Over the past 5 years I’ve addressed this numerous times, and it just goes on. When the MSM, WaPo, NYT, CNN, MSNBC, started to feel a real threat to their existence and survival from social media, they changed course radically. They no longer attempted to inform people, they began to shape their readers’ and watchers’ opinions. And it worked.
That change appears to bear fruit. The WaPo announced the other day they’re hiring 150 more “reporters”. Who are not really reporters, in the new setting they’re more like narrators. They’re servants to the narratives favored by editors and owners, the ones they expect -and know- to generate the most clickbaits.
Superficially, the media landscape sort of still looks the same, same logos, same slogans, but below the surface everything has changed. What’s important is no longer News, but the favored interpretation of it. It seems to work miracles for the MSM, but it’s dangerous for the nation. Because: where are you going to get your news, on the basis of which you can form your own opinion?
And if you can’t get news that doesn’t already have an inbuilt opinion, how are you supposed to have a opinion of your own? At the end of the day, you will be left with a nation that is poorly informed and has no opinions of its own. Everyone just regurgitates opinions forced upon them 24/7.
The main difference with 5 years ago is probably that social media have joined the MSM in their strategy. They now all force-shape opinions for clickbait. And nobody puts a loophole in their way:
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 will remove tweets that spread harmful misinformation, starting with the Covid-19 vaccine, the company has announced – and from 2021 it will begin to label tweets that push conspiracy theories. The move sees the company follow Facebook and YouTube in tightening up policies around the coronavirus vaccination as the rollout of the jab begins across the world. “Starting next week, we will prioritise the removal of the most harmful misleading information,” the US company said in a blogpost. “And during the coming weeks, we will begin to label tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines.”
This is of course not about lies about vaccines, it’s about questions about vaccines. We are not supposed or allowed to ask questions about them, we’re supposed to take them and shut up. Emergency, don’t you know?! More on that in a minute. First, let’s step back 5 years or so.
The MSM were very quick in denouncing Trump’s candidacy for President. That then led to -much- more of the same when he was elected, by which time they realized Trump meant more clickbait than they could ever have imagined, and that in turn became the Mueller investigation. “Based” on blatant lies and propaganda, it was all reported as “news” for 3-4 years.
More such empty nonsense then led to the impeachment procedure, which the current Hunter Biden probe entirely cuts down to size: there were plenty reasons for Trump to ask Zelensky to look into Hunter’s history with Burisma. And then some. But the one half of Americans who get their “news” from the MSM will have completely missed that, just like they now miss what really goes on in Hunter world.
Negative stories about Trump generate clickbait, and not-so-negative ones do not. That right there is your entire American media landscape today, and yes, again, it’s dangerous for the nation. It’s bad enough if people draw different conclusions from the same news, but it’s a whole other story if they have don’t have access to the news in the first place, but only to half of it, boiled and brewed in a narrative sauce.
Similarly, it took the MSM barely more than 5 minutes to declare Joe Biden the president-elect, even though they know that’s not their announcement to make. They just do it, because they trust their audience won’t notice the difference. Still, that, too, is dangerous.
Which leads us, seamlessly, into the vaccine reporting. It would appear that today is THE day to question the vaccines being rolled out by the billions, but the media tell us we’re not supposed, or allowed, to do that. Take your shot and shut your face.
But the “approved” vaccines so far, the Pfizer and Moderna ones, are based on an entirely new and untested technology, messenger RNA. Could they work, could they be a new frontline for medicine? Yes, perhaps they could. But shouldn’t their mid- and long term effects be assessed? Of course they should. mRNA is being treated like GMOs, which lobby to be declared safe as soon as someone doesn’t drop dead in the first hours. While we’re playing games across generations with our own genetic material.
And at the same time that the mRNA vaccines are being rushed through, potentially much less questionable approaches, like vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, are said to need much more research before they can be rolled out. That looks like there’s a game being played, and the MSM are a big player in it. Nothing to do with reporting the news, but with only a part of it.
We’re getting lost in a -dark?- web of opinions disguised as news. We can not ask the questions that we know everyone should ask. The Moderna mRNA vaccine was approved in the US the other day as it was simultaneously found to offer immunity for just 2 months. And on the basis of that, vaccination passports are being prepared for all of our societies. While we might find much better protection in vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin. Or the Russian and Chinese vaccines. But those must not be discussed.
Are lockdowns a good idea? From what I can see, only in the short term. And we’re already way past the short term. Beyond that, you start ripping apart society itself, you start tearing down what makes society function, i.e. the people in it, and their interactions. Without which those people won’t be the same people anymore.
We can pretend we still have societies without people’s contacts and interactions, but the longer it takes, the more it becomes pretense. It’s interesting to see how politicians and their scientific advisors behave, and manage to hold on to power and public trust, but if you watch the performance of the media, it’s not terribly surprising.
If you shut down any dissent before it even happens, things will appear hunky-dory for a while. Thing is, it will be short-lived. The odds of the virus vanishing from the northern hemisphere before spring sets in, just based on untested mRNA vaccines, don’t look good. Maybe we should ask the bookies, they’re good at this sort of thing.
But to me it looks like we’re betting everything on red, just because certain parties and interests like it that way. Can mRNA vaccines save us? Perhaps. But we have no way of knowing, we’re just gambling.
We should try a multi-pronged approach, look at all vaccines developed so far, Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Western. Throw in HCQ and ivermectin, get everyone on 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day, and see where we get. We’re doing this wrong, and the media tell us to do it wrong. It’s a business model they’ve perfected in the Trump era.
And we are much poorer for it. We no longer think, we let others think for us. Based on a model of unleashing an overkill cacophony of ever-repeating messages, to which very few of us have any resistance. Neither in politics nor in epidemiology is that ever a wise idea.
But first of all, we need to give everyone back their own thoughts, their own ideas, their own opinion, based on actual news reports. Because if we don’t, this thing will blow up in many more faces than we care to even imagine before spring even arrives. Be careful out there.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
I’d like to take you to the ceremony
Well, that is if I remember the way
You see Jack and Jill they’re going to join their misery
I’m afraid it’s time for everyone to pray
You can see they’ve finally taken cover
They’re willing, yeah they’re willing to obey
Their vows are difficult, they’re for each other
So let nobody put a loophole, a loophole in their way
Why Don’t You Try – Leonard Cohen
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
A -short- look at how vaccine makers like Pfizer and Moderna get to claim a 90% or even 95% efficacy for their products, with the help of regular Automatic Earth commenter Doc Robinson (not a medical doctor) and his quotes from the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The way the companies report their efficacy may be normal in their circles, but will, in the “normal” world, be experienced as confusing if not outright misleading.
What they do -simplified-, let’s take the Pfizer report, is they have 20,000 volunteers who get a vaccine, in this case 8 are infected, and that gives a result of -well- over 90% efficacy. But that is largely meaningless, because it appears to assume that all remaining 19,992 volunteers would have gotten infected if not for the vaccine.
To give this meaning, the world of science has long insisted on control groups (placebo groups), in this case also 20,000 strong, who don’t get a vaccine. If you know how many in that group are infected, you know -much better- hoe effective the vaccine is. Turns out, in the control group 86 out of 20,000 were infected. More than 8, but much less than 20,000. 19,914 unvaccinated people never got infected.
The 90%-95% numbers “measure” relative risk reduction. The absolute risk reduction is completely different. In the Pfizer case, 99.57% of the unvaccinated people did not become infected, while 99.96% of the vaccinated people did not become infected. Therefore, the absolute risk reduction is 99.96% – 99.57% = 0.39%. While there remain many questions swirling around the mid- to long term effects of taking the vaccine.
You would think this is the most relevant information out there for those thinking about being vaccinated or not, and not the 95% relative risk reduction. But the latter info is what is reported. And sure, it sounds much better.
Here are a few excerpts from British Medical Journal pieces as Doc Robinson selected them earlier this week:
“…leading both companies to claim around 95% efficacy. Let’s put this in perspective. First, a relative risk reduction is being reported, not absolute risk reduction, which appears to be less than 1%. Second, these results refer to the trials’ primary endpoint of covid-19 of essentially any severity, and importantly not the vaccine’s ability to save lives, nor the ability to prevent infection, nor the efficacy in important subgroups (e.g. frail elderly). Those still remain unknown.
Third, these results reflect a time point relatively soon after vaccination, and we know nothing about vaccine performance at 3, 6, or 12 months, so cannot compare these efficacy numbers against other vaccines like influenza vaccines (which are judged over a season). Fourth, children, adolescents, and immunocompromised individuals were largely excluded from the trials, so we still lack any data on these important populations.
I previously argued that the trials are studying the wrong endpoint, and for an urgent need to correct course and study more important endpoints like prevention of severe disease and transmission in high risk people. Yet…”
Moderna’s phase III trial has shown that, so far, the vaccine is 94.5% effective. (Mahase, BMJ 2020;371:m4471, November 17) As with the Pfizer vaccine news release, few numbers are provided, but we can approximate the absolute risk reduction for a vaccinated individual and the Number Needed To Vaccinate (NNTV): There were 90 cases of Covid-19 illness in a placebo group of 15,000 (0.006) and 5 cases in a vaccine group of 15,000 (0.00033). This yields an absolute risk reduction of 0.00567 and NNTV = 176 (1/0.00567).
There were 11 severe illnesses, all in the placebo group, for an absolute risk reduction of 0.00073 and NNTV = 1370. So to prevent one severe illness 1370 individuals must be vaccinated. The other 1369 individuals are not saved from a severe illness, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them… Shouldn’t absolute risk reduction be reported so individuals can make fully informed decisions about vaccinations?
Some questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, from the British Medical Journal BMJ. The “absolute risk reduction” is relatively small and is being downplayed by the vaccine manufacturers. This is a calculation of how much the vaccine reduces the likelihood that a person would become infected.
For example, if a non-vaccinated person has a 50% chance of becoming infected with a disease, and a vaccinated person has a 10% chance, then the “absolute risk reduction” would be 40%. The absolute risk reductions for the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are estimated to be less than 1%.
For the Pfizer vaccine, it’s only about 0.4% reduction. For the Moderna vaccine, it’s only about 0.6% reduction in the risk of having a detectable infection (and less than 0.1% reduction in the risk of getting a “severe” infection).
Thus, for the Moderna vaccine “to prevent one severe illness 1370 individuals must be vaccinated. The other 1369 individuals are not saved from a severe illness, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them.”
94 cases in a trial that has enrolled about 40,000 subjects: 8 cases in a vaccine group of 20,000 and 86 cases in a placebo group of 20,000. This yields a Covid-19 attack rate of 0.0004 in the vaccine group and 0.0043 in the placebo group. Relative risk (RR) for vaccination = 0.093, which translates into a “vaccine effectiveness” of 90.7% [100(1-0.093)]. This sounds impressive, but the absolute risk reduction for an individual is only about 0.4% (0.0043-0.0004=0.0039).
The Number Needed To Vaccinate (NNTV) = 256 (1/0.0039), which means that to prevent just 1 Covid-19 case 256 individuals must get the vaccine; the other 255 individuals derive no benefit, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them……We’ve already heard that an early effect of the vaccine is “like a hangover or the flu.” Will vaccinees who are later exposed to coronaviruses have more severe illness as a result of antibody-dependent enhancement of infection (ADEI), a known hazard of coronavirus vaccines? Is there squalene in the Pfizer vaccine? If so, will vaccinees be subject to autoimmune diseases, like Gulf War Syndrome and narcolepsy that have been associated with the adjuvant?
When Pfizer said its vaccine may be “more than 90% effective” this meant that during the vaccine trial, 8 people (out of 20,000) in the vaccinated group became infected, while 86 people (out of 20,000) in the placebo group became infected, giving an effectiveness of 90.7% (based on the relative risk reduction, not the absolute risk reduction). If 80% of these trial participants were already immune prior to this trial, then the non-immune people would be 20% (or 4,000 in each group), and the “effectiveness” based on relative risk reduction to the non-immune people would still be 90.7%.
Imagine a vaccine trial where the entire population of the United States participates, with half the people getting the vaccine and half getting a placebo. If only 86 unvaccinated people (out of 165 million unvaccinated) become infected, while 8 vaccinated people (out of 165 million vaccinated) become infected, then the trial result would still be “more than 90% effective” even though the infection rates are such a tiny percentage of the population.
To me, these are the more relevant numbers coming out of that Pfizer trial:
99.57% of the unvaccinated people did not become infected.
99.96% of the vaccinated people did not become infected.
Absolute risk reduction = 99.96% – 99.57% = 0.39%
Ergo, to reduce our risk of getting infected by 0.4% or 0.6%, we will now all have to be vaccinated and carry vaccination passports with us if we want to be part of “regular” society, even as the Pfizer CEO himself admitted the company has no idea whether being vaccinated provides us with any protection from infecting others. Excuse me?
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center has ordered 1.5 million doses of a Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, hospital director Zeev Rotstein said Tuesday. First reported on Army Radio, Rotstein added that the hospital will give the Health Ministry all necessary data about the vaccine this week, with the goal of obtaining a permit to administer it to Israelis. Rotstein, who has clashed repeatedly with the ministry in recent months, is convinced that the fears voiced in the media about the vaccine aren’t well-founded, and that they have more to do with the global struggle between Russia and the United States than with the scientific data. But even if the ministry refuses to approve the vaccine, he said in an interview with Haaretz, “We’ll have something do with it,” because Hadassah also operates overseas.
The Russian vaccine has been in phase three clinical trials since August and has already been given to tens of thousands of people. Hadassah’s branch in Moscow has both given the vaccine to people and monitored them afterward, “and the results and safety we’ve seen have been very good,” Rotstein said. Hadassah’s activities in Moscow are what led the Russian authorities to propose that the hospital seek Israeli approval for the vaccine, he added. If the phase three trials show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, and if the Health Ministry approves its use, the vaccine could be available in Israel in two to three months.
Rotstein stressed that until the phase three trial ends and the data has been analyzed, it’s impossible to know if the vaccine will be effective in preventing the virus. But based on the data so far, he said, “There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.” Both the development of the Russian vaccine and Russia’s unusual decision to administer it to its own citizens, even before the phase three trials ended, have been widely criticized worldwide. But Rotstein insisted that much of this criticism stems from the American-Russian battle over who will develop a vaccine first.
Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to create immunity against the bug for at least three months, the biotech company said. Thirty-four healthy adults who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were shown to have antibodies for 90 days, according to new findings published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first dose “produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination,” the study said. The two doses were administered 28 days apart.
The report did not make clear what level of risk people would have after 90 days and whether another shot would be needed. Earlier this week, Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, saying data shows its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective against coronavirus. On Friday, the Massachusetts-based company said it would be able to produce 500 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. “For 500 million, I am very comfortable we are gonna get there,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said at the Nasdaq Investor Conference.
As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the share of Americans who say they plan to get vaccinated has increased as the public has grown more confident that the development process will deliver a safe and effective vaccine. Still, the U.S. public is far from uniform in views about a vaccine. A majority says they would be uncomfortable being among the first to take it, and a sizable minority appear certain to pass on getting vaccinated. Overall, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September.
39% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – says it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Yet, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September.
These findings come on the heels of preliminary analysis from two separate clinical trials that have produced vaccines that are over 90% effective; the FDA is expected to issue decisions about the emergency authorization of these vaccines in the coming weeks. While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.
The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.
