William Sauro Yoko Ono and John Lennon, “War Is Over If You Want It,” Times Square, New York 1969
On February 24 2022, after either 30+ years, or 8 years, or 6 months, take your pick, of increasingly ominous and deadly provocation, Russian troops entered Ukraine territory. The very next day, February 25, the Russian forces were largely in position. The broader Ukrainian army had been bogged down in pockets, largely in the east, where military action had likely been planned vs the Donbass, and the Azov battalion that was their most aggressive part, was being squeezed into an even tighter spot.
That’s the story so far, really; not much has changed since then.
It’s also perhaps jut a starting point. Not for Ukraine, mind you, that goes back a very long time, during which it very rarely if ever was a “nation”, but the starting point for the Russian Special Military Operation – or war, or invasion, take your pick. That’s all. And I’m sorry I’ve been silent for most of it, other than through the daily Debt Rattle news aggregators, but that is not a coincidence.
All the time, I see every paper and TV channel trying to decide my opinion for me, and I don’t want to fall into that same trap. I want people to make up their own minds. And the news aggregators are a very good approach for that. But still… Here’s some MSM headlines that I think perhaps need more explaining. April 13, Guardian:
Joe Biden has accused Russia of carrying out genocide in Ukraine, saying that Vladimir Putin is “trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian”. Biden has been consistently outspoken in denouncing Russian wholesale killing of Ukrainian civilians, labelling Putin as a “war criminal” in mid-March. Multiple investigations are under way into Russian atrocities in Ukraine, which include the razing of Mariupol and the executions of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
The prosecutor at the international criminal court in the Hague opened a case in February saying there was “a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine”. Proving a case under the 1948 Genocide Convention requires an “intent [by the accused] to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Biden first used the word in passing on Tuesday at a domestic policy event in Iowa about the use of ethanol in petrol. “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” he said.
It should be obvious that 1/ There is no evidence of Russia committing anything close to a genocide, 2/ There is plenty evidence of the US, while Biden is/was Senator/VP/President, committing war crimes/genocide, and 3/ Very few people understand what the term genocide actually means, so Biden -and the media- can throw it around as a scary sounding word without risking being called on that. April 5, Greek Reporter:
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky showed the UN Security Council a harrowing video from Ukraine in an apparent attempt to embarrass Russia and rally international sympathy and support. The clip lasted about a minute and showed image after image of dead Ukrainians, including burned and disfigured bodies. Speaking to the Security Council for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, Zelensky reported Russian troops have killed civilians and raped women.
Zelensky’s comments follow his Monday visit to the town of Bucha, where the bodies of dead Ukrainian civilians were found. He claimed that in the town, people were shot in the street, their homes, thrown into wells, and crushed by tanks in the middle of the road “just for the pleasure” of the Russian soldiers. “The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed anyone who served our country,” he said, as Russia’s UN ambassador was looking on.
My first reaction when I saw this 10 days ago was: this is infantile. But that is what our conversation has fallen/sunk/degraded into. That’s what the clown/actor president got to say at the UN, and nobody raised an objection; indeed, so-called serious politicians applauded him for it. But it is Hannibal/Napoleon/Hitler/Putin eat babies territory. It’s medieval, except that the Brothers Grimm had more nuance and credibility in their tales then our modern media.
If you saw that headline, and you still thought/think Zelensky is a credible source for anything at all, you yourself have a major credibility issue. Zelensky disqualified himself right then and there when he said that (and repeated similar claims on 100 other occasions). But, you know, he’s a clown and an actor, so give him some leeway.. . Still, if Putin or anyone near him would accuse Ukrainian or NATO troops of “killing for pleasure”, what would be your reaction? On to April 10:
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Russia is targeting all of Europe with its aggression and that stopping the invasion of Ukraine is essential for the security of all democracies. Officials have said a grave with dozens of Ukrainians civilians was found in Buzova village near Kyiv, the latest such discovery as Russian forces retreat from their offensive on the capital and shift their assault to the east. In his late-night address to Ukrainians on Saturday, the Ukrainian president said Russian aggression “was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone” and the “entire European project is a target for Russia”.
