May 072021
 


Edgar Degas At the Milliner’s 1905-10

 

CDC Predicts Sharp Decline In Covid-19 Activity By July (Cidrap)
Why Masks Are Still Mandatory (AT)
CDC Uses Different PCR Test Rules For Vaccinated, Non-Vaccinated (AVV)
Experts Say It’s Vital That Parents Get Their Kids Vaccinated For Covid (F.)
Gates-Backed Institute Claims Covid Deaths Over Double Official Number (RT)
Merkel Opposes Biden’s Call To Waive Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Protections (RT)
Russia Authorizes Single-dose ‘Sputnik Light’ (RT)
Australia Borders Could Be Shut Until Late 2022 (Y!)
Gundlach Warns America’s “Unfunded Liabilities” Are $163 Trillion (ZH)
Big Tech Has Turned The Internet Into A Prison (Malic)
White House Says “We Support” Ukraine’s Ambitions To Join NATO (ZH)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucker VAERS

 

 

This will be claimed as a vaccine victory, though it was predicted long before. Seasonal.

CDC Predicts Sharp Decline In Covid-19 Activity By July (Cidrap)

New modeling from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts the United States will see a sharp drop off of COVID-19 infections and deaths by July, if high vaccination coverage is achieved and most of the country maintains a moderate adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including physical distancing. The data from six models were published yesterday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers predicted different outcomes based on four scenarios with different vaccination coverage rates and effectiveness estimates and strength and implementation of NPIs for a 6-month period (April–September 2021) using data available through Mar 27, 2021, the authors said.

The four scenarios included: high vaccination with moderate NPI use, high vaccination with low NPI use, low vaccination with moderate NPI use, and low vaccination with low NPI use. “All scenarios included the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, with the assumption that it was 50% more transmissible than were previously circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the authors said. “In all four scenarios, COVID-19 cases were projected to increase through May 2021 at the national level because of increased prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant and decreased NPI mandates and compliance,” the authors found. “A sharp decline in cases was projected by July 2021, with a faster decline in the high-vaccination scenarios.”

The United States reported 44,51[0] new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 776 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, 32,580,188 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the United States, including 579,653 deaths. The country is currently averaging 46,656 new COVID-19 cases and 686 deaths per day, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins data. The United States has not seen the 7-day average of deaths this low since July. The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows 321,549,335 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 249,556,820 have been administered, with 107,346,533 Americans fully vaccinated.

[..] As early as next week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to issue an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. But according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 3 in 10 parents polled of children in that age group said they would get their child vaccinated as soon they are able. One quarter say they will wait and see how the vaccine is working, 18% say they will wait to see if school requires it, and one quarter say they will not get their child vaccinated.

Read more …

“People would actually begin to associate non-masking people with safety, while mask-wearing people would signal danger.”

Why Masks Are Still Mandatory (AT)

Joe Biden is in a pickle. He wants to continue to convince Americans they should get the experimental biological agent (AKA “the vaccine”), but, as Tucker Carlson pointed out last week, the administration and the CDC have offered no explanation as to why you need to continue to wear a mask after you have taken “the vaccine.” Why would they want us to doubt the efficacy of the vaccine? Why would any sane person who is not in a high-risk group contemplate becoming a lab experiment subject if you are not allowed (yes, our rights are now derived from government and will be doled out based on compliance) to burn your mask and return to a pre-pandemic way of life?

That’s just bad salesmanship…until you think about the alternative. Think about what would happen if they allowed (there’s that word again) people not to wear masks after being vaccinated. Here’s a typical scenario. The vaccinated test subject enters the supermarket. The vigilante mob of leftists can’t wait to accost and demand compliance to their edict, using physical violence if necessary. The test subject then proclaims that he has put his mask in his pocket. A short time later, the test subject hears the man claim the same immunity.

In this fictional example, you can begin to see what the ramifications of this policy would be. Within weeks, the majority of Americans would stop wearing masks. (Along with social distancing, and lockdowns, and getting the vaccine). People would actually begin to associate non-masking people with safety, while mask-wearing people would signal danger. The danger of the unvaccinated. The government has just lost all control. Do you really think these people will give up their newfound power so easily? I’m afraid not. I imagine that their Big Tech partners are working furiously building a mandatory vaccine passport system as you read this. Until that is up and running, you can expect the regime to continue requiring all people to wear masks, especially those who have been “vaccinated.”

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Google translated from a Belgian doctors’ site. Odd.

CDC Uses Different PCR Test Rules For Vaccinated, Non-Vaccinated (AVV)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed the rules for the PCR test so that vaccinees are less likely to be tested as infected than those who are not vaccinated. They have lowered the CT value from 40 to 28. The PCR test, on which the entire corona policy was based, is extremely unreliable and yields up to 90% false positives. So say Nature, WHO, The Lancet and many others. Without all those false positives, we wouldn’t have had this whole “crisis”. The current PCR test analyzes genetic material from the virus using 37 or 40 cycles, but health experts say that is too high because it detects even small amounts of the virus that do not pose a risk of contamination.

“Tests with such high thresholds can detect not only live virus, but also genetic fragments, remnants of infections that pose no particular risk – similar to finding hair in a room long after a person has left,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, New York Times. “If you adjust that down to a more reasonable CT threshold of 30, anywhere from 40% -90% of lab results * are no longer positive. * The rest is well beyond the point of infectivity,” Mandavilli wrote on Twitter. The problem is that high CT threshold.

PCR tests are a very smart method to specifically amplify the smallest DNA fragments so often that they can be easily detected, TKP reports. As each cycle is doubled, very high gain percentages are achieved. How high this percentage must be in order to be able to detect an infection as such with any probability has been the subject of discussion for some time. The US agency CDC is now lowering the cycle threshold for detecting infections after vaccination from 37 to 40 to 28. A number of studies have shown that more than 24 to 27 cycles can certainly no longer detect infectious viruses. If you need more than 28 cycles, you have proof that there is no longer a reproducible virus.

But it goes beyond that, because in fact PCR cannot basically detect whether or not there is reproducible virus in the smear, because it only first converts small particles of it into DNA and then amplifies them. This is how the Swedish health authority Folkhälsomyndigheten describes it: “The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot differentiate between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been rendered harmless by the immune system, and therefore these tests cannot be used to detect viruses. whether or not someone is contagious.

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Vaccine porn.

Experts Say It’s Vital That Parents Get Their Kids Vaccinated For Covid (F.)

Children and teenagers might soon be the next focus of the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic. By the last week of April, cases among children and teens accounted for more than 22% of new cases in the U.S, and there was a 4% increase in the total number of cases in kids. Almost 4 million kids have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Luckily, vaccines for kids are arriving soon. On May 4th, Pfizer said the vaccine it co-developed with BioNTech will likely get an FDA authorization for use in kids aged 12-15. The companies hope to get the vaccines authorized for kids aged 2-11 by September. Moderna is just behind, having started its phase 2 / 3 clinical trial in children less than 12 years old in March.

While polls show that adults are increasingly willing to get vaccinated, if they haven’t already, some parents have expressed doubts about vaccinating their kids. These concerns range from a lack of data to the quick pace of production. That said, a recent poll showed that 30% of parents are enthusiastic about vaccinations. As vaccines become available for those under 18, pediatricians and researchers argue that it is essential to immunize kids against Covid-19, both for their own protection as well as the protection of everyone else. Usually, Covid-19 symptoms aren’t as severe for kids when compared to adults, but that doesn’t mean that kids feel no effect from the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that between 0.1% and 2% of Covid-19 cases affecting those under age 18 require hospitalization..

Additionally, more than 250 children in the U.S. have died from the disease in the past year. Children who have been infected with Covid-19 can see other complications. A multisystem inflammatory syndrome, called MIS-C, can cause fever, rash, and damage to the heart and other organs in children who had even asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. And just like adults, children can also get symptoms of “long-haul” Covid-19, which can include severe fatigue, headaches, and abdominal pain. Paul Offit, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says that he’s seen a number of cases of both severe Covid-19 and MIS-C in children. “I’m sure all of those parents would have preferred the vaccine to the disease,” he says.

[..] “Reaching a level of immunity in the community is even more important as these more transmissible variants are circulating,” says Ted Chaconas, the chief medical officer of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. And vaccinating kids won’t just help prevent them from getting the disease; it will also make the whole community safer. The more opportunity that the Covid-19 virus has to replicate in human bodies, the higher the likelihood that new mutations will emerge. Children make up almost 25% of the U.S. population, a huge group “that possibly has no preexisting immunity to this virus, that could become infected and produce new variants,” says Jennifer Nayak, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Read more …

Covid porn.

Gates-Backed Institute Claims Covid Deaths Over Double Official Number (RT)

An outfit whose statistical models were used to justify early Covid-19 lockdowns is now arguing that the true death toll of the pandemic is far higher than the official numbers – and closer to their own apocalyptic predictions.
Covid-19 has killed more than 900,000 Americans and over 6.9 million people worldwide, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) claimed on Thursday, citing their own statistical models based on excess mortality. By contrast, official figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University list 3.24 million deaths globally, of which 580,000 are in the US, as of May 6. IHME chief Dr. Christopher Murray explained in a series of videos that they used a “variety of statistical methods” to determine excess mortality, which was then weighed against six other factors to calculate whether it would have been due to the coronavirus or other causes.

They compared “anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all-cause deaths during the pandemic,” then removed the deaths both “indirectly attributable” to the pandemic and “averted” by the lockdowns. “When you put all that together, we conclude that the best way, the closest estimate, for the true Covid death is still excess mortality, because some of those things are on the positive side, other factors are on the negative side,” Murray said. The institute apparently suggests that official Covid data is not to be trusted – and their extrapolated “statistics” imply that some nations are even more untrustworthy than the others. For instance, they claim that Russia had almost six times more coronavirus deaths than its official numbers – almost as many as Brazil, whose official numbers are supposedly off by a third, again by IHME metrics.

By contrast, the UK “undercounted” its deaths by only 60,000 or so. The bombshell claim, while promptly parroted by major media outlets, was met with some skepticism by other scientists. William Hanage of Harvard University told NPR in an email that IHME’s claim that Covid-19 deaths have been “substantially undercounted” in some places more than others “is likely sound, but the absolute numbers are less so for a lot of reasons.” “Their estimate of excess deaths is enormous and inconsistent with our research and others,” said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University. “There are a lot of assumptions and educated guesses built into their model.”

Read more …

Intellectual property covers a lot of things, not just vaccines.

Merkel Opposes Biden’s Call To Waive Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Protections (RT)

The Biden administration’s endorsement of a proposal to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is facing new opposition from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not the patents,” a spokesperson for Merkel said Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and this has to remain so in the future.” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced this week that the Biden administration was supporting a proposal in the World Trade Organization to open up patents on Covid-19 vaccines.

Tai said the “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the announcement a “monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19. Supporters of the measure have said removing intellectual property protections will help low-income countries produce and distribute vaccines faster. Critics, however, like vaccine advocate Bill Gates, have argued that such a move presents difficulties and could hinder the safety of future vaccines. After Biden’s endorsement of the proposal, stock for companies like Pfizer and Moderna fell. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Thursday he is “not at all” in favor of the US’ stance.

“The problem is that there are no facilities in the world outside the ones that we can build ourselves,” he told AFP. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier on Thursday that the EU is ready to have discussions on the proposal to remove patent protections from vaccines. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also expressed its support for waiving patents.

Read more …

Russia’s doing better but not great.

Russia Authorizes Single-dose ‘Sputnik Light’ (RT)

The Russian Health Ministry has authorized the use of Sputnik Light, a one-shot coronavirus vaccine said to be even more efficient than some two-dose jabs currently on the market. Sputnik Light is the first component of the widely used Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, its researchers explained. However, the single dose has shown 79.4% efficacy, which “is higher than that of many two-dose vaccines,” the developers said in a statement. Researchers have analyzed the efficacy rate based on data received from Russia’s mass vaccination program between December 2020 and April 2021. Having studied data taken 28 days after a single injection was administered, they said the infection rate among one-time vaccinated people was just 0.277%. The unvaccinated adult population showed 1.349% infection rate over the same period.


The scientists behind the vaccine say it’s effective against new Covid-19 strains. Antibodies neutralizing the deadly virus were activated in over 91% of recipients on the 28th day post shot. It is also said to provide absolute protection against severe cases of the disease. Following the trials, no serious side effects have been registered, Sputnik Light researchers report. Developers hope the single dose will help provide faster immunization among larger numbers of people. “The single-dose regimen solves the challenge of immunizing large groups in a shorter time, which is especially important during the acute phase of the spread of coronavirus, achieving herd immunity faster,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funds the vaccine. He also pointed out that Sputnik Light “has an affordable price of less than $10,” and can be easily transported and stored.

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How is that not a prison?

Australia Borders Could Be Shut Until Late 2022 (Y!)

Australia is likely to remain shut to visitors until late 2022, the country’s trade and tourism minister said Friday, as another global coronavirus surge smashed hopes of a quick reopening. Minister Dan Tehan said a wave of cases on the Indian sub-continent showed Australia’s near blanket ban on arrivals was still essential to keep the country Covid-free. Since March 20, 2020, Australians have been barred from travelling overseas and a hard-to-get individual exemption is needed for foreign visitors to enter the country. It is “very hard to determine” when borders could reopen, Tehan told Sky News, “the best guess would be in the middle to the second half of next year”.


Before the pandemic, around one million short-term visitors entered the country each month. That figure is now around 7,000. Anyone who does enter must undergo 14 days strict hotel quarantine. A recently established travel bubble with New Zealand has had mixed success, being paused for cities where the virus jumped from quarantine facilities before being contained. Australia has recorded 29,886 cases since the pandemic began. A large proportion were detected in hotel quarantine. Vaccination rollout has been slow, with just 2.5 million vaccines administered in a country of 25 million people, each needing two doses.

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“..amount of unfunded liabilities is 775% of our current total economic output..”

Gundlach Warns America’s “Unfunded Liabilities” Are $163 Trillion (ZH)

DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach called the Fed’s bluff late last month, telling investors during an interview that he suspected the central bank was merely “guessing” about the impact of inflation being “transitory”. Since then, we have only received more signs that inflationary pressures are growing in the US economy, while a growing number of investors have been persuaded to agree with Gundlach. The other day, DoubleLine released a recording of another talk given by Gundlach where he elaborated on the inflation theme, while also discussing other issues like the outlook for the US dollar in the face of President Biden’s tax-and-spend agenda.

During the course of an hour-plus conversation, much of it accompanied by a slide deck with some of Gundlach’s favorite charts, Gundlach tackled a few key topics that he feels could threaten the Fed’s ability to backstop financial markets. He started by slamming Biden’s plan to hike capital gains taxes on taxpayers with more than $1 million in earnings, arguing that fears of higher capital gains taxes is already weighing in the market. Gundlach argued that high-beta stocks and other speculative investments like bitcoin have the most to lose due to a hike in capital gains. After all, who is going to want to take a risk on a long shot if they need to give half of their winnings to the government?

“Today is an important day because the president has made good if you want to call it that on his promise to begin raising taxes and the capital gains tax if you make more than a million dollars a year in California the capital gains tax if the proposal goes through that was launched today will be 57 capital gains tax that’s the federal tax plus the California tax so it’s getting pretty ugly and i think it’s going to have some very significant effects which we started to see the minute that this tax proposal was was launched today we’ve seen bitcoin a very speculative darling investment these days go down about 20 from its high in the last couple of weeks and obviously a lot of people would think twice about speculating on something like bitcoin if they felt that if they won meaning the price went up from their cost that 57 percent of a highly speculative gamble if it hits if it hits would go to the federal government but the stock market also fell pretty sharply upon that no wonder it’s surprising that people haven’t been contemplating this already.”

[..] Gundlach also pointed out that the surge in the debt doesn’t fully capture how much money the federal government owes. There are also unfunded liabilities which, when combined with all local, state and federal debt, leave US citizens on the hook for $163 trillion. That’s more than 5x the $28 trillion national debt. “The government giveaway programs and the programs that we put in place to battle the economic impact especially to people who were suddenly unemployed and there were about 20 20 uh 20 million people that were suddenly unemployed those stimulus packages were originally thought to be temporary but now they’ve become a fixture and we can see that the blue line in recent months has needed uh as has grown again as a requirement in funding these non-stop stimulus programs so the US government is now has over 28 trillion dollars in debt and the US government has $163 trillion in unfunded liabilities when you roll it all together federal state and local level that amount of unfunded liabilities is 775% of our current total economic output,” Gundlach said.

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No kidding.

Big Tech Has Turned The Internet Into A Prison (Malic)

I once thought the internet would have the same effect on corporate media gatekeepers as the AK-47 had on colonial empires in Africa. That was before Big Tech turned that promise of freedom into the second coming of feudalism. Wednesday’s decision by Facebook’s “oversight board” – a transparent attempt to outsource responsibility for censorship to an international committee – to extend the ban on 45th US President Donald Trump is just the latest example, but by no means the most egregious. Earlier this week, the banhammer descended on RT’s digital project Redfish over posts criticizing… Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini and the Holocaust, of all things.

How did it come to this? Years ago, in an argument over media censorship, I had brought up the internet as the modern version of the AK-47. While the European colonial armies were able to conquer Africa in the 19th century, using machine guns and repeating rifles, they became unable to hold it once the Kalashnikov automatic rifle put the peasants in places like Congo, Angola and Vietnam on equal footing with Western armies seeking to keep them down. Or, if you want a more peaceful metaphor, it was the promise of open pasture extended to people who had previously been treated like cattle, penned up in factory barns and fed slop from a trough.

That was in March 2011. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were already around, but they were challenging the gatekeepers and offering their platforms to the common people like myself. In 2016, everything changed. That was the year Trump was able to bypass the corporate gatekeepers, using those platforms to speak to the American people directly. Having consolidated the internet between them, and under pressure from politicians they already supported, the corporations running these platforms began censoring content and users – first gradually, then suddenly. The pretext for this was “Russiagate,” the conspiracy theory pushed by Democrats and their corporate media allies to explain Hillary Clinton’s 2016 fiasco, delegitimize Trump’s presidency, and – as it turns out – justify censorship.

As demonstrated by the recent example of Twitter’s clash with Russia over illegal content, or Facebook’s standoff with Australia over paying for news, these mega-corporations aren’t opposed to censorship or committed to property on principle. Rather, their only “principle” is the Who-Whom reductionism, a world in which they and those they agree with can do no wrong, while anyone else can do no right. The long march from banning Alex Jones in 2018 to banning the sitting president of the United States in 2021 was completed with surprising alacrity. The collusion within Silicon Valley to ban Trump on the blatantly false pretext of “inciting insurrection” on January 6 may have been the political Rubicon, but Big Tech had begun putting their finger, fist and even elbow on the political scales long before.

Read more …

Let them try.

White House Says “We Support” Ukraine’s Ambitions To Join NATO (ZH)

While traveling aboard Air Force One for President Joe Biden’s visit to Louisiana on Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre bluntly stated that “we support” Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO. When she was asked by a press pool reporter if the White House “supports Ukraine joining NATO” – the deputy press secretary responded with “We supported it… yeah” – but then quickly sought to clarify that certain “commitments” have to be met. She explained, “The Biden administration remains committed to ensuring that NATO’s door remains open to aspirants when they are ready and able to meet the commitments.” “Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken is in Kiev right now to affirm our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. His trip also emphasizes the importance of Ukraine passing key legislation to advance rule of law, anticorruption and economic reforms that will strengthen Ukraine’s democracy and economy, and further Euro-Atlantic integration,” Jean-Pierre said.