The coronavirus death toll at U.S. nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was brutal and unrelenting. The Life Care Center nursing home outside Seattle made international headlines in March after the coronavirus infected residents and staff, resulting in at least 123 cases and dozens of deaths. In New Jersey, public officials discovered 17 bodies piled into a makeshift morgue in a nursing home in April when Covid-19 fatalities overwhelmed the facility. Nursing homes, which house the most vulnerable of society, quickly became ground zero for countless coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. in the early months of the pandemic. While the outbreak subsided somewhat this fall, long-term care facilities are now seeing their most intense surge in Covid cases since at least the summer.
As new cases break record after record most days, infections at long-term care facilities reached a new weekly high in late November, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic magazine. More than 46,000 infections at those facilities were recorded in what was the worst week in six months; reliable data only goes back that far. Despite making up just 5.7% of all U.S. Covid cases, nursing home and assisted living facilities residents and staff accounted for 39.3% of the deaths, according to tracking project data. That number is generally considered low since many nursing home deaths tend to get reported without an underlying cause, physicians have said.
Deaths at U.S. nursing homes for the week ended last Thursday topped 3,000 — the highest weekly death toll since June, pushing cumulative fatalities over 100,000, according to the tracking project. “I’ve likened nursing homes to being like a tinderbox. It takes one person, one person, to unknowingly bring the virus into a facility and it could kill several people, make a lot of people sick,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician at Florida Atlantic University who works as a clinician in nursing homes. No matter what precautions staff take, it’s going to be difficult to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes, said Ouslander, who is also a professor of integrated medical science. “All those elements of the perfect storm are in place.”
Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections. Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.
But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14. So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. Despite the cut-off dates having kept much of the Covid-impacted jobs data out of the results, the data have actually deteriorated in several aspects, including the number of people with jobs as reported by households, the employment-population rate, and the labor force.
The headline number of 245,000 jobs created came from surveys of establishments (companies, governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, etc.). That survey doesn’t track gig workers. It depicted a lousy recovery. But lousy as it was, it was the more benign part. The survey of households, on the other hand, tracks people who are working full or part time, including gig workers. And households reported that the number of people with jobs ticked down to 149.7 million. This wasn’t a slowdown in growth, but an actual decline of 74,000 working people – the first month-to-month decline since April.
The chart shows both results, from establishments (green) and from households (red) – the biggest part of the difference being gig workers. It’s obvious that even by November 12, before the real impact of the Covid surge, this was no good, in terms of catching up with population growth, or in terms of anything else:
The employment-population ratio, which tracks the number of employed workers against the working-age population (16 years or older) also dipped in November, to 57.3%, a level first seen since in 1972:
Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes. And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments.
This disconnect between Biden nominating business-friendly corporatists and Beltway liberals effusively celebrating those nominees spotlights the latter groups’ decision to genuflect for access and influence — rather than being brutally honest about the situation. That strategy of appeasement has almost never worked in an America where change has typically come only through opposition, struggle and sacrifice. And yet somehow, prostration remains the dominant strategy among the professional left. Why? In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington.
Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects. The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies. It could also help permanently change what is even considered politically possible in the future.
Few portions of political discourse are as predictably shallow as presidential Cabinet discourse. Who should run the Department of Transportation? An affable also-ran in the Democratic primary who once said something about trains? A moderate politician or a businessman who might bring the country together from their perch at the agency that handles civil aviation and our highways? “No,” a sage voice somewhere in Washington, or Delaware, says. “It should be Rahm Emanuel.” As Chicagoans know, Emanuel’s most ambitious step into transportation policy as mayor was his endorsement of a high-speed tunnel project from Elon Musk that has yet to materialize. Chicagoans also know that Emanuel’s efforts to cover up video of a black teen’s murder by a Chicago policeman probably better qualify him for a post at the CIA.
That agency, we’ve been told this week, might finally be headed by a Black man; we also know a woman has been chosen to run the Department of Defense. Overall, Democratic policy professionals of all identities and stripes have been given plenty of reasons to rejoice at Biden’s choices so far. Civilians in Yemen have not. It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it did to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential Cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along, and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination.
There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could. The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over.
“Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after Election Day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left to take on or accept unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.
Attorney General Bill Barr made two important evidentiary decisions yesterday that delivered body blows to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. First, Barr declared that the Justice Department has not found evidence of systemic fraud in the election. Second, he declared that there was sufficient evidence to appoint United States Attorney John Durham as a Special Counsel on the origins of the Russia probe. The move confirmed that, in a chaotic and spinning political galaxy, Bill Barr remains the one fixed and immovable object. By appointing Durham as a Special Counsel, Barr contradicted news reports before the election that Durham was frustrated and found nothing of significance despite Barr’s pressure.
Some of us expressed doubts over those reports since Durham asked for this investigation to be upgraded to a criminal matter, secured the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, and asked recently for over a thousand pages of classified intelligence material. Under the Justice Department regulations, Barr had to find (and Durham apparently agreed) that there is need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” He must also find the appointment in the public interest. Notably, the investigation of Clinesmith is effectively completed. So, what is the criminal investigation and what is the conflict?
Presumably, the conflict is not in the current administration since it would have required an earlier appointment. The conflict would seem to be found in the upcoming Biden administration. Some conflicts developing seem obvious as Biden turns to a host of former Obama officials for positions, including the possible selection of Sally Yates as Attorney General. Yates was directly involved in the Russian investigation and signed off on the controversial surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. She now says that she would never have signed the application if she knew what she knows today.
Durham is now authorized to investigate anyone who may have “violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.” The list of the names of people falling within that mandate is a who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to . . . yes . . . Joe Biden. Bizarrely, reports have claimed that Trump was irate at the move as a “smokescreen” to delay the release of the report. That ignores not just the legal but political significance of the action. From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.
Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk? Is it, at least, worth looking into, considering the evidence trail? Many people on the Left, who read and view only the captive Left news media, may know nothing about Hunter B’s laptop and the tales it told because social media blacked out all the news about it and the mainstream media went along with the blackout. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $350-million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), that was chiefly active in setting up Democratic vote-harvesting operations. Could he be liable for prosecution in enabling ballot fraud? Has the FBI asked him any questions?
Another story ‘out there’ says that behind the election hijinks a war is underway between the DOD and the CIA. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that all special operations run by the CIA would henceforward report to the SecDef. In effect, the President has ordered the dismantling of the CIA’s troublemaking capabilities, reducing the agency to the task of intel analysis. This means, for instance, ending the CIA’s ability to foment “color revolutions” (coups d’état) in foreign lands — with the implication that irregularities around the Dominion System may have amounted to an attempted color revolution in the USA. Is it worth wondering whether former CIA Director John Brennan, a leftist activist and probably an architect of RussiaGate, was involved in any of the election ops? If the FBI won’t question him about it, who will? (Answer: The Department of Defense.) Ditto Gina Haspel, current CIA Director. After all, what were the Dominion servers doing at the CIA’s server farm in Germany?
Events are moving quickly under the plodding surface of the ongoing swing state hearings, which are largely concerned with on-site mail-in ballot fraud shenanigans. Will the Supreme Court take a case in the few days left before the state vote certification deadline next Tuesday? Will Mr. Trump intervene with some extraordinary measure — martial law, the Insurrection Act? — to actually abort the election and bring about some kind of do-over? Will the country survive its own feckless inability to hold a credible vote? Stand by with me on all that.
Attorney Sidney Powell says there’s plenty of time for President Donald Trump’s legal team to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ‘With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn’t apply,” Powell said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Stinchfield” in reference to the ”safe harbor” deadline that frees a state from further challenge if it resolves all disputes and certifies its voting results. ”We have at least until Dec. 14,” she said. ”We might file more suits. The court in Michigan or Wisconsin today just gave us a great order recognizing that. These are not pure election contests we are filing. These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time. The states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.”
Powell, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has been a part of multiple lawsuits in a crusade to overturn results from the 2020 election. Several states have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Newsmax has yet to project a winner as Trump continues to contest the results in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it wouldn’t accept a lawsuit by Trump’s legal team, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through the lower courts. The president asked the court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democrat counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.
In a Freedom of Information case related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, District Judge Reggie Walton said on Friday that Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have a lot of options in dealing with the fact that President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon, “unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.” “I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit,” said Walton, according to the National Law Journal. “I don’t know if that’s correct or not,” the judge continued. “Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued. I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,” Walton added.
[..] Emmet Sullivan, who was presiding over the case, refused to dismiss the charges even though there was no one attempting to prosecute the case. The legal process has dragged on through the appeals process, and finally President Trump issued a full pardon on November 25. On November 30, the DOJ notified Sullivan of the pardon, but he has still refused to drop the case. Judge Walton appears to have hinted at what Sullivan is thinking as he refuses to dismiss the case. Solomon Wisenberg, former deputy independent counsel, told Just the News that “It is disappointing but not surprising that Sullivan has yet to dismiss the case.”
Leaders in the Arizona state legislature on Friday called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems software and equipment in Maricopa County, a request of which county leaders appear “supportive.” The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus announced it intent to seek such an audit via Twitter on Friday afternoon. “As a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing our election system,” incoming Senate Government Chairperson Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in the news release, “I am pleased to learn that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is supportive of conducting an independent audit of their voting software and equipment.” House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said: “A significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred. And with the number of irregularities it is easy to see why.” Petersen also called it “imperative” that officials conduct a forensic audit on Dominion’s setup in the county. Democrat Joe Biden currently has a lead of about 0.3% in Arizona in the Nov. 3 presidential balloting.
The Netherlands was one of Europe’s most prolific buyers of Teslas but now the Dutch honeymoon seems to be over, with Tesla facing a lawsuit from a large taxi company, and a group of disgruntled car owners considering a class action suit. Bios Group, a taxi firm that operates a fleet of more than 70 Teslas out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is taking Elon Musk’s company to court over €1.3m in damages, citing a high number of defects in the vehicles and difficulties in getting them repaired. There are defects with some 20 of the 70 taxis, ranging from broken power steering to broken drive shafts and broken power steering, according to the Hella Hueck’s story in Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad.
Bios had to have 75 defects repaired in 2018 and another 60 in 2019. Even more problematically Bios says there have been problems with odometer readings in the cars being inaccurate, registering journeys from the wrong location or for the wrong distance, something which could land the taxi company in legal difficulties. Though the European car industry may feel like it has been outcompeted by Tesla in electric vehicles — Tesla has a bigger share of the electric vehicle market than all the European carmakers combined — these types of service quality problems may yet give the incumbent automakers an opportunity to win back customers. Bios says it has recently bought 5 Audi E-trons, in part because it expects better after-sales service from Audi.
There have been many recent reports about problems with Tesla vehicles. In June, JD Power, a consumer intelligence company whose car reliability report is considered the industry standard found that Tesla owners reported more problems in their first 90 days of ownership than the other 31 US auto brands included in the study. Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with an industry average of 166 problems per 100 vehicles. Bios bought the fleet of 72 Model S Teslas in 2014 for €5.7m, one of Europe’s biggest fleets at the time, creating a splash of publicity for the young car company as the fleet paraded around the streets surrounding Schiphol, proclaiming the airport’s commitment to going 100% electric.
But in the last few years, Bios says, it has grown steadily more difficult to get the faulty cars repaired, finally leaving them with no option but to launch a court case to get a resolution. In October, meanwhile, a group of disgruntled Dutch Tesla owners have started the Tesla Claims Foundation, bringing together owners who want Tesla to do more to repair faults in their cars. Some 200 people have so far joined the foundation, with complaints ranging from relatively simple things like rattling noises and poorly working windscreen wipers to broken computers and charging problems.
Ah, a left-wing America Firster! Not quite, as his subsequent work and his entertaining new memoir, Chasing the Light, illumine, but Oliver Stone, our most political major filmmaker, evinces a rowdily heterodox vision shaped by the unusual quartet of Jim Morrison, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Capra, and Jean-Luc Godard. What do you call a man who joins the Merchant Marine on a whim, runs up big pro football gambling debts, and takes the Old Right view of FDR’s foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? I’d call him an American. Stone was a rich kid, the son of an FDR-hating Jewish Republican who had served on Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force staff and a French Catholic party girl. He attended the Hill School, played on the tennis team, was devastated by his parents’ divorce, and then went seriously off script.
Avid for experiences, Stone dropped out of Yale, taught in a Catholic school in Taiwan, and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He came home with a Bronze Star, shrapnel in his ass, and a taste for “powerful Vietnamese weed.” Stone’s politics hadn’t changed all that much, though. He had supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and would vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In later years he became more explicitly libertarian, expressing support for Ron Paul and making a film about Edward Snowden. At root, Oliver Stone is a patriot who despises the American Empire for corrupting his country. JFK, his fantasia on the Deep State, echoes Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex.” Platoon and Salvador bespeak an old-fangled American anti-interventionism in an age when that tendency, once the default position of ordinary Americans, is a virtual thoughtcrime.
If you’re enthusiastic about the impact of the newly arriving COVID vaccines, and you expect to “go back to normal” soon, don’t. You’re being fed fairy tales and other narratives. I won’t talk too much here, my quotes are plenty long enough as is.
After first reading an absolute decomposition of the PCR tests this morning, I figured out that the new vaccines being rolled out are equally useless. One has to wonder what goes on here. Just a few days ago, I quoted an article about a Portuguese court saying the PCR tests are 97% unreliable:
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 3%, and that “the probability of… receiving a false positive is 97% or higher.”
The writer of that article, Peter Andrews, an Irish science journalist, today at RT writes an even more convincing take-down. The Corman-Drosten paper, upon which “our” entire attitude towards the PCR test is based, was written by a number of highly compromised authors, with interests in both the journal that published it, and the companies that perform the tests.
The people now criticizing the paper are a group that includes senior molecular geneticists, biochemists, immunologists, and microbiologists from Europe, the US and Japan. Not some Portuguese judges. Not that there’s anything wrong with Portuguese judges; they seem more sane to me than many other parties.
A peer review from a group of 22 international experts has found 10 “major flaws” in the main protocol for such tests. The report systematically dismantles the original study, called the Corman-Drosten paper, which described a protocol for applying the PCR technique to detecting Covid. The Corman-Drosten paper was published on January, 23, 2020, just a day after being submitted, which would make any peer review process that took place possibly the shortest in history. What is important about it is that the protocol it describes is used in around 70 percent of Covid kits worldwide. It’s cheap, fast – and absolutely useless. Among the fatal flaws that totally invalidate the PCR testing protocol are that the test:
• is non-specific, due to erroneous primer design • is enormously variable • cannot discriminate between the whole virus and viral fragments • has no positive or negative controls • has no standard operating procedure • does not seem to have been properly peer reviewed. Oh dear. One wonders whether anything at all was correct in the paper. But wait – it gets worse. As has been noted previously, no threshold for positivity was ever identified.
This is why labs have been running 40 cycles, almost guaranteeing a large number of false positives – up to 97 percent, according to some studies. The cherry on top, though, is that among the authors of the original paper themselves, at least four have severe conflicts of interest. Two of them are members of the editorial board of Eurosurveillance, the sinisterly named journal that published the paper.
And at least three of them are on the payroll of the first companies to perform PCR testing! The 22 members of the consortium that has challenged this shoddy science deserve huge credit. The scientists, from Europe, the USA, and Japan, comprise senior molecular geneticists, biochemists, immunologists, and microbiologists, with many decades of experience between them. They have issued a demand to Eurosurveillance to retract the Corman-Drosten paper, writing: “Considering the scientific and methodological blemishes presented here, we are confident that the editorial board of Eurosurveillance has no other choice but to retract the publication.’’ Talk about putting the pressure on.