“That is why it is not just the moral duty of all democracies, all the forces of Europe, to support Ukraine’s desire for peace,” he said. “This is, in fact, a strategy of defence for every civilised state. “This will be a hard battle, we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war.” His address came as civilians continued to flee eastern parts of the country before an expected onslaught and firefighters searched for survivors in a northern town no longer occupied by Russian forces.
Zelenskiy thanked the leaders of Britain and Austria for their visits on Saturday to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and pledges of further support. He also thanked the European Commission president and Canada’s prime minister for a global fundraising event that brought in more than €10bn for Ukrainians who have fled their homes. Zelenskiy repeated his call for a complete embargo on Russian oil and gas, which he called the sources of Russia’s “self-confidence and impunity”. “Freedom does not have time to wait,” Zelenskiy said. “When tyranny begins its aggression against everything that keeps the peace in Europe, action must be taken immediately.”
There is no sign anywhere that Putin wants to attack the Entire European Project. None. He wants No Nato, No Nukes, and No Nazis in Ukraine. Russia does not have the power to invade all of Europe, nor does it want to. It wants the threat that Ukraine poses on its doorstep to dissolve. No nuke warheads in Ukraine. Step 1.
And what do we see? Sweden and Finland may now join NATO, and they, and Poland, may station nuke warheads on their territory. For hypersonic missiles, that are minutes from Moscow. Given that NATO has no functioning hypersonic missiles today, what would you do if you were Moscow? Wait till they do have them?
I found a better, more elaborate, version of this:
Before the war started, Zelenskyy refused an offer for peace. Russia required 3 things;
1) Water in Crimea: no water was destroying the economy there.
2) Minsk 2 imposed: peace for the people of Donbas, within Ukraine, but greater autonomy.
3) Ukraine to remain neutral: no NATO.
Zelenskyy actually increased the provocation against Russia in January 2022 by;
1) Intensifying the bombardment of Donbas
2) Threatening to retake Crimea
3) A group of Republican congressmen intended to introduce a bill declaring Ukraine a NATO-plus country.
The Azov battalion, which has been heavily involved in fighting in Mariupol and has strong ties to the far-right, wrote in a Telegram post that Russian forces had dropped “a poisonous substance of unknown origin” during a drone attack at the city’s large Azovstal metals plant. It said that its fighters had suffered minor injuries, including shortness of breath. One injured man described a “sweet-tasting” white smoke covering an area of the plant after an explosion. Another said he felt immediately unable to breathe and had collapsed with “cotton legs”.
The reported incident – which the BBC cannot independently verify – came hours after a spokesperson for the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic urged Russia to bring in “chemical forces” to the besieged south-eastern city. Eduard Basurin told Russian state TV the remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol were entrenched at the Azovstal plant and that Russia should encircle it and “smoke out the moles”. Speaking on Monday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said any use of chemical weapons would mark a “new stage of terror against Ukraine” and called on Western nations to arm his forces with the weapons needed to defend his country.
“Unfortunately, we are not getting as much as we need to end this war sooner,” Mr Zelensky said. “I am sure that we will get almost everything we need, but not only time is being lost. The lives of Ukrainians are being lost — lives that can no longer be returned.”
There have been tons of reports of Russian war crimes in Mariupol. Maternity ward, theater, arts academy, they keep on coming so fast no-one can fact check them. And that’s not a coincidence. But when the Azov battalion delivers the “news”, even the MSM inserts a few ifs and buts and maybes. The headline works for propaganda, but they don’t want to get caught in outright nonsense or lies. Yeah, well, way too late. you’ve been doing it for 50-odd days now. April 13:
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has released a new video in which he warns that the war will become an “endless bloodbath, spreading misery, suffering, and destruction” without additional weaponry. Speaking in English, Zelenskiy says Ukraine has been defending itself against Russia “much longer than the invaders planned”. But Russia still has the capacity to attack “not only against Ukraine”, Zelenskiy continues: Poland, Moldova, Romania, and the Baltic states will become the next targets if the freedom of Ukraine falls.
