Edward Hopper Sunday 1926
While the World is on a vaccine frenzy, the Indian Government is distributing a home Covid Kit with Zinc, Doxycycline and Ivermectin. The cost: $2.65 per person.
Not sure if this would help his case.
• Sarah Palin Calls for Julian Assange to Be Pardoned (GP)
The legendary Sarah Palin has made a touching video calling for Julian Assange to be pardoned. Palin has been an unlikely supporter of the organization, as WikiLeaks published Palin’s own hacked emails during the 2008 election while she was a presidential candidate. “Hey this is Sarah Palin up in Alaska and I am the first one to admit when I make a mistake,” Palin begins in the video. “I made a mistake some years ago, not supporting Julian Assange — thinking that he was a bad guy, that he leaked material that perhaps he shouldn’t — and I’ve learned a lot since then.” “I think Julian did the right thing, and Julian did us all a favor in America… did the world a favor… by fighting for what he believed was right — and ultimately he’s been proven to be right. He deserves a pardon. He deserves all of us to understand more about what he has done in the name of real journalism, and that’s getting to the bottom of issues that the public really needs to hear about and benefit from.”
Palin says that “some years ago I publicly spoke out against Julian and I made a mistake.” “I know that it’s coming down to the wire on whether he’s going to be pardoned or not. I want more Americans to speak out on his behalf, and to understand what it is that he has done — and what has been done to him,” Palin says. “He was working on the people’s behalf to allow information to get to us so that we could make up our minds about different issues, about different people. He did the right thing. I support him, and I hope that more and more people, especially as it comes down to the wire, will speak up in support of pardoning Julian. God bless him.” Though Palin’s emails did not contain anything scandalous, the Washington Post and other news organizations called for volunteers to help their reporters dig through them and treated the publication far differently than they did when DNC emails leaked in 2016.
Makes me wonder if nothing at all happened during Pfizer’s trials.
• FDA Investigating Multiple Allergic Reactions To Pfizer Vaccine (Hill)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating allergic reactions to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine that were reported in multiple states after it began to be administered this week. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters late Friday that the reactions had been reported in more than one state besides Alaska and that the FDA is probing five reactions. “We are working hand in hand with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we’ve actually been working closely with our United Kingdom colleagues, who of course reported the allergic reaction. I think we’ll be looking at all the data we can from each of these reactions to sort out exactly what happened, and we’ll also be looking to try to understand which component of the vaccine might be helping to produce them,” Marks said.
“I think we have at this point the right … mitigation strategy with the availability of treatment for a severe allergic reaction being at the ready, and we’ll continue to monitor it very closely,” he added. Marks said the FDA was not certain what caused the reactions but indicated a chemical called polyethylene glycol, which is present in the vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech as well as by Moderna “could be the culprit.” He added that the reaction some people have experienced could be more common than once thought. “We’ll obviously be monitoring very closely what’s going on. We’re working very closely with the CDC on these, and there have been meetings between the CDC and FDA pretty much every day this week making sure we’re keeping very close track of what’s going on,” he said. The reports of allergic reactions in Alaska follow two similar cases reported last week in Britain, the first nation to approve Pfizer’s vaccine.
The FDA’s current guidance says that most Americans with allergies should be cleared to take the vaccine but that people who’ve had severe reactions to other vaccines should not get vaccinated. It also said Friday that people with a history of severe allergic reactions to any components of the Moderna shot should avoid getting that vaccine. “FDA takes very seriously the safety of the medical products that we authorize and approve, and certainly in a vaccine setting, it’s one of the reasons Dr. Marks and his team, in collaboration with the CDC, has set up a very robust surveillance system for assessing safety. One of the things that FDA does very well and uniquely is really getting to the bottom of events like allergic reactions so we can completely understand the circumstances and better inform the public and also our regulatory decisions,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.
Very little is known about “the much-feared new strain”, including its severity.
• Netherlands Bans Air Travel From UK Till 2021 Over New Covid19 Strain (RT)
The Dutch government has imposed a ban on commercial flights from the UK to the Netherlands after it reported a first case of the new, fast-spreading Covid-19 strain. The ban will be in effect until at least January. The travel restrictions will apply to all passenger flights from the UK bound to the Netherlands starting 6:00am Sunday local time, the government said in a statement issued several hours before the ban was due to come into force. It described the sweeping ban on air travel for the whole Christmas period as a “precautionary measure” needed to “limit” potential further exposure of the population to the new strain of the virus, which was first detected in the UK and is allegedly highly contagious.