It is difficult to overstate the implications of this revelation. Every single thing about the Covid orthodoxy relies on ‘case numbers’, which are largely the results of the now widespread PCR tests. If their results are essentially meaningless, then everything we are being told – and ordered to do by increasingly dictatorial governments – is likely to be incorrect. For instance, one of the authors of the review is Dr Mike Yeadon, who asserts that, in the UK, there is no ‘second wave’ and that the pandemic has been over since June. Having seen the PCR tests so unambiguously debunked, it is hard to see any evidence to the contrary.
[..] Why was this paper rushed to publication in January, despite clearly not meeting proper standards? Why did none of the checks and balances that are meant to prevent bad science dictating public policy kick into action? And why did it take so long for anyone in the scientific community to challenge its faulty methodology? These questions lead to dark ruminations, which I will save for another day.
Even more pressing is the question of what is going to be done about this now. The people responsible for writing and publishing the paper have to be held accountable. But also, all PCR testing based on the Corman-Drosten protocol should be stopped with immediate effect. All those who are so-called current ‘Covid cases’, diagnosed based on that protocol, should be told they no longer have to isolate. All present and previous Covid deaths, cases, and ‘infection rates’ should be subject to a massive retroactive inquiry.
And lockdowns, shutdowns, and other restrictions should be urgently reviewed and relaxed.
Because this latest blow to PCR testing raises the probability that we are not enduring a killer virus pandemic, but a false positive pseudo-epidemic.
And that wasn’t enough to “make my day”. Next up, we see that the newly crafted vaccines are not only potentially dangerous, at least the Pfizer and Moderna ones, they are utterly useless too. They are not designed to keep you from being infected, they merely aim to decrease the impact of the symptoms of infections. Back in September William A. Haseltine, healthcare contributor at Forbes, wrote the following.
Where was the follow-up? Why did Britain proudly announce they’ll start using the Pfizer test by next week, with other countries soon to follow? What’s going on? Why are they all spending billions on vaccines that are utterly useless -and dangerous? The vaccines don’t even pretend to stop you from getting infected, or dying. They only pretend to make you somewhat less sick once you are infected. They fight symptoms, not the infection, not the disease.
Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson are leading candidates for the completion of a Covid-19 vaccine likely to be released in the coming months. These companies have published their vaccine trial protocols. This unusually transparent action during a major drug trial deserves praise, close inspection of the protocols raises surprising concerns. These trials seem designed to prove their vaccines work, even if the measured effects are minimal. What would a normal vaccine trial look like?
Prevention of infection must be a critical endpoint. Any vaccine trial should include regular antigen testing every three days to test contagiousness to pick up early signs of infection and PCR testing once a week to confirm infection by SARS-CoV-2 test the ability of the vaccines to stave off infection. Prevention of infection is not a criterion for success for any of these vaccines. In fact, their endpoints all require confirmed infections and all those they will include in the analysis for success, the only difference being the severity of symptoms between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Measuring differences amongst only those infected by SARS-CoV-2 underscores the implicit conclusion that the vaccines are not expected to prevent infection, only modify symptoms of those infected. We all expect an effective vaccine to prevent serious illness if infected. Three of the vaccine protocols—Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca—do not require that their vaccine prevent serious disease only that they prevent moderate symptoms which may be as mild as cough, or headache.
[..] Vaccine efficacy is typically proved by large clinical trials over several years. The pharmaceutical companies intend to do trials ranging from thirty thousand to sixty thousand participants. This scale of study would be sufficient for testing vaccine efficacy. The first surprise found upon a closer reading of the protocols reveals that each study intends to complete interim and primary analyses that at most include 164 participants. These companies likely intend to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with just their limited preliminary results.
Interim analysis success requires a 70% efficacy. The vaccine or placebo will be given to thousands of people in each trial. For Moderna, the initial interim analysis will be based on the results of infection of only 53 people. The judgment reached in interim analysis is dependent upon the difference in the number of people with symptoms, which may be mild, in the vaccinated group versus the unvaccinated group.
Moderna’s success margin is for 13 or less of those 53 to develop symptoms compared to 40 or more in their control group. For Johnson & Johnson, their interim analysis includes 77 vaccine recipients, with a success margin of 18 or less developing symptoms compared to 59 in the control group. For AstraZeneca, their interim analysis includes 50 vaccine recipients, with a success margin of 12 or less developing symptoms compared to 19 in the 25 person control group. Pfizer is even smaller in its success requirements. Their initial group includes 32 vaccine recipients, with a success margin of 7 or less developing symptoms compared to 25 in the control group.
The primary analyses are a bit more expanded, but need to be less efficacious for success: about sixty percent. AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer have primary analyses that distribute the vaccine to only 100, 151, 154, and 164 participants respectively. These companies state that they do not “intend” to stop trials after the primary analyses, but there is every chance that they intend to pursue an EUA and focus on manufacturing the vaccine rather than further thorough testing.
The second surprise from these protocols is how mild the requirements for contracted Covid-19 symptoms are. A careful reading reveals that the minimum qualification for a case of Covid-19 is a positive PCR test and one or two mild symptoms. These include headache, fever, cough, or mild nausea. This is far from adequate. These vaccine trials are testing to prevent common cold symptoms.
These trials certainly do not give assurance that the vaccine will protect from the serious consequences of Covid-19.Johnson & Johnson is the only trial that requires the inclusion of severe Covid-19 cases, at least 5 for the 75 participant interim analysis.
One of the more immediate questions a trial needs to answer is whether a vaccine prevents infection. If someone takes this vaccine, are they far less likely to become infected with the virus? These trials all clearly focus on eliminating symptoms of Covid-19, and not infections themselves. Asymptomatic infection is listed as a secondary objective in these trials when they should be of critical importance.
It appears that all the pharmaceutical companies assume that the vaccine will never prevent infection. Their criteria for approval is the difference in symptoms between an infected control group and an infected vaccine group. They do not measure the difference between infection and noninfection as a primary motivation.
A greater concern for the millions of older people and those with preexisting conditions is whether these trials test the vaccine’s ability to prevent severe illness and death. Again we find that severe illness and death are only secondary objectives in these trials. None list the prevention of death and hospitalization as a critically important barrier.
If total infections, hospitalizations, and death are going to be ignored in the preliminary trials of the vaccines, then there must be phase four testing to monitor their safety and efficacy. This would be long term massive scale monitoring of the vaccine. There must be an indication that the authorized vaccines are reducing infection, hospitalization, and death, or else they will not be able to stop this pandemic.
Sometimes I just don’t get this world. If you would like to argue that all of the above is false, that PCR and vaccines are all fine, and they will lift us out of this misery, hey, I’m your man, I can do with some good news. But I’m afraid we’re being played for billions.
Are our politicians and “experts” complicit or are they simply incompetent? Why don’t I leave that choice to you as well?
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
When politicians across the globe tell you they listen to “the science” when defining their COVID measures, they don’t really, they are lying. What they listen to is a shred of science as formulated by their local virologists and epidemiologists, which is inevitably questioned by other scientists.
If this were not the case, the entire world would now be taking the same measures, and there would not be any discussions in the scientific community. Still, when measures are imposed in various countries, they are imposed as some kind of law. Lockdowns are popular among failed and failing politicians, because they see it as a failsafe measure (there’s nothing more extreme). But that is only because they have never moved beyond the “COVID is the only problem we have” mindframe.
Still, even then, it would be wise to recognize these measures as arbitrary. That’s why they differ from one place to another; they make it up as they go along, guided by their limited understanding of the issue. What US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch opined on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decree on closing churches, as the court struck down the decree, is a fine example of why they are arbitrary:
Things tend to be better defined when courts of law rule on them. Thta’s what courts are for. Which is why we should pay attention when a Portuguese court states that PCR tests are 97% unreliable. We don’t pay attention, because our media ignore that ruling. And we continue to use the PCR test on a massive scale, even if its own inventor says it shouldn’t be used for this purpose. And so says the box that it comes in. “The science”? No, it’s not.
And for all those countries that close their stores and schools, this from Canada should perhaps, no, definitely, open eyes:
If only 1.5% of COVID deaths happen outside of long term care homes, the “science” doesn’t say close your schools and stores and make everyone wear a mask 24 hours a day, the science says pump massive amounts of resources into those care homes in order to stop the misery there. Closing stores will not do that. It will have other, very negative, effects though, while you’re not taking care of the care homes.
This is from Peter Andrews, a geneticist and science journalist:
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% 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.”
Then there are the vaccines that everyone’s so hyped up about. Gilbert Berdine, MD, writing for the Mises Institute, has some questions about the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines (anything to do with why Twitter suspended the institute’s account)?
What exactly is a “case” of COVID? It can’t be a positive PCR test, not if those are only 3% reliable. So “the science” must be doing something wrong, and with them just about any government on the planet.
And yes, Pfizer and Moderna have dollar signs in their eyes. There are many questions about the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, and I can’t help thinking they are linked to the fact that it’s not-for-profit. Likewise, the complete silence about Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is also curious. We want to solve the problem only if our own scientists and the Big Pharma they work for can do it?
Both trials have a treatment group that received the vaccine and a control group that did not. All the trial subjects were covid negative prior to the start of the trial. The analysis for both trials was performed when a target number of “cases” were reached. “Cases” were defined by positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. There was no information about the cycle number for the PCR tests. There was no information about whether the “cases” had symptoms or not. There was no information about hospitalizations or deaths. The Pfizer study had 43,538 participants and was analyzed after 164 cases. So, roughly 150 out 21,750 participants (less than 0.7%) became PCR positive in the control group and about one-tenth that number in the vaccine group became PCR positive.
The Moderna trial had 30,000 participants. There were 95 “cases” in the 15,000 control participants (about 0.6%) and 5 “cases” in the 15,000 vaccine participants (about one-twentieth of 0.6%). The “efficacy” figures quoted in these announcements are odds ratios. There is no evidence, yet, that the vaccine prevented any hospitalizations or any deaths. The Moderna announcement claimed that eleven cases in the control group were “severe” disease, but “severe” was not defined. If there were any hospitalizations or deaths in either group, the public has not been told.
When the risks of an event are small, odds ratios can be misleading about absolute risk. A more meaningful measure of efficacy would be the number to vaccinate to prevent one hospitalization or one death. Those numbers are not available. An estimate of the number to treat from the Moderna trial to prevent a single “case” would be fifteen thousand vaccinations to prevent ninety “cases” or 167 vaccinations per “case” prevented which does not sound nearly as good as 94.5% effective.
The publicists working for pharmaceutical companies are very smart people. If there were a reduction in mortality from these vaccines, that information would be in the first paragraph of the announcement.
There is no information about how long any protective benefit from the vaccine would persist. Antibody response following covid-19 appears to be short lived. Based on what we know, the covid vaccine may require two shots every three to six months to be protective. The more shots required, the greater the risk of side effects from sensitization to the vaccine. There is no information about safety. None. Government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) appear to have two completely different standards for attributing deaths to covid-19 and attributing side effects to covid vaccines.
If these vaccines are approved, as they likely will be, the first group to be vaccinated will be the beta testers. I am employed by a university-based medical center that is a referral center for the West Texas region. My colleagues include resident physicians and faculty physicians who work with covid patients on a daily basis. I have asked a number of my colleagues whether they will be first in line for the new vaccine. I have yet to hear any of my colleagues respond affirmatively.
The reasons for hesitancy are that the uncertainties about safety exceed what they perceive to be a small benefit. In other words, my colleagues would prefer to take their chances with covid rather than beta test the vaccine. Many of my colleagues want to see the safety data after a year of use before getting vaccinated; these colleagues are concerned about possible autoimmune side effects that may not appear for months after vaccination.
Next, we get a look, through the American Institute for Economic Research, at a report that Johns Hopkins University somewhat mysteriously pulled from its website:
It is already well established that Covid-19 is a disease that is most dangerous to those over the age of 65 and who have preexisting conditions. In the United States, there has been an observed 2.1% mortality rate, with elderly individuals making up over half that number. Young and healthy people are not by any significant capacity threatened by Covid-19. One of the most important factors when it comes to Covid-19 is preventing excess death. According to the CDC, “Estimates of excess deaths can provide information about the burden of mortality potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19. Excess deaths are typically defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.”
Essentially, there is an average number of deaths every year due to a variety of causes that for the most part have remained constant through the years. This includes morbidities such as heart disease, which has long been the leading cause of death, and cancer, which has long plagued our existence. For Covid-19 to be a serious cause of alarm, it would need to significantly increase the number of average deaths. However, according to the study, “These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.” Total deaths in the United States show no significant change and even mirror past trends of seasonal illness.
[..] What is even more interesting if not more alarming is that the spike in recorded Covid-19 deaths seen in 2020 has coincided with a proportional decrease in death from other diseases. Yanni Gu writes “This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.” Deaths have remained relatively constant, yet reported deaths due to deadly conditions such as heart disease have fallen while reported Covid deaths have risen. This suggests that the current Covid death count is in some capacity relabeled deaths due to other ailments. According to the graph, reported Covid deaths even overtook heart disease as the main cause of death at one point, which should raise suspicion.
And when you see the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal report that some 53 million American may already have been infected, you must ask what the use is of all the COVID measures at this point in time. If this is true in the US, chances are it is true in virtually any other location.
Looks like everybody has it and only people in care homes die from it, and on top of that many of those people didn’t actually die from COVID but from some other affliction. And for that we are closing down our entire societies, force massive amounts of businesses into bankruptcy, force millions upon millions into unemployment. All while relying on a test method that is 97% unreliable.
The actual number of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. could be about eight times as much as the total reported cases, a model created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated. The model published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September. The estimate is around eight times higher than the 7.1 million confirmed cases that had been reported back then. The model tries to account for the fact that most cases of Covid-19 are mild and therefore go unreported. The scientists, however, warned that by the end of September, 84% of the U.S. population had not been infected and was still at risk of catching the disease.
If the trend of unreported cases still holds true as of Thursday, the U.S. — which has 12.5 million confirmed cases — could be approaching 100 million total infections across the country. In October, the World Health Organisation had said that nearly 10% of the world population or nearly 760 million people may have already been infected with Covid-19, despite the fact that only 35 million confirmed cases had been recorded as of that time.
“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, had said back then adding, “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.” Scientists have also suggested that deaths due to the pandemic have also been severely undercounted, with the CDC stating that the U.S. had recorded nearly 300,000 excess deaths during the pandemic as of October 3. This number was nearly 100,000 deaths more than what had been officially recorded by the states.
What we need is actual science. Not “a science” or “some science”, but undisputed science. Einstein’s E=MC2 is science, that’s the level we need. Not disputable pseudo-science. Yes, there’s panic among politicians and scientists alike, yes, there is Long-COVID, yes there are people with multiple organ failure, but you will still have to do risk-assessment, you must look at how many people are involved.
And if you’re talking 0.01% of people, you need to wonder if it’s worthwhile to close down your entire society in a Great Reset kind of fashion. Likewise, forcing everyone to wear facemasks outside is something that must be evaluated as per risk factors. What is the risk of infecting anyone while just passing them in the street? It’s never zero, but no risk is ever zero. And if it’s 0.001%, does that justify turning your streets into a zombified society that puts everyone on edge?