“The Biden administration is committed to ensuring that NATO’s door remains open to aspirants when they are ready and able to meet the commitments and obligations of membership and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area,” she later clarified. Rarely has the White House answered the controversial question so directly, especially given NATO’s clear requirements for entry stipulating that a country engaged in territorial disputes with neighbors, including internal civil conflict, is not eligible for membership. This is because of the obvious reality that the inevitable quick invocation of NATO’s Article 5 would immediately result in war. Last month’s renewed crisis and Russian troop build-up which thrust the Russia-Ukraine-Crimea dispute back in international headlines saw Kiev officials renew their vocal push for entry into NATO. Kiev had after the Maidan coup in 2014 cooled its NATO pursuit rhetoric given the obvious hurdles for entry and the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

Crucially in the Thursday comments, which are sure to raise the alarm in Moscow, the White House spokeswoman additionally emphasized that the US “supports” Ukraine’s reforms (the very reforms which are meant to secure its future NATO membership) as well as “its border fight against Russia aggression.” The NATO question will likely be raised by Vladimir Putin assuming the much anticipated Biden-Putin summit actually materializes in June. Russia has long considered Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO pursuits to be a “red line” which the Kremlin says would make war all but certain.

Read more …

 

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Apr 212021
 


Mark Chagall I and the village 1911

 

 

Joe Biden declares a “national emergency”, calls Putin a killer, slaps more sanctions on Russia, for which he has his Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken declare that “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” … and then “invites” Putin for a summit.

For the SolarWinds “intrusion”, the US has never provided any evidence at all, the Russian bounties story was -finally- fully debunked well before Blinken made his statement -which makes him look very incompetent-, and the election interference narrative is by now just too dumb to even get into. No evidence for it whatsoever after 2 years of the Mueller investigation, but now Putin’s at it again? Who did he want to win, then? Trump again, after apparently not even trying in 2016?

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky states that his country should urgently be made a full member of both NATO and the EU, and has his own proxy, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, solemnly claim that not just “The only possibility for this [to prevent alleged invasion plans] is for Ukraine to finally become a NATO member”, but also that “Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance such as NATO and are doing our part to make this Europe stronger, or we have the only option – to arm by ourselves, and maybe think about nuclear status again”.… And then Zelensky invites Putin for a summit. In the Donbass, no less.

These people are all as insincere as they possibly could be, but they trust that this doesn’t matter anymore. The western media have been planting the “Putin is a monster” seeds in their readers and viewers for many years now, and critical thought has long since left the building. Yes, that is the ultimate effect of what’s called propaganda, and as long as the sheeple “victims” don’t recognize it as such, it works like a charm.

 

I’ve been wondering for a long time why Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as his successor in 1999, and I can’t find much information on it. Yeltsin was a US asset, and sold out his country to the CIA and a bunch of CIA-asset homegrown oligarchs. I’ve always suspected that when Yeltsin left, he felt a lot of regret for what he had done to Russia, and that maybe appointing Putin was his way to try and make up for that. I see people saying that Yeltsin thought Putin was pliable, but I think perhaps he knew exactly how Putin thought.

A “detail”: remember that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, male life expectancy for a period of time feel from a very steep cliff. And nothing Yeltsin did provided a solution to that crisis. Then, in August 1999, he appointed Putin as his prime minister, and didn’t leave a year later as planned, but 4 months later, in December. His chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev , who had hired Putin as his deputy in 1997, wrote his resignation speech:

Mr Yumashev was entrusted with writing Yeltsin’s resignation speech. “It was a hard speech to write. It was clear the text would go down in history. The message was important. That’s why I wrote the famous line ‘Forgive me’. “Russians had suffered such shock and stress during the 1990s. Yeltsin had to speak about this.”

Back to today. All economic -and other- sanctions against Russia since Putin first became president have led to one thing only: the country has dramatically increased its self-sufficiency. And in the process has upgraded its weapons arsenal to a level that no western country even comes close to, including the US, for maybe 10% of what the same US has spent on its own arsenal.

Russia’s latest generation of hypersonic missiles, against which no country has any defense, are far superior to what anybody else possesses. When they said recently they could take out a specific building in Kyiv if they wanted, they were not exaggerating. So yeah, look for Biden and Blinken and NATO et al to soon start using that superiority as a reason to incite more war vs Moscow.

A war they could never win, but that’s not the point any longer. One might argue of course that it never was after the advent of nuclear weapons. The whole point of NATO today, its raison d’être, is that it can create chaos wherever it goes and looks. It’s no longer capable of defending anyone from the Russian threat, but then that threat hasn’t been there for many years.

 

And NATO wants to continue existing, as does the Pentagon, and Boeing and Raytheon, it’s all about money, so they have to make up a threat, aided by their media brethren. That‘s why you see, from time to time, reports about Putin having yet another person “poisoned”, why governments in countries like the UK and Germany go along with the narrative, and why media in all other vassal states parrot these stories.

In that vein, the story this week out of Czechia, which expelled 18 Russian diplomats, kind of sets a new standard in absolute nonsense.

The Czech organised crime squad (NCOZ) said it was looking for two men using Russian passports in relation to the explosions. The passports bear the names of Alexander Petrov, born in 1979, and Ruslan Boshirov, born in 1978, and their holders are also wanted in Britain in connection with Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury.

Mark Ames’ reaction to this on Twitter is so good, I’m not going to try to beat him to it: : “If I understand this right, apparently GRU thought it’d be smart to use the same 2 spies to carry out 2 separate deadly operations in NATOland – 2014 bombing in Czech Rep, 2018 Skripal poisoning – using exact same aliases & fake passports in both operations.”

Now that the west has lost its military superiority, all that’s left for it to claim is some sort of “intelligence superiority”, so it portrays Russians as really dumb people. Putin tries to poison one person after another, invariably people who are no threat to him at all, with the deadliest poisons on the planet, and fails time and again. Navalny is a US asset who gets 2% max of votes in a poll, Skripal is a former military intel officer who was allowed to go to the UK after being exposed as a double-agent (!), but they fit the 20+ year old narrative of Putin as Pol Pot. Stories. They are all that counts. Reality, not so much. Bernays and Goebbels are having a ton of fun in their own private hells.

So how will the Ukraine episode be resolved? Not easy. Making the world’s 2nd-most corrupt country a full member of NATO is out of the question, Russia will never accept that. Which is why the west is pushing it. Ukraine with nukes is even more preposterous, if that is possible (hard call). Dmitry Orlov suggested a “solution” the other day about which I have major question marks, but he’s Russian and I’m not, so take a look:

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem.

Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome. Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees.

The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home.

While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds. The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether.

[..] The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

Dmitry suggests 4.6 million people leave the Donbass so peace may be restored. But most of those people grew up there, and so did their families. And largely peacefully so, until the US and NATO, John McCain and Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, tried to take over Ukraine. Why should Russia, instead of protecting these people where they live, migrate them and protect them in Russia? Anyone ask for their own opinion?

There would be a giant empty piece of land where they once lived, in a kind of demilitarized zone? And what then? Nobody in Ukraine would come up with the idea to move into the empty land? And if they did, Russia would have to shoot them from Russian territory? I sort of see the reasoning of course, but not all of it. It only seems to work if you see Russia, and the Russians in the Donbass, as the aggressors.

Were they? Are they? Russia only sprung into action when the west tried to take away their sole warm water port, Sevastopol in Crimea. An election was held, and 97% of mostly Russians voted to be part of Russia. Yeah, that upset NATO and the other usual suspects, but that doesn’t make Russia an aggressor.

Russia has no reason to “invade” Ukraine. They don’t need even more territory, they’re already by far the largest nation on earth. Moreover, they don’t have the military to occupy large swaths of land. They only have the capacity to protect their own.

Thing is, they really got that down. So the only thing NATO can do, in its quest to prove it has reason to exist, is to create chaos, as I said before. But there is a problem with consciously creating chaos between nuclear powers, instead of maintaining communication channels, as the US and USSR always did during the Cold War. Do we all understand this means we are in a worse situation today than back then? That all those expulsions of diplomats only make the situation worse?

And that some fool could actually fire a nuclear missile because of that? Me, I’m not so sure anymore. Between the Covid virus and the US cancel culture, there are not that many western people paying attention to warmongers and NATO aka warheads. Not a good idea.

 

 

 

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Apr 022021
 
 April 2, 2021  Posted by at 8:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  90 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris 1945

 

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)
CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)
Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)
Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)
Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)
Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)
Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)
GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)
Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)
We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)
Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)
The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)
Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)
New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

 

 

Reopening
https://twitter.com/i/status/1377756996083011592

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Deaths in Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), since its start in 1990. 2021 is off the charts.”

 

 

Ron Paul is a Doctor of Medicine. Will he be censored too?

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)

Even the establishment experts seem to be in total disagreement with each other – and often with themselves – over the experimental Covid “vaccine.” Does it prevent the illness? Lessen the illness? Provide lasting immunity? Temporary immunity? Is it safe for all? So many questions, but so few reliable answers.

Read more …

Pfizer’s sales team.

CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)

A new CDC study provides strong evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers. These groups are more likely than the general population to be exposed to the virus because of their occupations. The study looked at the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections among 3,950 study participants in six states over a 13-week period from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021. Results showed that following the second dose of vaccine (the recommended number of doses), risk of infection was reduced by 90 percent two or more weeks after vaccination.

Following a single dose of either vaccine, the participants’ risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 was reduced by 80 percent two or more weeks after vaccination. It takes about two weeks following each dose of vaccine for the body to produce antibodies that protect against infection. As a result, people are considered “partially vaccinated” two weeks after their first dose of mRNA vaccine and “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second dose. These new vaccine effectiveness findings are consistent with those from Phase 3 clinical trials conducted with the vaccines before they received Emergency Use Authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration. Those clinical trials evaluated vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 disease, while this study evaluated vaccine effectiveness against infection, including infections that did not result in symptoms.

“This study shows that our national vaccination efforts are working. The authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provided early, substantial real-world protection against infection for our nation’s health care personnel, first responders, and other frontline essential workers,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “These findings should offer hope to the millions of Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines each day and to those who will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in the weeks ahead. The authorized vaccines are the key tool that will help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”

Read more …

PCR history.

From New York Times Jan. 22, 2007

Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)

Dr. Brooke Herndon, an internist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, could not stop coughing. For two weeks starting in mid-April last year, she coughed, seemingly nonstop, followed by another week when she coughed sporadically, annoying, she said, everyone who worked with her.Before long, Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth, had a chilling thought: Could she be seeing the start of a whooping cough epidemic? By late April, other health care workers at the hospital were coughing, and severe, intractable coughing is a whooping cough hallmark. And if it was whooping cough, the epidemic had to be contained immediately because the disease could be deadly to babies in the hospital and could lead to pneumonia in the frail and vulnerable adult patients there. It was the start of a bizarre episode at the medical center: the story of the epidemic that wasn’t.

[..] For months, nearly everyone involved thought the medical center had had a huge whooping cough outbreak, with extensive ramifications. Nearly 1,000 health care workers at the hospital in Lebanon, N.H., were given a preliminary test and furloughed from work until their results were in; 142 people, including Dr. Herndon, were told they appeared to have the disease; and thousands were given antibiotics and a vaccine for protection. Hospital beds were taken out of commission, including some in intensive care. Then, about eight months later, health care workers were dumbfounded to receive an e-mail message from the hospital administration informing them that the whole thing was a false alarm. Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory. Instead, it appears the health care workers probably were afflicted with ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.

[..] “You’re in a little bit of no man’s land,” with the new molecular tests, said Dr. Mark Perkins, an infectious disease specialist and chief scientific officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a nonprofit foundation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “All bets are off on exact performance.” Of course, that leads to the question of why rely on them at all. “At face value, obviously they shouldn’t be doing it,” Dr. Perl said. But, she said, often when answers are needed and an organism like the pertussis bacterium is finicky and hard to grow in a laboratory, “you don’t have great options.” Waiting to see if the bacteria grow can take weeks, but the quick molecular test can be wrong. “It’s almost like you’re trying to pick the least of two evils,” Dr. Perl said.

At Dartmouth the decision was to use a test, P.C.R., for polymerase chain reaction. It is a molecular test that, until recently, was confined to molecular biology laboratories. “That’s kind of what’s happening,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, an infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. “That’s the reality out there. We are trying to figure out how to use methods that have been the purview of bench scientists. The Dartmouth whooping cough story shows what can ensue.

Read more …

From September 2020.

Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)

Elaborating on the effective methods being followed for treating COVID-19 across the globe, Shashikanth Manikappa, a specialist cardiac anaesthetist working at Monash Health in Melbourne, Australia, has strongly advised what he termed Quadruple Therapy involving four medicines — Ivermectin, Doxycycline, Zinc and Vitamin D3 — as a preventive as well as treating method. Addressing a media conference in Kalaburagi on Monday, the senior doctor said that the use of Ivermectin would be more effective than that of Hydroxychloroquine which was widely being used worldwide, right from the outbreak of the pandemic.

Referring to a pre-official release of a randomised controlled trial using Ivermectin in three doses in primary contacts of COVID-19, Dr. Manikappa said that 93 % of primary contacts who received Ivermectin did not develop any symptoms and 58 % of primary contacts who did not receive Ivermectin did progress to have symptoms of the pandemic. “Quadruple Therapy includes Ivermectin 12 mg one dose, Doxycycline 100 mg once a day for four days, Zinc 50 mg once a day for four days and Vitamin D3 once a week. Ivermectin, Doxycycline and Zinc are to be repeated every 14 days and Vitamin D3 every week with blood levels monitored. The synergistic effect of these medicine acts to prevent viral multiplication and also stop the virus from entering human cells.

Thomas Borody, an Australian gastroenterologist who is known for curing peptic ulcers with triple antibiotic therapy, has revealed that one block in South America that received Ivermectin combination prophylaxis did not contract coronavirus infection while others did,” he said. On the side effects, Dr. Manikappa said that Ivermectin was being used in 3.7 billion people for intestinal parasites and was found to be safe. “These are not new medicine. They are already in use for treating different ailments and are found to be safe. They can be prescribed by any doctor to control the pandemic,” he said.

Read more …

“The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.”

Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)

For the better part of the past year, the US public was bombarded with “science” how only the wearing of a mask (or two masks, or three masks or more) was the only thing that stood between the Western way of life and Armageddon (despite the periodic emergence of cold, hard data showing no improvement in covid transmission in states that mandated masks vs those that did not, at least until Twitter decided to ban it). Then, one month ago, Texas had had enough and its governor shocked the Faucis of the world – and the White House – when he declared that the mask mandate in the state was officially over. What happened then? Well, in a development that would likely shock Dr. Fauci, newly confirmed Coronavirus cases in Texas plunged to their lowest since June, roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses.

Additionally, the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet over the weekend. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, some 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27.

Read more …

National Health Service’s Test and Trace program costs £37 billion over two years.

Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)

Only half of Britons know the main symptoms of Covid-19, and most don’t get tested or self-isolate, a new study has shown, raising questions about the UK’s Test and Trace system and placing emergence from the pandemic at risk The large study, exploring the effectiveness of the National Health Service’s Test and Trace program, was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday. Designed to identify, find and test those who have coronavirus, it has been allocated a massive budget of £37 billion over two years. Researchers at King’s College London, University College London and Public Health England looked at aggregated data from some 37 national online surveys, encompassing more than 75,000 responses from nearly 54,000 people living in the UK.

Only some 51.5% of those surveyed managed to properly identify the symptoms of Covid-19 – which include a cough, high temperature, fever, and loss of sense of smell or taste – that have been “actively promoted to members of the UK public,” the study reads. Moreover, the willingness to get tested should any of those symptoms be experienced turned out to be extremely low, with only 18% of those who reported suffering such symptoms having requested a test to confirm whether they had coronavirus. Such low figures call into question the effectiveness of the whole Test and Trace system, the researchers said, while acknowledging a slight improvement in people’s willingness to follow the rules over time.

With such low rates for symptom recognition, testing, and full self-isolation, the effectiveness of the current form of the UK’s test, trace, and isolate system is limited. Only 43% of respondents said they had adhered to self-isolation. The need to go to work or to leave the house to shop or attend to medical needs other than Covid-19 were among the most common excuses given for breaking the rules. Young people, those on a low income and/or from a working-class background were identified as the ones most likely to break the rules. The researchers suggested targeted messaging and increased financial support as methods by which to improve adherence.

Read more …

“..far from a benign illness..”

Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)

Nearly a third of people who have been in hospital suffering from Covid-19 are readmitted for further treatment within four months of being discharged, and one in eight of patients dies in the same period, doctors have found. The striking long-term impact of the disease has prompted doctors to call for ongoing tests and monitoring of former coronavirus patients to detect early signs of organ damage and other complications caused by the virus. While Covid is widely known to cause serious respiratory problems, the virus can also infect and damage other organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Researchers at University College London, the Office for National Statistics, and the University of Leicester, compared medical records of nearly 48,000 people who had had hospital treatment for Covid and had been discharged by 31 August 2020, with records from a matched control group of people in the general population.


The records were used to track rates of readmission, of deaths, and of diagnoses for a range of respiratory, heart, kidney, liver and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. After an average follow-up time of 140 days, nearly a third of the Covid patients who had been discharged from hospital had been readmitted and about one in eight had died, rates considerably higher than seen in the control group. “This is a concern and we need to take it seriously,” said Dr Amitava Banerjee, at the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London. “We show conclusively here that this is very far from a benign illness. We need to monitor post-Covid patients so we can pick up organ impairment early on.”

Read more …

Ha ha ha!

GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday said she is introducing a bill to strip Dr. Anthony Fauci of his government salary. In a press release Greene posted on Twitter, the controversial Georgia Republican said her “Fire Fauci Act” would decrease “Dr. Always Wrong’s pay to $0 and the ‘We Will Not Comply Act’ will ‘prevent discrimination against the unvaccinated.’ ” Greene said the Fire Fauci Act will: • Remind the American public that Dr. Fauci is the highest paid ($434,312) of all 4 million federal employees, including the president. • Cite numerous findings about Dr. Fauci’s evolving and contradictory advice on COVID-19. • Reduce Dr. Fauci’s salary to $0 until a new NIAID administrator is confirmed by the Senate. • Direct the Government Accounting Office to conduct a study about the correspondence, financials, and policy memos inside the NIAID before COVID through the end of this year. This will allow us to see what Fauci and the NIAID knew, when they knew it, what they spent money on, and how the agency responded to the virus.


The bill has little if any chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled House. Fauci has made several seemingly contradictory statements during the pandemic about the virus and related health-safety measures – including one on mask wearing. The annual salary for Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, makes him “the highest paid doctor in the federal government and the highest paid out of all 4 million federal employees,” Forbes reported. In fact, Fauci’s salary is more than the president of the United States’ annual $400,000 pay.

Read more …

Who do YOU think is the agressor here?

Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)

Various reports strongly suggest that over the past week there’s been a significant uptick in shelling and fighting in the war-torn Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. This has served to thrust the over 5-year long crisis back in the media spotlight in the past days, particularly after the US Army ( via US European Command, or EUCOM) raised its Europe threat level to its highest of “potential imminent crisis”. At the same time The New York Times and others are detailing the escalation while alleging ‘Russian aggression’ is fueling the fresh flare-up, which has signaled the collapse of yet another cease-fire. And more alarmingly the reports allege a major build-up of Russian troops and tanks along Ukraine’s eastern border. But even as the NY Times report mused, it’s also likely that the estimated 4,000 regular Russian soldiers there were simply left over from recent scheduled military exercises common during this time of year.


