outcomes differed between adults living with and without children.

This is the first population-based study to investigate whether the risk of recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19 differ between adults living in households with and without school-aged children during the UK pandemic. Our findings show that for adults living with children there is no evidence of an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes although there may be a slightly increased risk of recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection for working-age adults living with children aged 12 to 18 years.

Working-age adults living with children 0 to 11 years have a lower risk of death from COVID-19 compared to adults living without children, with the effect size being comparable to their lower risk of death from any cause. We observed no consistent changes in risk of recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19 comparing periods before and after school closure. [..] Our results demonstrate no evidence of serious harms from COVID-19 to adults in close contact with children, compared to those living in households without children. This has implications for determining the benefit-harm balance of children attending school in the COVID-19 pandemic.

And yesterday we had this from Reuters: “Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients…and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia…”

One of the Automatic Earth’s in-house doctors, Doc Robinson, rightly said qualifying insomnia as a mental illness is a very broad stroke. Whereas my attention was drawn to this line:

“.. people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19..”

How does that work? Why would you be 65% more likely to catch COVID, or be diagnosed with it, if you’re already depressed? Depressed people are more likely to attend Trump rallies? Or Biden celebrations?

 

One In Five COVID19 Patients Develop Mental Illness Within 90 Days

Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems, and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition. “People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings … show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University.


[..] The study also found that people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those without. Mental health specialists not directly involved with the study said its findings add to growing evidence that COVID-19 can affect the brain and mind, increasing the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses. “This is likely due to a combination of the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic and the physical effects of the illness,” said Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London.

As I said two days ago: “Just lovely! If you catch COVID, you get mental health issues. And if you go into lockdown so you don’t catch COVID….you also get mental health issues.”

 

Children Regressing And Struggling Mentally In Lockdown

Children hardest hit by Covid-19 measures have regressed during the pandemic, with some who were potty-trained pre-lockdown reverting to nappies and dummies, and others forgetting basic numbers or how to use a knife and fork, according to the schools watchdog Ofsted. Older children have lost physical fitness as well as reading and writing skills, and some are showing signs of mental distress, which can be seen in an increase in eating disorders and self-harm, according to Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman. [..]


The findings, based on 900 visits to schools and social care settings by Ofsted inspectors since schools fully reopened in September, paint a worrying picture of the impact of the pandemic on children at every stage of the education system in England. While children with good support structures have coped well, those whose parents were unable to work flexibly and have therefore been less available to help have lost out most. Children with special educational needs and disabilities have been “seriously affected” across all age groups, both in their care and education, losing vital support including speech and language services.

Lockdowns are based on pretending we can make time stand still. That, like in one of those slick videos, everything else stops moving while you can walk around it. All Else Being Equal. It never is, not for 6-7 months. And that the first lockdown didn’t work, at least not for long, should perhaps be a lesson. Maybe you should look for answers elsewhere. Because the damage just goes on, economically, psychologically, physically.

I’m not pretending I have the answers. I do have questions though. While the situation reminds me of Sisyphus, forced by Zeus to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity. Every time he nears the top of the hill, the boulder rolls back down.

We need to find a balance between the threat of COVID19 and the threat of everything else, very much including those things that are caused by our approach to COVID.

 

 

 

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Nov 112020
 


Hokusai VIews of Mount Fuji: Ejiri in Suruga Province 1831

 

Does Lockdown Prevent COVID Deaths? (Rushworth MD)
Brennan et al Spooked Over Suggestion Trump May ‘Declassify Everything’ (RT)
Why Is The Supreme Court Involved In Pennsylvania? (Reeves)
49% In New Poll Say Biden Is Legitimate Winner Of Election; 34% SayTrump (JTN)
Mathematical Evidence The Election Was Stolen (Lt. Col. James Zumwalt)
Biden Camp is Already Working With Foreign Leaders, Like Flynn Did (Greenwald)
Biden Team Considers Legal Action To Force Formal Transition Of Power (NYP)
AI Software Verified Mail-In Ballots in Key Swing States (Whitney Webb)
Fox Joins MSM, Forcing Millions Of Americans To The Media Fringes (Bridge)
Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet (Turley)
EU Seizes on Vienna Attack to Enact Long-Desired Ban on Encryption (MPN)
Zoom Lied To Users About End-to-End Encryption For Years – FTC (ArsT)
EU Goes After Amazon For Breaching European Antitrust Rules (RT)
Why Do Some People Get Hay Fever And What Can They Do About It? (SMH)

 

 

 

 

Headline:

Trump’s voter fraud lawsuits are not about contradicting the will of all the people — just the Black ones
Donald Trump is blaming his loss on Black workers—the same people who risked their very lives to count votes in the middle of a pandemic.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

 

 

 

Very large study, interpreted.: .. no correlation whatsoever between severity of lockdown and number of covid deaths. [..] there was no correlation between mass testing and covid deaths either, for that matter. Basically, nothing that various world governments have done to combat covid seems to have had any effect whatsoever on the number of deaths.

Does Lockdown Prevent COVID Deaths? (Rushworth MD)

The study chose to limit itself to looking at the 50 countries with the most recorded cases of covid-19 as of the 1st of April 2020. My interpretation is that they chose the top 50 most affected countries, rather than looking at all 195 countries, due to resource constraints. Data was gathered up to the 1st of May 2020. All information gathered was in the form of publicly available facts and figures. Data gathered included information about covid, income level, gross domestic product, income disparity, longevity, BMI (Body Mass Index), smoking, population density, and a bunch of other things that the researchers thought might be interesting to look at. The authors received no outside funding and reported no conflicts of interest.

There are a few problems here that become apparent straight away. First of all, as mentioned, all the data in this study is observational, so no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Second, May was relatively early in the pandemic, and it’s now November, so we’re missing about half a year’s worth of covid data. On the other hand, the pandemic had already peaked in much of the world by May 1st, and lockdown measures had at that point been in place for months in most countries, so it should be possible to get a pretty good idea about what effect lockdown has in terms of decreasing covid deaths, even using only the data available up to May 1st.

Third, the analysis builds on publicly available data, often provided by different governments themselves, with widely varying levels of trustworthiness, and with different ways of classifying things. As an example, data from Sweden is infinitely more reliable than data from China. And while certain countries have used quite inclusive criteria when deciding whether someone has died of covid or not, other countries have been much more strict. The countries with stricter definitions will tend to have lower covid death rates than the countries with more generous definitions. This lack of homogeneity in how things are defined can make it harder to see real patterns.

Fourth, the reseachers who put this study together gathered an enormous amount of data, pretty much everything they could think of under the sun that might in some way correlate with covid statistics. That means that this study amounts to “data trawling”, in other words, going through every relationship imaginable without any a priori hypothesis in order to see which relationships end up being statistically significant. When you do this, you’re supposed to set stricter limits than you normally would for what you consider to be statistically significant results. They didn’t do this.

[..] The factors that most strongly predicted the number of people who died of covid in a country were rate of obesity, average age, and level of income disparity. Each percentage point increase in the rate of obesity resulted in a 12% increase in covid deaths. Each additional average year of age in the population increased covid deaths by 10% . On the opposite end of the spectrum, each point in the direction of greater equality on the gini-coefficient (a scale used to determine how evenly resources are distributed across a population) resulted in a 12% decrease in covid deaths. All these results were statistically significant.

Another factor that had an effect that was significant, but more weakly so, was smoking. Each percentage point increase in the number of smokers in a population was correlated with a 3% decrease in covid deaths. Ok, let’s get to the most important thing, which the authors seem to have tried to hide, because they make so little mention of it. Lockdown and covid deaths. The authors found no correlation whatsoever between severity of lockdown and number of covid deaths. And they didn’t find any correlation between border closures and covid deaths either. And there was no correlation between mass testing and covid deaths either, for that matter. Basically, nothing that various world governments have done to combat covid seems to have had any effect whatsoever on the number of deaths.

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Well, yeah, that could expose him.

Brennan et al Spooked Over Suggestion Trump May ‘Declassify Everything’ (RT)

Former CIA director John Brennan took to CNN to speculate wildly on how Trump would dump the US’ most precious military secrets out of spite. Mainstream outlets and social media alike piled on the declassification rumors. Brennan took to CNN’s airwaves on Monday to denounce Trump for firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, claiming the axe came down over Esper’s “rebuff[ing] Trump’s efforts to politicize the US military.” But the mind-reading went on considerably further as Brennan, aided and abetted by host Chris Cuomo, wondered aloud “who knows what else he has refused to do” – like expose the nation’s deepest, darkest secrets.

If Esper had “been pushed aside because he was not listening to Donald Trump, who knows what his successor is going to do if Donald Trump does give some type of order that really is counter to what I think our national security interests need to be?” Brennan wondered aloud. He cited no proof of his initial statement about the reason for Esper’s firing, or any evidence to back up Trump’s supposed inclination toward spilling all of the national security beans pre-Inauguration Day, but Cuomo didn’t seem to care. Brennan was concerned even as the pundit reminded him that Trump only had 70 days to leave the White House without leaving a smoking crater in his wake. “You can do a lot of damage in 70 days,” he hinted darkly, questioning whether the president was “going to carry out these vendettas against these other individuals.”

“It’s clear Donald Trump Is trying to exercise the power because he can, and he’s going to settle scores, but i’m very concerned about what he might do…” the spook-turned-Resistance stalwart mused, veering into projection territory with a suggestion that the president was “just very unpredictable. Right now he’s like a cornered cat” or “tiger” and was going to “lash out.”

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Because a court decided to (among other things) extend the time ballots could come in. And only the legilsature has that power.