“The science” needs to evolve, and it doesn’t appear to have done that. We’re back to square one all the time. COVID equals Groundhog Day. “Well, that didn’t help, so let’s do more of the same”. By now, the science, to remain believable, should have developed, moved on. It hasn’t. The hope for vaccines has taken on desperate levels, and the reliance on Big Pharma doesn’t help. Nor does the outright rejection of Russian, Chinese, Cuban vaccines. All nations with excellent medical resources, but ignored for political reasons. This is not the time to play politics. It’s a time for science to step up to the plate.
Are things much worse in countries that leave their stores open? Are they in places that don’t make people wear facemasks 24/7? The “science” should answer those questions by now. What else are they doing? But it’s not happening. COVID vs “The Science”: 1-0.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
While I’m trying to read my way into the world of vaccines, not my field at all, I think the logical/philosophical implications should be clear: the model for doing medicine in a global pandemic must of necessity be global cooperation. But we apparently are not capable of that (anymore). Because the pandemic must be mined for profit.
Not so much for the AstraZenaca/Oxford vaccine, which is produced in a not-for-profit capacity, or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, but certainly for the Pfizer and Moderna ones. We should just refuse those, but we’re -told we are- desperate, and they know it.
So it’s politics and profit that determine the world of vaccines. What a sorrowful state of affairs. And that’s not even the worst of it. Far from it. With vaccines -that we know of- being developed in Cuba (4x), China, Russia (2x), West (multiple), etc., maybe we can have the luxury of choosing the ones that do the least harm?
Well, there’s a trap door hidden somewhere in there. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a whole new (revolutionary!) technique to produce vaccines. Some people even refuse to call them vaccines because of this. Vaccines as we -used to- know them were based on taking a harmless strand of a virus/bacteria and using it to urge your immune system to produce antibodies.
mRNA (messengerRNA) is very different. Here, it’s a synthetic, artificial entity designed to be injected into your cells to provoke certain reactions. And in the case of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines, it’s basically entirely untested.
They intend to ship out billions of doses of their vaccines, which would essentially create billions of human guinea pigs. The risk is not so much short term, the only thing they would have to provide evidence for, it’s long term, for which they do not. What is that risk? We don’t know, it’s never been tested.
The problem seems obvious: once more people begin to understand this, more people will refuse to be inoculated with these “vaccines”. But then “authorities” will demand you take them to fly/move/just go outside? I don’t see it. What I see is human guinea pigs. And why, if there are other non-mRNA vaccines about to come forward? Money will cure the pandemic? The South China Morning Post had this today:
A major milestone in the race for a vaccine to counter Covid-19 was reached on Wednesday, when the first vaccine developers to complete phase 3 trials announced results in what has been the fastest vaccine development in history.[..]
Getting enough doses out to the world will take time, coordination and infrastructure. Pfizer and BioNTech have said they could produce 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Several hundred million doses are already booked by major economies like the US and EU. Each immunisation requires two doses and there is an additional hurdle – they need to be transported and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit). All told, leading vaccine makers have projected that some 16 billion doses could be made next year..
Pfizer and BioNTech announced results after their trial reached a planned end point of 170 infections of Covid-19 among their nearly 44,000 participants. Of the cases, 162 were observed in the placebo group, while there were eight cases among those who had received the vaccine candidate, BNT162b2. The efficacy rate of 95 per cent was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, the companies said. Notably, the observed efficacy for adults over 65 years of age was over 94 per cent, an important marker for a group whose Covid-19 mortality rate far exceeds younger age groups.
But that makes no mention of the development method, or the risks involved. Which could be huge. I mean, it’s fine to say we need a lot of vaccine doses, and fast, but with AstraZeneca promising 2 billion in 2021, and Russia 1 billion, and China 1 billion or so as well, what exactly is the risk/reward ratio here? Why splurge into mRNA vaccines if you don’t have to? Is it just profit driven? When so many people are dying?
Here’s a bit from an Automatic Earth comments section yesterday. Commenter “upstateNYer” said:
I’m not yet clear on how “the scientists” made sure this mRNA hijacker will quit forcing my cells to produce stuff once its demands are met. Does anyone here with medical knowledge understand how it’s guaranteed that the mRNA strands don’t get just a bit power hungry and take over more than initially agreed upon?
In reaction to which, commenter Doc Robinson cited a Jerusalem Post article from November 17:
[..] the fact remains that if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, with whom Israel also has a contract – these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients. In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects.
When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.”
Doc Robinson on the potential risks:
1. the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression
[spreading throughout the body and lasting longer than intended]
2. possible development of auto-reactive antibodies
[potentially leading to auto-immune conditions]
3. toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
[such as from nanoparticles and potential allergens like polyethylene glycol (PEG)]
“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks… But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions.
An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
And then there was this Reuters article from October 29:
The vaccines being developed by Russia, J&J and CanSino use a human adenovirus platform, which is a proven technology used in Ebola vaccines and cancer treatments. The other frontrunners are “based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.” Other vaccine candidates using more conventional approaches won’t have late-stage trial results until sometime in 2021. I am going to avoid mRNA vaccines like the plague, and wait and see whether the conventional approaches produce anything with a good track record and minimal risk.
Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed. They include messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE, and inactivated cold virus platforms used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc, Johnson & Johnson and CanSino Biologics, whose vaccine has been approved for military use in China.
Merck & Co in September started testing a COVID-19 vaccine based on a weakened measles virus that delivers genes from the new coronavirus into the body to stimulate an immune response to the coronavirus. Of these, only the technology offered by J&J and CanSino that use [human] cold viruses as vectors to deliver coronavirus genetic material have ever produced a licensed vaccine – for Ebola. [The Russian vaccine also uses this technology.]
The next set of candidates – with late-stage trial results expected in the first half of 2021 – are heavily skewed toward approaches that have produced successful vaccines. Conventional methods include using a killed or inactivated version of the pathogen that causes a disease to provoke an immune response, such as those used to make flu, polio and rabies vaccines. Also more common are protein-based vaccines that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response. Vaccines against whooping cough, or pertussis, and shingles employ this approach.
I don’t know about you, but this scares the heebees out of me. If given the choice, I’d much rather not be a guinea pig for some Big Pharma experiment. There have been in our past very succesful vaccines, and I would maybe list penicilline in that list, but certainly Jonas Salk’s 1955 polio vaccine, off which nobody got rich, and it feels just completely crazy to now exploit a pandemic for profit. It’s just wrong.
Maybe COVID19 is not our biggest problem? Maybe our own mindset is? If we can no longer work with Russia and China on global issues, but we instead turn to large corporations to solve them for us for profit, we have already conceded defeat? Our own defeat?!
I don’t like the smell of this. Be careful out there. Don’t volunteer to be a human guinea pig just so you can fly a plane, or walk outside.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technique. AstraZeneca/Oxford’s, and Russian vaccine Sputnik V, use traditional technique. They are also much cheaper. AstraZeneca was developed as a not-for-profit. Russia wants theirs to be cheap. But the EU has banned the Russian vaccine, though it could be the best, because: Russia!
AstraZeneca has said they will produce 2 billion vaccine doses in 2021, Russia 1 billion. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have already made people billionaires even before production. Why use mRNA vaccines anyway? Money.
But RussiaRussia! Hungary wanted to try it, and the EU said: no! Like a global pandemic doesn’t need a global answer.
More than 500 million people will be able to take the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus next year. Its developers say the two-shot jab will be sold cheaper than those of its foreign competitors. The drug will be produced not only in Russia but also by “leading foreign pharmaceutical companies” who agreed to cooperation deals with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Talks with additional international partners are underway to further increase production capacity. “Sputnik V will be two or more times cheaper than mRNA vaccines with similar efficacy levels,” RDIF said in a statement.
A single dose of the Russian vaccine is going to cost $10, according to the producer, meaning it will set each person back $20 for two shots – which is still way below the price tags of US biotech firms Pfizer and Moderna, who are eyeing $39 and $50-74 for their vaccines, respectively. Notably, it’s only foreign buyers who would need to pay up, as the Russians will be getting Sputnik V for free. International customers are scheduled to receive first shipments of the vaccine in January. The new data announced by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, which developed the Sputnik V formula, suggests that its vaccine is 95 percent effective. The result was based on Phase Three clinical trials that involved almost 20,000 volunteers who were administered two shots of the drug.
Now, we have a thing called a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). RNA is, effectively, a single strand of DNA – the double helix that sits within our cells and makes up our genetic code. Many viruses are made up of a single strand of RNA, surrounded by a protein sphere. They enter the cell, take over the replication systems, make thousands of copies of themselves, then exit the cell. Sometimes killing the cell as they do so, sometimes exiting more gently. Covid19 (Sars-Cov2) is an RNA virus. Knowing this, rather than attempting to create a weakened virus, which can take years, or break the virus into bits, the vaccine researchers decided to use Sars-Cov2’s RNA against itself. To do this, they isolated the section of RNA which codes for the ‘spike’ protein – which is the thing the virus uses as a ‘key’ to enter cells.
They then worked out how to insert this small section of RNA, messenger RNA, into the cell, where it takes over a part of the protein replication mechanisms that sit inside all cells. They turn the mechanism into a 3D printer, churning out copies of the spike protein. These spike proteins then leave the cell – somehow or other, this bit is unclear. The immune system comes across them, recognises them as ‘alien’ and attacks. In doing so, antibodies are created, and the immune memory system kicks into action. If, later on, a Sars-Cov2 virus gets into the body, the immune system fires up and attacks the remembered spike protein. Hopefully killing the entire virus. This is all, certainly very clever stuff. What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?
The first thing to say is that, with something this new, we don’t really know. It could be that it is absolutely 100 percent safe. We are told that none of the mRNA can get into the nucleus of the cell, where it could become incorporated into the DNA. I hope so. Could it trigger an immune cascade? I hope not. I know that the researchers will be looking very, very, closely at the novel safety issues that could emerge. If they are not, they damned well should be. However, the timelines here are very short. It normally takes many years to create safe and effective vaccines. Here is it happening in, effectively, weeks. The early stage human safety studies have been crammed very tightly together.
In addition, we will also have very little information on such things as whether or not the vaccine actually reduces serious infections or death, as noted by Professor Haseltine in a recent article: “These [vaccine] protocols do not emphasize the most important ramifications of COVID-19 that people are most interested in preventing: overall infection, hospitalization, and death.” Prof. Haseltine also argues that the trials have all been “designed to succeed.” The reality is that we are rushing and rushing. There are very good reasons for this rush, but I advise caution. Should everyone take the vaccine? Probably yes for those at highest risk of serious infection and death, where the potential benefit is high. As for anyone healthy, under the age of sixty, I would wait. As I shall be.
Israelis celebrated on Friday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country had signed a deal with Pfizer Inc. to buy its novel coronavirus vaccine. But the fact remains that if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, with whom Israel also has a contract – these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients. In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects.
“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks,” Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post. When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.” “In this case, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is programmed to make your cells produce the coronavirus’ infamous coronavirus spike protein that gives the virus its crown-like appearance (corona is crown in Latin) for which it is named,” wrote The Independent.
Brosh said that this does not mean the vaccine changes people’s genetic code. Rather, he said it is more like a USB device (the mRNA) that is inserted into a computer (your body). It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but runs a certain program. But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions. An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
Brosh compared the mRNA vaccine to traditional vaccines, such as those for influenza, which use an inactivated virus that was destroyed by heat or chemicals to elicit an immune response without infecting the recipient. Others, such as for measles or mumps, use a weakened virus that is unable to hurt you but can still train your immune system to fight it. Oxford University’s AstraZeneca, the Russian’s Sputnik V and the Israel Institute for Biological Research’s Brilife are all based on more traditional technologies.
Background Vitamin D has an immunomodulatory role but the effect of therapeutic vitamin D supplementation in SARS-CoV-2 infection is not known.
Aim Effect of high dose, oral cholecalciferol supplementation on SARS-CoV-2 viral clearance.
Design Randomised, placebo-controlled.
Participants Asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D<20 ng/ml) individuals.
Intervention Participants were randomised to receive daily 60 000 IU of cholecalciferol (oral nano-liquid droplets) for 7 days with therapeutic target 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml (intervention group) or placebo (control group). Patients requiring invasive ventilation or with significant comorbidities were excluded. 25(OH)D levels were assessed at day 7, and cholecalciferol supplementation was continued for those with 25(OH)D <50 ng/ml in the intervention arm. SARS-CoV-2 RNA and inflammatory markers fibrinogen, D-dimer, procalcitonin and (CRP), ferritin were measured periodically.
Outcome measure Proportion of patients with SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative before day-21 and change in inflammatory markers.
Results Forty SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive individuals were randomised to intervention (n=16) or control (n=24) group. Baseline serum 25(OH)D was 8.6 (7.1 to 13.1) and 9.54 (8.1 to 12.5) ng/ml (p=0.730), in the intervention and control group, respectively. 10 out of 16 patients could achieve 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml by day-7 and another two by day-14 [day-14 25(OH)D levels 51.7 (48.9 to 59.5) ng/ml and 15.2 (12.7 to 19.5) ng/ml (p<0.001) in intervention and control group, respectively]. 10 (62.5%) participants in the intervention group and 5 (20.8%) participants in the control arm (p<0.018) became SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative. Fibrinogen levels significantly decreased with cholecalciferol supplementation (intergroup difference 0.70 ng/ml; P=0.007) unlike other inflammatory biomarkers.
Conclusion Greater proportion of vitamin D-deficient individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection turned SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative with a significant decrease in fibrinogen on high-dose cholecalciferol supplementation.
Global shipping giant UPS on Tuesday said it would start making dry ice in the United States and also distribute ultra-cold temperature freezers as it prepares to handle the logistics of shipping Covid-19 vaccines. Facing the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, the US government’s Operation Warp Speed plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week after it’s cleared for emergency use, which could come as soon as December 10. That vaccine requires ultra-cold long-term storage of -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), and the company has developed special containers with dry ice to keep it cool for up to 15 days, while other vaccines may also need dry ice in transport.
In a statement, UPS said it had added equipment in its facilities that can produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour for the shipping needs of these vaccines, which can be distributed within 24 hours of production to US and Canadian hospitals. “Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective,” Wes Wheeler, president of medical arm UPS Healthcare, said in a statement.
Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times… The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia. Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.
The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South. Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.
And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac. What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.” At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.
But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.” Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”. What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.
What was Joe Biden thinking for his choice of climate-change ambassador extraordinaire? John Kerry is one of the biggest gasbags in American politics, singlehandedly responsible for massive amounts of terrible emissions. People have been laughing at him since Yale, when “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau was zinging his pretentious, vacuous self-promotion. We look forward to the anti-carbon lectures from a guy who travels the globe on private jets and luxury yachts. Set aside his deer-in-the-headlights loss as the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004. He was a joke as secretary of state under President Barack Obama — off on his yacht during Egypt’s 2013 military coup.
He vowed a crushing response when Syria crossed Obama’s infamous “red line” — only to have Obama pull the rug out from under him and agree to let Russia pretend to take Syria’s chemical weapons away instead. Kerry also cluelessly “negotiated” the Iran nuclear deal even as the real talks were being run out of the White House; then he had to pretend to cheer an accord that gave away several points he’d said were non-negotiable, such as truly tough inspection requirements. And he helped craft the 2015 Paris climate accord — a performative non-binding “triumph.”
The Kerry-initiated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks of 2013-14 went absolutely nowhere. He later blasted President Trump over moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, insisting it would cause “an absolute explosion” — when it actually helped bring unprecedented Arab-Israeli rapprochement. The only conclusion you can draw is that Biden, having vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, simply wants someone who’ll look like he’s trying hard — but won’t actually get anything done.