Citing data by a local health agency, which recommended the ban, the Dutch government revealed that the strain, believed to be the same that prompted UK PM Boris Johnson’s latest lockdown, was detected in the Netherlands “at the beginning of December” as part of a case study. In light of the situation in the UK, the government said it would “further investigate” the case to determine “how the infection came about” on Dutch soil, and whether there are more cases triggered by the mutant strain. While suspending only passenger flights for the time being, Amsterdam did not rule out that the ban will be expanded to cover other means of transportation as well.
The Dutch government has also hinted that more restrictions on UK travellers may be imposed at the European Union level to stem the spread of the desease, stating that it “will look into the possibilities of further restricting import of the virus from the UK” with other members of the bloc “in the coming days.” The move comes shortly after Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas for those living in London, the Southeast, and the city of Peterborough, placing those areas under so-called Tier 4 restrictions. Those affected by the plan have been barred from “mixing with anyone outside their own household at Christmas,” with Johnson saying the much-feared new strain is to blame for the no-go rule. There’s currently no evidence it’s more lethal or more vaccine-resistant than the earlier variant of the virus, however.
“..first evacuation of London since 1939..”
Someday someone will make a movie out of this.
• Desperate Families Flee London Ahead Of Tier 4 Misery (DM)
Families were last night fleeing areas of England that have been plunged into the tightest restrictions in what one leading expert described as a ‘mini exodus’. Edmund King, president of the AA, said that within 90 minutes of Boris Johnson’s bombshell announcement, there were reports of people jumping into cars and taxis and even hiring vehicles to escape London before draconian new rules were imposed at midnight. ‘There are certainly elements of an exodus of some people from tier 4,’ he told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I have heard of people actually hiring cars to get out of London to get to Liverpool because a lot of the trains are either restricted or booked. ‘We have even heard of taxi drivers taking people longer distances – people calling minicab offices and saying, “I need to get to Nottingham”.
‘It is almost like a wall is coming down around London and the South East and some people are scrambling to get away to save their Christmas before midnight.’ Last night footage emerged of a large crowd queuing on a packed platform at London’s St Pancras Station to board the last train to Leeds before restrictions were introduced at midnight. An announcement warned passengers that it would not be possible to maintain social distancing on the train. Branding it the ‘last train out of Saigon’ – a reference to the evacuation of US personnel during the Vietnam War – journalist Harriet Clugston wrote: ‘Every person on this train including myself has made what is probably a very silly and irresponsible decision to travel albeit within the law. ‘But that’s what people were always going to do to be together at Christmas.’
Travel into and out of the new tier 4 zone, which includes London and large swathes of the South East of England, has been banned in a desperate bid to contain a mutant strain of the coronavirus. International travel for the 16.4 million people who live in tier 4 is also prohibited unless it is for work purposes, while Mr Johnson urged families in the rest of the country to ‘carefully consider’ whether they needed to go abroad. The Prime Minister’s announcement shattered the plans of millions of families who were set to embark on the traditional Christmas getaway in the coming days to see friends and family. Last year around 17 million people hit Britain’s roads between December 22 and 28, but Mr King believes that number will now plummet to around two million.
• Trump Lashes Out At Media For Blaming Russia For Hacking: It ‘May Be China’ (RT)
President Donald Trump has broken with the media and his own Secretary of State, brushing aside allegations that Russia was behind a massive computer hack. Trump instead claimed that the real culprit could be Beijing. “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, adding that “everything is well under control.” “Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).” As well as hitting out at the “Lamestream” media for blaming Russia, Trump also suggested that there may have “been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election.”
The president has often cited a series of unexplained computer“glitches” as proof that someone interfered to deny him victory in five key swing states. The “Cyber Hack” referred to by Trump, however, is a hacking operation that targeted the SolarWinds Orion Platform, a network monitoring tool used by nearly every Fortune 500 corporation and multiple US government agencies, among them the State Department, NASA, and the Pentagon. The hack was revealed earlier this month, and pinned on Russia evidence-free by none other than the Washington Post, quoting its usual anonymous sources.
What was that connection between SolarWinds and Dominion again?
• US Agencies’ Trust In Untested Software Opened The Door To Hackers (Pol.)
The massive months-long hack of agencies across the US government succeeded, in part, because no one was looking in the right place. The federal government conducts only cursory security inspections of the software it buys from private companies for a wide range of activities, from managing databases to operating internal chat applications. That created the blind spot that suspected Russian hackers exploited to breach the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. After embedding code in widely used network management software made by a Texas company called SolarWinds, all they had to do was wait for the agencies to download routine software updates from the trusted supplier.