Why Is The Supreme Court Involved In Pennsylvania? (Reeves)

Last Friday evening, in the midst of the media frenzy over the Presidential election, Justice Alito issued a short, page-and-a-half order to all Pennsylvania county boards of election. The order directs the county boards, in counting ballots, to separate any and all ballots received by mail after November 3 at 8:00 pm from those received before that time. Most legal commentators minimized the significance of Alito’s order, declaring it to be no big deal. In fact, though, the order is part of a major lawsuit currently pending before the Supreme Court, the outcome of which could have serious consequences for election law across the country regardless of whether it practically impacts the results of the Presidential election.

[..] The lawsuit, Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Kathy Boockvar, et al., presents the question of whether, under the United States Constitution and federal law, state courts can overturn the express enactments of state legislatures regarding the time, place, and manner of holding Presidential elections. The Constitution vests the state legislatures with the authority to do this and mentions nothing about state courts. The federal Congress, in turn, is vested with the authority to pass a law mandating that all states hold the voting for President on the same day throughout the country. For a major part of our country’s history, Congress declined to exercise this power. As difficult as it is to believe in this day and age, there was a time when different states held their elections for President on different days. But Congress eventually streamlined the election process by passing legislation mandating that the Presidential election be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

But while Congress, pursuant to its Constitutional authority, has mandated the date on which the Presidential election must take place, the individual state legislatures are still vested with a large amount of discretion to decide the place and manner of the elections. For example, while Congress has set the date on which the election is to take place, it has said nothing about the closing time by which all votes must be cast on that date. Should the polls close at 5:00 pm? 8:00 pm? This is a prudential matter left to the resolution of the individual state legislatures. Even more critically—should mail-in voting be allowed? If it is, how should it be done? Do mail-in ballots need to be received by election day itself, or is it sufficient for them to arrive later, so long as they are post-marked the day of the election? Again, this is a matter of prudential judgment left to each state legislature. But in any event, the Constitution vests resolution of these matters with the state legislatures—not with the judiciary.

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But we have other polls that show you completely different results. One from Reuters put Trump at just 3%. And yet another poll says 70% of Americans think election was not “free and fair”.

49% In New Poll Say Biden Is Legitimate Winner Of Election; 34% SayTrump (JTN)

More than a third of registered voters believe Donald Trump legitimately won the presidential election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Less than half of all respondents — 49% — believe Joe Biden legitimately won the race, while 34% said they believe Trump won the election, and 16% said they are not sure who really won. Of Republican respondents, 77% said they think Trump is the legitimate winner, while just 12% of Republicans believe Biden is the legitimate winner. About a quarter of independent voters also said they believe Trump won. Among Democrats, 87% think that Biden is the winner. Rasmussen noted that the survey was conducted from Thursday night until Saturday early afternoon. “During the time of this survey, no television network or other news source had formally called the race for Biden,” he said. The survey was comprised of 1,200 registered voters and conducted by Scott Rasmussen from Nov. 5-7, 2020.

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I don’t find this terribly strong.

Mathematical Evidence The Election Was Stolen (Lt. Col. James Zumwalt)

In Wisconsin, late into the night of Nov. 3/early morning hours of Nov. 4, President Donald Trump enjoyed a comfortable lead. Milwaukee was to report in with results by 1 a.m. on the 4th; 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. passed without the results. Finally, at 3:30 a.m., the vote tally arrived. All incoming votes went to Democrat Joe Biden; none to Trump. In 1995, not even Saddam proved that brazen. Something highly unusual happened that morning at several voting centers, not only in Wisconsin, but in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well. In Wisconsin, 140,000 mail-in ballots were found ; in Michigan another 200,000; and in Pennsylvania, 1,000,000 – all for Biden.

Supposedly the party of science, Democrats have lambasted Republicans for failing to heed it. Perhaps, then, the science of math provides the best explanation to understand what happened in these three states. A statistical analysis, laying out the chances of such one-sided Biden ballot dumps occurring, leads to but one conclusion: undeniable mathematical evidence the election was stolen. Analysts say statistically it is impossible for those states to have flipped to Biden the way they did. It is a virtual statistical impossibility – the odds being 0.00000189% or 1 in almost 53 million. In a national election demonstrating a close split in popular vote between two presidential candidates, how could so many last minute pro-Biden votes materialize wiping out Trump’s lead?

[..] Any hope of Trump retaining the Oval Office rests on irrefutable proof of voting fraud. Keeping in mind we live in an era where first impression news stories have proven inaccurate, some Trump confidants are saying evidence of massive voter fraud is being assembled, arrests of several players in the voting scam will follow and the proof will be damning. Allegedly, this evidence involves fraudulent use of ballots identified as part of a sting operation. The Trump administration supposedly had all legal ballots secretly imprinted with invisible watermarks in unbreakable code. A scan so far of 14 million ballots in five states reflect an 80% failure rate – all Biden votes.

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Did he talk to the Russian ambassador?

Biden Camp is Already Working With Foreign Leaders, Like Flynn Did (Greenwald)

Two weeks after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the President-elect named Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor in both the transition and the new administration. Flynn, who had previously served as President Obama’s Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and then campaigned for Trump, quickly got to work in his new position by reaching out to his counterparts in foreign governments, as is customary for national security transition team officials. One of the calls Flynn made, in late December, was to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, after the Obama administration has imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow in response to pressure to punish the Russians for interference in the 2016 election, including the expulsion of diplomats.

Gen. Flynn — fearful of an excessively retaliatory response from Moscow that could provoke what he saw as unnecessary confrontation, particularly given the growing anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. — sought to persuade the Russians that there was no need for them to retaliate because the new administration, which was only three weeks away from taking over, would reset its relations with Moscow and try to forge a more constructive engagement.

[..] It is customary for post-election transition officials to work with their counterparts in foreign governments to lay the groundwork for relations with the new administration. As The Washington Post said about Flynn’s call: “it would not be uncommon for incoming administrations to interface with foreign governments with whom they will soon have to work.” Despite its normalcy, Flynn’s call, which was recorded by the National Security Agency that had been targeting Russian officials, prompted the FBI — under the leadership of then-Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — to decide to criminally investigate Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.

[..] Any doubts about how customary it is for such calls to be made by transition officials were unintentionally obliterated on Monday night by former Obama national security official Ben Rhodes, who is almost certain to occupy a high-level national security position in a Biden administration. Speaking on MSNBC — of course — Rhodes, while amicably chatting with former Bush/Cheney Communications Director turned-beloved-liberal-MSNBC-host Nicolle Wallace, admitted in passing that “foreign leaders are already having phone calls with Joe Biden talking about the agenda they’re going to pursue January 20,” all to ensure “as seamless transition as possible,” adding: “the center of political gravity in this country and the world is shifting to Joe Biden.”

Cruz McCabe Logan Act

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Trying to make it a fait accompli, so the backlash will be huge if courts start throwing out ballots.

Biden Team Considers Legal Action To Force Formal Transition Of Power (NYP)

Joe Biden’s team is considering legal action over the ongoing refusal to grant the president-elect a formal transition into the White House, according to reports. Amid President Trump’s declining to concede the election, the federal agency needed to green-light his transition has also held back from declaring him the victor — a move usually made within 24 hours. The delay by the General Services Administration (GSA) freezes the Biden team out of access to $6.3 million in federal funding, classified information and security clearances or background checks for potential cabinet nominees, Axios noted. It also prevents access to the State Department, which facilitates calls between foreign leaders, Fox News said.

“There’s a number of levers on the table and all options are certainly available,” a Biden transition official told reporters. Legal action is “certainly a possibility,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, according to the Associated Press. “It’s a changing situation and certainly rather fluid,” added the official, according to Axios. Trump is not expected to formally concede but is likely to vacate the White House at the end of his term, several people around him told the AP. A GSA spokesperson told the wire service late Monday that an “ascertainment” on the winner of the election had not yet been made.

The formal presidential transition doesn’t begin until the administrator of the federal General Services Administration ascertains the “apparent successful candidate” in the general election. Neither the Presidential Transition Act nor federal regulations specify how that determination should be made. That decision green lights the entire federal government’s moves toward preparing for a handover of power. In 2000, the GSA determination was delayed until after the Florida recount fight was settled on Dec. 13. At the time, the administrator relied on an assessment from one of the drafters of the 1963 Presidential Transition Act that “in a close contest, the Administrator simply would not make the decision.”

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This is even crazier that letting software systems count votes.

AI Software Verified Mail-In Ballots in Key Swing States (Whitney Webb)

Though accusations of election fraud in the 2020 US presidential election have been swirling across social media and some news outlets for much of the past week, few have examined the role of a little known Silicon Valley company whose artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was used to accept or reject ballots in highly contested states such as Nevada. That company, Parascript, has long-standing cozy ties to defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and tech giants including Microsoft, in addition to being a contractor to the US Postal Service. In addition, its founder, Stepan Pachikov, better known for cofounding the app Evernote in 2007, is a long-standing and 2020 donor to Democratic presidential candidates.

Parascript’s AI software was used during this election in at least eight states for matching signatures on ballot envelopes with those in government databases in order to “ease the workload of staff enforcing voter signature rules” resulting from the influx of mail-in ballots. Reuters, which reported on the use of the technology, asked the company to provide a list of counties and states using its software for the 2020 election. Parascript, however, declined to supply the list, replying, instead, that their clients “included 20 of the top 100 counties by registered voters.”