It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy. Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as antisemitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel. To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank – the first such official visit by a US secretary of state.
New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel”, concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories. For good measure, Pompeo described the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), widely supported by Palestinians, as a “cancer”. “We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he added. The state department would identify any individual or group opposed to “doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel” – that is, in the settlements – “and withdraw US government support”.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been kept in conservatorship limbo for over a decade now. But the Trump administration may move to end that before leaving office in January. In the wake of the government bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing-finance giants were placed into conservatorship. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, a new regulator, was created to oversee the two companies’ operations as the companies recovered from the subprime-mortgage crisis and repaid the federal government. In that time, Fannie and Freddie’s shareholders — other than the federal government — have gone without even a single dividend payment. For most of this time, Fannie and Freddie’s profits have been swept to the Treasury Department.
Conservatorship was not intended to be a permanent thing. In April 2019, Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief economist, Mark Calabria, was confirmed as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the main regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since assuming that post, Calabria has moved to lay the groundwork needed to get the two companies out of conservatorship. But with President Trump’s loss in the elections earlier this month, a wrench was thrown in those plans. Former Vice President Joe Biden is unlikely to be in any hurry to move Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of their current arrangement. Faced with that reality, Calabria appears to be considering a plan to move Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship before the inauguration, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Depending on how the exit is orchestrated, it could have a major impact on the housing finance ecosystem. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not mortgage lenders — they buy and securitize mortgage loans, providing a crucial inflow of capital. All told, nearly half of all mortgages created in the first quarter of 2020 (47%) were backed by Fannie and Freddie, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance and the Urban Institute. “Director Calabria has previously been quoted as saying that he believed the GSEs would be able to successfully exit the conservatorship sometime in 2022,” said Rick Sharga, a mortgage industry veteran and executive vice president at real-estate analytics firm RealtyTrac. “Accelerating the exit by at least a year seems ambitious at best, and risky at worst, given the critical role Fannie and Freddie play in providing mortgage market liquidity and stability.”
The government has announced that up to three households will be able to mix indoors and stay with each other overnight from 23 to 27 December under loosened coronavirus restrictions across the UK. But how exactly will these new “Christmas bubbles” work?
Can I eat out with my Christmas bubble? No. In a blow to pubs and restaurants, and families who like to avoid the piles of washing-up, separate households in a Christmas bubble will not be able to meet up in hospitality venues. Restrictions on these venues – which will vary depending on which tier they are placed in from 2 December – will remain in place over the festive period. However, members of a Christmas bubble can meet at home, in places of worship and in outdoor public places including gardens. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in.
Is there a limit on the number of people who can meet up as part of a bubble? There is no maximum size for a Christmas bubble, so you don’t need to worry if you and those you join with live in large households. This means three households of two people each – a total of six people – are allowed to meet, just as three households of, say, six people each – a total of 18 people – are also allowed to meet.
If I’m already in a bubble with another household, do we count as one household or two for the new Christmas rules? Under the rules, a support bubble will count as one household when Christmas bubbles are being formed. In England, support bubbles have been permitted for a number of months throughout Covid restrictions, allowing a household with one adult to join with another household. Those in a support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight and visit public places together. This means that, technically, if three support bubbles – each comprising two separate households – were to join together in a Christmas bubble, six households would be able to meet.
Can I join more than one Christmas bubble? No, the bubbles have to be exclusive, and they cannot change over the five-day period – so pick your households carefully. This means that you can’t mix with two households on Christmas Day, and then a different two households on Boxing Day. However, children whose parents are separated will be able to move between two Christmas bubbles so they’re able to celebrate with both parents.
Do I need to socially distance from the people in my Christmas bubble? Bubble members will not be required to social distance while they are together, so they can hug or kiss under the mistletoe. However, people are advised to exercise caution if there are vulnerable people involved in their bubble. “This virus is not going to grant a Christmas truce,” Boris Johnson said on Monday.
The Trump legal team doesn’t have to prove the voting machines WERE manipulated, only that they COULD BE.
If the courts rule Dominion’s voting machines to be unconstitutional, then how many millions of ballots will be discarded? Who wins the election if those millions of potentially fraudulent votes are discarded? https://t.co/fZLKY9Z14T
Much to their current chagrin, in April 2018, The New York Times published a video of a University of Michigan computer scientist, J. Alex Halderman, showing a group of students how easy it is to rig a Dominion Voting Machine. The name of the video is “I Hacked an Election. So Can the Russians.” A caption next to the title read, “It’s time America’s leaders got serious about voting security.” At the time, Democrats were focused on Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation and were anxiously waiting for his team to find evidence that President Trump had colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election. A colleague of mine, The Western Journal’s Jared Harris, dug up this little gem.
The video shows Homer Simpson using a touch screen to vote for Barack Obama, but it instantly turns into a vote for John McCain. Professor Halderman narrates the brief video and tells students that the Dominion Accuvote TS and TSX machines are obsolete models, but were still being used in American elections.Halderman continues his monologue:”I’m here to tell you that the electronic voting machines Americans got to solve the problem of voting integrity, they turned out to be an awful idea. That’s because people like me can hack them, all too easily.I once turned a voting machine into a video game. Imagine what the Russians and the North Koreans can do.I’ve even gone to Congress to raise the alarm. He is seen testifying at a Congressional hearing. “These machines are vulnerable to sabotage and even to cyberattacks that could change votes.”
Halderman tells viewers how to hack the Dominion voting machines. Step 1: Buy a voting machine on eBay, or if you’re the North Koreans, Hack the manufacturer and steal their software code. Step 2: Write a virus. Step 3: Email your virus to every election official responsible for programming the voting machines with new ballots. Step 4: Wait. Step 5: Hijack the programming and let the election officials copy your invisible malicious code onto the voting machines. Step 6: Watch your code silently steal votes.
Thirty-seven states have changed their mail-in voting procedures this year in response to the coronavirus. They have followed the lead of Democrats and the media, who claim that concerns about voter fraud and vote buying are figments of the Republican imagination. President Trump’s comments on Thursday and Friday about voter fraud with mail-in ballots have sent the media into a frenzy. One “news” article after another since then has asserted that President Trump’s warning is “baseless” (Associated Press and The Washington Post) or “without evidence” (The New York Times, Politico and NBC News). Liberals and progressives often try to model the U.S. on Western European countries, but you never hear them arguing that we should adopt their voting rules. There is a reason for that.
Banning mail-in voting or requiring people to use photo IDs to obtain a mail-in ballot is quite common in developed countries, especially in Europe. To study this, the Crime Prevention Research Center, of which I am the president, created a database on voting rules around the world. Here is what we found. Besides the United States, there are 36 member states in the OECD. Forty-seven percent ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad, and 30 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Fourteen percent of the countries ban mail-in voting even for those living abroad. In addition, some countries that allow voting by mail for some citizens living in the country don’t allow it for everyone.
For example, Japan and Poland have limited mail-in voting for those who have special certificates verifying that they are disabled. France has made an exception this year to its ban on mail-in ballots to those who are sick or at particular risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Poland will allow mail-in ballots for everyone for this year only. Brazil and Russia satisfy the economic standards of the OECD, but are excluded for various political reasons. Both countries completely ban mail-in voting and require photo IDs for in-person voting. Among the 27 countries in the European Union, 63 percent ban mail-in voting unless living abroad and another 22 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Twenty-two percent ban the practice even for those who live abroad.
There are 16 countries in the rest of Europe, and they are even more restrictive. Every single one bans mail-in voting for those living in the country or require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Sixty-three percent don’t allow mail-in ballots even for citizens living outside of the country. Are all of these countries, socialist and non-socialist alike, Western and Eastern European, developed and undeveloped, acting “without evidence?” It is not as though people in these countries haven’t heard the same arguments about the importance of the ease of voting—or about how photo ID requirements will, as one professor in the U.K. explained, supposedly “lead to people not being able to vote.”
These countries have learned the hard way what happens when mail-in ballots aren’t secured. They have also discovered how hard it is to detect vote buying when both those buying and selling the votes have an incentive to hide the exchange. France banned mail-in voting in 1975 because of massive fraud in Corsica, where postal ballots were stolen or bought and voters cast multiple votes. Mail-in ballots were used to cast the votes of dead people.
An eerie silence oppressed the election news-space much of last week as Mr. Trump and his people seemed to lay low, Br’er Rabbit style, and a lot of folks wondered what was going on in that-there briar patch. Towards the weekend, Rudolf Giuliani methodically described some of the evidence at hand about janky ballot reporting, but that must have been too plodding for the Big Media gang. Then another Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, came on Lou Dobbs’s Friday evening news show and some people started paying attention to some things she said, like, “I’m going to release the kraken” — referring to the largest and most feared sea monster in Old Norse mythology. Miz Powell, she means bidness. She went on, “We have staggering statistical evidence; we have staggering personal testimony… we’re beginning to collect evidence on the financial interest of the governors and secretaries of state who bought into the Dominion [vote tabulation] systems… President Trump won this election in a landslide, it is irrefutable… we are gonna go after it, and I am going to expose every one of them.”
Well, that might have put the fear of Gawd in some people. In case anyone in the back-of-the-class wasn’t paying attention, Miz Powell went back on the air Sunday morning with Maria Bartiromo and said, “We’re fixing to overturn the results of this election in multiple states… President Trump won not by hundreds of thousands of votes but by millions of votes that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose…. We have so much evidence I feel it’s coming in like a firehose.” Is Ms. Powell bluffing? Why would she try, since the time left in this game is short and her only play is to show her cards? “I never say anything I can’t prove,” she declared.
[..] It’s a pretty rich gameboard out there and the clock is ticking. The possible outcomes are several: The state legislatures in disputed states could choose their own elector slates. In short order, the President’s lawyers will take their case to the US Supreme Court, which might invalidate the disputed states’ elections and send the contest into the House of Representatives a la the 1876 Hayes-Tilden election. The Department of Justice could level felony charges before December 8 at a long list of companies and persons involved in demonstrable ballot fraud. This could amount to decapitation of the Deep State. Would Mr. Barr dare? A lot of people doubt it. I’m sure readers can conjure up other possibilities.
In any case, a final victory for Joe Biden would hopelessly taint any administration he leads and would lead to much harsher resistance coming from the other side this time — while he is trying to govern during an economic calamity worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Maybe ex-CIA chief John Brennan never should have messed with General Mike Flynn. Just sayin’.
“.. if the one vote doesn’t give the leading candidate 270 electoral votes, then automatically it goes to the House of Representatives, where a whole new process takes over, and a process that clearly favors President Trump..”
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz predicted that President Donald Trump will attempt to settle the election in a way not seen since the 19th century. In an interview with Newsmax, the longtime legal expert said Trump no longer is attempting to reach 270 Electoral College votes but will instead focus on denying Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances of getting 270 votes. “Let’s look at the big picture: The big picture now has shifted,” Dershowitz told the website. “I do not believe that President Trump is now trying to get to 270 electoral votes. I think he thinks that’s out of the question.” Trump hasn’t signaled in public about his chances of securing 270 votes due to several legal challenges.
“What he’s trying to do is to deny Joe Biden 270 votes, by challenging in Pennsylvania, Georgia, in Nevada, in Michigan, in Arizona,” Dershowitz said, adding that not allowing Biden to reach 270 out of 538 votes would eventually force House state delegations to vote, where Republicans have an advantage over Democrats. Currently, the GOP has a 26-23-1 state delegation majority in the House of Representatives. “If he can keep the Biden count below 270, then the matter goes to the House of Representatives, where, of course, there is a Republican majority among the delegations of states, and you vote by state if it goes to the House,” Dershowitz said. “He’s trying to follow the playbook of three elections of the 19th century.”
Dershowitz noted that a number of things would have to align perfectly for Trump to win under that circumstance. “You need a perfect storm for it to work,” he said. “You need to get enough states, enough state attorneys general, or state departments, or whoever, secretaries of state or governors that are Republican that legitimately refuse to certify the results because they’re under challenge on the day the Electoral College meets by statute.” “If on that day, Biden doesn’t have 270 votes—you don’t get to vote two or three times on that; as far as the Constitution’s concerned, it’s one vote—and if the one vote doesn’t give the leading candidate 270 electoral votes, then automatically it goes to the House of Representatives, where a whole new process takes over, and a process that clearly favors President Trump,” added the former law professor.
The Democrat Director of Texas state political strategy for the Joe Biden Presidential campaign has been arrested for electoral fraud. Democratic Party operative Dallas Jones was formally accused of helping to run an illegal ballot harvesting operation in the state of Texas on behalf of the Joe Biden campaign during this contested Presidential election. According to the National File, two investigators, including a former FBI agent and former police officer, testified under oath that they have Democratic Party internal documentation, as well as video evidence and witnesses, for their investigation. The following is an affidavit from private investigator and retired Houston police officer Mark A. Aguirre, which was submitted under oath.
“My name is Mark A. Aguirre. I am above the age of eighteen years and am fully competent to make this affidavit. The facts stated in this affidavit are within my personal knowledge and are true and correct. “I am a retired captain with the Houston Police Department. I am now a private investigator. “I am currently involved in an investigation related to a wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme in Harris County intended to rig the elections in the Houston/Harris County area. This scheme involves voter fraud on a massive scale. “Based on interviews, review of documents, and other information, I have identified the individuals in charge of the ballot harvesting scheme. These individuals include political consultant Dallas Jones, who was recently hired by the Joe Biden for President campaign to oversee their Harris County initiative, District 13 Texas State Senator Borris Miles, who is the handler of Mr. Jones, political consultant Gerald Womack, and Precinct 1 Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
One of the companies these individuals are using as a front for this operation is AB Canvassing, although there are others that have been identified that we are investigating.” “I have in my possession video-taped interviews of witnesses attesting to the aforementioned people having groups of people completing thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots, including completing ballots for deceased individuals; illegally going into nursing homes, with the complicity of the nursing home staff, and filling out and forging the signatures of nursing home residents; signing up homeless individuals to vote using the ballot harvester’s address, then completing the ballot and forging the homeless individual’s signature.
Before going dark in October, U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation made headlines with the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in order to continue surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser. There have been rumors for months that Durham found material not disclosed by special counsel Mueller or the Justice Department’s inspector general in their prior investigations. He also is known to have been working with a grand jury as part of his investigation. There is ample reason why a Biden administration would want to see Durham’s investigation closed.
Earlier this year, disclosures contradicted Biden’s denials that he knew of or was involved in the investigation of figures like Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; the disclosures indicated Biden may have sought to “unmask” Flynn in surveillance reports. There also are accounts from the Oval Office that Biden was briefed on the Flynn investigation, including the fact that the FBI thought his discussions with Russian diplomats were “legit.” Earlier, FBI investigators sought to end the Flynn investigation for lack of evidence of any crime; according to one report, Biden raised the possibility of prosecuting Flynn under the Logan Act, a federal law widely viewed as unconstitutional.
The Durham investigation may not result in new indictments but could result in the release of new evidence. Indeed, the greatest risk of intervention by the Biden administration would be the withholding of any report or the use of classification rules to bar parts of its release. That report could shed light on how the Russia investigation began and was sustained, despite early intelligence refuting the collusion allegations. This includes recently released information that President Obama was briefed on intelligence suggesting that Hillary Clinton was working to falsely paint Trump as colluding with Russians. Such findings could be highly embarrassing not only to Obama administration officials but a number of congressional Democrats — including Rep. Schiff, who assured the public that, after contrary findings by the special counsel and the inspector general, his House committee had clear evidence of collusion. Schiff never produced that evidence.