The Kremlin has responded to the slew of reports on Thursday, underscoring that given the troops remain entirely within Russia’s national boundaries, it’s essentially ‘nobody’s business’ where they go. “The Russian Federation transfers the Armed Forces on its soil as it wants to. This should not concern anyone and this is not posing any threat to anyone,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized. Moscow is taking “all the necessary measures to ensure security of its frontiers,” he stressed according to TASS. Peskov added that: “As for the participation of Russian troops in the armed conflict on Ukraine’s soil, the Russian troops have never taken part in it and are not participating now.” He further said: “And we, the European countries and all world states would not like the civil war in Ukraine as a result of provocations and provocative steps by Ukraine’s military to flare up again.”

Read more …

“we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.”

We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)

Moscow has rejected claims that it is unwilling to participate in talks with NATO, arguing instead that it would be eager to hold a summit, but only if it sticks to topics that are actually within the US-led military bloc’s remit. Last week, the faction’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, claimed that a breakdown in communication was the fault of one side alone. “Since the summer of 2019, there have been no meetings of the NATO-Russia Council,” he said. “And that’s because Russia has not responded positively to our invitation to convene the Council.” “I regret that, because I think that dialogue is important, especially when times are difficult as they are now, then it is important that we sit down, discuss also difficult issues,” Stoltenberg added.

“I believe in dialogue with Russia partly to strive for a better relationship with [that country].” However, on Wednesday, Moscow hit back at the remarks, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arguing that his country was not opposed to talks with the bloc. “Our colleague Mr Stoltenberg declares that Russia refuses to work in the Russia-NATO Council,” Lavrov said, insisting that “we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.” “NATO has nothing to do with Ukraine,” the Minister said, “and yet when they offer to convene the Russia-NATO Council, they always insist that the first question should be about Ukraine. We sat down a couple of times, listened, we all know this.

Therefore, we have proposed to restore contacts between our militaries in order to save complex agreements that we have previously signed.” In February, Stoltenberg said that the ball was in Moscow’s court when it comes to relations with the bloc. “We need to send a clear signal to Russia,” he said. “If they want clashes, we are ready. If they want to co-operate, we will be glad.”

Read more …

“Damn, @theintercept got yet another whistleblower pinched. It’s almost like Omidyar is running a sting operation there.”

Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)

A former Air Force intelligence analyst pleaded guilty Wednesday to leaking classified documents to a reporter about military drone strikes against al-Qaida and other terrorist targets. The guilty plea from Daniel Hale, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee, comes just days before he was slated to go on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, for violating the World War I-era Espionage Act. Hale admitted leaking roughly a dozen secret and top-secret documents to a reporter in 2014 and 2015, when he was working for a contractor as an analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). While court papers never specified the recipient of the leak, details about the case make it clear that the documents were given to Jeremy Scahill, a reporter at The Intercept, who used the documents as part of a series of critical reports on how the military conducted drone strikes on foreign targets.


He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for July 13. The original indictment against Hale states that he reached out to the reporter in April 2013 while still enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency. The leaks continued after Hale became a private contractor and was assigned to NGA. Hale’s lawyers sought unsuccessfully last year to have the case tossed on First Amendment grounds. They also argued that the case was a selective and vindictive prosecution. Defense lawyers said that while Hale was being punished for leaking information about negative aspects of the drone program, the government seemed unconcerned about anonymous leaks by government officials about successful strikes.

Read more …

“And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.”

The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)

Over the last few decades, ships have gotten really really big, four times the size of what they were 25 years ago, what the FT calls “too big to sail.’ The argument behind making such massive boats was efficiency, since you can carry more at a lower cost. The downside of such mega-ships should have been obvious. Ships like this, which are in effect floating islands, are really hard to steer in tight spaces like ports and canals, and if they get stuck, they are difficult to unstick. In other words, the super smart wizard financiers who run global trade made ships that don’t fit in the canals they need to fit into. The rise of mega-ships is paralleled by the consolidation of the shipping industry itself. In 2000, the ten biggest shipping companies had a 12% market share, by 2019 that share had increased to 82%.

This understates the consolidation, because there are alliances among these shippers. The stuck ship is being run by the Taiwanese shipping conglomerate Evergreen, which bought Italian shipping firm Italia Marittima in 1998 and London-based Hatsu in 2002, and is itself part of the OCEAN alliance, which has more than a third of global shipping. Making ships massive, and combining such massive ships into massive shipping monopolies, is a bad way to run global commerce. We’ve already seen significant problems from big shipping lines helping to transmit financial shocks into trade shocks, such as when Korean shipper Hanjin went under and stranded $14 billion of cargo on the ocean while in bankruptcy. It’s also much harder for small producers and retailers to get shipping space, because large shippers want to deal with large clients.

And fewer ports can handle these mega-ships, so such ships induce geographical inequality. Increasingly, we’re not moving ships between cities, we’re moving cities to where the small number of giant shipping lines find it efficient to ship. Dumb big ships owned by monopolies are the result of dumb big ideas, the physical manifestation of what Thomas Friedman was pushing in the 1990s and 2000s with books such as The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, the idea that “taking fat out of the system at every joint” was leading towards a more prosperous, peaceful and competitive world. Friedman’s was a finance-friendly perspective, a belief that making us all interdependent with a very thin margin of error would force global cooperation.

Just make ships bigger, went the thinking, until a big boat got stuck in a canal, taking down global supply chains with it. It seems so dumb. And it is. But it’s also reality, because for whatever reason, a lot of powerful people at one point thought Thomas Friedman was a genius. And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.

Read more …

Bigger than God.

Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)

New research from Chinese scientists shows that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing causes massive damage to the genome, much of which would have been missed by the analytical tools used so far. In a previous study, the same authors described a novel DNA sequencing procedure, which they called a “primer-extension-mediated sequencing assay” or PEM-seq. By applying this procedure, they found that DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) brought about by the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool could lead to unintended chromosomal translocations and large deletions. In their latest follow-up report, the researchers describe a new computer program, which enabled them to analyse the PEM-seq data to greater depth than previous programs had allowed.

They used this program to analyse real sequence data from their own new experiments, as well as previous ones, following CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in mouse and human cells. In gene editing, while the initial double-strand break made by the DNA “scissors” or gene-editing tool can be targeted to a given location, the subsequent DNA repair that makes the “edit” is performed by the cell’s own repair mechanisms and is not controllable or precise. The researchers analysed the outcomes of the gene edit – and found what they call “tremendous deleterious DSB repair byproducts of CRISPR/Cas9 editing”. The unintended outcomes or genetic errors ranged from unintended small insertions or deletions (indels) to large deletions, plasmid (gene-editing tool delivery vehicle) integrations, and chromosomal translocations.

The researchers wrote, “Our findings provide an extra dimension for genome editing safety besides off-targets” – the well documented unintentional DNA damage at locations of the genome that were not targeted for editing. They added, “Caution should be exercised to avoid not only off-target damages but also deleterious DSB repair byproducts during genome editing.” Worryingly, these unintended deleterious outcomes of gene editing were not overcome even when a high-fidelity CRISPR/Cas tool was used. Furthermore, when components of the DNA repair machinery were inhibited in an attempt to force a specific gene sequence modification outcome (known as SDN-2), this resulted in large deletions, large insertions, and DNA cuts around the start site of genes.

Read more …

Smithsonian. The Archive of Healing lists traditional remedies, procedures and practices from all seven continents.

New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

For thousands of years, people around the world have relied on medicinal folklore, herbal treatments and rituals to heal an array of ailments. Now, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have created an online platform featuring hundreds of thousands of these traditional therapies. Spanning seven continents and 200 years, the Archive of Healing draws on such sources as anthropologists’ field notes, scholarly journals, oral histories and folktales. “The whole goal here is to democratize what we think of as healing and knowledge about healing, and take it across cultures in a way that’s respectful and gives attention to intellectual property rights,” says David Shorter, director of the digital archive, in a statement.

As Valentina Di Liscia reports for Hyperallergic, the database is one of the most inclusive catalogues of medicinal folklore in the world. A key goal of the project is preserving Indigenous treatments while ensuring that this knowledge is protected against exploitation by pharmaceutical companies seeking to make a profit. To that end, certain identifying details for plants and recipes are omitted from the archive. Western medicine has, historically, overlooked herbal remedies used by women and Indigenous peoples. As folk herbalist Sade Musa explained for Healthline in 2019, many traditional treatments were passed down orally and, as a result, overlooked in favor of written documentation.

“[C]olonialism built a medical industrial complex through often violent means of cultural suppression, erasure, and exploitation,” noted Heathline. “The rise of the patriarchy also authorized only white male physicians to practice and define medicine for the world.” Former faculty member Wayland Hand launched the UCLA database more than 40 years ago. In 1996, folklorist Michael Owen Jones began digitizing the collection of more than one million notecards—then known as the Archive of Traditional Medicine—after receiving a grant. Speaking with Jeyling Chou of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s independent student newspaper, in 2005, Jones said, “Folk medicine [includes] the beliefs and practices that we learn and teach in our first-hand interactions with one another in our everyday lives.” He added, “It’s not institutional medicine, it’s not medicine that requires a license.”

Read more …

 

 

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How Earth will look in 250 million years according to plate tectonics theory

 

 

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Mar 292021
 


William Eggleston Coupe de Ville, Los Angeles 1964

 

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)
The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)
Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)
First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)
Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)
Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)
Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)
Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)
Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)
One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)
In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)
Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)
The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

 

 

Vaccine job interview

 

 

 

 

Full Moon.

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)

The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal was partially refloated early Monday, days after the vessel got stuck and brought a vital global trade route to a standstill. A statement by the Suez Canal Authority said the ship, known as the Ever Given, “responded to the pulling and towing maneuvers.” It added that the ship’s course has been corrected by 80% and further maneuvers will resume when the water level rises later in the day. The statement followed an earlier tweet by maritime services company Inchcape, which said the Ever Given was refloated and being secured.

It remains unclear what the condition of the stranded ship is and when the canal would be open to traffic, with Inchcape saying that “more information will follow once they are known.” Efforts to free the mega vessel have lasted for nearly a week. The ship became stuck last Tuesday after running aground while entering the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world. It is a 220,000-ton mega ship nearly a quarter-mile long with a 20,000 container capacity. The ship completely blocked the canal that’s home to as much as 12% of the world’s seaborne trade, and caused a traffic jam with hundreds of ships waiting to enter the Suez.

[..] Experts told CNBC that problems caused by the Suez blockage will not immediately ease when the Ever Given is freed. Tim Huxley, director of Mandarin Shipping, said it will take “some time” for traffic that has built up to cross the narrow canal. And when those ships and tankers arrive at their destinations, ports will likely face congestion that will also take time to clear, he added. “You normally have about 50 or so ships a day going through the canal, obviously at the moment it’s about 300 ships backed up … this is an enormous traffic jam, which is at both ends of the canal,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday. “This will take quite awhile for the whole supply chain to get back to normal and that’s gonna have an impact on manufacturers, retailers right across the board,” said Huxley.

Ever Given

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A fantasy.

The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)

The vaccine was a resounding success. Yes, there had been a final death rate of 10% among the vaccinated, but this was mostly among the elderly or the already ill, so it was probably not the vaccine’s fault, and if it was, no one could prove it one way or another, and even if they could, well, the vaccine manufacturers were not liable to lawsuits due to the agreements they had made with the various governments. In any case, the pandemic had ended, that was for sure. Of course the masks and the lockdown mandates continued to be enforced; the reason was that while the pandemic had most certainly been defeated, the virus still existed in its natural form somewhere out there, and so it was vital to continue with the safety procedures to avoid any possible resurgence of the disease. So what? People got used to it, as they had gotten used to so many other things before that.

And was wearing a mask in the end much worse than wearing a helmet or a safety belt? Was being forced to stay at home for a few months every year much different than being forced to be at the office working for five days out of the seven in the week? Rules are rules, and those were not as bad as others that had been instituted in the past. But there was something that worried the authorities. While most people had predictably complied with the mandatory vaccination campaign, there were a few groups that had refused them, alleging religious or health reasons, and found refuge in rural communities living off the grid. They had abandoned the use of mobile and network technology and so could not be traced so easily, and, since non-digital cash had been abolished, they appeared to have returned to a form of commerce based in the exchange of physical goods.

At first, the authorities ignored them; most people saw them as a minority of loser hicks, “anti-vaxxers” as they had been called in earlier pre-scientific times, and since it was unlikely that too many among the masses would opt for such a harsh lifestyle away from the comforts of modern urban life, they were not seen as a menace. But what happened, in the end, was that rumours started to appear, even in the cities, about small communities where no one needed to wear masks, and people were dancing and smiling, and food was delicious and natural and people were even – gasp! – falling in love and procreating in natural ways.

Of course this was an obvious and mendacious falsity, but the authorities could not permit such fairy tales to gain acceptance among the people at large. So they started to persecute “the great unvaxxed”, as they called them, or the “free renegades” as they preferred to call themselves. Their communities were dispersed. Their leaders were arrested. Planting organic, unmodified seeds became illegal.

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After a 6-month lockdown, Greece now has higher case numbers than ever.

Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)

An upsurge in new coronavirus cases is forcing governments across Europe into new, damaging lockdowns that threaten to delay a much hoped-for return to growth, economists say. The plan was that mass vaccination programmes would turn the tide on the pandemic, allowing locked-down consumers free rein after months penned up at home. Instead the virus has embarked on a third wave which is proving more difficult to bring under control. French President Emmanuel Macron warned Thursday that the European Union would have to do more and beef up its already massive 750 billion euro ($885 billion) virus recovery fund as a result. The EU had made a major effort after the first wave last year, Macron said, but “following the second and third waves… we will no doubt have to add to our response”.

In September, as the economy picked up sharply after a rapid reverse in the first wave, expectations were high that by the middle of this year it would be solidly back on track, thanks especially to the vaccine rollout. Just a couple of weeks ago, European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde was even talking about a “firm rebound in activity in the second half of the year”. Now the EU’s strongest economies — Germany, France and Italy — have reimposed restrictions and the vaccine programme in Europe is mired in a blame game over supplies. Credit insurer Euler Hermes estimates that the EU is now seven weeks adrift of its target to have 70 percent of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, compared with five weeks in February.

It estimates the delay will cost the bloc’s 27 member states some 123 billion euros this year. “If you compare us with the US, where the outlook is so much more positive, we are falling further behind on the recovery because of this third wave,” said Charlotte de Montpellier, economist with Dutch bank ING. ING now expects eurozone growth of 3.0 percent this year, down more than half a percentage point from its previous estimate. Most of the growth will also come from the third quarter, slightly later too, ING added. Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, said he does not expect the bloc to return to pre-pandemic activity levels before the second half of 2022, a year behind the US.


As of March 28, covid19 cases in Greece per million people are higher than Germany, the UK and US. Chart shows 7 day rolling average

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“..what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected..”

Is that so? Isn’t it about the number of vulnerable people?

First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)

A government-funded study of care home residents in England has found that their risk of infection with Covid-19 – either symptomatic or asymptomatic – fell by 62% five weeks after they received their first Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine dose. Those who were infected after having the vaccine may also be less likely to transmit Covid-19, initial findings showed. The study, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, is key, given that most clinical trials and observational studies evaluated the impact of the vaccines on symptomatic infections, but whether the vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infections – which play a crucial role in the spread of the virus – is still unclear. “It’s helpful to look at people who don’t have symptoms because what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected,” noted UCL’s Dr Laura Shallcross, an author of the analysis.

Researchers tracked more than 10,400 care home residents in England (with an average age of 86) between December and March, comparing the number of infections occurring in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups – using data retrieved from routine monthly PCR testing. Both vaccines reduced the risk of infection by about 56% at 28-34 days after the first dose, and 62% at 35-48 days. The effect is maintained for at least seven weeks, the authors concluded in their analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. This data is notable, given older adults with underlying illnesses have largely been excluded from vaccine trials. It also supports the UK’s decision to extend dose intervals beyond what was studied in clinical trials.

[..] In clinical trials, both vaccines were found to be very effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. But understanding whether these interventions can thwart the spread of the disease is imperative to public health policy, given vaccinating the world will take a long time, the risk of vaccine-resistant virus variants emerging and percolating, and that vaccines have not yet been proved safe and effective in children.

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“to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on a recent public health panel signaled common ground with a renowned Chinese doctor and public health administrator on the matter of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, with both Fauci and his Chinese counterpart suggesting that those restrictions could continue for many months or even years. Fauci in early March appeared on the virtual panel, titled “The Future of Health,” hosted by the University of Edinburgh. Also present in the meeting was Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, who has been at the forefront of China’s response to the pandemic and who has been referred to by national spokeswoman Hua Chunying as “China’s Fauci.”

Zhong has a long career in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, having served for years in delegatory positions in both the CCP’s National Congress and its National People’s Congress. He has also served on numerous state research initiatives and is the founder of the state-funded Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases. On the panel, Fauci and Zhong both expressed hopes that COVID-19 restrictions worldwide would continue well into the future. Zhong himself claimed that efforts to develop natural immunity to COVID-19 are inadvisable from a national policy standpoint. “It doesn’t work this way,” he said. “And it’s not realistic, and less scientific, and … inhumane.” Zhong argued that “mass vaccinations” are the “commonsense” approach to engendering herd immunity in the population, but “to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

“I have noticed in other countries,” the doctor said elsewhere, “that actions [are] not so strict enough. So that will be not enough to stop the spreading of [the virus].” Fauci himself echoed those concerns, warning against the danger of what he said was “jump[ing] the gun or do[ing] it too quickly” and seeming to imply that countries should keep COVID-19 measures in place even if they appear to have suppressed the virus within their borders. “It is important to realize,” Fauci claimed, “that variants arise, and if you suppress the virus in one country, but it is allowed to spread uninhibited in other areas of the world, sooner or later, the variants, the new lineages, the mutants, will come back and rekindle the outbreak, even in countries that seem to have it under control. So we still have a considerable amount of task in front of us.”

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Still no mention whatsoever of prophylactics.

Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)

People will have to self-isolate after coming into contact with Covid-19 for many years as the UK learns how to “live with this virus”, a government adviser has warned. Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology, said the test-and-trace system is here to stay – as are some social distancing measures. He also admitted to being “nervous about a full relaxation in June”, calling the idea of emerging from the lockdown “in one great bound” wide of the mark. “I still suspect that looking forward – and I am talking now right through 2021 and into the years ahead – that we are still going to have to be alert to coronavirus,” Prof Woolhouse said. “There are still going to be situations where we might need to use personal protective equipment, we might well need to do some kind of social distancing, put some kind of biosecurity measures in place.”


It would also be necessary to “maintain our capacity to test and trace, and particularly to isolate people who are infected,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “That final thing is going to remain important for the entire future – that, when we get cases of novel coronavirus, that those people are then going to have to be asked to self-isolate and their contacts.” Prof Woolhouse, who sits on the SPI-M modelling group, which feeds advice into the main Sage body, also said vaccine certificates to enter nightclubs and other venues might be necessary. It’s certainly something we have to consider seriously as part of a wider package of measures that are designed to make our activities safe, he warned. And, on another lockdown, he said: We should regard that as a failure of public health policy if we have to go that route again.

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“..visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus…”

Being healthy and strong and having natural immunity has been rendered fully meaningless.

Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)

Sara Pedro is sat at a beach-side restaurant with friends. It is her first time dining out in three months. She is in Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, having left her home city of Lisbon’s strict coronavirus restrictions to take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere on the Atlantic island and its “green corridor” for visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus. “I came to Madeira because in continental Portugal we are under absolute lockdown, so there was a certain fatigue about it,” she says. Sara, who has recovered from Covid-19, entered Madeira without having to take a PCR test, as would typically be required. Instead, she presented a medical certificate proving she has been in contact with the virus.