Despite not receiving the official list from Parascript, Reuters was able to compile its own partial list, which revealed that several counties in Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Utah, among others, utilized the AI software to determine the validity of ballots. Reuters also reported that Clark County, Nevada, which is one of the hotspots of litigation between the Trump and Biden campaigns and fraud allegations, was one that used the software. Reuters was able to determine how the software was used in some counties, with many counties allowing the software to approve anywhere from 20 to 75 percent of mail-in ballots as acceptable. For several counties included in the Reuters list,staff reviewed 1 percent or less of the AI software’s acceptances. Figures were not available for Clark County, Nevada.

Prior to the election, concerns were raised regarding the efficacy of AI signature-verification software for use on mail-in ballots. For instance, Kyle Wiggers, a journalist who covers AI for Venture Beat, noted that the accuracy of such systems is believed to vary between 74 and 96 percent. However, he also stated that “we don’t have benchmarks from the systems that are in use to verify signatures on these mail-in ballots. We basically have to go by what the manufacturers of the systems are telling us, which is that the systems are accurate.”

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“It signals a massive migration away from the so-called ‘legacy media’ that was complicit in dragging Trump through the mud for four years over the fake news of Russiagate and impeachment.”

Fox Joins MSM, Forcing Millions Of Americans To The Media Fringes (Bridge)

Once upon a time, Fox provided the Republican Party solitary shelter from a storm of media attacks, which ramped up considerably with the election of Donald Trump, a Washington outsider loathed by the establishment. Eventually, however, for reasons known only to Rupert Murdoch, the channel began to abandon its core audience. Last year, for example, Fox viewers got their first whiff of change when the 89-year-old media mogul brought on board none other than Donna Brazile, a former CNN commentator as well as a former Democratic National Committee chair. Then there’s Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who served as moderator during the first debate between Trump and Biden. Critics say Wallace was so harsh with the US president that it appeared as though Trump was debating against two people instead of one.

It wasn’t until Election Day, however, when many Fox viewers got blindsided by the painful realization that the channel they had followed for years had finally betrayed them – and at the worst possible time. That much became apparent when Fox, even before ‘fake news’ CNN, jumped the gun and called the swing state of Arizona for Biden with just 73 percent of the state’s votes having been tallied. The Trump administration seemed justified in calling that move “voter suppression” – a rusty knife in the back. Many Republicans probably turned the car around when they heard that dubious news. The straw that broke the Fox back, however, came on Thursday, when anchor Bret Baier told viewers, “We have not seen the hard evidence,” after Trump remarked during a White House press conference that the election process had been rampant with “fraud and corruption.”

Baier could have at least acknowledged that some of the more questionable incidents – such as Republican ballot observers being turned away as the votes were being counted, and the names of the dearly departed appearing on the ballots – deserved some scrutiny. Now Fox will have to suffer with the ramification of its political volte-face, which, judging by the comments on Twitter, has thousands of erstwhile viewers running for the fire exits. But is there a safe alternative media universe to escape to? It should disturb many people, not least in the world of media, that Trump got 71 million votes in the 2020 showdown against his rival. That number represents not only millions of jaded American voters, exasperated by the apparent botching of the most consequential US election in modern times. It signals a massive migration away from the so-called ‘legacy media’ that was complicit in dragging Trump through the mud for four years over the fake news of Russiagate and impeachment.

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Twitter silencing news stories is not enough.

Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet (Turley)

We have been discussing the calls from top Democrats for increased private censorship on social media and the Internet. President-elect Joe Biden has himself called for such censorship, including blocking President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting. Now, shortly after the election, one of Biden’s top aides is ramping up calls for a crackdown on Facebook for allowing Facebook users to read views that he considers misleading — users who signed up to hear from these individuals. Bill Russo, a deputy communications director on Biden’s campaign press team, tweeted late Monday that Facebook “is shredding the fabric of our democracy” by allowing such views to be shared freely.

Russo tweeted that “If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after.” Russo objected to the fact that, unlike Twitter, Facebook did not move against statements that he and the campaign viewed as “misleading.” He concluded. “We pleaded with Facebook for over a year to be serious about these problems. They have not. Our democracy is on the line. We need answers.” For those of us in the free speech community, these threats are chilling. We saw incredible abuses before the election in Twitter barring access to a true story in the New York Post about Hunter Biden and his alleged global influence peddling scheme. Notably, no one in the Biden camp (including Biden himself) thought that it was a threat to our democracy to have Twitter block the story (while later admitting that it was a mistake).

I have previously objected to such regulation of speech. What is most disturbing is how liberals have embraced censorship and even declared that “China was right” on Internet controls. Many Democrats have fallen back on the false narrative that the First Amendment does not regulate private companies so this is not an attack on free speech. Free speech is a human right that is not solely based or exclusively defined by the First Amendment. Censorship by Internet companies is a “Little Brother” threat long discussed by free speech advocates. Some may willingly embrace corporate speech controls but it is still a denial of free speech.

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Dangerous. Trying to use pedophilea to clamp down on an entire society. Do these people not understand this, or is something else going on?

EU Seizes on Vienna Attack to Enact Long-Desired Ban on Encryption (MPN)

The European Union is rushing through new legislation to get rid of end to end digital encryption. This would mean the end of privacy for users of popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. A European Council draft resolution on encryption quietly published on Friday afternoon lays out the EU’s Orwellian position in detail. “The European Union fully supports the development, implementation and use of strong encryption,” it states, “Encryption is a necessary means of protecting fundamental rights and the digital security of governments, industry and society.” Yet in the very next sentence it insists that “At the same time, the European Union needs to ensure the ability of competent authorities” to “exercise their lawful powers, both online and offline.”

These “competent authorities” (a phrase occurring throughout the document) refer to law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities. “Protecting the privacy and security of communications through encryption and at the same time upholding the possibility for competent authorities in the area of security and criminal justice to lawfully access relevant data for legitimate, clearly defined purposes infighting serious and/or organized crimes and terrorism, including in the digital world, are extremely important,” it concludes. Thus, the EU’s position is that its citizens should be able to hide their data from criminals, but not from the government or its various spying agencies.

The official justification for these new laws, Austrian public service broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk reports, is the Vienna terrorist attack of November 2, which left five people dead and 23 injured. However, it notes, the EU has long dreamed of pushing through legislation which lets it surveil its population. In June, for instance, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johannson gave a speech outlining what must be done to win the fight against child trafficking and abuse. “We must also deal with encryption. Military grade encryption that’s easy to use but impossible to break makes paedophiles invisible and hides evidence of their crimes from police,” she insisted. “It’s our obligation to protect children. We must do what is necessary,” she added.

Civil rights group the Electronic Freedom Foundation is not impressed by the various arguments put forward by the EU in order to justify the end of end to end encryption, calling it a “drastically invasive step.” “We are in the first stages of a long anti-encryption march by the upper echelons of the EU, headed directly toward Europeans’ digital front-doors. It’s the same direction as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States have been moving for some time. If Europe wants to keep its status as a jurisdiction that treasures privacy, it will need to fight for it,” they wrote last month.

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The EU needn’t worry.

Zoom Lied To Users About End-to-End Encryption For Years – FTC (ArsT)

Zoom has agreed to upgrade its security practices in a tentative settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which alleges that Zoom lied to users for years by claiming it offered end-to-end encryption. “[S]ince at least 2016, Zoom misled users by touting that it offered ‘end-to-end, 256-bit encryption’ to secure users’ communications, when in fact it provided a lower level of security,” the FTC said today in the announcement of its complaint against Zoom and the tentative settlement. Despite promising end-to-end encryption, the FTC said that “Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised.”

The FTC complaint says that Zoom claimed it offers end-to-end encryption in its June 2016 and July 2017 HIPAA compliance guides, which were intended for health-care industry users of the video conferencing service. Zoom also claimed it offered end-to-end encryption in a January 2019 white paper, in an April 2017 blog post, and in direct responses to inquiries from customers and potential customers, the complaint said. “In fact, Zoom did not provide end-to-end encryption for any Zoom Meeting that was conducted outside of Zoom’s ‘Connecter’ product (which are hosted on a customer’s own servers), because Zoom’s servers—including some located in China—maintain the cryptographic keys that would allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ Zoom Meetings,” the FTC complaint said.

The FTC announcement said that Zoom also “misled some users who wanted to store recorded meetings on the company’s cloud storage by falsely claiming that those meetings were encrypted immediately after the meeting ended. Instead, some recordings allegedly were stored unencrypted for up to 60 days on Zoom’s servers before being transferred to its secure cloud storage.”

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Second try.

EU Goes After Amazon For Breaching European Antitrust Rules (RT)

The European Commission (EC) announced a second formal investigation into online retailer Amazon on Tuesday, accusing the firm of breaching European antitrust rules by using independent sellers’ data for its own benefit. The EC said that Amazon was using the data of third-party sellers, such as order numbers, revenues and numbers of visitors, to inform its strategic business decisions, like reducing the price of products. The e-commerce giant plays a dual role – both selling products itself, and acting as a platform for independent (and sometimes rival) sellers. “Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers,” said EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager.


Amazon disagreed with the Commission’s assertions, saying it “will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts.” It also said that represents less than one percent of the global retail market. “No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon,” it said. In July 2019, the EC, the executive arm of the European Union, launched a probe into Amazon due to concerns over anti-competitive behavior. This time, the antitrust investigation will look at how the company chooses which sellers offer products via Amazon Prime, its paid-for premium service. It will investigate the possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail business and those that use its logistics and delivery services (known as “fulfilment by Amazon” sellers) over other sellers.

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Article in Sydney Morning Herald, September 25 2019 about hay fever says: “This article was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated.”

How is it possible it’s talking about COVID19 in Sep 2019 at the latest? Didn’t we not know about it till December? What did I miss?