As in the past, there is a disturbing symbiosis of the media and activists feeding off each other. When Biden was viewed as the likely winner, theories of voting irregularities instantly became “conspiracy theories.” Groups like the Lincoln Project targeted law firms and launched a campaign to force lawyers to abandon Trump as a client. This effort resulted in Twitter blocking the Lincoln Project for targeting individual Trump lawyers in a tweet (accompanied by a skull-and-crossbones emoji) that was deemed threatening and abusive. That only seemed to thrill the Lincoln Project. It reportedly joined Democrats in targeting law firms like Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur and threatening its lawyers with professional ruin. It claimed that any firm working for Trump on election litigation was part of a “dangerous attack on our democracy.”
Trying to strip people of their counsel, of course, is the real attack on our democracy — and it worked: The firm buckled and withdrew, saying the pressure caused internal struggles and at least one lawyer’s resignation. Other campaigns have targeted individual lawyers and what used to be called “fellow travelers” during the McCarthy period. After the election, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called for liberals to assemble enemies lists of those “complicit” in the Trump administration. (Ironically, the first entry by a Bernie Sanders surrogate were the Republicans who founded the Lincoln Project). Former Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan proudly tweeted: “WH staff are starting to look for jobs. Employers considering them should know there are consequences for hiring anyone who helped Trump attack American values.”
However, the effort to intimidate lawyers representing Trump or his campaign is not about vengeance. It is about insurance. Even though the success of these challenges is small and shrinking, opponents do not want to risk any judicial scrutiny of the vote. Social media campaigns targeted the clients of firms like Jones Day, while the Lincoln Project pledged $500,000 to make the lives of these lawyers a living hell. It is the kind of tactic used by Antifa and other activists to “deplatform” speakers or harass individuals at their homes. Trump is highly unpopular with many Americans — and virtually all of the media — so it is popular to harass anyone who supports or represents him. It is mob justice targeting the justice system itself.
The Moderna vaccine appears to be far superior when it come to storage:
ZH: “Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored ultra-cold until a few days before it is used, but can be kept at refrigerator temperatures for as much as five days. Moderna, meanwhile, pointed to new data showing its vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days, much longer than a previously estimated seven days.”
A new Covid-19 vaccine candidate is almost 95 percent effective, its American manufacturer has said, potentially giving it the edge in the race to defeat the virus. US-based biotechnology company Moderna announced on Monday that the two-dose mRNA-1273 vaccine it is developing has an efficacy of 94.5 percent, based on the results of a Phase-3 study, involving over 30,000 people. In the clinical trials, 90 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the group given the placebo, compared to five cases among those given the vaccine. It comes as a rival vaccine by US-based Pfizer and German firm BioNTech was found to have an efficacy of 90 percent, while the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine reported a 92 percent efficacy.
“The overall effectiveness has been remarkable…it’s a great day,” Moderna’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, told BBC News. The company now intends to apply for an emergency use authorization with US regulator the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks. Europe’s health regulator, the European Medicines Agency, said on Monday that it had started a real-time “rolling review” of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, following similar checks on Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines. Moderna expects to have 20 million doses of its vaccine ready to ship to the US by the end of the year and said it remains “on track” to manufacture between 500 million and a billion doses globally in 2021. It also announced on Monday that its vaccine has a better shelf life and stability than that of Pfizer’s, which must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, or -94 Fahrenheit.
The endemic mindset is the world of abstractions we see under the influence of learned helplessness. There are only so many days in which death or hospitalization counts may still function as information for the human mind. There are only so many descriptions, images or videos of hospitals in the early stages of being overwhelmed which will be able to change anyone’s perspective. There is a point of diminishing informational returns from another story about a lost small business, or a struggling low income family. In the real world, the difference between 1,500 deaths in a day and 1,000 is staggering, real and personal. To the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In the real world, the difference between a 60% drop in revenue and a 30% drop in revenue is breathtaking.
To the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In the real world, the difference between being out of work for 9 months and being out of work for 4 months may be nearly existential. But if we are not the one affected, to the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In short, the endemic mindset is one in which our default expectation is that our world has become permanently worse in a way that we are helpless to do anything about.I don’t think I miss the mark by saying that ALL of us are suffering from this just a little bit.At some point in the last several months, did it start to feel like checking in every few days with elderly neighbors wasn’t really helping? Did it feel like extraordinary support of waitstaff, servers and owners of local businesses demanded much of you and still couldn’t keep them from going under?
Did your capacity to give to local food security charities give way to a recognition that the need never went away? Are you a financial advisor or professional being asked for good advice or wisdom about how to navigate “these challenging times”, and feeling like you ran out of both months ago? Are you a parent forced into remote learning supervision, feeling like you’ve botched it and waiting out the clock to give you a reprieve?Does the choice between standing outside in the cold, six feet apart, mask obscuring any sign of warmth or human emotion, or staying at home for Thanksgiving with the same people you’ve seen day in and day out for 8 months make you want to scream?
In your heart of hearts, do all of those things make it a little bit easier to believe that there’s just maybe nothing we can do that’s really going to take this shock away? That maybe we live our lives and weather all of this as best we can? If you are feeling that a bit – I feel that pull from time to time, too, if it helps – it doesn’t make you bad. It makes you human.
The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by The Associated Press shows, despite the agency’s past assertions that there has been no transmission at the Geneva site.The revelation comes amid a surge of cases in Europe, host country Switzerland, and the city of Geneva, in particular, and the email said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. But 32 were in staff who had been working on premises at the headquarters building, indicating that the health agency’s strict hygiene, screening and other prevention measures were not sufficient to spare it from the pandemic.
Farah Dakhlallah, a WHO spokeswoman, confirmed the accuracy of the information about the case count in an email to the AP and that officials were still investigating.“We have not yet established whether transmission occurred on campus, but are looking into the matter,” Dakhlallah said. Raul Thomas, who heads business operations at WHO, emailed staff on Friday noting that five people — four on the same team and one who had contact with them— had tested positive for COVID-19. While the email did not use the term “cluster,” one is generally defined as two or more cases in the same area, and the five cases indicate basic infection control and social distancing procedures were likely being broken.
A previous email he sent on Oct. 16 indicated that no clusters had been found at the site. “As per standard protocols, these colleagues are receiving the necessary medical attention and are recovering at home,” the email Friday said. “These last five cases bring the total reported number of affected members of the Geneva based workforce to 65 since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Here’s the fantasy: if we stop the shutdowns, the economy will naturally bounce back to its oh-so wunnerful perfection of Q3 2019. This is a double-dose of magical thinking and denial. The U.S. economy was unraveling in 2019 from 11 long years of Fed-induced over-capacity in almost everything (except integrity, competition, transparency and social cohesion) and the bone-crushing burden of corrupt, greedy cartels that have the nation by the throat. The reality nobody dares mention is that thanks to 20 years of the Federal Reserve’s easy money, there’s rampant over-capacity everywhere you look: there’s too many cafes, bistros, restaurants, fast-food outlets, hotels, resorts, AirBnBs, unprofitable Tech Unicorns, airline flights, Tech startups, office towers, retail space, malls, absurdly overpriced apartments for rent, storage facilities, delivery services, office sublets, colleges, attorneys, unemployed workers with multiple credentials–the list of too much, too many is endless.
Thanks to the Fed, the most profitable venture was borrowing to increase capacity, then borrow some more to extract the phantom value created by the greater capacity. Nobody cared if the office tower remained mostly empty; the money was made in building it and extracting its “value” via debt, not operating a legitimate enterprise. This Fed-created house of cards was never sustainable, or healthy, as all the incentives to add capacity were perverse. The illusion that every mall, office tower, retail space, college, apartment building, etc. would be filled was only plausible as long as consumers and zombie corporations were borrowing and spending more than they earned. That was never sustainable, but rather than look at the systemic set-up of an insanely predatory, fragile debt bubble resting precariously on over-capacity, the status quo is blaming Covid and lockdowns. The problem isn’t the pin, it’s the bubble that was begging to be popped by something, anything.
The COVID-19 crisis has prompted extraordinary financial support to firms by governments and central banks. This support has taken the form of public credit guarantee schemes, debt moratoria, direct support to firms via financial aid programmes, central bank lending and purchase programmes, and a loosening of micro- and macro-prudential supervisory rules. While this support is crucial to keep a cash-strapped economy afloat, it has invigorated a debate on whether such policies are promoting ‘zombie’ lending and ‘zombie’ firms. Zombie lending is generally defined as lending to non-viable (i.e. zombie) firms. The literature proposes different methods to measure zombies, which remains challenging, however.
The ‘zombification’ of the economy refers to a situation where public support programmes and bank lending actions keep unviable firms alive. This term gained widespread prominence following the Japanese crisis of the 1990s, when a collapse in real estate prices followed by a prolonged period of low growth resulted in many weak banks and firms, with weak banks preserving their lending relationships with weak firms, rolling over credits to unviable firms. Why would banks lend to alleged zombie firms? The literature has put forward two main explanations. On the dark side, banks may want to engage in the ‘evergreening’ (i.e. rolling over) of existing loans to avoid loan loss recognition. Recognising loan losses implies a deterioration of capital buffers.
It therefore follows that especially low-capitalised banks have an incentive to lend to zombies. On the bright side, banks may lend to zombies to preserve valuable relationships. To the extent that relationship lenders have an informational advantage over their customers, this may allow them provide credit to illiquid but viable firms in crisis times. Provision of such liquidity to firms in distress has the positive externality that it can avoid disruptions of supply chains.
The year 2020 will be an extremely tough year for the European economy. Added to an unprecedented drop is a strong impact in the fourth quarter due to the new lockdowns. Morgan Stanley estimates that the eurozone’s GDP will fall by 2.2% in the fourth quarter, a 7% drop in the full year 2020. In addition, the investment bank lowers the outlook for 2021 with a rebound of only 5% in the average of the euro area, delaying the recovery of 2019 GDP to 2023. The “jobless recovery” is even more worrying. The apparently spectacular rebound data for the third quarter resulted in zero job creation. Unemployment in the eurozone in September stood at 8.3% and in Spain at 16.5%, not counting the millions of furloughed jobs in Europe.
In this environment, the United States’ recovery seems much stronger. GDP recovered in the third quarter to just 3.5% below 2019 levels. Unemployment has fallen to 6.9% in October but remains well above the record employment levels of 2019. However, the data from China is apparently spectacular. The manufacturing and services index already show an enviable expansion. GDP for the first three quarters is already growing at 0.7% after an expansion of 4.9% in the third quarter. Urban unemployment in China is 5.4% after shooting to a paltry 6%. What is behind the Chinese miracle compared to the poor eurozone?
A planned GDP. The GDP of China is dictated by production, not demand. It is not an observed GDP, but rather planned by the government together with the provinces. For this reason, many analysts scrutinize the data and deduct various factors, including the increase and valuation of inventories. It is not by chance that inventories of iron ore, automobiles and finished goods have risen to the highest level in seven months as the economy recovers. If the economic situation were in the announced expansion, inventories would be falling rapidly when sold.
Much is produced that is then not sold and remains in warehouses. Thus, it is not surprising that industrial prices fell 2.1% in September, export prices 0.9%, and the country’s debt soared 13.5% amid an apparently miraculous recovery. Industrial business profits have fallen 2.4% between January and September and, furthermore, factory door prices fell faster than expected in September and were at risk of deflation. These are signs of a slowly recovering economy, like all others, but not of a growth miracle.
Private rents in Britain’s cities have fallen by as much as 15% over the past year as tenants quit urban areas for a new life in the suburbs or the countryside, data shows. What has been described by some an “exodus” from the cities sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic is now pushing up rental costs in rural areas. In October, average rents in the countryside were 5.5% higher than a year earlier, while typical city rents were down by almost exactly the same amount (5.3%), according to figures for Great Britain from the estate agents Hamptons International. This gear change in demand has created a glut of properties in some areas and shortages in others. There were 29% more homes available to rent in cities than at the same time last year, while the number available in the countryside was down sharply – by 48%.
The reassessing of priorities brought on by the pandemic, with millions working from home and many wanting more space, combined with plummeting numbers of international students, is wreaking particular havoc on central London. Hamptons said rents in inner London were down by 14.9% year on year as landlords slashed costs to attract tenants – lopping almost £400 off the average monthly rent, which fell from £2,564 in October 2019 to £2,182 last month. The figures come after a series of surveys suggesting that many city dwellers have either moved out or are planning to do so after re-evaluating their lifestyle. Many are likely to have concluded that they will be able to continue working from home for at least part of the week once the crisis has subsided.
Japanese people have taken to wearing face masks during the pandemic, but the main reason for doing so has more to do with going along with others than preventing the coronavirus from spreading, a new study says. Peer pressure emerged as the dominant factor for wearing face masks amid the health crisis in Japan, according to the results of a survey administered by academics. A research group headed by Kazuya Nakayachi, a professor at Doshisha University’s Faculty of Psychology, published its findings in the Swiss scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology on Aug. 4. “Wearing masks is recommended to stop the virus from spreading to others, but our research suggests wearers rarely use masks for that purpose,” Nakayachi said.
“Most of them simply want to don masks just because others do.” The researchers surveyed 1,000 Japanese citizens online in March about how often and why they wear face coverings. The survey found that most people wear the protective gear, even though masks offer the wearers themselves limited protection. The results show a majority of respondents, or 51.2 percent, said they “usually” wear masks amid the pandemic, followed by 31.4 percent who said they “sometimes” wear them. Only 17.4 percent said they do “not at all” wear masks.
The head of the US Food and Drug Administration raised the possibility in an interview published on Sunday (Aug 30) that a future vaccine against the coronavirus might be given emergency approval before the end of trials designed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. A request for such extraordinary approval would have to come from the vaccine developer, Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three,” which involves large-scale human testing, “we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.” But Hahn insisted he was not acting under pressure from President Donald Trump, who has been pushing hard for a vaccine, saying one might be ready before the Nov 3 elections.
“This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision,” Hahn said. “This is not going to be a political decision.” Three Western drugs makers are well along with their Phase 3 clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of participants. The three are AstraZeneca, which is partnering with Oxford University in England; Moderna, collaborating with the US National Institutes of Health, and the Pfizer/BioNTech alliance. By the nature of the trials it is difficult to predict when reliable results will emerge.
Before the mainstream media transfigures Moderna founder and CEO Stephane Bancel into a corporate savior on par with Bill Gates, we’d like to remind investors (and the public) that Moderna and its insiders have demonstrated an eyebrow-raising affinity for pumping the stock with over-hyped press releases then cashing in shares or warrants (all insider stock sales were pre-scheduled divestitures, the insiders’ lawyers have argued). Despite receiving nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money via “Operation Warp Speed”, the drugmaker is planning to charge as much as $37 for a single dose, or up to $60 for two courses, of its experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. That’s far and away the highest price point disclosed yet.
And while we wait for more detailed data from the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials, patent advocacy group KEI is taking Moderna and its executives to task for neglecting to disclose government funding received by the company during its early stages, before the coronavirus pandemic. Despite receiving $25 million from the Department of Defense’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” – or “Darpa” – Moderna has never disclosed this, or any other, government funding in its applications for 126 patents and 154 patent applications. KEI has lodged a request with the DoD and Darpa to remedy this in patents.