The island has a 7pm curfew, but in its capital of Funchal the esplanades are full of people having coffee in the sun as customers go in and out of the shops. It’s in stark contrast with the empty streets and closed shopfronts across mainland Portugal, which is still under tough restrictions imposed on 15 January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge. “Obviously, border closures are necessary for extreme situations, but I think it’s time to bet on safe tourism. Why can’t this be done in other European countries?” Sara asks, as a waiter arrives with drinks.

Located off the coast of Morocco and more than 800km from mainland Portugal, Madeira is one of the few places in Europe accepting tourists – and since 18 February it has been operating a green corridor for tourists who have recovered from Covid-19 in the previous 90 days or who have been fully vaccinated against it, in a foretaste of what may be a future of vaccine passports for EU travel. Vaccinated travellers must present an immunisation certificate in English, validated in their home country, that includes their name, date of birth, type of vaccine, and the date (or dates) it was administered. Tourists must also respect the activation period set out in the vaccine’s summary of product characteristics.

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Orwell.

Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)

Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.

As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users).

Republican members largely confined their grievances to the opposite concern: that these social media giants were excessively silencing conservative voices in order to promote a liberal political agenda (that complaint is only partially true: a good amount of online censorship, like growing law enforcement domestic monitoring generally, focuses on all anti-establishment ideologies, not just the right-wing variant). This editorial censoring, many Republicans insisted, rendered the tech companies’ Section 230 immunity obsolete, since they are now acting as publishers rather than mere neutral transmitters of information. Some Republicans did join with Democrats in demanding greater censorship, though typically in the name of protecting children from mental health disorders and predators rather than ideological conformity.

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“My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it.”

Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)

Bitcoin has soared back after losing ground earlier this week, climbing toward its all-time high price of over $60,000. The bitcoin price hit an all-time high of around $62,000 per bitcoin earlier this month—more than double where it began the year—but has since fallen back, despite Elon Musk’s Tesla bombshell this week. Now, the billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund and legendary investor Ray Dalio has warned he thinks there’s a “good probability” bitcoin will be banned by the U.S. government—comparing it to the 1930’s U.S. gold ban. “Every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand,” Bridgewater Associates’s Dalio told Yahoo Finance this week.


“They don’t want other monies to be operating or competing, because things can get out of control. So I think that it would be very likely that you will have it under a certain set of circumstances outlawed the way gold was outlawed.” In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made gold ownership illegal in the U.S. in an attempt to shore up the Federal Reserve’s gold supplies so the Fed could justify printing more dollars. Dalio pointed to reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India as potentially laying the groundwork for a more widespread crackdown on bitcoin. “[We] have to see what [reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India] means,” Dalio said. “Now, can they do it? Yeah. Now we get into the particulars. My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it. They can know who’s dealing with it … I would suspect it would be very hard to hold up against that kind of action.”

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Clique.

One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)

Over the past two months, two scandals have subsumed the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: the state’s gross mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the state’s nursing homes, and the governor’s reported harassment of several women around him. But the state attorney general has launched a formal investigation into only one of those scandals. In January, New Yorkers were shocked to learn that the actual Covid-19 death tolls in the state’s nursing homes were as much as 50 percent higher than what had previously been disclosed. The misreporting, which was revealed in a report released by New York Attorney General Tish James on January 28, meant that thousands of deaths may have gone uncounted. And many of these deaths occurred in the early days of the pandemic, as Cuomo told hospitals to send coronavirus-positive patients back to the facilities, leading to rapid spread of the virus.

That scandal gained legs in February when the top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said that the misreporting was deliberate; Cuomo’s office wanted to throw off an investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes. “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said on a conference call with Democratic legislators. But the spotlight quickly turned to a second scandal, as eight women reported inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by the governor. The sexual harassment allegations, which have attracted the bulk of media coverage, prompted an investigation into Cuomo by James, by referral from Cuomo himself.

And many of the top Democrats in the state have called for Cuomo’s resignation. James has not, however, begun an investigation into the Cuomo administration on its actions last spring, for a bureaucratic reason: She needs a referral from either Cuomo himself or Tom DiNapoli, the state’s low-profile comptroller, who has served since 2007. James has the statutory authority to investigate nursing homes, hence the January 28 report. She does not have the statutory authority to launch an investigation with subpoena power into the Cuomo administration without DiNapoli’s referral. (Theoretically, James could decline to investigate Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home crisis even if she received the referral from DiNapoli, though that seems very unlikely given her willingness to investigate the issue so far.)

A nursing home investigation has the potential to be explosive for a much broader range of actors than just Cuomo, and DiNapoli is himself considering a run for governor. While DiNapoli, a mainstream Democrat who nonetheless has occasionally clashed with Cuomo, is among the Democratic politicians calling for Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment claims, so far his office has declined to make a referral.

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Professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss the emerging economic world order..

In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)

Hudson: 50 years ago, I wrote Super Imperialism about how America dominates the world financially, and gets a free ride. I wrote it, right after America went off gold in 1971, when the Vietnam war – which was responsible for the entire balance-of-payments deficit – forced the country to go off gold. And everybody at that time worried the dollar was going to go down. There’d be hyperinflation. But what happened was something entirely different. Once there was no gold to settle U.S. balance-of-payments deficits, America strong armed its allies to invest in US Treasury bonds, because central banks don’t buy companies. They don’t buy raw materials. All they could buy is other government bonds. So, all of a sudden, the only thing that other people could buy with all the dollars coming in were US Treasury securities.

The securities they bought essentially were to finance yet more war making and the balance-of-payments deficit from war and the 800 military bases America has around the world. The largest customer – I think we discussed this before – was the Defense Department and the CIA. They looked at it as a how-to-do-it book. That was 50 years ago. What I’ve done is not only re-edit the book and add more information that’s come out, but I’ve summarized how the last 50 years has transformed the world. It’s a new kind of imperialism. There was still a view, 50 years ago, that imperialism was purely economic, in the sense that there’s still a rivalry, for instance, between America and China, or America and Europe and other countries.

But I think the world has changed so much in the last 50 years that what we have now is not really so much a conflict between America and China, or America and Russia, but between a financialized economy, run by financial planners allocating resources and government spending and money creation, and an economy run by governments democratic or less democratic, but certainly a mixed economy. Everything that made industrial capitalism rich, everything that made America so strong on the 19th century, through its protective tariffs, through its public infrastructure investment all the way down through world war two and the aftermath, was that we had a mixed economy in America. Europe also had a mixed economy, and in fact, every economy since Babylon has had a mixed economy.

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One small step from “Multipolar Economic World Order” to “Multipolar Global Political Economy”.

Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)

Jens Stoltenberg and other European leaders have been swooning over the “new chapter” in transatlantic relations under the Biden administration. After four years of dealing with vulgar-mouth Donald Trump and his relentless hectoring over military budgets, some European leaders are sighing with relief at Biden’s seemingly dulcet assurances that “America is back”. Of course people like Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been the civilian head of NATO since 2014, are reliant on pushing a stronger alliance for their comfy livelihoods and no doubt for future sinecures at corporate-funded think-tanks. Stoltenberg is constantly striving to find a new vision and mission for NATO, an organization founded over 70 years ago at the start of the Cold War, and which has been expanding ever since despite the official end of the Cold War three decades ago.

The buzz phrase he uses is to make the alliance “future-proof” – that is to find a permanent pretext for the U.S.-led military organization to continue its existence regardless of real-world security needs. In his interview with Deutsche Welle this week, Stoltenberg commented on the rise of China. He said, inferring something menacing: “China is coming closer to us, investing in our critical infrastructure.” Well maybe that’s because China is the world’s biggest trading partner with the European Union and a major foreign direct investor in European nations which have become bankrupt from decades of neoliberal capitalism and austerity. Stoltenberg went on: “There’s no way we can avoid addressing the security consequences for our regional alliance of the rise of China and the shift in the global balance of power.”

And then the usually cautious, wooden Stoltenberg let it slip: China, he said, provided “a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between North America — the United States — and Europe.” Voila! So the real strategic value of China being presented as a “threat” or an “adversary” is to give a new purpose to the U.S.-led NATO bloc which subordinates Europe to Washington’s geopolitical objective of hegemony. The emphasis here is on China “being presented as a threat” and not what the real relationship actually is, that is, one of a vital economic partner. (Same for Russia and its vast energy partnership with Europe.)

The United States in pursuit of global dominance by its corporations and its capitalist order must, by definition, thwart a multipolar global political economy which the rise of China and Russia embody. The fiendish political problem, however, is that Washington and its European surrogates cannot justify such a stance based on the normal and natural relations that exist. For in doing that, they would be seen as obnoxious, unwarranted aggressors. It is imperative therefore to conflate China and Russia as “security threats” to the presumed Western “rules-based order”.

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The Donziger story is almost as crazy as Julian Assange’s.

The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

Many of us will have felt the grip of claustrophobic isolation over the past year, but the lawyer Steven Donziger has experienced an extreme, very personal confinement as a pandemic arrived and then raged around him in New York City. On Sunday, Donziger reached his 600th day of an unprecedented house arrest that has resulted from a sprawling, Kafkaesque legal battle with the oil giant Chevron. Donziger spearheaded a lengthy crusade against the company on behalf of tens of thousands of Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest whose homes and health were devastated by oil pollution, only to himself become, as he describes it, the victim of a “planned targeting by a corporation to destroy my life”.

Since August 2019, Donziger has been restricted to his elegant Manhattan apartment, a clunky court-mandated monitoring bracelet he calls “the black claw” continuously strapped to his left ankle. He cannot even venture into the hallway, or to pick up his mail. Exempted excursions for medical appointments or major school events for his 14-year-old son require permission days in advance. An indoor bike sits by the front door in lieu of alternative exercise options. “There’s no comparison to quarantine because I can’t even go outside for a walk. If my kid is sick I can’t go to the drug store to get a prescription,” Donziger said. “I never truly understood freedom until I was put in this situation.”

The nights are hardest for Donziger, when he has to struggle to get his jeans off over the boxy tag and lie in bed next to his wife “with the government still there on my ankle”. Each morning he wakes up in angst. A flag reading “SOS Free Steven” sometimes flutters defiantly from the window, but efforts to end the unusually long detention have yet to be granted. “It’s been brutally difficult for him,” said Paul Paz y Miño, associate director of Amazon Watch, a conservation group allied to Donziger. “It’s taken a huge toll on him and his family. Chevron wants the narrative to be that he’s a criminal. The implications of that for the entire environmental movement against oil companies is terrifying.”

[..] The dispute with Chevron centres upon a landmark 2011 decision by the Ecuador courts to order the company pay $9.5bn in damages to people blighted by decades of polluted air and water. Chevron has never paid up, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” and fraud by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary. But the subsequent web of events that has led to Donziger being detained and stripped of his law license is befuddling even to legal scholars. “Frankly, I scratch my head when I look at this case,” said Larry Catá Backer, a professor of international law at Penn State University. “It is this strange multi-front battle with one extraordinary explosive development after another. It has had this magical quality to enrage everyone involved in it.”

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 192021
 
 March 19, 2021  Posted by at 7:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Brian Griffin Memorial to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow, Russia 1974

 

 

In the space of just 24 hours, Joe Biden and Antony Blinken managed to make Donald Trump look like a perfect diplomat. And we must wonder why that is. Why did Biden call Putin a soulless killer, and Blinken invoke a 20 minute tirade from Chinese top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Alaska? Is it just stupidity, which is quite possible, or is it orchestrated, which you might suspect given it took so little time to insult America’s alleged two biggest adversaries? Reuters:

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage that the U.S. side would discuss its “deep concerns” about Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion of allies. “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” he said. …Yang hit back, accusing the United States of using its military might and financial supremacy to pressure countries and of abusing national security to threaten the future of international trade.


He said Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all inseparable parts of Chinese territory and China firmly opposed US interference in its internal affairs. Yang said human rights in the United States were at a low point with Black Americans being “slaughtered” and added that the United States should handle its own affairs and China its own. Yang said it was necessary to abandon a “Cold War mentality,” and confrontation and added: “The way we see the relationship with the United States is as President Xi Jinping has said, that is we hope to see no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the United States.”

It’s time that people understand Joe Biden is an entirely scripted actor. Not well-scripted, and not a good actor, but still. His comments about Putin being a “killer with no soul” are insane, they scrape the bottom of the bottom of the barrel of diplomacy, they insult not just Putin, and thereby all of Russia, and threaten world peace, but they’re not his. They were written for him. Biden keeps reminding me of Max Headroom, an early MTV thing. Cartoon character. Scripted.

The CIA, Pentagon, NATO, Boeing, Raytheon, you name them, all badly need to conserve the image of Putin as Satan, because he’s their “raison d’être”. Putin is the figurehead for why the US spends 10 times more than Russia on “defense”, and still ends up with inferior weaponry. The CIA thought they had it all won when they put Yeltsin in the Kremlin, and started to take over all resources of the country with the most natural resources on the planet.

And then Putin came, and prevented that take-over. It’s hilarious to see how that same CIA now tries to push Alexey Navalny, a virtual nobody in Russia, as “opposition leader”, just as even Amnesty take their hands off of him, and reverse their nutty “prisoner of conscience” moniker, because all of a sudden they realize he called Muslims “flies and cockroaches”. Navalny, like Yeltsin, is a CIA asset, plain and simple.

The narrative of him being poisoned with novichok, the deadliest poison in the world, which never seems to kill anyone when Russians use it on their enemies, of course goes back to the “poisoning” of father and daughter Skripal in the UK 3 years ago, who didn’t die either, but haven’t been heard from since. It’s a narrative: evil Putin poisons people. But if you look at the background, none of the people he supposedly targets are ever a threat to him. They just serve the narrative. Just like Joe Biden does. That’s his role.

Driving all this blubber are people like neocon man and wife team Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland and their ilk, the latter a driving force behind the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, who were outsmarted by Putin’s peaceful and democratic take-over take-back of Crimea, and are still mightily pissed off about that. And guess what, Nuland is now back in Joe Biden’s US government.

Skripal was a Russia military intelligence officer who turned double agent and spied for Britain. That would have been enough for any country to either lock him up for a very long time or simply eliminate him, certainly in the US. It happens all the time. But Putin let him leave to live in Britain. Ergo: he can’t have been that much of a threat. And then years later they want to kill him anyway, and send two clowns who screw up the operation with the deadliest poison in the world? That theory only works if you think Russians, and Russian intelligence, are the stupidest on the planet. While ex-KGB agent Putin is in charge. Then he must be stupid too.

Who buys that? Well, Americans do. Because their media do nothing but repeat Putin is Satan messages. And corrupt too. Navalny recently had a story about some multi-billion “castle” Putin allegedly owns, western media ate it up, and then it turns out to be some empty shell, like those cardboard store fronts you see in western movies. But this is not about truth anymore. It‘s about how endless repetition makes lies “believable” to gullible people – of which America has a seemingly endless supply. They can only sell you the story about how stupid Russians supposedly are if they assume you are really stupid.

Putin won’t starve when he retires, but we have no indications that he stole billions either. That’s a narrative that’s been repeated for all twenty odd years he’s led Russia. America’s war industry needs an enemy, so they create one. It all just serves to show ever more that “US intelligence” is an oxymoron. And that Biden is a moron, period.

 

ZeroHedge is (re?)running a series of articles by US hedge fund manager Alex Krainer, who noticed how, especially in 2014 post-Maidan, the Putin stories ran in the MSM, and started looking into it. And then wrote a book about it. In 2018, he wrote 3 articles on the topic. Here are some excerpts, but do read all of it:

 

 

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 1

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis Putin declared publicly that he bore responsibility to ensure that the 1998 crisis would not repeat itself on his watch. His government also took proactive steps to limit the fallout from the crisis. In July 2008, Putin personally went to the town of Pikalyevo in Leningrad Oblast to confront the directors and owners of a large metallurgical factory. This was not long after the owners had shut the facility down, suspending without pay thousands of their workers.

Addressing the gathering, Putin excoriated them, saying that because of their unprofessional conduct and greed, thousands of families would find themselves destitute. This was unacceptable to his government and he ordered the owners to restart the facility, else the government would do it without them. He further ordered the management to immediately (“deadline today”) pay all workers’ salary arrears, amounting to more than 41 million rubles. [..]
Putin publicly chastised Oleg Deripaska, once Russia’s richest man, and other Russian businessmen at a meeting in Pikalyovo.

Putin took similar action protecting the ordinary people in another crisis situation. During his first winter as president, entire towns and villages across the far east of the country counting as many as 400,000 inhabitants, lost heating for the lack of coal. A serious crisis emerged with mines shutting down, workers out in the streets and even hospitals ceasing to function because of the cold. But the coal for heating was available in Russia, only most of it was already allotted for export. Vladimir Putin didn’t think that Russian people should suffer freezing conditions all winter in order for that coal to be exchanged for American dollars. He decreed that export of coal be stopped immediately and that all available quantities be sent back to Siberia to fuel the boiler stations.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 2

According to his chief of security, Alexander Korzhakov, Boris Yeltsin worked about two hours per day. The rest he spent eating, drinking, playing tennis, hunting or enjoying some other pastime. Vladimir Putin reportedly works exceptionally long hours and several of his advisers and ministers have testified to working with him until very late into the night and then receiving a call from him early in the morning the next day. Exiled banker and former oligarch Sergei Pugachev described his experience: “we hardly parted company, we met on a daily basis from early morning to late evening until 3, until 4 AM, every day, every day. We naturally discussed matters of state business development, the state of the economy and so on. Putin needed someone who understood and knew those matters well. (Harding, Smith and Maynard 2015)

Some of his advisors and ministers reported meeting with him to discuss some matter within their own domain of specialty only to be startled in realizing that Putin commanded a more detailed understanding of that very matter than they themselves had. Being that immersed in and devoted to his occupation enables Vladimir Putin to hold his famous marathon press conferences when he speaks for three or four hours answering journalists questions with accurate and detailed information and without teleprompters. His 14th annual call-in marathon in 2016 lasted 3 and a half hours during which he took and answered 80 questions!

[..] I wondered if the Russians wouldn’t in the end get Edward Snowden and trade him for some big concession from their “American partners” who were clearly extremely keen on getting the renegade whistle-blower. I remember thinking that the outcome of that incident would give us an important indication of what Vladimir Putin was made of: would he do the right thing and offer Snowden asylum and protection, or would he end up trading him off? My gut feeling was that Putin would indeed do the right thing, but at the same time I cringed at the thought that I might end up disappointed. After several weeks of legal procedures, on July 31st 2013, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 3

In a speech to the Federal Assembly in 2005, Putin drew on the philosophy of Ivan Ilyin to outline the limitations of state power: “State power cannot oversee and dictate the creative states of the soul and mind, the inner states of love, freedom and goodwill. The state cannot demand from its citizens faith, prayer, love, goodness and conviction. It cannot regulate scientific, religious and artistic creation… It should not intervene in moral, family and daily private life, and only when extremely necessary should it impinge on people’s economic initiative and creativity.”


It is unusual for a politician to speak of such things as states of the soul and mind or the “inner states of love” to a gathering of other politicians but these ideas do appear to run as a theme in Putin’s conception of political leadership. At the 15th Congress of the Russian Geographical Society, he ventured the following statement: “In general, love is the whole meaning of life, of being. Love of family, of children, and of the motherland. It is such a multifaceted phenomenon that is the basis of all our actions.” To a Westerner, exposed to a relentless defamation of Vladimir Putin, this may be difficult to believe. After all, we know that he was a KGB agent, that he routinely ordered assassinations of his critics and political opponents, that he has made himself the wealthiest man in the world, and many other similarly negative “facts” about him.