Why Do Some People Get Hay Fever And What Can They Do About It? (SMH)

In any other year, an errant sniff or explosive sneeze might be met with an offer of a tissue or a polite “bless you” – but the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has made us extremely cautious, for good reason. Thankfully, Melburnians dreading a tough hay fever season behind masks can breathe a (stifled) sigh of relief. Good late summer and autumn rains were followed by a dry winter, leaving the soils of western Victoria’s grazing lands more parched than last year. This is likely to keep pollen-producing grasses to a minimum – and itchy, running noses to just a drip.

[..] … and does it relate to COVID-19? While there are some similar symptoms: a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention released a Venn diagram that neatly illustrates the symptoms of both), there is no evidence of a link between the two. But Professor Katelaris says there is plenty of evidence to show that when the nasal lining is inflamed, it is easier to catch any virus. So those suffering from allergies should try to keep symptoms in check: seek medical advice on treatments, avoid touching your eyes and nose at all times and head straight for the nearest COVID-19 testing station if you experience allergic symptoms for the first time.

Professor Douglass says if it’s just hay fever, it’s highly unlikely you’ll experience the fevers, sore throats and general aches and pains associated with COVID-19. “[They] are more typical of a respiratory infection than hay fever … sneezing, an itchy throat and eyes are more typical of allergic symptoms,” she says.

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Veritas Hopkins

 

 

 

 

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Nov 052020
 


Pablo Picasso Bull plates I-XI 1945

 

Trump Goes To Supreme Court, Files Lawsuits To Stop Vote Counting In PA (F.)
Trump Assembling All-star Legal Team To Mount Election Challenges (JTN)
US Inability To Count Votes is a National Disgrace. And Dangerous (Greenwald)
How The GOP Retook House Seats From Democrats (F.)
House Democrats Fall Way Short In Disappointing Night (Hill)
Statehouse Wins Position GOP To Dominate Redistricting (Pol.)
Election Update, 9:50 am Weds Nov 4 (Jim Kunstler)
Michigan Finds 138,339 Ballots, Every Single One Has Biden’s Name on It (RS)
For Stocks, Any Election Outcome is Now the Best Outcome (WS)
ECB May Cut Support For Indebted Countries In Nudge Towards EU Loans (R.)
COVID Testing: We’ve Been Duped (AT)
England Underestimates The Costs Of Lockdown At Its Peril (Jonathan Sumption)
Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited To US But Can Also Appeal (BBC)
Bayer Takes Over $10 Billion Write-Down Over Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer (RT)

 

 

There is this odd divide between the presidential vote, which Biden may win, and all the other votes, where the GOP candidates are doing much better than expected, and taking back House seats. How is that possible?

 

 

 

 

Happy lawyers.

Trump Goes To Supreme Court, Files Lawsuits To Stop Vote Counting In PA (F.)

The Trump campaign is filing multiple lawsuits in Pennsylvania targeting the state’s rules for election observers and mail-in ballots, as well as intervening in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the state’s mail-in ballot deadline, the campaign said Wednesday, ramping up the GOP’s legal efforts in the battleground state as the race between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden narrows. The Trump campaign said in a statement Wednesday that it is suing Pennsylvania to stop the state from “hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers,” specifically mentioning a policy that requires poll watchers to stand 25 feet from where the counting process is taking place.

The campaign is appealing a case that previously failed in a lower court in Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which alleged an election observer could not “observe the writing on the outside of the ballots.” The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee sued state and local officials over a practice in which mail-in voters are allowed to provide proof of identification after the ballot deadline if it was initially missing, which Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar recently extended by an additional three days to November 12. Republicans claim allowing voters to provide identification through that date will “create a high risk of jeopardizing the integrity” of the election by delaying election results, and are calling for the court to throw out any ballots where the voter’s identification isn’t received by the original deadline of Nov. 9.

The Trump campaign also filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the state’s mail-in ballot deadline, which allows mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re delivered up to three days after Election Day.The Supreme Court previously declined to overturn the extended deadline before Election Day—in a 4-4 ruling before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court—but several conservative justices said the court could still revisit the ruling and invalidate the deadline, which would result in any late-arriving ballots being rejected.

Trump to win Arizona

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“President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process.”

“President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”

Trump Assembling All-star Legal Team To Mount Election Challenges (JTN)

President Trump’s campaign on Wednesday began assembling an all-star legal team to file challenges to election regularities in several battleground states, starting with a Court of Claims lawsuit in Michigan. Among the lawyers the president is activating include his private attorney Jay Sekulow, who will help campaign lawyers with matters before the Supreme Court as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, officials said. Sidney Powell, the lawyer for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, may also be called upon, officials said. The legal team’s first stop was Michigan, where the campaign filed an action in the Court of Claims seeking to halt vote counting until irregularities are addressed, campaign manager Bill Stepien announced.


“As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be. President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,” Stepien said. “We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access. President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”

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“..the monumental failures of the polling industry and the data nerds who leech off it, for the second consecutive national election, only serve to sow even further doubt and confusion..”

US Inability To Count Votes is a National Disgrace. And Dangerous (Greenwald)

Nations far poorer and less technologically advanced have no problem holding quick, efficient elections. Distrust in U.S. outcomes is dangerous but rational. The richest and most powerful country on earth — whether due to ineptitude, choice or some combination of both — has no ability to perform the simple task of counting votes in a minimally efficient or confidence-inspiring manner. As a result, the credibility of the voting process is severely impaired, and any residual authority the U.S. claims to “spread” democracy to lucky recipients of its benevolence around the world is close to obliterated. At 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the day after the 2020 presidential elections, the results of the presidential race, as well as control of the Senate, are very much in doubt and in chaos.

Watched by rest of the world — deeply affected by who rules the still-imperialist superpower — the U.S. struggles and stumbles and staggers to engage in a simple task mastered by countless other less powerful and poorer countries: counting votes. Some states are not expected to finished their vote-counting until the end of this week or beyond. The same data and polling geniuses who pronounced that Hillary Clinton had a 90% probability or more of winning the 2016 election, and who spent the last three months proclaiming the 2020 election even more of a sure thing for the Democratic presidential candidate, are currently insisting that Biden, despite being behind in numerous key states, is still the favorite by virtue of uncounted ballots in Democrat-heavy counties in the outcome-determinative states.

[One went to sleep last night with the now-notorious New York Times needle of data guru Nate Cohn assuring the country that, with more than 80% of the vote counted in Georgia, Trump had more than an 80% chance to win that state, only to wake up a few hours later with the needle now predicting the opposite outcome; that all happened just a few hours after Cohn assured everyone how much “smarter” his little needle was this time around].

NYT’s predictive needle for Georgia at 8:40 pm ET, Tuesday night.

https://twitter.com/TravisAllen02/status/1323855693359861762

NYT’s predictive needle for Georgia less than four hours later, at 12:12 a.m., early Wednesday morning.


Given the record of failures and humiliations they have quickly compiled, what rational person would trust anything they say at this point? A citizen randomly chosen from the telephone book would be as reliable if not more so for sharing predictions. And the monumental failures of the polling industry and the data nerds who leech off it, for the second consecutive national election, only serve to sow even further doubt and confusion around the electoral process. A completely untrustworthy voting count is now the norm. Two months after the New York state primary in late June, two Congressional races were in doubt by what The New York Times called “major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems.” In particular: Thousands more ballots in the city were discarded by election officials for minor errors, or not even sent to voters until the day before the primary, making it all but impossible for the ballots to be returned in time.

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“..a 2020 election night awash with Democratic disappointment..”

How The GOP Retook House Seats From Democrats (F.)

Republicans wrested at least seven U.S. House seats from Democrats this year, retaking districts the party lost in 2018 and expanding slightly into blue territory, a surprising set of victories that could narrow the House’s thin 14-vote Democratic majority. Republicans have won back six moderate rural and suburban districts that Democrats took from the GOP in 2018 — in New Mexico, South Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Iowa — reversing some of the Democrats’ gains from two years ago.In two of those districts, this year’s races were rematches of 2018, featuring the same candidates but different outcomes: Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar in 2018 but lost to her in 2020, and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) lost to Republican Yvette Herrell despite winning against her two years ago.

Republicans also took Minnesota’s rural, conservative-leaning seventh district, ousting moderate 30-year incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D) after a tough re-election battle. Meanwhile, Democrats picked up just two seats in North Carolina, defeating Republican nominees in a pair of new urban and suburban districts created after a court-ordered redistricting effort last year. Dozens of House districts remained too close to call Wednesday morning, as officials rush to count mail-in ballots. In particular, Republicans are vying to win back former Republican strongholds like Orange County, Calif. and Staten Island, N.Y.

Democrats flipped dozens of congressional districts from red to blue in 2018, part of a wave election that propelled the party to a House majority. Many of those suburban and rural districts were traditionally conservative but changed hands amid nationwide leftward momentum, making their status as Democratic seats tenuous at best. Still, Democrats hoped to extend those gains in 2020 by flipping several moderate seats, and pre-election polls indicated most voters favored Democrats over Republicans in local House races. But on a 2020 election night awash with Democratic disappointment, the party’s hopes of another Democratic wave in the House quickly faded, and Republicans ended up regaining some ground.

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“The spate of Democratic losses were not limited to any one geographic region.”

House Democrats Fall Way Short In Disappointing Night (Hill)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her invigorated caucus charged into Tuesday with an energized base, a sharp fundraising advantage and hopes to flip anywhere from five to 15 Republican seats on election night. Instead, it was the Republicans who scored big — at least in the early counting — knocking out at least a half dozen vulnerable Democrats with several more clinging to the ropes. It was a reversal of fortunes for the Democrats, who had led big in the polls and the money race and were betting that President Trump at the top of the ticket would be a drag on GOP lawmakers all the way down the ballot. With gushing optimism, Democrats were expecting Tuesday night would give them a chance to pad their 232-197 majority next year.