More weapons were needed to “save millions of Ukrainians as well as millions of Europeans”, he says: We need heavy artillery, armoured vehicles, air defence systems and combat aircraft. Zelenskiy concludes the video by saying: “Freedom must be armed better than tyranny. Western countries have everything to make it happen. The final victory over the tyranny and the number of people saved depends on them.”
We are all smart enough to understand that the opposite is true: the more weapons US/NATO delivers inside Ukraine, the longer the bloodbath will be. AND the Ukraine troops are stuck in pockets (cauldrons), so what can possibly be delivered to them? AND Russia will not continue to sit idly by while such deliveries are attempted. Russia simply wants Ukraine and US/NATO to recognize the reality February 24 created.
And agree that Ukraine cannot enter NATO on Russia’s doorstep, cannot have nuclear weapons, and cannot have (neo-) nazi troops decide its politics. When Zelensky signs for that on the dotted line, the Russians could be gone within days. Provided sufficient guarantees are given, which will require a substantial commitment by NATO as well. But it can surely be done.
About “War Is Over If You Want It,” do you think Zelensky and his handlers want it to be over? Well, other than in a total Russian defeat, which will not happen? Do you think US/NATO wants it to be over? Or would they maybe think it’s acceptable to see a few million more Ukrainians perish if that means a few billion in weapons can be sold? Do you think Russia wants it to be over? I think they would sign up yesterday if their demands are met.
And these demands are serious, it’s not like leaving behind a bunch of nazis is negotiable, or a halfway house towards NATO, or a few biolabs, or a nuke installation here and there. For the Russians all that must go to zero, or they would never have invaded.
Here’s thinking it’s up to you after all. “War Is Over If YOU Want It.” But you have just been through 2+ years of believing and following the leader with Covid, so which part is actually your opinion, and which part are you just parroting? Might be a good idea to make up your minds, and soon, because your leaders are itching to push a few consequential buttons, and make up your minds for you.
You may actually need to go into the streets to demand that this war be over. And you will have to do it without a mask on. Can you handle that?
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“South Korea continues to see record high case numbers, despite 99% mask compliance and 85% of their entire population being vaccinated, which is odd because I’ve been told by CNN experts that masks prevent infections and that an 85% vaccination rate would get us past COVID”
Cases among the vaccinated are called “breakthrough cases” because the vaccine was supposed to act as a barrier.
The barrier is gone and covid fascists now claim it was always meant to reduce the severity, not the transmissibility of the virus. LIARS!https://t.co/4gcVcs4jVZ
People who contract the Omicron variant during this current wave of COVID-19 infections are much less likely to be hospitalized than they are if they contract other strains of the virus, according to a new study from South Africa. The study, released Wednesday by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, comes as countries around the globe grapple with how to handle the new strain, which appears to be more resistant to current COVID-19 vaccines. In the study, researchers compared Omicron infections with Delta and other variant infections from October to November and discovered that Omicron infections resulted in a considerable 80% decreased chance of hospitalization. “When compared to non-[Omicron] infections, we found that [Omicron] infections had an 80% lower odds of being admitted to the hospital,” South African researchers concluded.
Though the researchers did note that for patients admitted to the hospital in that period, those infected with Omicron had an equal chance of developing a severe illness compared to those with other variants. But when compared to Delta infections starting in April — when that strain dominated much of the world — Omicron infections were associated with a 70% lower odds of severe disease, even though the new strain appears to produce a higher viral load in infected patients. “Compellingly, together our data really suggest a positive story of a reduced severity of Omicron compared to other variants,” said Professor Cheryl Cohen, one of the study’s authors. It should be noted that the study is newly released and has yet to be peer-reviewed.
Cohen added that research was reinforced by medical data from the country that has shown significantly lower hospitalization and death figures in this latest wave of COVID-19 infections, during which Omicron has become the obviously dominant strain. But Cohen was careful to note that the situation may be different for other countries in comparison to South Africa, where under 50% of the population is vaccinated but many have experienced prior infection. “What is unclear is whether the picture will be similar in countries where there are high levels of vaccination but very low levels of previous infection,” she said during a media briefing, according to Reuters. Nevertheless, the new data, if proven accurate, is positive news and could perhaps foreshadow a turning point in the pandemic, as some scientists have predicted.