And Scott Ritter has it right:

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If The Consequences Weren’t So Serious

[..] the likelihood of the Biden-Putin meeting occurring as described by Joe Biden is slim to none. When Biden made his trip to the Kremlin in 2011, he was fronting for the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia. There was no opportunity, or need, for Biden’s faux machismo. The two men did meet, but as part of delegations discussing the possibility for improving relations. Not only would Biden’s insulting verbal flexing have been wildly inappropriate and inconsistent with the larger policy objectives of his visit, but it ran counter to his own feelings, expressed at the time, about Russia.

“Russia has the best engineers in the world,” Biden said in a press conference after his meeting with Putin (who was serving as Russia’s prime minister, not president, at the time.) “Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation.” These are not words one utters after telling a Russian leader in private that he has “no soul.”

Biden’s struggle with the truth is well known, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he possibly made up a meeting with Putin. Biden has been caught plagiarizing a speech delivered by former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, lied about his academic record and accomplishments, and manufactured from whole cloth a narrative that has him participating in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Biden’s lies all have one goal in common: to make him out to be that which he is not. So, too, his apparent lie about calling Putin soulless.

Biden is desperate to be a ‘tough guy’. But for that reputation to stick vis-à-vis Putin, there had to be a ‘showdown’ moment, where the good guy faced off against the bad guy and called him out. Since no such event exists, Biden had to make one up. And, like most of his lies, Biden repeats them long enough and often enough that they take on a life of their own, embraced as fact by unquestioning journalists.

 

Joe Biden only has a veneer, a semblance, of credibility, and that’s only because US media never ask him any serious questions. Not just because he never did any press-ops after becoming president, but also because even if he did, they still wouldn’t.

Putin, on the other hand, saved his country from America, globalism, and the worst outgrowths of capitalism and neocons. The US no longer has any meaningful dialogue with Russia anymore, which is of course utterly insane (but yeah, the narrative), but the Alaska meeting does give us an insight into where this train is about to be headed next.

Biden is no match for Putin in any way shape or form, but that doesn’t matter much “back home” as long as the press reports on just one side of the situation. We could have a great relationship with Russia, mutually beneficial, but that is too much of a threat to certain forces in the country. And those forces just came back into power.

Putin’s weak point is he would like to retire, but can’t find anyone he trusts to take over. And the CIA is ready to pounce as soon as he leaves. Biden is no problem for him, but finding a successor as smart as himself, is.

And you know, do you see Joe Biden take on the entire Russian intelligence apparatus, on his own? Just saying. And asking for a friend.

 

 

 

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Feb 252021
 
 February 25, 2021  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn The flight into Egypt – a night piece 1651

 

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)
Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)
COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)
US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)
New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)
Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)
Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)
NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)
Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)
House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)
The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)
California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

 

 

 

 

Anyone seen an explanation?

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)

The number of coronavirus-related deaths decreased by 20% worldwide last week compared to the week before, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization, which coincides with a drop in cases and deaths in the United States as well, as it appears the course of both the global and domestic outbreaks of the virus may finally be slowing. Slightly fewer than 66,000 fatalities worldwide were reported last week—the third consecutive week the fatality rate has decreased. The WHO also announced the total number of new cases fell to 2.4 million for the week of Feb. 15 through Feb. 21, representing an 11% dip from the prior week, which marks the sixth consecutive week the global case count has declined.


The U.S. has averaged 68,038 new cases per day over the past seven days, a decrease of nearly 40% compared to the average earlier this month. On Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the U.S. dropped below 56,000 for the first time since early November. While there is no disputing the fact that the numbers are trending in the right direction, the emergence of new variants has many health professionals concerned. Three particular variants, B.1.1.7 (first found in the U.K.), B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) are the most prevalent at this point.

Read more …

There will be thousands. Get fit. One of the many drawbacks of the vaccines is that the virus will beat them. Too many people are infected worldwide to prevent this.

Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)

A new coronavirus strain that shares some characteristics with the South Africa variant is emerging in New York City, researchers said Wednesday. As of mid-February, the new variant, called B.1.526, was present in about 12 percent of coronavirus samples collected in the Big Apple and surrounding areas, according to researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In their analysis of publicly available databases, the Columbia researchers did not find a high prevalence of the South Africa or Brazil COVID-19 variants in the region.


“Instead we found high numbers of this home-grown lineage,” Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement. The Columbia study found the new strain shares some similarities to the South Africa strain, which scientists believe can spread more easily than other virus variants. B.1.526 was also described in research published this week by the California Institute of Technology.

Read more …

“Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats.”

COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)

The U.S. House version of the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” – a $1.9 trillion emergency aid package to help America recover from the coronavirus pandemic has an extra perk for federal workers: Enhanced paid time off if your child is enrolled in a school that isn’t back to full-time, in-classroom instruction. Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats. It is funded through a new $570 million family leave account exclusively for federal workers. While millions of parents struggle to work from home with kids who are enrolled in shuttered or partially shuttered schools, and millions more left the workforce or lost jobs to care for their at-home children, evidently parents in the federal bureaucracy need their own, personal Covid-19 bailout.

Buried on page 305 of the House bill released late last Friday night (included after the bailout details for states and localities), is a new Treasury Department fund called the “Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund.” $570 million in the new fund is available through September 30. Federal employees caring for others due to Covid-19 are eligible for paid leave. Among those eligible are those who are “unable to work” because they are caring for school-aged children not physically in school full time “due to Covid-19 precautions[.]” The new Fund allows a federal employee “caring for a son or daughter” to qualify for the paid leave, specifically:


“if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to Covid-19 precautions;” Under the bill as currently drafted, full-time federal employees can take up to 600 hours in paid leave until September 30, up to $35 an hour and $1,400 a week. That’s 15 weeks for a 40-hour employee. Part-time and “seasonal” employees are eligible, too, with equivalent hours established by their agency.

Read more …

Find in your thesaurus under “dysfunctional”.

US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)

U.S. senators on Wednesday were eyeing potentially significant cuts to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as they awaited a ruling on whether the measure can include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian was expected to decide soon whether Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed minimum wage increase is allowable under a rule allowing a simple majority of the 100-member Senate to approve the sweeping relief measure, instead of the chamber’s typical 60-vote majority. The House of Representatives on Friday could pass the bill that would help tackle the heavy human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

The Senate is likely to follow up in early March. The measure is Biden’s top legislative priority. Senate Democrats and Republicans were looking at scaling back some of the biggest provisions, including expanded federal unemployment benefits, $1,400 direct payments to Americans and money for state and local governments, according to lawmakers and aides. [..] A new round of stimulus checks could be scaled back to exclude more high earners, the aide said. Several senators, including Democrat Joe Manchin, have said they were looking at a minimum wage increase to $10 to $11 an hour, instead of $15 by 2025, up from the current $7.25.


“I think even though several Democrats have some concerns, that we can still find a basis for agreement,” Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who must juggle demands of progressive and moderate Democrats amid Republican opposition, described a U.S. economy in need of help beyond the nearly $4 trillion provided last year.

Read more …

“During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)

The Biden administration will release an intelligence report Thursday that concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, three U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The intelligence assessment, based largely on work by the CIA, is not new — NBC News was among the organizations that confirmed it in 2018. But its public release will mark a significant new chapter in the U.S.-Saudi relationship and a clear break by President Joe Biden with former President Donald Trump’s policy of equivocating about the Saudi state’s role in a brutal murder that was widely condemned by members of Congress, journalists and a U.N. investigator.

Reuters first reported on the declassified intelligence summary scheduled for release Thursday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden would communicate with the Saudi king, rather than his son the crown prince. She said the declassified report was being prepared for release soon. It remains to be seen how releasing the report will affect U.S.-Saudi relations. Biden officials have been engaging with the Saudis since they took office, according to the State Department.


[..] During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.” Biden has ended American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, but he has not moved to cut off military aid to an important Middle East ally and counterterrorism partner. “The president’s intention, as is the intention of this government, is to recalibrate our engagement with Saudi Arabia,” Psaki said Wednesday.

Read more …

Get him under oath.

Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Republican colleagues on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking the FBI to brief them on the California Democrat’s relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang. The GOP legislators say that it’s important to understand Swalwell’s relationship with Fang, who seduced US politicians as part of her work, to protect themselves and national secrets. The 14 Homeland Security Committee Republicans, led by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray that “Members of Congress must understand the threats we now face and the extent of damage already done.”

“As our nation faces a growing security threat from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempts to infiltrate and undermine the United States Government, we write to request a full briefing regarding counterintelligence threats to Members of Congress, including information related to Representative Eric Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative,” the legislators wrote. “In light of Fang’s infiltration of Rep. Swalwell’s inner circle, we believe Members of Congress must know the full extend of the CCP’s efforts to target Members of Congress.” The Republicans wrote to Wray, “We must ensure the Committee can safeguard Top Secret information and make an informed decision regarding Rep. Swalwell’s future access to classified information”


Swalwell is a member of both the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, which entitles him to top-secret information. Most if not all of his GOP colleagues were unaware of his ties to Fang before a bombshell December report. Swalwell received an FBI “defensive briefing” in 2015 on Fang, who is believed to have returned to China to avoid apprehension. His brother and father remained active Facebook friends with her until after her role was publicly reported. Swalwell has refused to say if he had a romantic relationship with Fang, who fundraised for him and allegedly seduced at least two mayors as part of her work.

Read more …

Historians are going to think Twitter was a political party.

Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)

Social media giant Twitter announced yesterday that it has deleted 373 accounts it claims were linked to Russia, Iran, and Armenia. In a blog post entitled “Disclosing networks of state-linked information operations,” it claimed that it had taken the decision to remove 69 Russian accounts primarily because they were “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”The move sparked controversy on Twitter itself, with many users joking that their own fealty to NATO was insufficiently zealous. Twitter justified the decision by pointing to its rules regarding the prohibition of state-controlled disinformation networks. Yet it failed to fully explain exactly how it knew these users were in the pay of the Kremlin or under the control of the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.


Indeed, the supposedly “independent investigation and analysis” team at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to which Twitter contracted out its work, itself has troubling connections to the (U.S.) state. For example, its non-resident fellow Matt Masterton was, until recently, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, the whole observatory is located within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, headed by former American Ambassador to Russia (and noted Kremlin hawk) Michael McFaul. Supposed “experts” accuse users of being Russia-linked disinformation agents with great regularity. Ben Nimmo, data journalist and former NATO press officer, falsely asserted that a noted Ukrainian concert pianist and a Welsh pensioner were Kremlin bots. Nimmo was recently announced as Facebook’s chief of intelligence.

Read more …

Bubble.

NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)

The New Zealand bond market imploded on Thursday as traders raced to price in a better-than-even chance of a rate hike coming as soon as this year, to ensure the central bank meets a shock Ardern government mandate to keep housing affordable. The yield on the 10-year New Zealand government bond soared 18.5 basis points to 1.852 per cent. Australian 10-year government bonds rose in sympathy, trading 11 basis points higher at 1.718 per cent. The New Zealand currency edged down 0.1 per cent to US74.26¢ late in the session, but it’s trading around the highest level since August 2017. The bond market sell-off came after New Zealand’s finance minister, Grant Robertson, declared that the central bank’s remit will now change so that it has to consider housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions.

Specifically, the the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will have to take into account “government policy relating to more sustainable house prices, while working towards its objectives,” the finance minister said. In effect, that will mean that the RBNZ has to weed out investor property demand, which low rates and easy credit have fuelled. It will need to regularly explain to the government “how it has sought to assess the impacts on housing outcomes”. The finance minister also asked the RBNZ to provide advice on debt-to-income ratios and interest-only mortgages. “The minister’s direction is in tune with our recent advice to the government in which we detailed the many influences on house prices, including the actions of the Reserve Bank,” said RBNZ governor Adrian Orr. Just a day ago, he said the RBNZ had the capacity to deploy negative rates if needed.


The RBNZ is forecasting that house prices will soar to 22 per cent annual growth by mid-year, as New Zealanders turn to the investment they are most familiar with and that has delivered big returns in the past – housing. The central bank slapped new restrictions on the housing market earlier this month, after warning that speculation is helping to fuel huge post-pandemic price gains. The December REINZ house price index rose an eye-watering 17.3 per cent year on year, with prices up 18.1 per cent in Auckland and 16.6 per cent outside Auckland. ANZ New Zealand fixed income strategist David Croy said markets interpreted the government’s move to change the RBNZ’s mandate to include housing as further confirmation that the economy is flying. The market “is simply seeing the government’s move as validation of the good news,” he said.

Read more …

Sinkhole.

Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)

Since the Lincoln Project’s co-founder John Weaver was accused of sexually harassing multiple young men, the controversial anti-Trump group has received tens of millions in free media coverage, according to a new analysis. Weaver’s alleged misconduct broke in a story on January 11 in a report from the American Conservative, but Lincoln Project members have still been aplenty on both CNN and MSNBC – two networks that have heavily promoted the organization, run by anti-Trump Republicans, since its inception. According to the new analysis from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, media coverage between January 11 and February 11 for the group is worth a whopping $32 million, based on advertising value estimated by media monitoring service Critical Mention. In that time, there were 40 appearances by founders and advisers – 10 on CNN and 30 on MSNBC.


Earlier this month, Weaver resigned from the group he co-founded after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances on numerous young men, often offering professional advances in exchange for sexual favors. He apologized for sending “inappropriate” messages, but reports since have indicated his behavior was known about by others, including co-founder Steve Schmidt, who has denied such knowledge. Only hours after Weaver’s departure, Schmidt appeared on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’, where he faced no questions about his fellow co-founder but was grilled about the group’s tens of millions in funding and where it goes. That subject has become yet another controversy for the group, as it has been revealed much of the money was funneled into separate organizations involved with the founders.

Read more …

Pass it to Nancy and Kamala.

House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)

A group of about three dozen Democrats in the House have signed a letter calling for President Joe Biden to give up his sole authority to authorize the launch of nuclear weapons, which was obtained by Politico. “Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., according to Politico. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.” The letter continues, “While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so. The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”


The congressman said in a tweet on Wednesday: “ICYMI: I’m calling on @POTUS to install checks & balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure. Past presidents have threatened nuclear attacks on other countries or exhibited concerning behavior that cast doubt on their judgment.” The Democrats suggest several alternatives to the president’s sole authority, including requiring other officials in the presidential line of succession, specifically the vice president and the House Speaker, neither of whom can be removed by the president if they disagree — to concur with a launch order.”

Read more …

Which idiots signed that treaty?

The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)

On 4 February the German energy giant RWE announced it wassuing the government of the Netherlands. The crime? Proposing to phase out coal from the country’s electricity mix. The company, which is Europe’s biggest emitter of carbon, is demanding €1.4bn in ‘compensation’ from the country for loss of potential earnings, because the Dutch government has banned the burning of coal for electricity from 2030. If this sounds unreasonable, then you might be surprised to learn that this kind of legal action is perfectly normal – and likely to become far more commonplace in the coming years. RWE is suing under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a little-known international agreement signed without much public debate in 1994.

The treaty binds more than 50 countries, and allows foreign investors in the energy sector to sue governments for decisions that might negatively impact their profits – including climate policies. Governments can be forced to pay huge sums in compensation if they lose an ECT case. On Tuesday, Investigate Europe revealed that the EU, the UK and Switzerland could be forced to pay more than €345bn in ECT lawsuits over climate action in the coming years. This amount, which is more than twice the EU’s annual budget, represents the total value of the fossil fuel infrastructure that is protected by the ECT, and was calculated using data gathered by Global Energy Monitor and Change of Oil International.


With ECT-covered assets worth €141bn (or more than €2,000 per citizen), the UK – which in 2019 became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law – is the country most vulnerable to future claims. In 2019 the European Commission called the ECT “outdated” and “no longer sustainable”, and more than 450 climate leaders and scientists and 300 lawmakers from across Europe have called on governments to withdraw from the treaty. But in response, powerful interests have mobilised to not just defend the treaty, but to expand it to new signatory states. These interests include the fossil fuels lobby keen to keep its outsized legal privileges; lawyers who make millions arguing ECT cases; and the Brussels-based ECT Secretariat, which has close ties to both industries and whose survival depends on the treaty’s continuation.

Read more …

That graph is downright scary.

California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

California’s Assembly is slated to consider a new bill requiring department store childrens’ sections to be largely “gender-neutral” in order to combat “prejudice” and “judgment” against gender non-conforming children. “Large retailers that sell toys, clothes, and other children’s items in California would have to devote floor space to merchandise marketed to both boys and girls under a new bill,” Politico reported earlier this week. “Stores would be able to sell the same products they do now as long as they maintain some areas where shoppers can find all toys or clothes, regardless of gender-based marketing, under CA AB2826 (19R) from Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would apply to department stores with 500 or more employees beginning in 2023.”


Lowe told Politico that the idea for the bill, which he also introduced last year to little effect, came from one of his staffers, who claims her daughter wanted an item in the “boys” section but felt slighted because she felt the toy was designated for a male child. “This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” Lowe told the outlet. “Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the text of the bill notes.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 222021
 
 February 22, 2021  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Thomas Abercrombie Beirut 1957

 

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)
Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)
Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)
More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)
Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)
Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)
The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)
Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)
Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)
Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)
Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)
Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

 

 

It’s Andrew Cuomo day! Why is he still in office? Well, the Dems want the GOP to go after him, so they don’t have to. Biden won’t have anything to do with this hot potato, until and unless he can squeeze political capital out of it. Among lower level Dems, there are too many that Cuomo has collected dirt on – or that are afraid he did.

This may take a while therefore, everyone’s playing a waiting game. And the press drip-drip new stories about Cuomo every day, without condemning him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’ll be the first to deny it.

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)

As Stephanie Kelton, former chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee, argues in her bestseller “The Deficit Myth,” the country’s real deficits are in healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, education and the climate. But rather than address those things by spending, writes Kelton, the government proceeds in terror of not “balancing the budget,” falsely believing that an unbalanced budget is the source of inflation. “We run around like a six-foot-tall guy who wanders around perpetually hunched over in a house with eight-foot ceilings because someone convinced him that if he tries to stand up tall he’ll suffer a massive head trauma,” she writes. Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama, concurs. “Given low interest rates, the United States actually has even more fiscal room to respond to the crisis today than it did in the financial crisis,” he told me. “We should use that room.”

If the Biden stimulus goes through, and inflation doesn’t skyrocket, the experiment may bear out a new monetary theory. It could be time at last for the nation to stand tall, and unfurl its economy to its full height. Of course, an experiment on such a big scale is unnerving, and Biden is facing substantial criticism for the $1.9-trillion plan. Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist at the IMF, tweeted earlier this month that such a stimulus would not just overheat the economy; it would incinerate it. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers issued a less hyperbolic warning but he brought up the fear: The policy would need to come with an aggressive fiscal policy to keep “inflationary pressures” at bay.

Kelton doesn’t completely disagree. On Twitter, she pointed out that the modern monetary theory she advocates requires Congress to stop talking about budgets and start talking entirely about mitigating inflation, if it comes, by other monetary policy means. You’re going to hear a lot more kvetching about government spending and, geez, $1.9 trillion. But remember, no one pushing Biden’s plan is trying to pave the way for a big, fat inflationary decade, filled with 1970s malaise, austerity measures and agony at the pump. They’re just willing to bet that a nearly $2-trillion stimulus, if the economy is monitored closely enough, will improve infrastructure, education, climate and healthcare, while making employers eager to find workers, which will push up wages and benefits. Which all sounds great. Especially when the checks show up.

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“New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—..”

Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)

Legal experts are warning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged undercounting of nursing-home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic may rise to the level of a criminal offense. Cuomo has found himself at the center of a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic. The New York Post reported earlier this month that Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, told lawmakers the administration had withheld the numbers for fear of them being “used against us.” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John B. Daukas, who served as acting U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that DeRosa’s reported admissions weren’t “merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal.”