As KEI points out, Moderna’s “failure” to disclose its government funding could have serious consequences for Americans hoping to get their hands on an affordable vaccine. The disclosures could affect everything from the US government’s worldwide royalty free license, to the public’s march-in rights, to obligations to make inventions available to the public on reasonable terms. When approached by the FT, Darpa confirmed that Moderna was required in its contracts to disclose the funding in any patent applications that stemmed from research that the US government helped fund.
Now, Darpa is actively looking into which Moderna patents may have been produced with Darpa support, so the US government can take credit where credit is due. “It appears that all past and present Darpa awards to Moderna include the requirement to report the role of government-funding for related inventions,” Darpa spokesman Jared Adams said in an emailed response to the Financial Times. “Further, Darpa is actively researching agency awards to Moderna to identify which patents and pending patents, if any at all, may be associated with Darpa support,” he said. Mr Adams declined to comment further, saying the investigation was continuing. US federal law required government funding to be disclosed in these circumstances, he noted.
An NBC/WSJ Poll on expected mail-in votes might cause some very misleading if not totally inaccurate reporting on who is in the lead depending on when mail-in votes get counted: “Supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden are significantly more likely than Trump backers to say they plan to vote by mail. Nearly half – 47 percent – say they plan to mail in their ballot, with an additional 21 percent saying they will cast a vote before Election Day at an early in-person voting site. Only about a quarter of Biden voters, 26 percent, plan to vote on Election Day at a polling place. In contrast, two-thirds of Trump’s voters — 66 percent — say they will vote in person on Election Day. Just 11 percent say they plan to vote by mail, and 20 percent say they will vote early in person”.
Due to the above, FiveThirtyEight notes the Consequences Might Be Weird: “If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.
Let’s do a quick-and-dirty exercise to show what I mean. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll overall, Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points among registered voters. But Biden led Trump by 63 points (!) among voters who planned to vote by mail, and Trump led Biden by 33 points among voters who planned to vote in person on Election Day. If this kind of partisan split occurred in every state, Biden would win the mail vote in all 50 states — from Alabama to Wyoming — and Trump would win the Election Day vote in all 50.”
The above scenario in all 50 states isn’t likely, but it is likely in some states. The election day results could easily swing Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and that could swing the election night apparent winner. Trump will howl and his supporters will believe him. Some of my friends believe Trump will refuse to stand down, but I am sure it would not come to that. A bluff in that direction, however, is another matter. Chaos could last for days or even weeks in such a scenario with severe consequences on the stock market as well as potential riots which Trump would then try to pin on Biden.
President Trump’s support among black voters rose 9 percentage points amid the Republican National Convention, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Twenty-four percent of registered black voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey, which included the first two days of the convention, said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 76 percent said they disapprove. That is up 9 points from the previous survey conducted Aug. 8-11, where the President received 15 percent support among this group. The survey found support among Hispanic voters also grew by 2 percentage points, from 30 percent in the last poll to 32 percent in this most recent survey. Forty-four percent of overall registered voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey approved of Trump’s job as president, a 1 percentage point dip from the last poll.
Eighty-two percent of Republican voters approve of Trump, a 1 point increase from the last poll, while 18 percent disapprove. Eighty-seven percent of Democratic voters disapprove of Trump along with 64 percent of independent voters. The survey found the president remains underwater with suburban voters and urban voters, at 42 percent support each. His support remains steady among rural voters, at 53 percent. Thursday, Trump officially accepted the 2020 Republican presidential nomination during the last night of the RNC. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,861 registered voters between Aug. 22-25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.83 percentage points.
John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been coordinating with US Attorney John Durham and plans to soon declassify more documents related to the Trump-Russia probe. “I pledged to a bipartisan group of senators that I would look at all of the underlying intelligence surrounding the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference and this idea of Trump-Russia collusion, but I’m not going to prejudice John Durham’s work in connection with that, so we’ve had to coordinate with his office about the timing of that. But I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon.”
As a reminder, Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into several aspects of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities against Trump associates. Ratcliffe went on, referring to Durham’s review of the investigation: “He’s looking at the same documents that I am,” “He’s not sharing his findings or the work that he’s doing. But I’m coordinating with him to make sure that he has the intelligence documents that he needs to do his work. And what I don’t want to do is declassify something that might prejudice his work. So we’re going to have to coordinate as we go forward with the completion of his work with my ability to declassify documents.”
Additionally, Ratcliffe, said Sunday he has filed multiple “crimes reports” regarding alleged leaks of classified information to the media. “When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward.” He said that the leaks were “for political purposes” to create what he said is a false narrative “that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”
China’s five largest banks reported their biggest profit declines in at least a decade as they brace for further increases in bad loans in an economy weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The five lenders — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and Bank of Communications — released their latest financial report cards last week. All five posted at least 10% year-on-year declines in profit for the first half of 2020 as they set aside more funds for potential loan losses in the coming months — much like many banks around the world. “The banks have been asked to … perform ‘national service.’
They’ve been asked to support the economy at the expense of their own operational strength,” said Jason Tan, research analyst at CreditSights, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. Chinese banks, among the world’s largest by assets, have been placed at the front line of the government’s effort to soften the economic blow on households and businesses. Authorities in Beijing reportedly asked financial institutions to sacrifice 1.5 trillion yuan ($219 billion) in profits this year to help companies by lowering lending rates and deferring repayments on loans. The Chinese economy — the world’s second largest — is expected to grow just 1% this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hit global economic activity, according to the IMF.
That would be China’s weakest growth in at least 40 years, according to data by the fund. China, the first country to be hit by the fast-spreading coronavirus, has shown some signs of economic recovery. But the effect of the economic slowdown on banks have not materialized fully, said Tan. “The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments,” he explained. “So, these will probably come in the second half, if not in the first half of 2021 when the moratorium lifts in March 2021,” he added.
Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces Sunday as the threat of a new conflict with Athens looms in the eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey’s struggle for independence and future continues today as well,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message to commemorate Victory Day. “It is absolutely not a coincidence that those who seek to exclude us from the eastern Mediterranean are the same invaders as the ones who attempted to invade our homeland a century ago.” In recent weeks, Turkish and Greek forces have engaged in a series of cat-and-mouse military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
The confrontation was sparked when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves. Greece, a member of the European Union, claims the waters are part of its continental shelf and has enlisted the support of the 27-nation bloc, which has condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and warned of potential sanctions against Ankara. Turkey says Greece and others are denying its rights to explore for energy resources in the Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus have recently been joined by France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates in carrying out naval and aerial war games in the region. On Saturday, Turkey began its own military maneuvers until Sept. 11 off its southern coast.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry also released cockpit footage of what it said were Turkish jets in mock dogfights with Greek F-16s between Crete and Cyprus. “No one should have any doubts about our resolve in this matter and our unshakeable belief in victory,” Erdogan said. In an interview with broadcaster AHaber on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece extending its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles would be a “cause for war.” Earlier this week, Athens announced plans to extend its maritime border with Italy to 12 nautical miles. Erdogan laid a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara later Sunday. Ataturk led the Turkish troops in the independence struggle following World War I and went on to establish modern Turkey.
The travesty that is Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes fully on 7 September at the Old Bailey. I shall be abandoning my own legal team and going down to London to cover it again in full, for an expected three weeks. How this is going to work at the Old Bailey, I do not know. Covid restrictions presumably mean that the numbers in the public gallery will be tiny. As of now, there is no arrangement for Julian’s friends and family in place. It looks like 4am queuing is in prospect. By 7 September it will be six months since I applied to resume my membership of the National Union of Journalists. I STILL have not the slightest idea who objected, or what the grounds were for objection. I have not heard from the NUJ for months.
A senior official of an international journalists’ organisation has told us that he inquired, and learnt that the NUJ national executive has considered my application and set up a sub-committee to report. But if so, why is this secret, why have I not been informed, and why am I not allowed to know what the objection is? I find this all very sinister. At this stage it is not paranoid to wonder whose hand is behind this. The practical effect of this is that without NUJ membership I cannot access a Press card, and avail myself of whatever media arrangements are in place for the Assange hearing (just as I was kept out of most of the Salmond trial). I have now reached the stage where I would like to take legal action against the NUJ, but the finances are beyond me.
I am not going to ask you to donate because we are going to need all our resources for the contempt case against me, which the Crown drags out. I shall be writing next week about my own case and that hearing earlier this week. I would just note now that the “virtual hearing” is entirely unsatisfactory and unfair on defendants. There was at least one occasion when my QC agreed with a suggestion of the judge when I would have instructed them not to had I been, as I should normally have been, seated near them in court and able to instruct.
Scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates. A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19. Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.
Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population. “There are now a whole raft of activities – illegal logging, clearing and mining – with associated international trades in bushmeat and exotic pets that have created this crisis,” said Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke University. “In the case of Covid-19, it has cost the world trillions of dollars and already killed almost a million people, so clearly urgent action is needed.” It is estimated that tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and other wild environments are being bulldozed every year to cultivate palm trees, farm cattle, extract oil and provide access to mines and mineral deposits. This leads to the widespread destruction of vegetation and wildlife that are hosts to countless species of viruses and bacteria, most unknown to science. Those microbes can then accidentally infect new hosts, such as humans and domestic livestock.
The most disturbing thing about the Twitter hacks may not even be how easy it is to break into the company and take control over many things, but that, as screenshots show, Twitter very much DOES appear to have the power to shadow ban etc. accounts. And that is not what @jack told Congress.
Both the US and the world come up just short of new records. But there are rumblings about manipulated and inflated Florida numbers.
1) No data for the most vulnerable older (>55) population
2) Second dose absolutely necessary
3) Safety profile less than desirable
4) Durability of neutralizing Ab not so encouraging (decline from day 43~57)
5) Very low CD8 T-cell responses pic.twitter.com/Gl45zvEd1C
A highly anticipated clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine managed in part by the American drug company Moderna has resulted in some adverse effects in more than half of the trial’s participants, with one test group reporting “severe” symptoms. The trial, which is also being sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, administered the vaccine “as a 0.5-ml injection in the deltoid muscle” in two shots spaced about one month apart. Two separate groups received 25-microgram and 100-microgram doses, respectively. A third group with a 250-microgram dose was subsequently added. The vaccine “induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants,” the research team reported Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers said that “no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified.” Yet a majority of participants still reported at least one side effect. “Solicited adverse events that occurred in more than half the participants included fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site,” the report states. Fever, joint pain and nausea were also reported. Side effects grew more common with more (and larger) injections, the scientists write: “Systemic adverse events were more common after the second vaccination, particularly with the highest dose, and three participants (21%) in the 250 microgram dose group reported one or more severe adverse events.”
Notably, every participant in the two larger-dose groups reported adverse reactions after their second injections. One study participant in the smallest-dose group, meanwhile, was removed due to having developed hives after the first round of injections. The scientists said that due to the ongoing status of the project, they are not yet “able to assess the durability of the immune responses” generated by the vaccine, but that they intend to follow participants “for 1 year after the second vaccination” and examine regular blood samples to monitor the vaccine’s effects.
Stephen O’Rahilly recently spent a week in a hospital, sick with COVID-19 and struggling to breathe. “My lungs were quite badly affected,” says O’Rahilly, 62, who spent almost a week getting extra oxygen in what’s known as a high-intensity care unit in the U.K. The experience got him thinking: While about 80% of cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home, why do some people, including him, wind up with more severe infections? Besides his age, O’Rahilly knew he had another strike against him when it comes to COVID-19 infection: his weight. His BMI, or body mass index, is over 30. O’Rahilly, who directs the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit at Cambridge University, is considered one of the world’s leading obesity researchers.
He was knighted in 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II for his work, which includes the discovery of a genetic condition that robs the body of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite and weight. And so after his brush with the coronavirus, he started digging into exactly what it is about obesity that makes it so risky for a COVID-19 infection. It has become clearer that people who are obese are one of the groups at highest risk from the disease, regardless of their age. The CDC recently refined its risk categories for COVID-19, stating that obesity was as big a risk for COVID as having a suppressed immune system or chronic lung or kidney disease. The agency also lowered the bar for where that risk starts — from a BMI of 40 to a BMI of 30. Roughly 40% of Americans have a BMI over 30.
The CDC’s change in BMI risk comes after a British study of more than 17 million people found that people living with severe obesity were about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as people who were not obese. That was true even after other things like their age and sex were taken into account. The study also found that risk rises with the degree of obesity. The bigger a person, the higher their risk of a COVID-19 death. [O’Rahilly] he thinks the risk comes from the fact that fat makes and regulates hormones. For example, people who are obese make more of something called “complement” proteins. These proteins can trigger out-of-control blood clotting, which is a problem in patients with severe COVID-19.
People with obesity also have lower blood levels of a hormone called adiponectin. Recent studies in mice show that adiponectin protects the lungs. O’Rahilly thinks that if you have lower levels to begin with, you may be more likely to have lung inflammation during an infection like COVID-19. Adiponectin also helps keep blood vessels clean and open. So if the insides of your blood vessels are sticky, and a virus causes your immune system to go haywire and create more blood clots, that sets the stage for blockages. These blockages can cause heart attacks, strokes, and lung damage — all problems seen in COVID-19 patients. To compound the problem, people with obesity appear to have more ACE2 receptors on their cells than others. ACE2 receptors are the doors the virus uses to infect cells and then make more copies of itself.
The Victorian government has refused to answer questions about hospital surge capacity or the number of healthcare workers and medical institutions coping with outbreaks of Covid-19, with hundreds of health staff now in precautionary quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus. An email from the chief executive of Victoria’s largest public health service, Monash Health, said 77 staff across the service were in precautionary quarantine following three potential sources of exposure. Infections have been found in five employees. Monash Health services a quarter of the state. “We must use this opportunity to reinforce processes, to make sure that we all understand them, and are doing what we need to do to stay safe,” the email said, urging staff to use protective gear properly and undertake frequent infection risk assessments.
Meanwhile, 14 staff from St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne are recovering from the virus, an email sent from the chief executive to staff on Thursday said. The emergency and general medical departments of the hospital are undergoing deep cleaning following “potential exposures,” the email said. All emergency staff have undergone testing. There are 10 inpatients with Covid-19 at the hospital. The email said “a small number of emergency department staff” had contracted the virus, so precautions were being taken. There had also been a potential exposure in the intensive care ward, the email said. Contact tracing is underway and several intensive care and general medical team staff are now in isolation. As of Thursday, 70 staff associated with the Royal Melbourne Hospital were also in precautionary quarantine, with 12 positive staff and 48 inpatients with the virus. The ABC has confirmed Melbourne’s Northern Health has 142 staff in self-isolation.
It was a moment of chilling clarity. On 26 February, with the numbers of Italians known to be infected by coronavirus tripling every 48 hours, the country’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, appealed to fellow EU member states for help. His hospitals were overwhelmed. Italian doctors and nurses had run out of the masks, gloves and aprons they needed to keep themselves safe, and medics were being forced to play God with the lives of the critically-ill due to an acute lack of ventilators. An urgent message was passed from Rome to the European commission’s Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels. The specifications of Italy’s needs were uploaded into the EU’s Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS). But what happened next came as a shock. The distress call was met with silence.
“No member state responded to Italy’s request and to the commission’s call for help,” said Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner responsible for crisis management. “Which meant that not only is Italy is not prepared … Nobody is prepared … The lack of response to the Italian request was not so much a lack of solidarity. It was a lack of equipment.” It was as millions of Europeans prepared for their New Year’s Eve celebrations that officials in the Stockholm office of the EU public health agency, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), first received notice of a cluster of pneumonia cases in China of unknown origin. Established in 2005 in reaction to the Sars outbreak two years before, the ECDC offers scientific advice. It can do no more.