As investigators race to assess the damage from the hacks, experts and lawmakers are calling for increased scrutiny of the third-party code that government agencies allow on their networks and demanding a fix for a long-known weakness. “The government desperately needs to set minimum security requirements for software and services, and refuse to buy anything that doesn’t meet those standards,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “It is incredibly self-defeating for federal agencies to spend billions on security and then give government contracts to companies with insecure products.” Over the past week, agencies rushed to scrub the malicious code from their networks while senior officials huddled in emergency meetings – all amid reports of more victims in the federal government, state governments and private industry.
As the extent of the attack became clearer, cyber experts warned that cleaning up the mess could take months or years. SolarWinds, whose 330,000 customers include key federal agencies, major telecommunications firms, every branch of the military and four-fifths of the Fortune 500, is one of the most extreme examples of the dysfunction that made this hack possible, but it is far from the only poorly guarded vendor with hooks into the most important computer networks in the world. The US government relies on private vendors of all sizes to supply its agencies with software. Some have expert security teams, such as Amazon, which provides cloud hosting services, and SAP, whose software helps agencies process large quantities of data. But others, both large and small, have less rigorous security testing procedures and are more vulnerable to this kind of compromise, cyber analysts say.
On Thursday, federal investigators said SolarWinds’ Orion software was not the only way the hackers had invaded their targets, warning of “additional initial access vectors and tactics, techniques, and procedures … that have not yet been discovered.”
And now Michael Flynn is also back.
• Trump Floated Naming Sidney Powell As Special Counsel For Election Fraud (Hill)
President Trump on Friday discussed the idea of naming Sidney Powell, an attorney once associated with his campaign, to the position of special counsel for an investigation into alleged voter fraud and the 2020 election, The New York Times, Politico and the Wall Street Journal reported. The former Trump campaign lawyer made headlines earlier in the year when she took part in an effort to reverse election results in the state of Georgia. However, those challenges were tossed by various courts. She, along with the president and his allies, have repeatedly claimed that the election has been tainted by widespread election fraud. However, there has been no substantial evidence to support this claim.
Following the 2020 election, several election officials stated that the race was one of the most secure in U.S. history. According to two sources briefed on the discussion, most of his advisers opposed the idea of the appointment including the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, according to the Times. Powell herself was in attendance at the meeting, as well as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to a senior administration official, Politico reported. The meeting reportedly devolved into yelling and screaming, according to the senior official, and the lawyers were accusing each other of not putting in enough effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Both Flynn and Powell reportedly claimed the administration was not working hard enough to reverse Trump’s loss. The Wall Street Journal reported that Cipollone and Meadows also opposed the idea of the appointment. The senior official also told Politico that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien participated in the meeting via phone. It’s unclear if Trump will continue to push for Powell’s appointment.
16 days to the runoff battle. With voting machines.
• Pro-Trump Group to Challenge 364K Voter Registrations in Georgia (NW)
Conservative political group True the Vote announced plans on Friday to preemptively file more than 360,000 electoral challenges in Georgia before the state’s special elections are expected to occur in January. Georgia’s run-off elections have garnered nationwide attention. If the Democrats who are running for office—Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock—obtain victory over Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, then Democrats would be equally represented in the U.S. Senate. However, Democrats would have a distinct advantage over Republicans in the case of a tie, as Democrat Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the one voting to break the deadlock.
Some observers, including President Donald Trump, have baselessly alleged that Georgia’s processes during the November election were unfairly manipulated by Democrats. According to True the Vote founder and President Catherine Engelbrecht, the challenges could help validate the results of the January election by ensuring “the sanctity of every legal vote.” “Filing the challenges preemptively, before absentee ballots are opened, will help ensure only legal, eligible votes are counted in Georgia’s January 5 runoff elections,” Engelbrecht said in a Friday statement.
Georgia law allows individuals to challenge the validity of any voter in a Georgia county if there is probable cause that the person being challenged does not meet the requirements for voting legally. True the Vote plans on filing 364,541 elector challenges across all 159 Georgia counties. “It is our hope that this historic challenge marks the beginning of the great awakening of American voters to serve our democracy by getting involved in the process,” Engelbrecht said.
Transparency is overrated.
• Georgia: Election Software Updates Not Covered By Open Records Requests (JTN)
A recently revealed memo shows a top-ranking Georgia election official informing county election workers that they are not required to provide journalists and citizens with records of software updates applied to voting machines in the state. Chris Harvey, the state elections division director, said in the Nov. 17 memo that “multiple counties have reported receiving Open Records Requests asking for data information” including, in part, “copies of any software patches performed on Dominion voting machines in the state of Georgia prior to the November 3, 2020 General Election.”