“We’re well-positioned to have a good night,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), head of the Democrats’ campaign arm, told reporters hours before polls closed Tuesday. As the sun came up Wednesday morning, however, there appeared few bright spots for Bustos’s party. While Democrats will retain their majority, a handful of their front-line members — incumbents facing the toughest races — had been defeated. And after boasting about how they’d expanded the map and were playing “deep into Trump country,” they’d failed to pick off even a single House Republican running for reelection. Democrats did manage to pick up a pair of GOP-held open seats in North Carolina, where redistricting had made the districts much bluer, and a third in Georgia after the retirement of vulnerable GOP Rep. Rob Woodall.

The spate of Democratic losses were not limited to any one geographic region. In rural Minnesota, Rep. Collin Peterson (D), a 15-term veteran and chairman of the Agriculture Committee, was clobbered by the state’s former lieutenant governor, who’d linked Peterson to the liberal Pelosi. In the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Rep. Kendra Horn (D), a first-term moderate, was defeated by Republican Stephanie Bice, a state senator, in one of the country’s most contested races. On New Mexico’s southern border, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D), a 36-year-old centrist also in her first term, fell to Yvette Herrell, a former state legislator, in a rematch of 2018. And in South Carolina, first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) was ousted by state Rep. Nancy Mace (R).

Read more …

And this is what comes next.

Statehouse Wins Position GOP To Dominate Redistricting (Pol.)

Here’s something else Republicans can be happy about after Tuesday. An abysmal showing by Democrats in state legislative races on Tuesday not only denied them victories in Sun Belt and Rust Belt states that would have positioned them to advance their policy agenda — it also put the party at a disadvantage ahead of the redistricting that will determine the balance of power for the next decade. The results could domino through politics in America, helping the GOP draw favorable congressional and state legislative maps by ensuring Democrats remain the minority party in key state legislatures. Ultimately, it could mean more Republicans in Washington — and in state capitals.

By Wednesday night, Democrats had not flipped a single statehouse chamber in its favor. And it remained completely blocked from the map-making process in several key states — including Texas, North Carolina and Florida, which could have a combined 82 congressional seats by 2022 — where the GOP retained control of the state legislatures. After months of record-breaking fundraising by their candidates and a constellation of outside groups, Democrats fell far short of their goals and failed to build upon their 2018 successes to capture state chambers they had been targeting for years. And they may have President Donald Trump to blame. “It’s clear that Trump isn’t an anchor for the Republican legislative candidates. He’s a buoy,” Christina Polizzi, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said Wednesday.

“He overperformed media expectations, Democratic and Republican expectations, and lifted legislative candidates with him.” Democrats had a disappointing night in congressional and state legislative races across the country, as they realized the suburban revolt against Trump did not extend in 2020. Republicans appear poised to hold on to the Senate, gain seats in the House and pick up a governorship in Montana, defying expectations. But it is the victories they won in state legislatures could be the most consequential of all, giving the GOP outsize influence over the congressional and legislative redistricting process that begins early next year.

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“Let’s not forget the rather reckless remark made by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Halloween night that “if all the votes are added up, Mr. Trump is going to lose.“

Election Update, 9:50 am Weds Nov 4 (Jim Kunstler)

The election has rolled out as expected here – that is, not resolved the morning after, with Antifa and BLM rioters already moiling in the streets of Washington D.C.Portland, Oregon, remains in continual uproar after four months of violence and destruction, and Mayor Ted Wheeler won reelection against “Antifa candidate” Sarah Iannarone. Lucky Portland. Outside the swing states still in play, the margins were strikingly lopsided. Joe Biden’s radiant charisma worked in the usual blue coastal states — Cal 65% to 33%, NY 55% to 33% — but Mr. Trump’s margins were equally lopsided in the flyover red states — OK 65% to 32%, TN 60% to 37%, MO 56% to 41%. Mr. Biden won thumpingly in VA once the Deep State bedroom counties next to DC came in late at night. But the president won convincingly in FLA, OH, and TX.

For now, at 9 a.m. Weds, the race hinges on the usual suspects. Mr. Trump is up a half a percent in Michigan with 91% of votes counted; Mr. Biden is seven-tenths up in Wisconsin, with 95% in… awaiting Green Bay results (delayed, apparently, because a vote-processing machine ran out of ink (!). Similar close margins in NC… not so close in GA, with the president ahead a healthy 2 percent, and finally the dark maw of mischief, PA, where Mr. Trump was up by more than ten full percentage points (@700,000 votes) this morning, but awaiting more than a million mail-in ballots. Let’s not forget the rather reckless remark made by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Halloween night that “if all the votes are added up, Mr. Trump is going to lose.” Sounded pretty sure of himself.

Now, as I understand it, the PA state supreme court ruled recently that counties could continue to process mail-in votes until Friday, and, more importantly, that they did not require postmarks or signature authentication — which would appear an easy invitation to simple ballot fraud. The president vowed late Tuesday night to take a case to the US supreme court where, I expect, that PA ruling will be tossed out as self-evidently unsound. Can the forces of Dem Lawfare work around that? I don’t see how, but I’m not a constitutional lawyer. The Dems have worked hard in recent years to manufacture the inane and false narrative that any kind of voter-ID procedure amounts to “suppression.” America needs to get its mind right about that. Does Lawfare have other tricks up its sleeve? I rather expect so, but the president has had months to plan his own defense against the threat of a Lawfare coup, so now we will see the game play out. Meanwhile, we await mayhem in the streets, condoned and encouraged by Joe Biden’s party, as though that will endear him to nation.

Read more …

Standing next to 17,000 simulated ballots

Michigan Finds 138,339 Ballots, Every Single One Has Biden’s Name on It (RS)

Saying that this is an impossible thing wouldn’t be right as statistically, the early vote combined with mail-in voting was always heavily Democrat-leaning. The catch here is that it’s definitely not probable. The idea that not one of them is a Trump vote seems a little off. However, what should really make people suspicious is the fact that not one of these votes leans toward a third-party vote. While people voting for Trump definitely wanted their votes counted by showing up in person, third-party voters didn’t particularly follow the same idea as some of these were leftists as well. Not one vote for the Green Party candidate? Not one for Jo Jorgenson of the Libertarian Party?

Read more …

Second hand car salesmen.

For Stocks, Any Election Outcome is Now the Best Outcome (WS)

At first, long ago, the narrative was that a Trump victory would boost stocks. And then when this became more uncertain, the narrative was that a Biden victory would also boost stocks, and that a “Blue Wave” would boost stocks hugely because it would trigger the mother of all stimulus packages, which would spread trillions of dollars directly and indirectly to these companies, which would be good for stocks. And so it was that a victory by either presidential candidate would boost stocks, and that only a disputed election outcome with a long drawn-out legal battle or a split government would derail stocks.

And now, that Trump is already disputing the still unknown election outcome and is threatening a long-drawn-out legal battle if he loses – with Biden leading in electoral votes but millions of mail-in ballots left to be counted – even the threat of a disputed election and a long-drawn-out mess is now boosting stocks. And even funnier: The only remaining outcome that would not boost stocks, and by some measures would be the worst possible outcome during these times – namely a split government, with the Senate remaining under Republican control and Biden in the White House, and therefore no stimulus package – is suddenly a distinct possibility.

But it now too is seen as boosting stocks because it would mean, according to the newly fashioned narrative, that the absence of a Blue Wave would be good for Big Tech because it would be less threatened by antitrust pressures. These narratives are funny. They change and adapt constantly, like a weather vane. Major investment banks come out with reports to create and support these narratives, and adjust them as probabilities of outcomes change, with the purpose being that whatever happens, and no matter how it happens, and regardless of why or when it happens, it has to boost stocks, according to the narratives.

Read more …

Nice little country you have there…

ECB May Cut Support For Indebted Countries In Nudge Towards EU Loans (R.)

The European Central Bank could offer less generous support for indebted governments when it puts together a further stimulus package next month, to push them to apply for European Union loans tied to productive investments, sources told Reuters. The ECB promised last week to introduce more measures in December to help euro zone countries cope with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, including new lockdowns that will curtail economic activity. The four sources who spoke to Reuters said policymakers were debating whether the ECB should extend its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), which gives it unprecedented flexibility in buying bonds from any country in distress, or its regular Asset Purchase Programme (APP), under which purchases should mirror the relative size of each country.


This is because PEPP has driven down borrowing costs for indebted governments such as Spain and Portugal so much that they are shunning EU loans tied to digital and green investments in favour of raising no-strings cash on the bond market. The composition of the package should be decided at the ECB’s Dec. 10 policy meeting and the sources said a compromise could be on the cards, with both PEPP and APP being expanded but the former remaining the main instrument. The difference between the two programmes is material and the decision will have implications for how much help the ECB might give to the bloc’s most indebted countries. The ECB has significantly overbought Italian and Spanish bonds under PEPP since the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, helping lower their bond yields to pre-pandemic levels — a welcome relief for their governments at a time of stress. But in doing so, it has made borrowing from the EU’s Next Generation fund less attractive.

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Most stunning is there has been hardly any movement in the whole thing. Where are the better and faster tests?

COVID Testing: We’ve Been Duped (AT)

During a considerably quieter time, back in 2007, the New York Times featured a very interesting exposé on molecular diagnostic testing — specifically, the inadequacy of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in achieving reliable results. The most significant concern highlighted in the Times report is how molecular tests, most notably the PCR, are highly sensitive and prone to false positives. At the center of the controversy was a potential outbreak in a hospital in New Hampshire that proved to be nothing more than “ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.” Unfortunately, the results wrought by the PCR told a different story.