Daukas said numerous federal statutes could apply, noting that Cuomo’s administration is accusing of both making false statements to the federal government and trying to thwart an investigation. “Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” Daukas wrote. And on Saturday, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said DeRosa’s admission to lawmakers – if true – constitutes a potential obstruction of justice charge. Per the federal statute, Jarrett noted, if a government official falsifies or hides evidence to avoid triggering an investigation (or acts out of fear that such a probe may occur) that official is still culpable under the law of obstruction.”

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There’s a shredder working overtime somewhere…

Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) faces increasing criticism over reports that his administration underreported coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and a preliminary federal investigation underway, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) renewed his call Friday for Cuomo to provide all data on such deaths, describing his administration’s alleged conduct as an “apparent obstruction of justice”. Scalise, the ranking member of Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, reiterated his call in a press release emailed Friday afternoon by the House Oversight Republicans. The press release cites the February 11 New York Post exposé reporting that Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide, had privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld nursing home death data out of fear that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.

On top of that, the release mentioned the report that Cuomo had allegedly threatened a Democratic assemblyman if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home deaths. “This apparent obstruction of justice necessitates an immediate and thorough investigation by Congress especially in light of the recent revelation that you and your Administration engaged in a cover-up aimed at concealing your culpability in New York State’s COVID-19 nursing home crisis,” Scalise wrote. “Recent reporting suggests that your attempts to cover-up the truth and conceal your culpability extend beyond obstruction to threats of retaliation toward anyone who might cross you. This behavior appears to be your modus operandi when anyone attempts to question your ‘leadership.’”

The press release goes on to mention that the subcommittee’s Republicans have repeatedly called for Cuomo to provide information regarding his since-rescinded directive ordering nursing homes and long-term care facilities to admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals. According to the press release, they first asked the governor in June 2020, and subsequent times in July 2020 and last month. [..] In a letter from Scalise to Cuomo attached to the press release, the Louisiana Republican touched on the aforementioned points but also requested transcribed interviews from DeRosa and New York Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker.

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Some are just too pissed off.

More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a growing number of allegations he and his subordinates routinely threaten critics, with two New York politicians – a former Democratic congressional candidate and a Republican ex-rival of Cuomo’s – recounting to Forbes their hostile experiences with the governor’s staff. Nate McMurray, a two-time House candidate in Western New York, told Forbes that after criticizing Cuomo for plans to attend a Buffalo Bills game, he received a call from a Cuomo aide on New Years Eve that began “you motherf***er,” before devolving into threats like “you’re done in politics.” McMurray said he took down his tweet after the call because he was “scared” and looking for a job after his run, adding that he’s heard from people in both Cuomo’s staff and the New York legislature about a “pervasive culture of fear that has trickled down from his office.”

“We’ve all been yelled at by someone in that administration,” Marc Molinaro, a Republican county executive in upstate New York who ran against Cuomo in 2018, told Forbes, adding, “It’s unacceptable but how they operate.” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, tweeted that she was “flooded” with stories from people who said they were “bullied, mistreated, or intimidated” by Cuomo, a statement echoed by former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, who has previously accused him of harassment. Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic state senator, told the New Yorker Cuomo once asked her to “tell me again how your grandfather’s career ended,” which she perceived as a threat given that her grandfather, Mario Biaggi, resigned over a corruption scandal – though a Cuomo spokesperson told the New Yorker it was about the “importance of integrity in government.”

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean tweeted that she was told by someone close to the Cuomo family to “‘Watch my back,’” when she began speaking out against him prolifically over the coronavirus-related deaths of her parents, who were both nursing home residents.

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“..a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.”

Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)

Most concerningly, Cuomo’s administration admitted this month that it had been excluding nursing home residents who died of COVID but didn’t technically die on the grounds of their facilities from its official count of COVID-related nursing home deaths. Since many such residents died only after being hospitalized, this had the effect of making the state’s nursing home outbreak look thousands of deaths smaller than it actually was. Cuomo’s office appears to have compiled the more comprehensive, accurate data months ago but didn’t release it until the state’s attorney general—who is elected independently of the governor—issued a Jan. 28 report alleging that nursing home deaths had been undercounted.

(It does not look like the discrepancy could have resulted from innocent semantic misunderstandings: A representative of the data team that manages the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard noted to Slate that “CDC guidance for the data we use in our dashboard specifically states that resident deaths are supposed to be counted regardless of the place of death,” while the managing editor of the COVID Tracking Project said its staff is “not currently aware of any other US state or territory that reports deaths associated with nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities in the way that New York did for most of the pandemic.”)

[..] His press conference performances notwithstanding, the facts and evidence show that Cuomo is not someone who cares much about facts and evidence. But his liberal supporters don’t care: A Siena College poll taken after the nursing home scandal broke found that 83 percent of New York Democrats still approve of Cuomo’s handling of COVID, with more than 80 percent also saying specifically that they approve of his work “communicating with the people of New York” and “providing accurate information.”

To hammer home the cognitive dissonance, only 54 percent said he’d done a good job “making public all data about COVID-related deaths of nursing home patients,” which suggests both that 54 percent of New York Democrats are full of it and that a significant portion of the rest of them know Cuomo is full of it but don’t care. To many voters, celebrating the idea of the competent blue-state governor is more important than reckoning with the reality of a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

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Hot potato.

Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during an interview on ABC’s This Week would not provide a direct answer about whether President Biden still considers New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the “gold standard” on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Journalist Jonathan Karl posed the question after playing a clip of Biden last year stating that Cuomo has performed “one hell of a job” and describing the governor as “sorta the gold standard.” Cuomo, who has come under fire for his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, has faced heightened scrutiny since his top aide Melissa DeRosa revealed the administration held back on answering questions from lawmakers due to concerns about a potential Justice Department investigation.


“Well John, we work with Governor Cuomo just like we work with governors across the country,” Psaki said, noting that Cuomo chairs the National Governors Association and has “an important role in ensuring that we’re coordinating closely in getting assistance out to people of his state and to states across the country.” She said that any matter of investigations would be in the hands of “the appropriate law enforcement authorities to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward. ”But we are going to continue to work with a range of governors, including of course Governor Cuomo because we think the people of New York, the people of states across the country need assistance, not just to get through the pandemic, but to get through this difficult economic time.”

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NATO and Pentagon are Siamese twins.

The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)

Historically, the United States relies on NATO as a conduit to project its power and influence over Europe. This was its fundamental objective when NATO was first set up in 1949 at the start of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. In recent decades, NATO has assumed an ever-expanding purpose for American imperial power projection, encompassing not just Western Europe but all of Europe right up to Russia’s borders. NATO has become a vehicle for American hegemonic ambitions holding sway over the Balkans, Caucasia, North Africa and the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. For an organization that nominally originated for maintaining security in the North Atlantic, it sounds rather odd indeed to hear its spokesmen talk now about the need for NATO to confront China.

That oddly expanded global mission reflects the real but unspoken fact that NATO is all about serving American global ambitions. Former President Trump was too ignorant or obsessed with money-grubbing financial costs – “we’re being ripped off” he would repeatedly complain with regard to NATO – to realize the strategic bigger picture of what the alliance is really purposed to serve. Under a new man in the White House – an old-time establishment operative – there is seemingly a more consensual approach with allies. Nevertheless, underlying the liberal lexicon there is the same old mantra of hostility towards Russia and China. Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon chief, told European allies this week that there would have to be “more burden sharing” in order to confront the “threats” allegedly posed by Russia and China.

Biden continued the same theme of confronting Russia and China during his G7 and Munich conferences over the weekend. American hegemonic ambitions required to satisfy its corporate capitalism are dependent on a zero-sum geopolitics. The globe must divided into spheres of influence as in the earlier Cold War decades. There must be antagonism to thwart genuine cooperation which is anathema to American capitalism. Indeed, it can be said that the Cold War never actually ended when the Soviet Union dissolved more three decades ago. America’s imperialist ideology continued under new guises of “fighting terrorism”, “democracy promotion and nation building”, or more recently “great power competition” with Russia and China.

The bottom line is that NATO is more important than ever for enabling Washington’s global power ambitions given the demise of American capitalism and the rise of China and Eurasia. NATO provides a crucial political cover for what would otherwise be seen as naked American imperialism.

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Ha ha ha: “Boeing has recommended grounding..”

Yeah, Boeing’s a very responible corporate citizen…

Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)

Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide following a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane in Denver. The company said on Sunday night that airlines using the same type of engine that scattered debris across Denver before making an emergency landing should suspend operations until inspections could be carried out. Flight 328 was flying from Denver International Airport to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board on Saturday when one engine failed shortly after take-off. Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted photos of pieces of debris from the plane near houses and other buildings. There were no reports of any injuries on the ground or among the passengers.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty, and Japan’s aviation regulator swiftly followed suit, ordering Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures. Japan said ANA operated 19 of that kind and JAL operated 13. The planes are also used by carriers in South Korea. A spokeswoman for South Korea’s transport ministry, speaking before Boeing’s statement, said it was monitoring the situation but had not yet taken any action. Korean Air Lines said it had 12 of the planes, half of them stored, and it would consult with the manufacturer and regulators and stop flying them to Japan for now.

Boeing said in total 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency directive late on Sunday that required immediate or stepped-up inspections of planes similar to the one involved in the Denver incident. “We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA said in a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson . “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes. “This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service”.

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What will happen to Durham and the Hunter files?

Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)

Nearly five years after Senate Republicans refused to grant Merrick Garland a hearing to be confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court, the appeals court judge is getting his chance to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, this time as President Biden’s choice to be attorney general. In 2016, former President Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not allow a hearing on the nomination, citing the presidential election eight months later. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the seat on the high court the following year, just more than two months after he was nominated by former President Trump.

Garland is one of the last major Cabinet appointments by Biden, and he is likely to secure confirmation with bipartisan support despite the former Republican blockade on his last nomination. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has said Garland’s experience “makes him well-suited to lead the Department of Justice, and I appreciated his commitment to keep politics out of the Justice Department.” “Unless I hear something new, I expect to support his nomination before the full Senate,” Cornyn added, according to The Associated Press. In opening remarks released Sunday, Garland pledged to address the threat of domestic extremism as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, specifically invoking the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government,” Garland’s remarks read. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” Biden has pledged that the Justice Department during his tenure will be free of political influence or interference.

The Justice Department has asked for the resignations of all Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys, a somewhat typical move for incoming administrations. But Biden left in place the U.S. attorney in Delaware in charge of investigating the tax affairs of his son Hunter Biden. He is also allowing U.S. Attorney John Durham to continue in his role as a special prosecutor probing the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a position appointed by former Attorney General William Barr. [..] Garland currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Jonnathan Cook picks the wrong angle. Vitamin D given to severely ill people is not the story.

Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)

The role of Vitamin D on our general wellbeing and health has come under increasing scrutiny over the past two decades after it was discovered that it is the only vitamin for which there is a receptor in every cell in our body. Long before Covid, researchers had begun to understand that Vitamin D’s role in regulating our immune systems was chronically under-appreciated by most doctors. The medical profession was stuck in a paradigm from the 1950s in which Vitamin D’s use related chiefly to bone health. As a consequence, today’s recommended daily allowances – usually between 400IU and 800IU – were established long ago in accordance with the minimum needed for healthy bones rather than the maximum needed for a healthy immune system.

Today we know that many people in northern latitudes, especially the elderly, are deficient or severely deficient in Vitamin D, even those taking these low-level supplements. In fact, it would be true to say there is a global plague of Vitamin D deficiency, even in many sunny countries where people have lost the habit of spending time outdoors or shield themselves from the sun. The doctors and researchers who have been gradually piecing together the critically important role of Vitamin D are the medical equivalent of the dissident journalists who try to present a realistic picture of what goes on in Israel-Palestine.

Because Big Pharma can make no serious money from Vitamin D, researchers into the sun hormone have struggled to raise funds for their work and have mostly been denied corporate platforms from which to publicise the stunning findings they have made. Until recently, corporate medicine simply ignored most Vitamin D research, relegating it to the supposedly fringe science of “nutrition”, which is why most doctors know little or nothing about it. With the outbreak of Covid, when these Vitamin D studies should finally have come into their own, researchers found themselves shunted further into the margins. Just as journalists, politicians and human rights groups trying to tell you real things about Israel get labelled antisemites, anyone trying to tell you real things about Vitamin D gets labelled a crank, conspiracy theorist or Covid denier.

The desperate need for Covid treatments has not led to intensified interest in Vitamin D among most doctors, even though it is very cheap, almost completely safe even in large doses, and has been shown to help in damping down immune over-reaction of exactly the kind killing Covid patients. Rather, the opportunity for Big Pharma to develop a magic bullet to treat Covid has led to an intensified campaign to discredit Vitamin D research.

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When you threaten sovereign nations, others will notice.

Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)

Canada is poised to take on Facebook, following the example set by Australia, which began a war with the tech giant when the country’s publishers backed proposed legislation demanding payment for their content. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault condemned Facebook’s actions as “highly irresponsible” last week when the social media giant removed all Australian news content from its sites in retaliation. Guilbeault warned that Canada would be next in making sure Facebook paid for news content from Canadian publishers. Guilbeault is charged with drafting legislation in the next few months that would require Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay up. “Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” Guilbeault told reporters.


Guilbeault said he recently met with government ministers from Australia, Finland, France and Germany to hammer out a common front with respect to Google and Facebook, the Globe and Mail reported.“It was the first ministerial meeting where we jointly started talking about what we want to do together regarding web giants, including fair compensation for media. We believe that there’s real strength in unity on that,” he said, adding that the growing coalition of countries opposed to Facebook and Google could soon reach 15. “I’m a bit curious to see what Facebook’s response will be. Is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France, with Canada, with Australia and other countries that will join? At a certain point, Facebook’s position will be completely untenable.”

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But not for animal cruelty?!

Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

Five seasons of ‘The Muppet Show’ appeared on the Disney+ streaming service on Friday night but many viewers were shocked to discover that one of their childhood favorites is now considered “offensive content.” According to a warning from Disney, the show features “stereotypes” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.” “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the roughly 300 billion-dollar corporate giant declared. “Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”


No references are made to what specifically Disney considers to be offensive about the show’s content, though it does depict minorities including Asians and people from the Middle East, as well as featuring a homeless character named “Oscar the grouch” who lives in a trash can. In season five, singer Johnny Cash also performs in front of a confederate flag. “Even the Muppets are now ‘offensive.’ Anyone watching ‘The Muppet Show’ on Disney+ will first see a warning against ‘offensive content.’ It’s time to pack up, seriously,”wrote one baffled Twitter user.

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Nov 092020
 


Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled 1982

 

COVID Risk Exaggerated, Talk Of A Second Wave Misleading – 500 Academics (DM)
Biden’s First Move As President-elect? Mask Mandate For All (Fox)
COVID Set Back Attitudes To Public Transport By Two Decades (G.)
The Bush/Cheney Administration Was Far Worse Than Trump (Greenwald)
Inside Trump’s Legal Warfare (Axios)
Kerry For Climate Chief, Buttigieg For Veterans, Yates For DOJ (ZH)
Donald Trump Jr: “Declassify Everything” (sundance)
Software That Gave Biden 1000s Of Michigan Votes Used In 28 Other States (JTN)
EHRC Report Into Labour Antisemitism Is The Real Political Interference (Cook)
NATO Says Biden Victory Will Help With ‘Assertive Russia’ (RT)

 

 

 

 

How old is the president?

 

 

“Listen to the science” becomes hollow and meaningless when scientists start contradicting each other. Because it shows there is no such thing as “the science”.

COVID Risk Exaggerated, Talk Of A Second Wave Misleading – 500 Academics (DM)

Official data is ‘exaggerating’ the risk of Covid-19 and talk of a second wave is ‘misleading’, nearly 500 academics told Boris Johnson in open letter attacking lockdown. The doctors and scientists said the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has become ‘disproportionate’ and that mass testing has distorted the risk of the virus. They said tests are likely to be producing high numbers of ‘false positive’ results and the Government must do more to put infection and death rates within the context of normal seasonal rates. The letter criticised the Government’s handling of coronavirus for ‘causing more harm than good’. It comes after the UK yesterday confirmed a further 24,957 positive Covid tests, up just 13.9 per cent on last week’s total.

Top scientists suggested the UK’s second wave of coronavirus has already peaked. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the Covid Symptom Study app aiming to track the spread of Covid-19 in the UK, confirmed that there were ‘positive signs’ the country has ‘passed the peak of the second wave’. The open letter to the Prime Minister was signed by 469 medics and is titled First Do No Harm – the medical principle that a cure must never be worse than the disease itself. It is signed by immunologist Dr Charlotte R Bell, paediatrician Dr Rosamond Jones, consultant surgeon and Keith Willison, Professor of Chemical Biology at Imperial College.

The letter reads: ‘The management of the crisis has become disproportionate and is now causing more harm than good. ‘We urge policy-makers to remember that this pandemic, like all pandemics, will eventually pass but the social and psychological damage that it is causing risks becoming permanent. ‘After the initial justifiable response to Covid-19, the evidence base now shows a different picture.

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Mask mandates in the US are an invitation for unrest.

Biden’s First Move As President-elect? Mask Mandate For All (Fox)

One of Joe Biden’s first priorities as president-elect will be implementing mask mandates nationwide by working with governors. The future 46th president, however, says if they refuse than he will go to mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place. Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel believes that while masks are “the icing on the physical distancing cake” and should be worn properly both indoors and outdoors, especially when people are too close together, a more punitive approach to mask wearing may have the opposite impact of what the administration intends.

“I think masks are quite useful, but they have a place and they’re not the be all and end all,” Siegel said. “I’m worried that mandating this with fines and such may actually lead to more of a rebellion against it.” He noted that the use of masks should be determined based on how much of the risk of exposure to the coronavirus is in a specific area rather than mandating it everywhere. As for social distancing, Biden’s plan says it will be used as more of a “dial” approach that will determine the risk of spread using evidence-based guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a move Siegel says is a mistake.

“I don’t think social distancing is dial. I think masks are a dial,” Siegel said. “Social distancing is something we should just be doing right now. You never know how much virus was in the community.” He believes physical distancing is actually more important to curbing the spread than masks are. “I think physical distancing is more important than masks,” Siegel argued. “If you’re 10 feet away from someone, you’re not going to get the virus. If you’re one foot away with a mask, you might.”

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But not nearly as much as the destruction of public transport did.

COVID Set Back Attitudes To Public Transport By Two Decades (G.)

The pandemic has put back attitudes to driving versus public transport by two decades, with almost two-thirds of UK car owners now considering their vehicle essential, research has found. A clear majority would now refuse to switch to a greener alternative even if better trains or buses were available, according to the RAC. The research for its annual Report on Motoring found reluctance to use public transport was now at its highest for 18 years. Compared with 2019, significantly more young drivers, and those living in the capital – around 65% of each – regard their vehicle as essential.

Although 50% reported actually using their car less overall this year, with 33% of the 3,000 respondents currently working from home, more than half, some 57%, perceived access to a car as more important now than before the coronavirus pandemic. While 54% said safety was a consideration, an increasing number now deemed a car necessary to shop or visit friends. Meanwhile, only 43% agreed they would use their cars less if there was better public transport, a sharp fall from 57% in 2019, and the lowest figure since 2002. The findings will further concern transport campaigners, with optimism dwindling that lower traffic volumes and increased cycling and walking could be maintained as a positive side-effect after the pandemic.