Responsibility for health remains entirely with the national governments of the EU, and not in the European commission or its agencies. Despite its limitations, the ECDC’s job is to look to the full European horizon, and call the alarm whether capitals listen or not. The agency gave its first threat assessment on 9 January, the body’s director Dr Andrea Ammon recalled. “At that time, the notion [was] most of the cases were linked to this live animal market [in the Chinese city of Wuhan]”, she told the Guardian. “Roughly two weeks later it turned out it is human to human transmission which of course changes what you need to do”. The initial concern was how to keep the disease outside the EU’s borders. On 17 January a first coronavirus conference call was held by another EU body born out of previous health crises – but again lacking the powers retained by the national governments.
[..] The stark reality was that in the months and years before coronavirus arrived in Europe, stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) had dwindled. Emergency supplies of masks had expired, been destroyed and never replaced. Pandemic preparedness plans were out of date. “Several European countries had a strategic stock of masks that were outdated … Most of them were just destroyed,” said one scientific adviser. France held 1.7bn protective masks in 2011, but now had only 117m. Between January and March this year it incinerated 1.5m. In 2017, Belgium ordered the destruction of 38m masks and they were never replaced. No one, it appeared, had a hold on what was out there. Up until 23 February, flights carrying donations of PPE were leaving Europe for China in the hope of containing the virus there. But the unpalatable truth was that Europe itself was exposed.
“Alleged leaked pictures from the Twitter admin control panel that was compromised showcase the buttons ‘Trends Blacklist’ and ‘Search Blacklist’, indicating Twitter DOES have the ability to shadowban its users.”
A Twitter insider was responsible for a wave of high profile account takeovers on Wednesday, according to leaked screenshots obtained by Motherboard and two sources who took over accounts. On Wednesday, a spike of high profile accounts including those of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Uber, and Apple tweeted cryptocurrency scams in an apparent hack. “We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the sources told Motherboard. The second source added they paid the Twitter insider. Motherboard granted the sources anonymity to speak candidly about a security incident. A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard that the company is still investigating whether the employee hijacked the accounts themselves or gave hackers access to the tool.
The accounts were taken over using an internal tool at Twitter, according to the sources, as well as screenshots of the tool obtained by Motherboard. One of the screenshots shows the panel and the account of Binance; Binance is one of the accounts that hackers took over today. According to screenshots seen by Motherboard, at least some of the accounts appear to have been compromised by changing the email address associated with them using the tool. In all, four sources close to or inside the underground hacking community provided Motherboard with screenshots of the user tool. Two sources said the Twitter panel was also used to change ownership of some so-called OG accounts—accounts that have a handle consisting of only one or two characters—as well as facilitating the tweeting of the cryptocurrency scams from the high profile accounts.
Twitter has been deleting some screenshots of the panel and has suspended users who have tweeted them, claiming that the tweets violate its rules. The panel is a stark example of the issue of insider data access at tech companies. Whereas in other cases hackers have bribed workers to leverage tools over individual users, in this case the access has led to takeovers of some of the biggest accounts on the social media platform and tweeted bitcoin related scams in an effort to generate income. The screenshots show details about the target user’s account, such as whether it has been suspended, is permanently suspended, or has protected status. One of the screenshots is a Twitter user posting images of the panel themselves. At the time of writing that account has been suspended.
Data breach monitoring and prevention service Under The Breach obtained a similar screenshot and tweeted it as the worker hijacked several accounts. The person in control of the Under The Breach account told Motherboard Twitter then removed the tweet with the screenshot and suspended them for 12 hours. A message replacing the tweet now says it violated the Twitter rules.
Twitter said hackers accessed its internal systems to hijack some of the platform’s top voices including U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former U.S. President Barack Obama and billionaire Elon Musk and used them to solicit digital currency. Twitter said employees with access to its internal systems had been successfully targeted by hackers who “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.” “We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company said.
Twitter temporarily took the extraordinary step of preventing for several hours at least some verified accounts from publishing messages altogether. It said it would restore access only when it was certain it could do so securely. Publicly available blockchain records show the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey earlier said the company was diagnosing the problem and pledged to share “everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.” “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,” he said in a tweet. Shares in the social media company tumbled almost 5% in trading after the market close before paring their losses.
Right about now @Twitter and @NSACyber / @NSAGov are discussing how to spin today’s events. Twitter will be reminded of their secrecy obligation under current National security legislation. Journalists however should drill into the issue of Govt backdoors and how secure they are.
A hack of prominent Twitter accounts is a nightmare for more than just the social network itself. Fake tweets soliciting digital currency on Wednesday from figures like Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden mean Twitter’s cybersecurity costs will rise. But if that’s all that happens, founder Jack Dorsey can count himself lucky. Posts on the social network have the potential to move markets, or worse. The intrusion was severe enough that Twitter locked down so-called verified accounts – its label for those owned by high-profile people. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former President Barack Obama and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos were among those that had appeared to solicit bitcoins from other users – saying that whatever was given would be doubled by them and returned. It sent Twitter’s stock down by almost 4% in after-market trading.
For investors in tech companies, a major hacking incident usually means one thing: higher costs. Twitter’s expenses already rose nearly 20% in the first quarter of the year, resulting in an operating loss of $7 million compared to a profit of $94 million a year earlier. Ideally, that’s offset by a reduced risk of future embarrassing events. The scam, though, could have been worse. Tweets from business leaders can move markets. Then there’s President Donald Trump, who uses the platform to announce new policies – and communicate with, or about, other world leaders. It’s not hard to see how a fake tweet could send markets reeling, or even pose a national security risk.
So what can be done? Users with public profiles could start behaving differently online, even if Trump doesn’t. The company, like other social media networks, benefits from having highly active celebrity users, and Covid-19 has actually proved good for business. Twitter’s average monetizable daily active users hit 166 million in the first quarter, an almost 25% increase. Fewer prominent tweeters could impact that trend, and hurt ad revenue. And if users don’t proceed with caution, regulators could also step in. Expect law enforcement agencies, and Congress, to want to know more about Twitter’s security processes. The social network could even emerge stronger for the scrutiny. The world, as well as the company’s investors, should hope it does.
Delta Airlines confirmed today why Warren Buffett dumped his huge stake in mid-crash: Airlines are in an existential crisis, and there is no V-shaped recovery, according to Delta’s earnings report for the second quarter this morning, which was beyond dismal. There were the huge losses. In the quarter ended June 30, Delta booked a pretax loss of $7.01 billion and an after-tax net loss of $5.72 billion. That translates into a loss of $9.01 a share. These losses include $2.1 billion in write-downs of its stakes in Latam Airlines and Aeromexico, both of which filed for bankruptcy in the US recently, and in Virgin Atlantic Airways, which may go into “administration” in the UK.
Then there were the revenues, with a breath-taking plunge:
• Passenger revenue – which last year was 90% of total revenues – collapsed by 94% year-over-year to just $678 million.
• Its highly profitable business cabin and other premium sales (usually over 1/3 of total revenues): -95%.
• Revenues, domestic flights -93%; Atlantic -97%; Latin America -98%; Pacific -95%.
• Cargo revenue: -42% to just $108 million.
• “Other revenues” (loyalty programs, its own refinery, etc.): -31% to $682 million.
• Total revenues: -88%, to $1.47 billion, from $12.5 billion a year ago
So Delta is shrinking into “a smaller, more efficient airline,” and is shedding its older less efficient planes this year, including all of its ancient MD-88, MD-90, plus its 777 and 737-700 fleets, and portions of its 767-300ER and A320 fleets. Shedding these planes comes with shedding the people that fly them and take care of them. Today, Delta said it would “proactively manage headcount and rescale operations” via “voluntary separation and early retirement programs.” In late June, Delta said it would send WARN notices to nearly 20% of its pilots, notifying them of potential furloughs. On October 1, the layoff restrictions attached to the bailout funds expire, and then the involuntary layoffs can commence.
On Dec. 10, 2017 Schiff once again stated, “We have all of these facts in chronology, you’d have to believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other — just doesn’t make rational sense … We do know this: the Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help, the Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help. That is pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.” Again, the Trump campaign accepted and made use of nothing. But don’t interrupt little Adam Schiff when he’s on a rhetorical roll. Schiff stated on Feb. 7, 2018 that there was “certainly a lot of evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He added, “In terms of ethical violations and acting against the interest of the United States, that evidence is already ample and in the public view.”
Again, the congressman from West Hollywood has produced evidence of no such thing. In what appeared to be a direct reversal, Schiff appeared on ABC’s “The View” on March 1, 2018. He refused to cite any specific evidence the panel he co-chaired had found that proved that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Yet on April 15, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Schiff made a point to say that it was “simply not true” that there had been no evidence the 2016 presidential campaign for Donald Trump colluded with Russia. Schiff, the ever-hopeful wannabe star, continued making headlines such as this one on April 27, 2018: “ADAM SCHIFF ANNOUNCES DEMOCRATS HAVE EVIDENCE OF TRUMP/RUSSIA COLLUSION.” The story quoted Schiff: “In fact, we found evidence of collusion in the abundant secret meetings and communications between Trump campaign officials and associates.”
None of this of course even touches on his ridiculous antics during the Ukrainian impeachment hoax where Schiff once again got caught lying about contact with the so-called “whistleblower.” Now, incredibly, Schiff is trying to fan the embers of the Russian collusion delusion one more time. One thing is abundantly clear. If Robert Mueller and his minions had any proof whatsoever that I worked with Russian intelligence to steal and disseminate data from the democrats, they most certainly would have charged me with it. If Mueller and his henchmen had any evidence that I had received documents from WikiLeaks and passed them on to the Trump campaign, they would have charged me with that. In fact, if Mueller and his 12 angry Democrats had any proof beyond the plea bargain-induced uncorroborated claims of convicted liars Michael Cohen and Rick Gates that I ever even spoke to Donald Trump about WikiLeaks, they surely would have indicted me on that charge and would have used it to impeach the president.
General Michael Flynn was lied to, set up multiple times before and after the Trump inauguration, excessively and to the point of illegally unmasked, targeted, ambushed in the White House, falsely accused, threatened with his son being indicted, provided corrupt legal counsel (the same firm where corrupt Obama former AG Eric Holder works), harassed for 3 years, belittled, slandered, besmirched by the judge, harassed by the judge, and then the attorneys going after him were the same attorneys who represented the corrupt Sally Yates who lied and told President Trump General Flynn lied.
The government reviewed General Flynn’s case and determined it never should have occurred. When the government and Flynn’s attorneys, including Sidney Powell, went to the court to have the case thrown out, the judge overseeing the case wouldn’t do it. Next the government and Powell went to the DC Circuit court to have the case thrown out and the Circuit Court two weeks ago ordered Judge Sullivan to do so. This interview discusses the entire case from Sidney Powell’s perspective and the current status of this corrupt case not being thrown out by this corrupted judge. At the 1:30 mark in the video the following exchange occurs:
Jan Jekielek: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has basically said, has ordered Judge Sullivan to close the case and I think he had 24 hours to do so and he didn’t do it, so what’s going on? Where we at here?
Sidney Powell: Well they don’t really put a time limit on the order but I can’t say in my decades of practice, and we’re not going to number those, that I’ve ever seen a judge not do what he was told to do by what’s called a ‘writ of mandamus’ or extraordinary writ order directly from the Circuit Court of Appeals to do something. They always do it within 24 to 48 hours. I just haven’t seen that happen with the possible exception of one case way back when I had to get a writ of mandamus against a Federal District Judge twice in the same case. Now we are certainly hoping that doesn’t have to happen here and that the order will be signed shortly. Because he’s not party to the case. That doesn’t mean the full court can’t review the case on its own but it would be unprecedented to do so in these circumstances.
The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who faces federal charges in Manhattan for allegedly enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of minor girls, is married, prosecutors said during a court proceeding. Prosecutors made the revelation on Tuesday when arguing that Maxwell should be detained pending trial. Maxwell, who had asked for release on a $5m bond co-signed by six people, was ultimately denied bail. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to the charges. They also said Maxwell had “declined” to identify her spouse to court officials. “In addition to failing to describe in any way the absence of proposed co-signers of a bond, the defendant also makes no mention whatsoever about the financial circumstances or assets of her spouse whose … identity she declined to provide to pretrial services,” assistant US attorney Alison Moe told Judge Alison Nathan.
“There is no information about who will be co-signing this bond or their assets and no details whatsoever.” News of Maxwell’s purported marriage surfaced in earnest on Wednesday morning. Maxwell’s arraignment and bail proceeding was conducted via video, and audio repeatedly cut out for those observing from the courthouse; transcripts that became available late last night filled in some of these gaps. However, many details of Maxwell’s secretive personal life were audible – including information on how she wound up living on the 156-acre Bradford, New Hampshire, estate where she was arrested on 2 July. A real estate agent involved with the property’s sale told an FBI agent that the buyers introduced themselves as “Scott and Janet Marshall, who both have British accents”.
“Scott Marshall told her that the … that he was retired from the British military and he was currently working on writing a book. Janet Marshall described herself as a journalist who wants privacy. They told the agent they wanted to purchase the property quickly through a wire and that they were setting up an LLC,” Moe said, noting that this conversation took place in November 2019. “Following [Maxwell’s] arrest, the real estate agent saw a photograph of [Maxwell] in the media and realized that the person who had introduced herself as Janet Marshall … was the defendant, Ghislaine Maxwell.”
It was a smudge on a cleaning cloth long before the artist revealed on social media he’d done it. In the current climate, it is perhaps reassuring that the cleaners on the Tube did their job quickly and efficiently and cleaned off the work so quickly. Graffiti is regarded – certainly in the transport world and by many commuters – as something that contributes to a threatening, unwelcoming atmosphere. Of course there will be those who say it should have been kept or protected as art but that is somewhat academic. You get the feeling Banksy, who has previously destroyed his art on purpose, knew exactly what would happen to his work by putting it inside a carriage.
This was perhaps all part of the plan. An official statement said the art was removed “some days ago” in line with the London Underground’s “strict anti-graffiti policy”. All public transport users in London must wear a face covering, and TfL said it appreciated “the sentiment of encouraging people” to do so. “We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location,” it added.
The Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation have today apologised to the traditional owners of the Rio Tinto headquarters located in urban-Australia after learning that the site held special importance to the group who hold claim over the land. “We apologize to the traditional owners of the site,” explained a representative for the indigenous group, “and we hope that we can work together in the future to ensure that other mining-related artifacts aren’t destroyed without consultation with the corporation’s elders.” However, critics have pointed out that Rio Tinto was simply getting in the way of progress, with the P.A.C. acting well within their rights to explore for minerals underneath the skyscraper.
“We can’t seriously expect to just waste such precious resources because of some group that superstitiously believes that some rocks are valuable and are a source of power,” explained one Aboriginal expert with a degree in White Studies. “The reality is that at the end of the day, if we lost a few accounting books tracing the history of the company, that’s a small price to pay for progress.” Asked what they will be doing to make amends, the Aboriginal group said it all happened in the past, so instead of any meaningful action they will simply put up a plaque explaining why blowing up a building might be considered bad in hindsight, but also pointing out that people three hours ago held different views around these things so we shouldn’t judge them by the standards of the current time.