Thankfully, a faux epidemic was avoided but not before thousands of workers were furloughed and given antibiotics and ultimately a vaccine, and hospital beds (including some in intensive care) were taken out of commission. Eight months later, what was thought to be an epidemic was deemed a non-malicious hoax. The culprit? According to “epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists … too much faith in a quick and highly sensitive molecular test .. led them astray.” At the time, such tests were “coming into increasing use” as maybe “the only way to get a quick answer in diagnosing diseases like … SARS, and deciding whether an epidemic is under way. Nevertheless, today, the PCR test is considered the gold standard of molecular diagnostics, most notably in the diagnosis of COVID-19.

However, a closer analysis reveals that the PCR has actually been pretty spotty and that false positives abound. Thankfully, the New York Times is once again on the case. “Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive; Maybe It Shouldn’t Be,” according to NYT reporter Apoorva Mandavilli. Essentially, positive results are getting tossed around way too frequently. Rather, they should probably be reserved for individuals with “greater viral load.” So how have they’ve been doing it all this time you ask? “The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample . .. the more likely the patient is to be contagious.”

Unfortunately, the “cycle threshold” has been ramped up. What happens when it’s ramped up? Basically, “huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus” are deemed infected. However, the severity of the infection is never quantified, which essentially amounts to a false positive. Their level of contagion is essentially nil. How are they determining the cycle threshold? If I didn’t suspect that it was based on maximizing the amount of “cases,” I would find the determination pretty arbitrary. More than a few of the professionals on record for Times report appear pretty perplexed on this vital detail which is essentially driving “clinical diagnostics, for public health and policy decision-making.”

Read more …

They don’t know what they’re doing.

“Lockdowns temporarily reduce infections and associated deaths. But they do so only by deferring them to the period after they are lifted.”

England Underestimates The Costs Of Lockdown At Its Peril (Jonathan Sumption)

Suppose there is nothing that governments can do to stop the spread of Covid-19. What then? It is not a hypothetical question, as England is discovering. “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” the prime minister observed in Saturday’s Downing Street press conference. But humility learns from experience, and there was no sign of that in the measures he then went on to announce. In my opinion, the problem with lockdowns is that they are indiscriminate, ineffective in the long term, and carry social and economic costs that outweigh their likely benefits. Lockdowns temporarily reduce infections and associated deaths. But they do so only by deferring them to the period after they are lifted. Members of the government’s Sage group pointed this out back in February.

“Measures which are too effective,” they said, “merely push all transmission to the period after they are lifted, giving a delay but no substantial reduction in either peak incidence or overall attack rate.” In the meantime, these restrictions prolong the crisis, slow down the process by which the population acquires a measure of natural immunity, and cause immeasurable collateral damage. This is what we are experiencing now. Lockdowns are indiscriminate because they do not distinguish between different categories of people whose vulnerabilities are very different. Some are young, some old. Some have had the disease and enjoy a measure of immunity while others do not. Some live alone and are starved of company, others have their families around them. Some live in rural Cornwall, where the reproduction rate is low, others in Liverpool, where it is high.

Allowing people to make their own judgments, tailored to their own circumstances and those of the people around them, is not only a more humane and rational response to the pandemic. It also directs resources to where they are actually needed. Instead, ministers treat the entire population as an undifferentiated mass. This one-size-fits-all approach is irrational. The result is to inflict an appalling injustice on the young, who are unlikely to become seriously ill but are bearing almost all the burden of the counter-measures. The average age at which people die with Covid-19 is over 82. As of 3 November, the Office for National Statistics reports that 49,420 out of 55,311 deaths involving Covid-19 were among people aged 65 or older. The risk of death for young people is very small. They are not the ones who are filling NHS beds.

Yet their job prospects are being snuffed out. The spectacle of bright engineering graduates and talented musicians forced into unemployment, or to take jobs in which their training will go to waste, is a savage indictment of current policies. It is the old and vulnerable whom we should be protecting from the virus. Care homes should be better managed and resourced. Older people who live outside such institutions may shield themselves from infection, if they choose to, though some may prefer to take the risk. But the young and healthy should not be deprived of the ability to live fulfilling and productive lives simply to spare the old and vulnerable from taking precautions for their own safety. The lower proportion of positive test results from older people since the summer suggests that many of them are already doing so.

Read more …

Political persecution?!

Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited To US But Can Also Appeal (BBC)

A long-running effort to extradite file-sharing site mogul Kim Dotcom to the US has been left in limbo after a Supreme Court decision in New Zealand. The court ruled that he can be returned to the US to face copyright charges – but has also overturned another lower court’s decision, effectively granting him the right to appeal. Mr Dotcom himself described the ruling as a “mixed bag”. The legal wrangling is likely to continue. The court ruled that Kim Dotcom and his three co-accused were liable for extradition on 12 of the 13 counts the FBI is seeking to charge them with. But it also ruled that the Court of Appeal had erred in dismissing judicial review requests from Mr Dotcom, and granted him the right to continue with them.

The FBI alleges that Megaupload facilitated copyright infringement on a huge scale, but Mr Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the website was never meant to encourage copyright breaches. If he is extradited, he faces a lengthy jail term. In response to the ruling, he tweeted a statement from his lawyers which read: “For the Dotcom team, and especially for Kim and his family, it is a mixed bag.” “There is no final determination that he is to go to the United States. However, the court has not accepted our important copyright argument and in our view has made significant determinations that will have an immediate and chilling impact on the internet.”

The controversial figure founded file-sharing site Megaupload in 2005, and made millions of dollars from advertising and premium subscriptions. At one point, he boasted that it was responsible for 4% of internet traffic. In 2012, he was arrested when armed police stormed his Auckland home in a dramatic dawn raid, which was later to become the subject of its own legal enquiry, when Mr Dotcom sued for damages. A district court in New Zealand ruled in 2015 that he could be extradited, but a series of appeals and judicial reviews followed. Lawyers for Mr Dotcom argued that his actions did not amount to criminal offences in New Zealand, and were therefore not extraditable.

Read more …

And who goes to jail?

Bayer Takes Over $10 Billion Write-Down Over Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer (RT)

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer said it’s facing a double hit from a higher legal bill for claims relating to weed killer Roundup and €9.25 billion ($10.8 billion) in impairments on Monsanto-related agriculture businesses. According to the company, the write-downs were driven by weaker demand from farmers due to low biofuel prices and an increase of about $750 million in the costs of settlement terms with US plaintiffs over Roundup. As a result, the losses before interest and tax amounted to €9.4 billion ($10.9 billion) in the third quarter. “The impact of the (coronavirus) pandemic is placing additional strain on our Crop Science Division. We are also facing negative currency effects,” Chief Financial Officer Wolfgang Nickl said as quoted by Reuters.


Nickl explained that a massive depreciation of the Brazilian real was weighing heavily on the firm’s business in the world’s second-largest agricultural market. Bayer said it was unable to say what part of the impairment was attributable to legacy Monsanto businesses, saying only that two-thirds of the write-downs were due to currency and interest rate effects. Bayer has been under fire and facing a wave of lawsuits in the US over Roundup since its 2018 takeover of Monsanto for about $63 billion. The deal made Bayer the world’s largest supplier of seeds and pesticides. In June, Bayer struck an $11 billion outline agreement with US plaintiffs’ lawyers, but a judge later took issue with a side arrangement on future cases that may yet be lodged, known as a class plan.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 022020
 


Paul Klee Limits of Reason (Grenzen des Verstandes ) 1927

 

A Contagion Of Hatred And Hysteria (Sunetra Gupta)
Trump COVID Adviser Atlas Forced To Apologize For RT Interview (RT)
‘Bleak Midwinter’ In Europe As 250 Million Face Lockdown (NZH)
Bias In Journalism Has Become A Disease (Curtis)
MI Nov 1, 2020 Presidential Poll (Trafalgar)
The Complete Election Cheat Sheet: What Happens On And After November 3 (ZH)
In Defense Of The Electoral College (AT)
Trump Failed To Fight And Expose The Establishment’s COVID Narrative (Marsden)
Democrats Are Masking Biden’s Frailty (NYPost)
Add Vitamin D To Bread And Milk To Help Fight Covid, Urge Scientists (G.)
Non-Scalable Fence Being Built to Protect Trump During Election Day Unrest (GP)

 

 

The first lockdowns made sense, though too long; they were a response to a totally new virus. But policies should have been developed to make sure there would not be a second lockdown.

Such policies were not developed. Therefore, the second lockdowns merely disguise policy failures.

Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder, and we’re locking down entire populations. The damage will be immense.

 

 

This looks funny at first. But at the end is no longer is. Biden copies Hillary word for word.

Tiptoe thru the tulips

Tucker Trunalimunumaprzure

 

 

Sunetra Gupta is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford. She has to run to the Daily Mail to be heard. Like Glenn Greenwald has to go on Tucker Carlson, and Scott Atlas talks to RT.

We must not discuss either Hunter Biden or lockdowns.

A Contagion Of Hatred And Hysteria (Sunetra Gupta)

Lockdown is a blunt, indiscriminate policy that forces the poorest and most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of the fight against coronavirus. As an infectious diseases epidemiologist, I believe there has to be a better way. That is why, earlier this month, with two other international scientists, I co-authored a proposal for an alternative approach — one that shields those most at risk while enabling the rest of the population to resume their ordinary lives to some extent. I expected debate and disagreement about our ideas, published as the Great Barrington Declaration. As a scientist, I would welcome that. After all, science progresses through its ideas and counter-ideas. But I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal.