Cycling trips fell significantly below pre-pandemic levels in October, and people largely continued to avoid public transport. Passenger numbers were around 30% of normal demand on rail, and 60% on buses, while car use had risen to around 90% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest government figures up to last Monday. Other sources showed road traffic leapt in the following days before new lockdown restrictions, with data from satnav providers showing some of the worst congestion in two years on Wednesday.

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Something I’ve mentioned numerous times:

“Numerous media outlets that in 2015 were sputtering if not collapsing, and numerous television personalities about to be fired because nobody was watching them, were first rescued and then propelled into the stratosphere by The Trump Show.”

The Bush/Cheney Administration Was Far Worse Than Trump (Greenwald)

That the liberal belief in and fear of a Trump-led fascist dictatorship and violent coup is actually a fantasy — a longing, a desire, a craving — has long been obvious. The Democrats’ own actions proved that they never believed their own melodramatic and self-glorifying rhetoric about Trump as The New Hitler — from their leaders joining with the GOP to increase The Fascist Dictator’s domestic spying powers and military spending to their (correct) belief that the way to oust The Neo-Nazi Tyrant was through a peaceful and lawfully conducted democratic election in which vote totals and, if necessary, duly constituted courts would determine the next president. The motives for concocting this Wagnerian fantasy about coups, dictatorship, concentration camps and civil war are numerous.

Politics is boring, and your life unspectacular, if it’s dedicated to a goal as banal and uninspiring as empowering a septuagenarian career-politician — the centrist-authoritarian author of the 1994 Crime Bill, the credit card industry’s most loyal servant, and key Iraq War advocate — along with his tough-on-crime prosecutor-running-mate who always seems as if she just left a meeting of the Aetna Board of Directors where massive hikes in deductibles were approved. Glory is available only if one can convincingly herald oneself as a front-line warrior risking it all to courageously battle unprecedented evil and a Nazi-like menace. But working to do nothing more than elect Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the rest of the painfully ordinary and mediocre corporatist and imperialist Democratic Party politicians through a standard American election?

There’s no glory residing in that, no courage needed for it, to put it mildly. Posturing as a courageous soldier in an existential battle for freedom, democracy and the survival of the marginalized against Nazi despotism is far more exciting and psychologically satisfying (and financially profitable) than being an obedient liberal drone marching in perfect tune to the dreary, McKinsey-scripted musical theater produced by Tom Perez and the DNC. That is therefore the delusional storyline adopted by many. Then there’s the multi-pronged profit that the Trump-as-Hitler motif has generated for virtually every institution of American authority. Numerous media outlets that in 2015 were sputtering if not collapsing, and numerous television personalities about to be fired because nobody was watching them, were first rescued and then propelled into the stratosphere by The Trump Show.

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” said the network’s then-CEO Les Moonves in 2016 about Trump TV. Of course media outlets don’t want to declare the 2020 election over: they will milk the abundant Trumpian cash cow until the very last drop has been monetized. The frightening spectre of a Dictatorial Menace also led liberal advocacy groups such as the ACLU to drown in previously unimaginable quantities of #Resistance cash, frenetically donated in the name of stopping Trump’s incomparable evil. Rotted and discredited institutions like the CIA, NSA and FBI re-branded themselves as patriotic guardians of liberal democracy and stalwart protectors of a besieged population.

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First cases to be launched today in an increasingly uphill battle. Legal costs will be phenomenal.

Inside Trump’s Legal Warfare (Axios)

President Trump plans to brandish obituaries of people who supposedly voted but are dead — plus hold campaign-style rallies — in an effort to prolong his fight against apparent insurmountable election results, four Trump advisers told me during a conference call this afternoon. Obits for those who cast ballots are part of the “specific pieces of evidence” aimed at bolstering the Trump team’s so-far unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud and corruption that they say led to Joe Biden’s victory. Fueling the effort is the expected completion of vote counting this week, allowing Republicans to file for more recounts Team Trump is ready to announce specific recount teams in key states, and it plans to hold a series of Trump rallies focused on the litigation.

In Georgia: Doug Collins, the outgoing congressman who lost to Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a special election to fill former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, will be leading the campaign’s recount efforts. The team has also redeployed 92 staffers from Florida to Georgia, doubling its group on the ground In Arizona: Kory Langhofer, former counsel for Trump’s 2016 transition, will serve as lead attorney. In Pennsylvania: Porter Wright’s Ron Hicks is heading up the legal effort. Nationwide: They’re assembling additional surrogates and lawyers. “We want to make sure we have an adequate supply of manpower on the ground for man-to-man combat,” one adviser said. The group is also staffing a campaign-style media operation.

The team led by Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh is now a surrogate messaging center. It will pump out “regular press briefings, releases on legal action and obviously things like talking points and booking people strategically on television,” one adviser said. They’ll also make a big play to raise money for their legal defense fund. Trump’s formal legal team includes 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, lawyer Justin Clark, and senior advisers Jason Miller and David Bossie. Reps. Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, as well as former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, are also advising.

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Meet the swamp creatures. For pete’s sake, John Kerry? Climate? Sally Yates? Wasn’t she supposed to be in jail?

Kerry For Climate Chief, Buttigieg For Veterans, Yates For DOJ (ZH)

While Trump is still far from conceding the election, whose outcome is called not by the media, but by the Electoral College on Dec 14… … Joe Biden is already busy forming his cabinet, where he need to draw a fine line between the hard-left progressive in the Democratic party (AOC has already been quite vocal in her criticism of how the Squad has been ignored) and centrist elements. Also, in addition to rolling out such new policies as fighting climate change and aggressively promoting women and minorities, Biden will focus on an economic team that will confront the surging unemployment and business slowdown touched off by the coronavirus pandemic. In total, as he builds out his economic team Biden will need to fill out the nearly two dozen cabinet-level positions in his administration.

Starting at the very top, Bloomberg reports that Biden will look for a Treasury secretary and other key officials “to negotiate with Congress on more stimulus, roll back some of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and mend relations with U.S. trading partners.” Among the contenders that have emerged to fill the top economic-policy job are Fed Governor Lael Brainard for Treasury and economist Heather Boushey as director of the National Economic Council. Other crucial jobs include naming the secretaries of Defense, State and Homeland Security, together responsible for carrying out administration policy and overseeing a federal bureaucracy with more than 2 million civilian employees.

While Biden will be mindful of the possibility that a Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly scuttle nominees for top posts who belong to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, liberal groups will be policing Biden’s choices closely, fearful that he won’t reach into their ranks for top positions but will instead choose “moderate” Democrats in his own mold. Biden may try to tamp down that sentiment by putting a liberals in jobs that don’t require Senate confirmation. Most importantly, this means that “the swamp” which Trump vowed to fight – and lost – is back, because in forming his cabinet, Biden will rely on an inner circle of longtime veterans from the Obama administration as well as Wall Streeters. Finally, while Biden could make history by naming the first women to lead the Defense and Treasury departments, his key White House advisers are likely to be White men.

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Too late: “I don’t think post-election this will work, because the executive branch cabinet officers will refuse to support it. The enemies inside the gate will protect DC.”

Donald Trump Jr: “Declassify Everything” (sundance)

Amid all of the election ramifications and discussions, Donald Trump Jr. outlined a thought today that has likely been on the mind of many, myself included. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this since the media began their insufferable onslaught and “president-elect Biden” narrative. The time has long past for President Trump to fully demand his executive cabinet members declassify the evidence outlining intrusive government surveillance upon not only himself, but all Americans. CTH has a rather unique perspective on the declassification angle. This conversation has traveled with me for over two years as I have talked to people inside the machinery.

Ultimately the discussion ends around something like this: Is the DC political surveillance state, and all of the ramifications within that reality, so fundamentally corrupt and against our nation’s interests, that no entity dare expose the scope and depth of it? And ultimately… is it the preservation of institutions that is causing so many disconnected outcomes from evidence intentionally downplayed? If we assume the scale of unconstitutional conduct has become systemic, that likely answers the questions. Personally, I believe this is the most likely scenario. “Likely” meaning the entire apparatus, DOJ, FBI, Legislative Oversight and the Intelligence Community (IC), is now so enmeshed within this corrupt out-of-control state that no-one, even the good guys, is willing to expose it because the institutional collapse would be devastating.


This is what I would call the Biggest of the Big Ugly. This catastrophic outcome, in combination with DC having made the system the primary source of their income, is what unites the Republicans and Democrats to stop anyone from exposing it. Once any elected official goes inside this system, they end up serving it. All of that said, I have previously outlined a pre-election process for President Trump to declassify information that would lay the system naked to We The People. However, I don’t think post-election this will work, because the executive branch cabinet officers will refuse to support it. The enemies inside the gate will protect DC.

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Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff Is Chief Executive and Feinstein’s Husband a Major Shareholder at Dominion Ballot Counting Systems

Software That Gave Biden 1000s Of Michigan Votes Used In 28 Other States (JTN)

Election software that incorrectly awarded thousands of votes to Joe Biden in Michigan is used in a majority of U.S. states, including statewide in Georgia where it has reportedly been implicated in several voting-related “glitches” there. The Michigan Secretary of State confirmed on Friday that a software error in Antrim County, Michigan, in which Joe Biden was incorrectly awarded thousands of votes that led him to be declared the county winner, was caused by an error in which the county clerk “did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results.” The software is administered by the company Dominion Voting Systems. Following the correction of the error, the county flipped back to Trump, who walked away with 2,500 more votes than Biden.

Beyond Michigan, Dominion Voting System is also used in a majority of U.S. states, with the company boasting on its website of having “customers in 28 states,” including “9 of the top 20 counties” and “4 of the top 10 counties” throughout the county. The system was used for a presidential election in Georgia for the first time this year, after the state announced in July of 2019 that Dominion would be given a statewide contract to provide systems and software to the state’s 159 counties. Multiple election-related “glitches” have been reported in the state since Tuesday. In one instance, voting in two Georgia counties ground to a halt for several hours after an unknown update was applied to voting machines there.

In another county, a “software glitch” caused a delay in counting thousands of absentee ballots. Dominion reportedly received a $107 million contract last year to install 30,000 voting machines throughout the state. Georgia was moving away from its earlier election equipment provider, Election Systems & Software, after complaints following the 2018 midterm elections. Joe Biden currently leads in Georgia by about 7,000 votes.

Standard deviations

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The report says no antisemitism, so it’s used to suggest … antisemitism. Works exactly the way Russiagate does.

EHRC Report Into Labour Antisemitism Is The Real Political Interference (Cook)

I recently published in Middle East Eye a detailed analysis of last week’s report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into the question of whether the UK Labour party had an especial antisemitism problem. (You can read a slightly fuller version of that article on my website.) In the piece, I reached two main conclusions. First, the commission’s headline verdict – though you would never know it from reading the media’s coverage – was that no case was found that Labour suffered from “institutional antisemitism”. That, however, was precisely the claim that had been made by groups like the Jewish Labour Movement, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Board of Deputies and prominent rabbis such as Ephraim Mirvis.

Their claims were amplified by Jewish media outlets such as the Jewish Chronicle and individual journalists such as Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian. All are now shown to have been wrong, to have maligned the Labour party and to have irresponsibly inflamed the concerns of Britain’s wider Jewish community. Not that any of these organisations or individuals will have to apologise. The corporate media – from the Mail to the Guardian – are continuing to mislead and misdirect on this issue, as they have been doing for the best part of five years. Neither Jewish leadership groups such as the Board of Deputies nor the corporate media have an interest in highlighting the embarrassing fact that the commission’s findings exposed their campaign against Corbyn as misinformation.

What the report found instead were mainly breaches of party protocol and procedure: that complaints about antisemitism were not handled promptly and transparently. But even here the issue was not really about antisemitism, as the report indicates, even if obliquely. Delays in resolving complaints were chiefly the responsibility not of Corbyn and his staff but of a party bureaucracy that he inherited and was deeply and explicitly hostile to him. Senior officials stalled antisemitism complaints not because they were especially antisemitic but because they knew the delays would embarrass Corbyn and weaken him inside the party, as the leaked report of an Labour internal inquiry revealed in the spring.

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The swamp hasn’t had a new war in ages.

NATO Says Biden Victory Will Help With ‘Assertive Russia’ (RT)

After Joe Biden declared victory in the US presidential election on Saturday, there are fears that tensions between Russia and the West could escalate under his leadership. Congratulating the Democratic candidate on his projected win, which incumbent President Donald Trump continues to allege is the result of electoral fraud, the secretary general of NATO singled out Moscow as a priority for the incoming American leader. In a statement on the US-led military bloc’s website, Jens Stoltenberg wrote, “I warmly welcome the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. I know Mr. Biden as a strong supporter of NATO and the transatlantic relationship.”

He continued: “We need this collective strength to deal with the many challenges we face, including a more assertive Russia, international terrorism, cyber and missile threats, and a shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has argued that NATO is increasingly succumbing to anti-Russian rhetoric. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters last month in a discussion about tensions with Sweden that the bloc was the source of “invented anti-Russian phobias” and “fanning tensions and the escalation of military activities in Northern Europe, one of the most stable regions in the world until recently.”

The past record of Biden, a stalwart of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, has concerned many Moscow lawmakers. The presumptive winner is unlikely to oversee an easing of tensions between the two countries, cautioned Leonid Slutsky, who heads the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, which is the Russian equivalent to the body which Biden chaired, adding that he didn’t “expect essential changes for the better.” “Biden, together with President [Barack] Obama, launched the flywheel of new deterrents against Russia, with a series of sanctions at various levels,” Slutsky said.He also pointed to comments that Biden made in the past in which the Democratic candidate positioned Russia as America’s “main enemy” in his pre-election rhetoric.

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

 

 

Nothing much trickling down from the untold billions the banks have gotten.

 

 

“The secret to happiness, of course, is not getting what you want. It’s wanting what you get.”

– Alex Trebek, (1940 – 2020).

 

 

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

 

Oct 092020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1948

 

Trump Campaign Demands In-Person Debate Against Biden Oct. 15 (F.)
The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story (New Yorker)
John Durham Grand Jury Team Following Deep State Rabbit Hole (sundance)
The 40 Key Russia Documents President Trump Must Still Declassify (JTN)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opposed Packing The Supreme Court (JTN)
The Destruction Of The World Economy By The Central Banks (GNS)
Remdesivir Cuts COVID Recovery By 5 Days, Reduces Risk Of Death By 30% (DM)
New York City Parents Scramble To Deal With New School Closures (R.)
US Auto Suppliers Scramble To Fill Factory Jobs (R.)
An Avalanche Of Bankruptcies Is Coming In The US (Barraud)
NATO Chief Says Allies Will Leave Afghanistan Together (Y!)
A BC Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each (CBC)

 

 

We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.
– Louise Glück (2020 Nobel Prize for Literature)

 

 

Abolish the CIA

 

 

 

 

The debate is now about having the debate.

Trump Campaign Demands In-Person Debate Against Biden Oct. 15 (F.)

After refusing earlier in the day to participate in the October 15 presidential debate against former Vice President Joe Biden because it had been changed to a virtual format, President Trump’s campaign is now demanding an in-person event, citing his physician’s note that he has completed treatment for Covid-19. Thursday evening, Dr. Sean Conley said in a press release, “I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements” by Saturday. This prompted Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager and one of the many who contracted Covid-19 from the White House, to release a statement claiming there is “no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting, postpone it or otherwise alter it in any way.”

Following Trump’s refusal to participate in the debate earlier in the day, Biden announced plans to hold a town hall with ABC News on October 15, with both sides agreeing to October 22 as the date for the second presidential debate. The Trump camp earlier said it would hold a rally in place of the debate. Conley’s note drew criticism from experts like Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, who questioned on Twitter the soundness of his assertion that Trump will be safe to engage with the public in two days given that he provided no evidence “that he is not infectious, without viral load data, without providing when/timeline he became infected.”

Much about the White House outbreak is still unknown, but the Biden campaign confirmed that the Trump campaign did not reach out to them about the president’s positive test, despite the two sharing a stage around the time of infection. Stepien claimed that the commission made the decision to move virtually to “shield Biden from another shellacking like he got two weeks ago in Cleveland.” Polls conducted after what was considered one of the worst presidential debates in recent memory due to Trump’s erratic behavior crowned Biden as the victor.

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I spent a lot of time this morning with this. First, the New Yorker story, then lawyer “sundance”‘s complete evisceration of it. Worth your time.

The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story (New Yorker)

Alfa Bank’s principals—Aven, Khan, and a man named Mikhail Fridman—are personally suing Fusion GPS, a research firm in Washington that had hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to investigate Donald Trump’s relationships in Russia before the 2016 election. The dossier that Steele assembled claimed that Aven and Fridman had been close confidants of Vladimir Putin since he was the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, in the nineteen-nineties, when they sent him “large amounts of illicit cash.” Steele has been criticized for sloppy tradecraft, but much of the information he recorded has been neither proved nor disproved. Aven, Khan, and Fridman say that information in the dossier about the bank and its principals is false and defamatory.

They have sued Steele, as well as Buzzfeed, which first published the dossier. They also served a subpoena on Jones, the investigator, asking for all his correspondence with Fusion. (Alfa Bank has also sought to subpoena Fusion’s executives, in connection with the John Doe lawsuits.) For those defending themselves against the lawsuits, their attorneys’ power of discovery would give them extraordinary access to Alfa Bank’s records. But Aven, Khan, and Fridman claim that they do not control their own documents at the bank and cannot produce them. (Public records show that together they control more than sixty per cent of the bank.) The three men also say that they are not public figures, and are therefore entitled to stronger protections against defamation.

They made a similar argument in a U.S. court two decades ago, and it was thrown out. But the federal judge presiding over their Fusion libel case, Richard Leon, has allowed it so far, and so the suit is likely to drag on—a situation that Aven, Khan, and Fridman can afford more easily than the founders of Fusion can. According to Forbes, the three bankers are believed to have a combined net worth of about thirty billion dollars. “They could spend a million dollars a day on this and not even notice,” the lawyer involved in one of the cases said. The Alfa Bank case has also become an object of interest for federal agents working for John Durham, the prosecutor appointed by Barr. Durham’s agents have summoned some of the same computer scientists to testify before a grand jury, and are asking for the same material that Alfa Bank is seeking. (They’ve asked Jones, the investigator, to testify as well.)

Some agents told scientists that they were exploring a potential criminal charge—presumably against Max and Tea Leaves—for giving false information to the government. A number of those called to testify are seeking to quash the subpoenas, and it’s not apparent that anyone has testified so far. There is no clear evidence that the Justice Department and Alfa Bank are working together, but some people involved in the case noted a striking alignment of purpose. “There’s a heck of a lot of mutual interest,” William Taylor, an attorney for Jones, told me. More troubling is that the cases could aid the Kremlin. Although Aven has disputed reports that he is close to Putin, he told investigators for the Mueller report that he meets with the Russian President quarterly and receives what the report describes as “implicit directives.”

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“That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination..”

John Durham Grand Jury Team Following Deep State Rabbit Hole (sundance)

A very important article was written yesterday in the New Yorker. While the topic of the article spotlights the ridiculous conspiracy theory surrounding Alfa bank, and the insufferable nonsense about Trump Tower servers having contact -electronic touch signals- with servers from the Russian banking organization, there are aspects to the story that show where the Durham probe has been forced to travel. Within the article –which everyone should read– some names are very important. The article is framed around defending the New Yorker’s previous reporting on the Alfa Bank conspiracy theory, so the intent of the article is defensive. However, the events being described in the article, and more importantly the people being outlined in the article, are accurate. Especially Daniel Jones and his lawyer William Taylor; and the connection of both to Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.