Last month, as mass hysteria broke out regarding the Omicron variant, Israeli immunologist Zvika Granot argued that the new variant may be “the light at the end of the tunnel,” since it appeared to be “highly infectious but maybe not as aggressive.” “When you look at the future and try to envision how this will end one day, it’s most likely not going to be because we got a fantastic vaccine,” Granot said. “It just doesn’t work this way and we have a lot of experience with viruses like the flu.” “The way that it will end, at least in my view, is when we encounter this new variant that is highly infectious but is not very aggressive, meaning that a lot of people will get infected but none of them will develop serious symptoms. And in a sense that will be the way the population will really gain herd immunity, and then the coronavirus will just fade away,” he argued.
Forbes South Africa
People who contract the omicron variant are 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared to previous variants and those hospitalized with omicron are at a 70% lower risk of severe disease than delta, according to a new study out of South Africa. pic.twitter.com/TXJReRSYmj
Notorious wanker Neil Ferguson gets rolled out once more to instill fear. Just cut the South Africa numbers in half. And then claim the SAGE numbers of 3,000 daily hospitalisations in England at the peak of the wave, are still valid. Merry Christmas.
The Omicron variant of coronavirus appears to be milder, with a 20%-25% reduced chance of a hospital visit and at least a 40% lower risk of being admitted overnight, the first UK data of its kind has showed. But as daily Covid cases topped 100,000 for the first time on Wednesday, experts warned that high transmissibility means the NHS is still at risk of being overwhelmed. In what was described by scientists as a “qualified good news story”, two studies on Wednesday pointed to a lower risk of hospitalisation with Omicron. An Imperial College outbreak modelling team led by Prof Neil Ferguson analysed hospitalisations and vaccine records among all PCR-confirmed Covid cases in England between 1 and 14 December. The dataset included 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta.
Their report found that the risk of any attendance at hospital was 20% to 25% lower with Omicron versus Delta, and 40%-45% lower when the visit resulted in admission for at least one night. For the small percentage of people who had neither been previously infected with Covid nor vaccinated, the risk of hospitalisation was about 11% lower for Omicron versus Delta. Ferguson said that while it was “good news”, the assessment did not substantially change Sage modelling pointing to 3,000 daily hospitalisations in England at the peak of the wave next month without restrictions beyond the plan B measures currently in place.
While the analysis shows evidence of “a moderate reduction” in the risk of hospitalisation associated with Omicron compared with Delta, Ferguson said, “this appears to be offset by the reduced efficacy of vaccines against infection with the Omicron variant”. “Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron virus, there remains the potential for health services to face increasing demand if Omicron cases continue to grow at the rate that has been seen in recent weeks,” he added.
Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide. The achievement is the result of almost two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. Very early on, Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well. Walter Reed’s Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine, or SpFN, completed animal trials earlier this year with positive results.
Phase 1 of human trials, which tested the vaccine against Omicron and the other variants, wrapped up this month, again with positive results that are undergoing final review, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch, said in an exclusive interview with Defense One. The new vaccine will still need to undergo phase 2 and phase 3 trials. Unlike existing vaccines, Walter Reed’s SpFN uses a soccer ball-shaped protein with 24 faces for its vaccine, which allows scientists to attach the spikes of multiple coronavirus strains on different faces of the protein. “It’s very exciting to get to this point for our entire team and I think for the entire Army as well,” Modjarrad said. The vaccine’s human trials took longer than expected, he said, because the lab needed to test the vaccine on subjects who had neither been vaccinated nor previously infected with COVID.
Increasing vaccination rates and the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants made that difficult. [..] The next step is seeing how the new pan-coronavirus vaccine interacts with people who were previously vaccinated or previously sick. Walter Reed is working with a yet-to-be-named industry partner for that wider rollout. “We need to evaluate it in the real-world setting and try to understand how does the vaccine perform in much larger numbers of individuals who have already been vaccinated with something else initially…or already been sick,” Modjarrad said. He said nearly all of Walter Reed’s 2,500 staff have had some role in the vaccine’s nearly-two-year development.