The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me. I am not a politician. The hurly-burly of political life and being in the eye of the media do not appeal to me at all. I am first and foremost a scientist; one who is far more comfortable sitting in my office or laboratory than in front of a television camera. Of course, I do have deeply held political ideals — ones that I would describe as inherently Left-wing. I would not, it is fair to say, normally align myself with the Daily Mail. I have strong views about the distribution of wealth, about the importance of the Welfare State, about the need for publicly owned utilities and government investment in nationalised industries.

But Covid-19 is not a political phenomenon. It is a public health issue — indeed, it is one so serious that the response to it has already led to a humanitarian crisis. So I have been aghast to see a political rift open up, with outright abuse meted out to those who, like me, question the orthodoxy. At the heart of our proposal is the recognition that mass lockdowns cause enormous damage. We are already seeing how current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results — to name just a few — include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.

Such pitfalls of national lockdowns must not be ignored, especially when it is the working class and younger members of society who carry the heaviest burden. I was also deeply concerned that lockdowns only delay the inevitable spread of the virus. Indeed, we believe that a better way forward would be to target protective measures at specific vulnerable groups, such as the elderly in care homes. Of course, there will be challenges, such as where people are being cared for in their own multi-generational family homes. I am certainly not pretending I have all the answers, but these issues need to be discussed and thrashed out thoroughly.

That is why I have found it so frustrating how, in recent weeks, proponents of lockdown policies have seemed intent on shutting down debate rather than promoting reasoned discussion. It is perplexing to me that so many refuse even to consider the potential benefits of allowing non-vulnerable citizens, such as the young, to go about their lives and risk infection, when in doing so they would build up herd immunity and thereby protect the lives of vulnerable citizens. Yet rather than engage in serious, rational discussion with us, our critics have dismissed our ideas as ‘pixie dust’ and ‘wishful thinking’.

Read more …

Scott Atlas can’t talk about lockdowns either other than on RT, “one of the Kremlin’s main propaganda platforms..” It’s safe to say that WaPo and CNN are propaganda platforms; RT, not so much.

Trump COVID Adviser Atlas Forced To Apologize For RT Interview (RT)

Trump administration Covid-19 adviser Scott Atlas ripped public-health officials for “egregious” policy failures – only to be forced to apologize after mainstream media deflected his points by attacking him for appearing on RT. On Saturday, the Stanford University doctor, who has emerged as President Donald Trump’s top adviser on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, called the lockdown policies an “epic failure” and argued they are “killing people,” while speaking with Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground show. “The public-health leadership have failed egregiously, and they’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas told RT.

“The lockdowns will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong – were wrong, refused to accept they were wrong, didn’t know the data, didn’t care. And it became a frenzy of stopping Covid-19 cases at all costs, and those costs are massive,” he said. “The argument is undeniable: The lockdowns are killing people.” Atlas then pointed to job losses, rising suicides, rising drug abuse and the harm being done to young people, tying the issues to the Covid-19 restrictions put in place. One study showed that 25 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 thought about killing themselves in June “due to the lockdown”, he said.


“We’re creating a generation of neurotic children, forcing them to wear masks and be six feet apart from their friends, or not even have school in person.” While Atlas’ counter-narrative comments might have been fodder for a serious discussion of public-health policy, mainstream media outlets instead spun the interview into a controversy over a Trump administration official granting an interview to a Russian state-owned outlet. Reporters such as CNN’s Jim Acosta, Politico’s Ryan Lizza and NBC’s David Gura immediately pounced, ignoring the substance of his comments and breathlessly telling their followers that he spoke to an alleged Kremlin mouthpiece. “White House Covid adviser appears on outlet that is described by US intel as one of the Kremlin’s main propaganda platforms,” Washington Post national-security correspondent Greg Miller said.

ScottAtlas apology

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Days are gettig shorter, nights are getting colder, and we’re locking down entire populations. The damage will be immense.

‘Bleak Midwinter’ In Europe As 250 Million Face Lockdown (NZH)

More than a quarter of a billion Europeans are now in, or facing, fresh lockdowns after a second wave of Covid-19 deluged the continent. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson grudgingly announced on the weekend that the 55 million residents of England would head into a four-week lockdown – even as some Brits headed off to Spain for autumn holidays. The UK nations of Wales and Northern Island are already in lockdown and Scotland has warned it may be forced to ramp up restrictions following the move in England. Britain joins a host of other nations, including France, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic, in imposing new lockdowns.

It’s been dubbed the “bleak midwinter” as more than 250 million Europeans are now being told to stay at home for all of November. Other countries, such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, have imposed restrictions at a regional level and have warned they also may go into full lockdown mode. On Saturday, the UK PM said a four-week lockdown from November 5 was vital to avert a “medical and moral disaster” for the country’s health service, the NHS. He said deaths could reach “several thousand a day” and could peak above that of April’s lockdown. Johnson had previously vowed not to put England into a second lockdown, relying on regional restrictions to fight outbreaks. However, rising numbers – 22,000 new cases on Saturday alone – have pushed the UK into the one million coronavirus infections club.

[..] Statistically speaking, Belgium has been the European nation hardest hit by Covid-19 with more than 100 deaths per 100,000 population.From Monday, a strict lockdown will be accompanied by a curfew for up to six weeks. Belgium has been challenged by its small geographic size but highly devolved regional governments which has meant virus restrictions have varied, in some cases, from one town to another. Meanwhile in France, a cumulative 700km traffic jam choked the streets of the greater Paris region as residents streamed out of the city to spend a second lockdown in the country where many have second homes. Anyone leaving their home will have to fill out an “attestation” form declaring their reason for doing so.

[..] Despite the increasing number of lockdowns, a number of countries with lower infection rates are holding out against major restrictions. The Nordic nations of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are largely lockdown-free. Sweden, which has relied on voluntary guidance rather than legal enforcement, is seeing an increase in cases. But deaths remain low. The Government has asked residents of Stockholm and Gothenburg to avoid heading indoors to gyms and shops in an attempt to reduce infections.

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“..we have gone beyond partisanship and into tribalism..”

Bias In Journalism Has Become A Disease (Curtis)

Glenn Greenwald is the latest big-name journalist to quit a title, leaving the Intercept in a censorship row. This trend is indicative of a media landscape that reflects a polarized society which discourages freedom of thought. Imagine having to resign from something that you co-founded. It can’t be a good feeling. You spend all of your time trying to build it up into something tenable, only for things to fall apart. That’s the position Glenn Greenwald has found himself in at news website, the Intercept. But even more galling for Greenwald is why things turned ugly. As his resignation letter stated, “The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression. The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct.”

Working on the assumption that what Greenwald said is true, this is a distressing occurrence that’s becoming all too familiar. It’s reminiscent of Bari Weiss and her issues at the New York Times, Ariana Pekary leaving MSNBC, and Andrew Sullivan quitting the New Yorker. Over and over again, we’re seeing journalists who don’t want to adhere to certain partisan views being forced into a situation where they have to leave their publication because they won’t play the cheerleader. This is a worrying trend. Sure, partisanship has been part of journalism as long as it has existed. People will inevitably have biases towards certain belief systems that they adopt. With that said, there is another inevitability, given how flawed humanity is. And this is that flawed humans aren’t going to be able uphold the standards that people with those beliefs expect them to. In short, no one is perfect, and everyone is open to criticism.


However, what we are seeing from certain partisan forces is a desire for any and all criticism from journalists to simply be swept under the carpet. At that point, can it really be classed as journalism? Readers expect journalists to ask questions. Some of those questions are going to be tough; some may even constitute criticism. But those questions and criticisms can open the way to improvement. There’s nothing wrong with being a conservative and being critical of other conservatives, or being a liberal and being critical of other liberals. But when that criticism has to be silenced or is met with outright hostility, we have gone beyond partisanship and into tribalism. And that is not a positive development.

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“This pollster is cool, the guy who got 2016 right, says “we take into account the fact that ppl may have one set of ideas n feelings in their local election and a complete different set of ideas n wishes in a national election.” He gets scale.”

MI Nov 1, 2020 Presidential Poll (Trafalgar)

 

 

Cahaly

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All the way to December 8?!

The Complete Election Cheat Sheet: What Happens On And After November 3 (ZH)

It’s after midnight on Nov 3, the US population has voted, and the election results are popping up across the media landscape. When will we know who is the next president? Well, due to the special circumstances surrounding this election including a record number of mail in ballots and countless court challenges involving the voting process, we may have to wait…. a while. Below we lay out a timeline of key events and catalysts that everyone should be aware of. After Election Day on November 3, the results of the election need to generally be finalized by December 8, which is known as the Safe Harbor Day, as this is when states select their EC Voters.

How to follow the news on Election Day. Here are a few tips from Bank of America: Here are a few tips:

• Be wary of exit polls: The track record of exit polls is tenuous at best. In 2004, exit polls showed John Kerry winning the popular vote by 51% to 48% only to ultimately lose by the same margin. Similarly, there were major flaws in the 2016 exit polls which substantially underestimated the number of white working-class voters while overestimating the number of college-educated white voters, leading to bias results favoring Hilary Clinton. Pollsters claim they have fixed the issues ailing Election Day polls but the better mouse trap is yet unproven. Moreover, there has been unprecedented surge in early voting (both in person and mail-in) with over 70mn votes cast nationwide to-date and there is a major skew in voter day preference by party. Admittedly, pollster are aware of this issue and will enhance their methodology by polling at large and early voting centers but nevertheless this creates greater uncertainty in their estimates.