According to the article there are two parallel efforts underway to untangle the background of how the false Alfa Bank story was originated. One effort is a set of civil lawsuits by the owners of Alfa bank against those who created the fraudulent story that flowed through Fusion GPS, into Chris Steele’s dossier, into the FBI, and ultimately into the Buzzfeed reporting therein. The owners of the bank are taking all of these entities into court and demanding discovery of sources who framed/created the false impression. The second outlined effort is a set of subpoenas for some of the same names to appear before a grand jury being run by the John Durham probe. The witnesses are lawyered-up and attempting to avoid the grand jury subpoenas.

Part of the New Yorker story is constructed around wondering if the Alfa Bank team is working with the Durham team. That is a false narrative created for political deflection only. However, the article outlines factual evidence of the Durham grand jury; and by knowing what issues are being explored we can see -in advance- where this trail is going. Good News Pause: John Durham has a grand jury impaneled and is issuing subpoenas. Instead of me going through the Alfa Bank story, let me just take you though a process of where the Alfa Bank story ends up. That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination. Note in the New Yorker piece the subjects of the subpoenas and lawsuits are worried about being forced to identify the anonymous sources known as “Max” and “Tea Leaves”.

Additionally the group describes their worry about identifying how the electronic signals between the servers were originally discovered. Let me say up front that is where this story connects to the scandal of intelligence community “contractor” access to the NSA database. The SIGINT or signals intelligence, used to frame the false Alfa Bank story, appears to have come from entities with access to the NSA database who were doing work to assist the overall Trump-Russia narrative construction. Those unlawfully obtained findings were manipulated and unlawfully extracted; then passed along to computer scientists who had the role to provide technical support for the media to use in selling a false story. If this sounds to you like the subject matter expertise and skill of Crowdstrike and Fusion-GPS you would not be missing the target.

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No space for them here, but a pretty complete list from John Solomon. But with just 25 days left, and Wray and Haspel actively frustrating the efforts… What are the odds?

The 40 Key Russia Documents President Trump Must Still Declassify (JTN)

President Trump earlier this week vowed complete and final transparency in the Russia probe, ordering the declassification (without redaction) of all relevant documents that show how the false Russian collusion narrative was created by Hillary Clinton operatives and then investigated for three years by the FBI. With less than four weeks to Election Day 2020, there is little time to complete the mission so that voters can understand the foreign influence, dirty tricks and misconduct that began in the last presidential election and continued for years. So Just the News put together a list of the 40 most important documents yet to be released that would help America understand what really happened and who is most culpable. Most of the documents have been sought by Congress dating all the way back to 2017 and have been withheld from public release, mostly by bureaucrats at the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the FBI under Director Christopher Wray.

Jim Jordan

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“George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opposed Packing The Supreme Court (JTN)

Attorney and legal commentator John Shu pointed out during an interview on “The Water Cooler” that the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed the idea of packing the Supreme Court. “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” Roosevelt’s plan would have permitted him to appoint six more judges, enlarging the high court to 15 people, according to the outlet. “If anything would make the court look partisan,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR, “it would be that — one side saying, ‘when we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “

Shu said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris’s refusal to answer whether they would add more justices to the current panel shows that they intend to pursue that course of action. “The fact that she is not answering the question seems to me at least to be somewhat of an answer of what her and Biden would do,” host David Brody said. Shu agreed, and said that he believes the pair’s unwillingness to answer “in and of itself is indicative that they hope to do so.” The attorney explained that the Constitution confers on Congress the authority to determine the number of justices on the nation’s high court. “George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”

He said that “if the Democrats succeed in taking the Senate and taking the presidency—I think it’s likely they’ll keep the House—but if the Democrats succeed, I really am afraid for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. I’m afraid that the Democrats will make the Supreme Court look like a political body, kind of like an extra, super legislature. And the courts are just not designed to do that.”

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First, realize there are no markets. The rest will follow soon after.

The Destruction Of The World Economy By The Central Banks (GNS)

For years, we have been warning about dire consequences if central banks continue to meddle in the economy and financial markets. In December 2013, we wrote: “There is a serious possibility that the measures taken by the central banks have already created a situation in which their actions increase rather than decrease financial instability. This is due to the fact that, if the actual price of an asset does not meet its market–based value, the true level of risk is not properly revealed.” During the “Coronavirus rescue” by the major central banks from March through June of this year, we essentially ran down the clock. No viable paths remain to escape the vicious feedback loop between central banks and financial markets—at least without serious repercussions.

Over the years, central banks have created conditions where prices in capital markets—and by implication, the resulting capital allocation structure—have become distorted to a previously unimaginable degree. This has resulted in three extremely troublesome fragilities at the heart of the world economy. First, it has led to ‘yield hunting’ among investors, who are forced to seek higher yields from riskier financial products. Secondly, it has led to a permanent central bank intervention in the financial markets, because without it a crash would surely occur. Thirdly—and this is something that has received much too little attention—the massive capital misallocations due to unnaturally low interest rates have ‘hollowed-out’ vast sectors of the global economy.

We have been focusing on the fragility of the financial markets frequently lately, so this time we will concentrate on the capital misallocation issue instead, though the two are inherently linked. In March 2019 we devoted the entirety of the Q-Review to explain why global economic growth has sputtered since 2009. We explored, extensively, the concept of creative destruction, which describes the process by which capitalist economies evolve and grow over time. In essence, creative destruction enables the flow of technical innovations into the economy through the destruction of old and inefficient production methods and enterprises, and the emergence of new, more productive firms. Moreover, we wrote that “The risk-and-reward relationship, that is, the gains and failures of the private sector drive economic progress. The first accumulates income and capital, while the second uncovers sustainable businesses, setting the stage for the creative destruction.”

In essence, this is what a capitalist economy is all about. The accumulation of capital is required to provide the funding for sustainable businesses, which provide employment, personal income and tax revenues. Price discovery in the modern capital markets is essential to accurately evaluate the risk-and-reward relationship of both real economic investments as well as those of financial assets. Price discovery thus guides the efficient allocation of capital to its most profitable employment, based on the information gathered by millions of investors. This idea is part of the bedrock of capitalist theory.

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Especially since this is the Daily Mail, please explain how this is not an advertisement.

Remdesivir Cuts COVID Recovery By 5 Days, Reduces Risk Of Death By 30% (DM)

Remdesivir shortens the amount of recovery time from COVID-19 and decreases the risk of death, final results of a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show. Researchers found that the antiviral drug reduced the recovery time for hospitalized coronavirus patients by at least five days. What’s more, the medication was shown to lower the risk of mortality from the virus by as much as 30 percent. Manufactured by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc, remdesivir is the only drug approved for emergency use in the US to treat severely ill coronavirus patients. The team, from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), says the findings not only show how remdesivir can help improve patients’ conditions but also how it may prevent them from developing severe complications.

‘The take home message is this is the first step,’ corresponding author Dr John Beigel, associate director for clinical research in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the NIAID, told DailyMail.com. ‘This is a significant improvement over no treatment..So this is a very important finding, it shows we can treat this, but the work is not done. This is just the first step.’ Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014. It works by blocking an enzyme that helps the coronavirus make copies of itself and, in turn, spread throughout the body. For the final results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the NIAID recruited 1,062 coronavirus patients across North America, Europe and Asia.

A total of 541 patients were assigned to a 29-day course of remdesivir and the remaining 521 patients were given a placebo. The NIAID found that patients on the drug had a 50 percent shorter time to recovery than those on a placebo. Patients in the remdesivir group recovered with a median of 10 days compared to 15 days for those who were given the placebo. It also reduced the length of the hospital stay with a median of 12 days for those on the drug in comparison with 17 days for the control group.

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Main takeaway: the mayor and the Governor keep fighting each other.

New York City Parents Scramble To Deal With New School Closures (R.)

The 6-year-old son of Jodi Cook, a Brooklyn mother of two, had just resumed in-person classes at his local elementary — only to face the closure of his school again as coronavirus cases spiked nearby. Cook said she was disappointed. Last week, public elementary schools in New York City welcomed back students to the classroom as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s blended learning plan after a months-long hiatus. But this week New York officials began imposing fresh restrictions to curb a worrying rise in infections in several ‘hot spots.’ “I’m disappointed because I don’t think that the location of our school really puts us in jeopardy,” Cook, a real estate broker, said on Thursday. “The neighborhood and parents are scrambling.”

The school, in the Windsor Terrace-Kensington area of Brooklyn, is located in a so-called ‘orange zone.’ Schools in those zones have been ordered shut as part of new rules imposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to try to stamp out the virus in several parts of the state, including neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. A group of parents and their children gathered outside the school on Thursday morning to protest, flanked by two local politicians. Its postal code was “not a Covid hotspot & the schools do not meet any of the agreed upon metrics for closing,” New York State Assembly Member Robert Carroll, who attended the protest, wrote in a Twitter post.

The mayor’s plan drew scorn from Cuomo, a fellow Democrat with whom he has often feuded. The governor on Tuesday released new color-coded maps delineating closures, sowing confusion among residents. New York is one of about 30 out of 50 U.S. states where cases have risen over the past two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Nationally, both cases and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are rising, hitting record levels in the upper Midwest and West.

Read more …

is this because so many workers are home either sick or afraid, or is it because they expect record sales?

US Auto Suppliers Scramble To Fill Factory Jobs (R.)

Millions of U.S. workers have lost their jobs to the pandemic, but in the auto industry, suppliers are scrambling to find enough people to staff production lines, resorting to such approaches as rewards for good attendance and at-work teachers to lure job seekers. At auto parts maker Mobex Global, Chief Executive Joe Perkins said he is boosting pay and offering bonuses to help fill 80 job openings. His engineering and machining company is running more overtime to meet rising demand. “It is the most critical issue in our company,” said Perkins, whose firm has 12 U.S. plants and counts General Motors and Ford among its customers. “We’re using almost 10 staffing companies across the plants,” he told Reuters.


“We’re using multiple jobs boards, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Monster, local news stations, down to lawn signs, local papers, billboards, public transportation, church bulletins, you name it.” The U.S. auto industry usually is the first in and the last out of an economic slump. The coronavirus crisis is different. Demand for new vehicles has rebounded. But fears of catching COVID-19 and problems caring for school-age children are keeping many workers at home, compelling employers to raise pay despite the high national jobless rate, industry executives said. Many suppliers are dealing with absenteeism rates of 10-15%, said Brian Collie, head of Boston Consulting Group’s global auto practice. That has led the United Auto Workers to give the Detroit automakers more latitude on using temporary workers to cover for absent full-time employees, union President Rory Gamble told Reuters.

Read more …

An antidote to the auto suppliers story.

An Avalanche Of Bankruptcies Is Coming In The US (Barraud)

U.S. equity markets might be reaching new record highs despite the state of corporates’ health in the U.S. keeps deteriorating. Data compiled by Bloomberg show the Covid-19 pandemic helped fuel the worst third quarter on record for large corporate bankruptcies. In the details, 70 companies with more than $50 million in liabilities sought bankruptcy protection last quarter. That compares to the 76 in the prior quarter. On Monday, Reuters also highlighted “U.S. commercial bankruptcy filings are up 33% so far this year with new cases in September surging by 78% from a year earlier as the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic hits small businesses.” It added that “Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings totaled 747 last month, up from 420 a year earlier and from 525 in August, legal services firm Epiq said in a monthly report.”


In the meantime, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s bankruptcy analysis revealed that “a total of 509 companies have gone bankrupt this year as of Oct. 4, exceeding the number of filings during any comparable period since 2010.” Several proxies, including the number of permanent job losers, confirmed that bankruptcies are on track to spike in the short term. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue in the coming months. According to the latest Fitch report, the “three-year 2020–2022 cumulative US default rate forecasts for term loan (LL) and high-yield (HY) bonds are 17%-20% and 15%-18%, respectively. This forecast compares with the three-year cumulative default rate of 15% for LL and 22% for HY bonds from 2008 to 2010 occurring as a result of the Great Recession.”

Read more …

NATO trumps Trump!

NATO Chief Says Allies Will Leave Afghanistan Together (Y!)

NATO insisted Thursday that its members would consult and decide together on when to leave Afghanistan, after US President Donald Trump vowed to bring American troops home by Christmas. Trump, trailing in polls ahead of the November 3 presidential election, made his surprise announcement on Twitter on Wednesday, dramatically speeding up the timeline for ending America’s longest war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated the alliance’s longstanding position that it will end its mission in Afghanistan only when conditions on the ground permit. “We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference after talks with North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.


NATO went into Afghanistan following the 2001 US-led invasion to topple the Taliban in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. It ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014 and has vastly reduced its presence on the ground, but maintains a 12,000-strong force training and advising local forces. Stoltenberg said NATO would only leave Afghanistan when it could do so without the risk of the country once again becoming a haven for militants. “We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long term security of Afghanistan,” he said. It is not clear whether NATO had any advance warning of Trump’s announcement, though Stoltenberg’s statement that allies would now “consult on the future of the mission” appeared to indicate that it did not.

Read more …

But we need to think they are all lazy drunks, or we ourselves will become them!

A BC Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each (CBC)

The results of a B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless people are in and, according to one researcher, could challenge stereotypes about people “living on the margins.” The New Leaf project is a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia. After giving homeless Lower Mainland residents cash payments of $7,500, researchers checked on them over a year to see how they were faring. All 115 participants, ranging in age between 19 and 64, had been homeless for at least six months and were not struggling with serious substance use or mental health issues.

Of those, 50 people were chosen at random to be given the cash, while the others formed a control group that did not receive any money. “I had no expectations and really high hopes,” said Claire Williams, CEO of Foundations for Social Change, on CBC’s The Early Edition on Tuesday. What researchers found after 12 months, she said, was “beautifully surprising.” Not only did those who received the money spend fewer days homeless than those in the control group, they had also moved into stable housing after an average of three months, compared to those in the control group, who took an average of five months. Those who received the money also managed it well over the course of a year.

“We saw people retain over $1,000 for 12 months, which is remarkable in the Lower Mainland,” said Williams. On average, cash recipients spent 52 per cent of their money on food and rent, 15 per cent on other items such as medications and bills, and 16 per cent on clothes and transportation. Almost 70 per cent of people who received the payments were food secure after one month. In comparison, spending on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs went down, on average, by 39 per cent. Too often people dismiss the idea of giving homeless people money because they assume it will be mismanaged, Williams said. “It challenges stereotypes we have here in the West about how to help people living on the margins,” she said.

Read more …

 

 

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A cat fell on my head

 

 

 

 

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 September 2, 2020  Posted by at 7:09 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Caspar David Friedrich The Monk by the Sea c1809

 

 

“The Kremlin” poisoned their “fierce rival” Navalny with the infamous deadly agent novichok. That is the headline. Only, the German accusation in that direction doesn’t say novichok, its says a “cholinesterase inhibitor”, of which novichok is just one example, was used. The news outlets must be thinking that at least after the Skripal case, enough people will recognize the term, and let’s not confuse them.

The Germans claim they have “unequivocal proof” (eindeutiger Beweis) for this. While the Russian doctors who initially treated Navalny after he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Omsk (or was that the other way around?!) said he showed zero signs of poisoning. But yeah, they’re Russians, so they can’t be trusted, right? They all squander their Hippocratic oaths at the feet of the great malevolent dictator Trump Putin. You’re familiar with the parable about “all Cretans lie”?

“Merkel spokesman Seibert said the German government will inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results..” NATO? What do they have to do with anything? How does the alleged poisoning of a two-bit (2% in the polls) Russian “politician” link to NATO? Is Navalny himself linked to NATO? Where does NATO come in to the conversation? How much does the CIA pay Navalny anyway?

 

The thing, the problem, is that it makes no difference anymore even if this particular instance has a kernel of truth in it. Because there have been so many of them, and they’re all “based” on non-evidence, circumstantial “evidence”, stuff that you wouldn’t get a conviction on in any western court. For good reason.

In the Skripal case, a pair of vague Russians were presented in the UK media who supposedly had been in the area where the alleged poisoning took place, where the head of all UK nurses “just happened” to deliver first aid, but the story still never made sense. Now I read in a Dutch news outlet that the two Skripals were moved to New Zealand to start a new life, but the fact remains that no-one has heard from them since that alleged incident. Almost as if someone doesn’t want to provide any proof, just the narrative.

In the MH17 case, another RussiaRussia story, they threw all credibility out from the start by appointing main victim the Netherlands (2/3 of deaths) the main prosecutor, but even more by allowing one of the main potential perpetrators, Ukraine, not just a role in the investigation, but handing them a veto right over whatever info could be shared with the outside world. I think we call that lock stock and barrel.

 

It is of vital importance for two parties -which might as well be one- in the west to keep accusing Russia of all manner of issues, while knowing full well they will never answer (though, remember Concord Asset Management, Robert Mueller III?), which means you can say whatever you want. It’s a free for all. The two parties are intelligence and NATO.

Western nations, and that means all of them, all the self-congratulating “democracies”, are being blackmailed by their own -secret- intelligence services, which most often pose as “national security services”, and they find they have no way out. In most countries, the best before date of a politician, even the political system itself, is way shorter than that of an intelligence agency’s agenda. The only thing a newly elected politician can do is accept a secret service’s word at face value, and define policy accordingly.

Be it domestic, bi-lateral vs particular countries, or global. The policies have already been defined years ago, and they have been defined by unelected “spooks”, not elected representatives of the people. This is incredibly (and I don’t use that word lightly) damaging to all of our societies, and we need to call a halt to it. But how do you do that? When they are the ones making policy, and not the people we vote into office to do that for us? It’s certainly not an easy task, but we can’t let them continue either. That would only mean assured destruction, economic depression and, ultimately, war.

 

That’s how and why we get the Navalny and Skripal stories. This goes back to at least WWII. US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski/Leo Strauss/Kissinger neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue. Or should I say ”arguably?”

What the Navalny story, lacking evidence as much as so many other narratives, should tell us is that we are sort of hostages to a Ghost of Christmas past. We are being blackmailed as we speak by secret agents in cohort with the very military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, because they all need to keep a long lost dream alive in order to still appear relevant and chuck trillions out of our pockets.

It’s a scam, it’s blackmail. Russia is not about to attack you. They may have much better weaponry by now than we do (they do, check hypersonic), but they still won’t attack you, because A) they don’t want to, and B) they don’t have the numbers. They don’t have the manpower, they don’t have the money, they just want to be left alone, and we won’t leave them alone.

Our spooks invent Skripal and MH17 and Navalny and Russia collusion and prostitutes peeing on beds in Moscow. Because that’s how they justify -literally- endless streams of money towards their operations, and those of their Siamese twin NATO. All that money goes towards the 1950’s though, we’re paying through the nose for a long discredited notion and a long passed… past.

But as soon as anyone mentions Russia, you know there’s never going to be any checks and balances, as long as there are still enough people who buy into the Putin=”Bogeyman who eats little children” thing, in the same way that they believe Putin controls Donald Trump’s mind and policies. It’s a numbers thing: as long as enough people buy it, the narrative will continue to be sold.

You’re essentially stuck in your grandparents’ mindframe. No kidding. As we go through our 2020 crisis, which seems real enough, we spend extraordinary amounts of money on long outdates ideas maintained only to maintain the CIA and the army. Say what you will, but there’s nothing smart about that. It’s only very stupid.

Because, for one thing, suppose there are real threats lurking today, how can we face those while we’re still focusing on things that ceased being threats decades ago? Shouldn’t we perhaps replace our “intelligence” with something more intelligent? And fit not for the 1950’s but for the 2020’s?

Our “security services”, and NATO very much as well, make us less secure, safe, not more, because that’s the only way they know to justify their continued existence. Yes, there’s a paradox hidden in there somewhere. They don’t serve us, they only serve themselves.

 

 

 

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