Vaccines based on mRNA-containing lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) are a promising new platform used by two leading vaccines against COVID-19. Clinical trials and ongoing vaccinations present with varying degrees of protection levels and side effects. However, the drivers of the reported side effects remain poorly defined. Here we present evidence that Acuitas’ LNPs used in preclinical nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccine studies are highly inflammatory in mice. Intradermal and intramuscular injection of these LNPs led to rapid and robust inflammatory responses, characterized by massive neutrophil infiltration, activation of diverse inflammatory pathways, and production of various inflammatory cytokines and chemokines.
The same dose of LNP delivered intranasally led to similar inflammatory responses in the lung and resulted in a high mortality rate, with mechanism unresolved. Thus, the mRNA-LNP platforms’ potency in supporting the induction of adaptive immune responses and the observed side effects may stem from the LNPs’ highly inflammatory nature.
How does a private citizen, not an elected official, gain so much control over a global health agency like WHO? When it was founded, WHO could decide how to distribute its contributions. Now, 70% of its budget is tied to specific projects, countries or regions, which are dictated by the funders. As such, Gates’ priorities are the backbone of WHO, and it wasn’t a coincidence when he said of WHO, “Our priorities, are your priorities.” As of 2018, the cumulative contributions from the Gates Foundation and GAVI made “Gates the unofficial top sponsor of the WHO, even before the Trump administration’s 2020 move to cut all his support to the organization,” according to Kennedy. “Plus, Gates also routes funding to WHO through SAGE [Strategic Advisory Group of Experts] and UNICEF and Rotary International bringing his total contributions to over $1 billion.”
These tax-deductible donations give Gates both leverage and control over international health policy, “which he largely directs to serve the profit interest of his pharma partners.” Further, “Gate’s vaccine obsession has diverted WHO’s program contributions from poverty alleviation, nutrition and clean water to make vaccine uptake its preeminent public health metric. And Gates is not afraid to throw his weight around,” according to Kennedy. “… The sheer magnitude of his foundation’s financial contributions has made Bill Gates an unofficial — albeit unelected — leader of the WHO.” Gates’ power has grown further due to his decadeslong partnership with Fauci. Alone, both Gates and Fauci wield immense power in their fields. Together, they’re a formidable, if unfortunately nefarious, force.
As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) — “Fauci has a $6.1 billion budget that he distributes to colleges and universities to do drug research for various diseases,” Kennedy says. “He has another $1.7 billion that comes from the military to do bioweapons research.” This is where Fauci’s power lies: in his capacity to fund, arm, pay, maintain and effectively deploy a large and sprawling standing army. The NIH alone controls an annual $37 billion budget distributed in over 50,000 grants supporting over 300,000 positions globally in medical research.
The thousands of doctors, hospital administrators, health officials and research virologists whose positions, careers and salaries depend on AIDS dollars flowing from Dr. Fauci, Gates and the Wellcome Trust (Great Britain’s version of the Gates Foundation) are the officers and soldiers in a mercenary army that functions to defend all vaccines and Dr. Fauci’s HIV/AIDS doxologies. Along with Gates, Fauci had the power to influence funding of U.S. foreign aid to Africa for AIDS, prioritizing that for vaccines and drugs instead of nutrition, sanitation and economic development. Yet, Fauci and his team, funded by Gates, have never created a vaccine for AIDS, despite squandering billions of dollars, and causing uncounted human carnage. In 2020, many of the Gates/Fauci HIV vaccine trials in Africa suddenly became COVID-19 vaccine trials.
Here are five methods to get the gist of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s best-selling book, “The Real Anthony Fauci,” quickly:
1. The first third shows that Fauci is the leader of the largest cabal of organized crime thugs to have ever walked the face of Earth. The middle third goes into more detail about the history of the establishment of Fauci’s criminal cabal. The final third ties together loose ends with more details and factual history. The overriding theme is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization are all run and controlled by criminal thugs in concert with their criminal counterparts running Big Pharma.