• Brace for head fakes: Results from battleground states should begin to trickle in just after polls close within each state (Table 3). First battleground states to report will be Florida, Georgia and New Hampshire where polls close at 7pm EDT (polls in Florida’s panhandle will close at 8 pm), followed by North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Type of ballots reported first will vary across states. For example, according to reporting done by the Upshot blog of the New York Times, battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, and Iowa will report early in-person and processed mail-in votes first. Meanwhile, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada will not follow any specific order. Getting a clear sense of who is winning will be difficult given the large number of early voting by mail and absentee ballots and different rules around processing ballots, which we discuss below.

• Key demographics: In 2016, President Trump was able to tip the election by winning the older and suburban vote. A post-mortem of the 2016 election by the Pew research center showed that Trump won the age groups 50-64 and 65+ by a margin of 6 and 9 points, respectively and edged out the suburban vote by 2 points. During the 2020 election cycle, polls have shown President Trump consistently running below his 2016 election numbers in these key demographic groups. In this context, keep an eye on results coming out of suburban areas such as Maricopa County in Arizona and Peach County in Georgia and older leaning regions such as Sumter County and Pinellas County in Florida. Results in these regions could prove to be a canary in the coalmine.

@TimMurtaugh

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The purpose of the Electoral Collage seems obvious. “..the Electoral College erects a constitutional check-and-balance to prevent corrupt urban politicians and voters from wielding disproportionate power..

In Defense Of The Electoral College (AT)

In the last twenty years, Democrats have twice lost presidential elections when the Electoral College has “trumped” the popular vote, leading to Republican victories. First came George W. Bush’s presidential victory over Al Gore in 2000, then Trump’s shocker over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Thus, radical Democrats demand the abolition of the Electoral College. “It’s undemocratic,” they say. “The will of the people should rule,” they cry. Yes, it’s undemocratic, which, believe it or not, is an exceptionally good thing. That’s because the United States is not, and never has been a “democracy.” The word “democracy” is not in the Constitution. In fact, the founders hated pure, unrestrained democracies.


Instead, Article 4, Section 4, states that the Constitution provides a “Republican” form of government. Not a democracy. There’s a difference. “Democracy” equals mob rule, where angry, fist-shakers “vote” for or demand whatever they want. Imagine that, against the rights and interests of others. Think of the mobs burning Portland and Seattle. “Republic” equals freedom and the rule of law, featuring internal checks-and-balances against overconcentration of power. Remember that phrase, checks-and-balances. It’s key to understanding the Electoral College. That’s because the Electoral College erects a constitutional check-and-balance to prevent corrupt urban politicians and voters from wielding disproportionate power over the less powerful. In this case, that means rural and small-town America. Though the Constitution contains 7 Articles and 27 Amendments, two powerful concepts emerge as keys to understanding the Constitution.

1. To Protect Freedom. First, the Constitution establishes government’s primary role, which is to protect individual freedom. The broadest freedoms designated for governmental protection are found at the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, guaranteeing Americans the right to life, liberty and property. Jefferson expresses a similar concept in the Declaration of Independence, discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, protecting freedom is the government’s principal role, not to become a giant lollypop factory dispensing free goodies as the Democrats advocate.


2. A Restraining Device Against Overconcentration of Power. Here’s the second concept: The Constitution is also a restraining device against over-concentrated governmental power. When lecturing on the Constitution, to illustrate a point, I often show a photograph of a drunk driver, just after being arrested by police officers, with handcuffs clamping his hands behind his back. Likewise, the Constitution handcuffs government on multiple levels, restraining excessive governmental power to protect citizens.

Tom Fitton

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He listened to the scientists.

Trump Failed To Fight And Expose The Establishment’s COVID Narrative (Marsden)

The best thing about the Trump presidency is arguably that every morning, no matter how bad a day you’re having, you can be assured that when you open your Twitter feed alongside your morning coffee, Trump will have said something that will make you shoot your Nescafe out your nose. (That is, if partisan hysteria hasn’t caused you to completely lose your sense of humor.) Modern-day US presidents haven’t exactly been the epitome of statesmanship, but unlike them, at least Trump gives you a chuckle. The problem with his approach is that while Trump is focused on wisecracks – however entertaining they can be – the Covid counter-narrative led by the usual suspects in the Washington establishment and their unelected (but often equally political) specialists and advisors, is one of doom and gloom.

They bombard the public with cherry-picked figures – like the transition to a preference for advancing numbers of ‘cases’ over deaths – and capitalize on Trump’s more fatalistic approach to portray him as incompetent at best and a willfully negligent maniac at worst. Governments around the world have been hard-pressed to prove that they’re doing something – anything – to control the Covid situation. Even if the effectiveness of government actions are still difficult to reliably assess or to separate from pre-existing endemic social and cultural factors that could account for variation in outcomes across or within nations. Yet the establishment is arrogantly and absolutely certain that they have all the answers vis-à-vis a phenomenon that is, by definition, so new that it’s called the ‘novel coronavirus’.


They vilify anyone who deviates from their views. We’ve seen this kind of establishment groupthink before. One example being the issue formerly known as “global warming” (now known as ‘climate change’, or, more recently, ‘climate deregulation’, because the issue was rebranded when it became difficult to explain how supposed ‘warming’ was causing colder weather). Any deviation from conventional establishment wisdom on this results in a pile-on and cancellation – just ask Mike Shellenberger. The same establishment hacks also persist with the simplistic narrative of good guys (America and its allies) versus bad guys (Russia and China, and their allies). This worldview is peddled every time they attempt to ramp up support for a natural resource grab or geopolitical power-play in some part of the world. Why should anyone trust their narrative when it comes to Covid? They’ve proven repeatedly that they’re anything but trustworthy and transparent.

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“..he was treating the man who would be president like an invalid. ”

Democrats Are Masking Biden’s Frailty (NYPost)

Has there been a worse candidate in history than Joe Biden? When this election is over, the books revealing what went on backstage will be illuminating. But the truth is there for anyone with eyes to see. Take Biden’s car rally in Flint, Mich., Saturday, with a star-power assist from Barack Obama. Awkward barely covers it. Obama, effortlessly cool, gave a warmup speech to the assembled cars before ramping up to a dramatic introduction: “My friend, the next president of the United States of America: Joe Biden!” Moments ticked by, but there was no sign of the candidate. “Joe Biden!” Obama repeated, a little less confidently. But still no show. Obama tried a third time: “Joe Biden!” Biden at last emerged from a nearby building and did a pantomime slow jog to the stage.

The worst part came later. After Biden had shouted his way through a short teleprompter speech, Obama came back onstage, perhaps to escort him off, because Biden did not seem to know where he was. Obama mimed an elbow pump with his former VP to signal they should leave the stage and then quietly whispered to him, after which it dawned on Biden he’d forgotten his mask, not for the first time. When your entire campaign is about mask-shaming Trump supporters, it’s not a forgivable lapse. Poor Biden looked like a chastened schoolboy as he fumbled through his folder and all his pockets looking for that pesky piece of cloth.

He walked back to the lectern and searched, to no avail, before fumbling through his pockets again. Finally, he found the mask in his left trouser pocket, held it aloft sheepishly at Obama, and placed it on his face. But then he paused and looked in seeming confusion at the microphone lying on the lectern where he’d left it. He picked it up and held it briefly to his masked face before laying it down again and rejoining Obama. Whatever emotions were going through Obama’s mind at that point he kept under wraps, but he did slow down and look back solicitously as he shepherded Biden down the stairs and away from prying eyes. In other words, he was treating the man who would be president like an invalid.

Really, it was sad.

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Let’s do a 10-year study first.

Add Vitamin D To Bread And Milk To Help Fight Covid, Urge Scientists (G.)

Scientists are calling for ministers to add vitamin D to common foods such as bread and milk to help the fight against Covid-19. Up to half the UK population has a vitamin D deficiency, and government guidance that people should take supplements is not working, according to a group convened by Dr Gareth Davies, a medical physics researcher. Low levels of vitamin D, which our bodies produce in response to strong sunlight, may lead to a greater risk of catching the coronavirus or suffering more severe effects of infection, according to some studies. Last week, researchers in Spain found that 82% of coronavirus patients out of 216 admitted to hospital had low vitamin D levels. The picture is mixed, however – some research shows that vitamin D levels have little or no effect on Covid-19, flu and other respiratory diseases.


Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults – soft bones that lead to deformities – and children with severe vitamin D deficiency are prone to hypocalcaemia – low levels of calcium in the blood – which leads to seizures and heart failure. However, Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care have rejected calls over the past 10 years to fortify foods such as milk, bread and orange juice, which is the practice in Finland, Sweden, Australia, the US and Canada. “In my opinion, it is clear that vitamin D could not only protect against disease severity but could also protect against infection,” Davies said. “Food fortification would need careful planning to be rolled out effectively, particularly as people are now taking supplements. Picking the right foods to fortify would need to be done carefully. “But it’s clear that the current policy is not working – at least half the population have a vitamin D deficiency.”

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The White House on lockdown. And it’s not for COVID.

Non-Scalable Fence Being Built to Protect Trump During Election Day Unrest (GP)

Federal agents are set to begin building a non-scalable fence around the White House, Ellipse and Lafayette Square and 250 National Guardsman have been placed on standby to protect President Donald Trump during any election day unrest. Major riots and destruction have been promised by leftist extremists should President Trump win reelection. “The White House on lockdown: A federal law enforcement source tells NBC that beginning tomorrow, crews will build a ‘non-scalable’ fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square,” Geoff Bennett from NBC News tweeted. “250 National Guardsmen have been put on standby, reporting to Metro Police officials.”

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