“Under the Open Records Act,” Harvey writes in the memo, “providing copies of software, software updates, or thumb drives containing software or software updates is not subject to open records requests.” Information “that could harm the security of the election equipment” is forbidden from being shared, he added. The letter was first reported on this week by the activist group VoterGA. Georgia, like numerous other states, has been the focus of intense media scrutiny following the results of the 2020 election, in which numerous irregularities and allegations have surfaced regarding the integrity of the election results.
“It shows very clearly that races were flipped.”
• Analyst Says Redacted Dominion Report ‘Shows Very Clearly’ Problems (JTN)
An analyst whose company oversaw the audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines in Antrim County, Michigan is claiming that the redacted version of the forensic analysis of those machines obscured the allegedly conclusive revelations that the audit revealed. Russell Ramsland Jr., a member of Allied Security Operations Group, said on Newsmax on Friday that the final report “show[ed] exactly what we did and exactly the findings.” Yet redactions in the report have covered up those conclusions, he argued. The analysis, which allegedly determined a ballot error rate of 68%, was ordered released earlier this week by a Michigan judge.
“The original report had log evidence that we published in the report to show exactly what we did and exactly the findings,” Ramsland told host Greg Kelly. “Now, those did ultimately get redacted. And so now, the complaint is ‘well, but there’s no real proof,’ and Dominion says ‘no, these things can’t be done’.” “But at that point, Dominion’s argument is no longer with us,” he continued. “Dominion’s argument is with their own user’s manual and their own logs. Because the logs, had they been able to be published, show very clearly that the RCV [ranked-choice voting] algorithm was enacted. It shows very clearly that the error messages were massive. It shows very clearly that races were flipped.”
We’ll see a lot of these pieces between now and New Year’s Day.
• 2020: The Year we Let Ourselves be Infantilised and Dehumanised (Slane)
I recently wrote a satirical speech by our Prime Minister, in which I imagined him coming up with all sorts of absurd rules for the Christmas season. It was really hard. Not because I was unable to come up with hundreds of such rules, were I minded to do so, but because the whole point of satire is to raise the absurdities up a step or two, in order to highlight the ridiculousness of what is happening. But how do you do this when the real-life absurdities have already been turned up to 11 on the amplifier? I kid you not when I tell you that my original list included a rule against playing certain board games over Christmas — which I rejected — only to see a few days later SAGE coming out and advising against the playing of board games.
We have now had nearly nine months of being treated like utter imbeciles. A once great country with a once free people has been reduced to the level of being governed by pathetic, childish slogans. And for some reason we have allowed ourselves to be infantilised. I am utterly baffled as to how people can have sat through some of these slogans being introduced without responding with howls of laughter. “Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives.” What on earth is this actually supposed to mean? Stay Alert? For what? Are we supposed to be on our guard for a virus that is approximately 120 nanometres, or around 1,000th the width of a human hair? Are we to carry an electron microscope around with us wherever we go, just in case?
One of my favourite signs is an electronic one I sometimes see on my occasional drives into the office. On one day, it says, “Stay Alert. Control the Virus.” On another, it says, “Stay Alert. Watch out for Cyclists.” It should be noted that cyclists are considerably bigger than 120nm and even often wearing the kind of hi-vis jackets that coronaviruses refuse to wear. Control the Virus? Say what? You mean they actually think we’re stupid enough to think they’re clever enough to devise schemes that can actually control those little invisible 120 nm virus particles that are in the air and on surfaces. Apparently so.
Save Lives? I am yet to hear a convincing argument as to how I and my family, not having any symptoms and thus not being infected by the virus, can possibly stop the spread of said virus that we don’t have by staying at home or wearing a piece of cloth over or respiratory passages, such that we save lives. More recently, it has been decided that the slogans were maybe a bit too high-brow and needed to be simplified further, this time into monosyllables: “Hands. Face. Space.” Although I tend to avoid watching Comrade Johnson and Co as they spout this nonsense at their regular stand-ups, on the occasions when I have had that misfortune, it has felt eerily like suddenly being thrust into the world’s largest Kindergarten with teacher talking down to his little charges as if they were really, really stupid.
But the infantilising of an entire population is by no means the worst thing they have done to us. Worse by far has been the dehumanising of millions of people, which has been done via a number of enormously destructive methods. Chief of them is the idea that we must all avoid each other. I cannot even begin to think how destructive this has become. In a normal society, if you or I have symptoms of a particularly nasty seasonal respiratory illness, which is what Covid-19 is, we would avoid one another. Obviously. But the idea of perfectly healthy people avoiding other perfectly healthy people must qualify as one of the most absurd concepts ever dreamt up.
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