3. Consider this excerpt: “Under Dr. Fauci’s leadership, the allergic, autoimmune, and chronic illnesses which Congress specifically charged NIAID to investigate and prevent, have mushroomed to afflict 54 percent of children, up from 12.8 percent when he took over NIAID in 1984. “Dr. Fauci has offered no explanation as to why allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and anaphylaxis suddenly exploded beginning in 1989, five years after he came to power. “On its website, NIAID boasts that autoimmune disease is one of the agency’s top priorities. Some 80 autoimmune diseases, including juvenile diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, and Crohn’s disease, which were practically unknown prior to 1984, suddenly became epidemic under his watch.
“Autism, which many scientists now consider an autoimmune disease, exploded from between 2/10,000 and 4/10,000 Americans when Tony Fauci joined NIAID, to one in thirty-four today. “Neurological diseases like ADD/ADHD, speech and sleep disorders, narcolepsy, facial tics, and Tourette’s syndrome have become commonplace in American children. “The human, health, and economic costs of chronic disease dwarf the costs of all infectious diseases in the United States. By this decade’s end, obesity, diabetes, and pre-diabetes are on track to debilitate 85 percent of America’s citizens. “For this reason, all the drug companies and members of Congress (except Rand Paul) LOVE Fauci.”
5. My review: The book shows that Fauci is a really bad guy who has done a lot of bad stuff and he should be immediately fired. It also shows a completely corrupt system that is allowing dangerous drugs to be approved. We need to all stand up and oppose what is going on. The system is badly broken and corrupt and needs to be fixed ASAP. I haven’t read the entire book, but I have read sections and everything I have read so far aligns with the facts I know. It’s a devastating book, filled with details that few people knew about until now.
A group of Dutch general practitioners is prescribing the controversial drug ivermectin to people who are ill due to corona via a website. This practice goes against medical guidelines, so doctors are not allowed to do it. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) is aware of this and has already issued a fine, but the website is still active Ivermectin is being circulated on various websites as a cure against corona, but is controversial because there is no sufficient scientific evidence for it. That is why most general practitioners do not prescribe it. If you still want it, you can still arrange it via the website ‘Self-care Covid-19’. On that website it is claimed that, among other things, zinc and vitamins C and D make resistant to corona. Will the virus still get you? Then you can get a telephone consultation with a GP for 30 euros.
Our research team tried this out and got a doctor from the collective on the phone. She did not ask about fever or breathing problems in that conversation, but did offer ivermectin after two minutes. Without our actively asking, as can be seen in this video: In their own words, Self-Care Covid-19 holds twenty to fifty such telephone consultations every day. Since the start in October 2020, there are approximately 2800. 10 to 20 percent of patients would only be advised to take supplements, 80 percent are prescribed a combination of ivermectin, antibiotic doxycycline and aspirin. In some cases, rheumatism medicine hydroxychloroquine is added on top of that.
Ivermectin is a drug that helps against scabies and other parasites, not viruses. “It is not a proven effective treatment for Covid, even if it is circulating on the internet,” says internist-infectiologist Mark de Boer of the Leiden University Medical Center. “There are sufficient indications that this is not effective. The drug also has side effects that can be serious at high doses. For example, a decrease in consciousness.” The doctors behind Self-care Covid-19 speak of ‘mild side effects’. Not all pharmacies cooperate in the distribution of ivermectin, but Self-Care Covid-19 has a solution for that too: they know a number that do sell the medicine.
During an ABC interview today, Joe Biden told ABC News’ David Muir that as of right now, there are “200 million people fully vaccinated.” Counting illegal aliens, there are roughly 350 million Americans right now [Census Data]. If 200 million Americans are vaccinated (60%), that means there are approximately 150 million Americans NOT vaccinated (40%). During his speech yesterday, Joe Biden said: “Thanks to the progress on vaccinations this fall, we’ve gone from nearly 90 million adults in July who had not even started their vaccination process to fewer than 40 million today.” There’s a big difference between 150 million unvaccinated and “fewer than 40 million” unvaccinated. Can you reconcile the difference?
As we noted last week, with the CDC adjusting the numbers downward […] this would align with several tangential datapoints which have always seemed to be in conflict with the preferred government narrative. Additionally, there’s also an obvious motive on behalf of the government to overinflate vaccination in order to generate peer pressure and the self-fulfilling prophecy needed to garner vaccine acceptance. As now noted by Bloomberg: […] “CDC data show 240 million people with at least one shot, or about 72.5% of the population. But the agency says only 203 million are fully vaccinated, or 61.3%, an 11-percentage-point difference that is far larger than in other developed countries. State and local officials say it’s improbable that 37 million Americans got one shot without completing their inoculations. Instead, they say, the government has regularly and incorrectly counted booster shots and second doses as first doses.”
Perhaps this disparity reconciles why many people look quizzically at the high vaccine data while not finding any correlation to their own community, friends or family. Indeed, there has always been a disconnect between the number of people the government reports as having been vaccinated, when contrast against the open admissions of those who have not wanted to participate in this wide-scale vaccination program. Biden’s statement today aligns with the adjusted statements from the CDC of 200 million Americans being fully vaccinated. However, Biden’s statement today does not reconcile against his statement yesterday of “fewer than 40 million Americans” remain to be vaccinated. If the 200 million vaccinated number is accurate, then 150 million Americans are not vaccinated.
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, the longtime professor of psychiatry at the University of California–Irvine School of Medicine who sued the university over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate because it made no exceptions for natural immunity, has been fired by the institution for refusing the vaccine. In a blog post titled “Farewell, University of California,” Dr. Kheriaty said he received notice of what he called his “arbitrary and capricious” firing on Dec. 16. It was effective the same day. The termination ends his UCI medical teaching career and his longtime role as director of the Medical Ethics Program at UCI Health. Kheriaty said he worked unpaid nights helping the UCI president’s office draft triage guidelines for scarce resources and vaccines during the pandemic.
When N-95 masks were so scarce that hospitals kept them under lock and key, Kheriaty said he found a supply at a local construction company and provided them to doctors and nurses. “Everyone at the university seemed to be a fan of my work, until suddenly they were not,” Kheriaty wrote. “Once I challenged one of their policies, I immediately became a ‘threat to the health and safety of the community.’ No amount of empirical evidence about natural immunity or vaccine safety and efficacy mattered at all. “The University’s leadership was not interested in scientific debate or ethical deliberation. When I was placed on unpaid suspension, I was not permitted to use my paid time off—that is to say, I was ordered to stay off campus because I was not vaccinated, but I also could not take vacation at home because… I was not vaccinated.”
[..] Kheriaty sued the University of California Board of Regents in federal court on Aug. 18, alleging the university’s vaccine mandate violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In July 2020, Kheriaty contracted COVID-19, so he now has natural immunity, which he argues is likely superior to protection from a vaccine. His lawsuit is working its way through U.S. District Court. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California refused Kheriaty’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the vaccine mandate. In his lawsuit, he highlighted the failure of vaccine mandates to account for the likely superior immunity possessed by COVID-19 survivors. His faculty colleagues at the University of California filed a 187-page declaration supporting the efficacy of natural immunity.
As a COVID-19 survivor, Kheriaty said, his immunity to the disease is between 95 and 99 percent effective. There is not one case on record of someone who recovered from COVID-19 and then was reinfected and transmitted the virus to someone else, he said in October. This sterilizing immunity is an advantage the human immune system has over any COVID-19 vaccine, he argued, noting the declining efficacy of the mRNA vaccines over time.
Attorneys general (AG) from 24 states have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates for early education staff and mask mandates for young children. Led by Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, the lawsuit argues that the mandates involving Head Start, the country’s largest early education program, are unlawful and exceed President Joe Biden’s statutory authority. Biden’s mandate, issued last month, applies to all preschool programs funded by the federal Head Start program and affects hundreds of thousands of staff, volunteers, and preschool students across the country. It mandates vaccinations for staff, volunteers, and others in contact with students by the end of January and requires masks for all adults and children aged two and above.
The mandate offers no alternative to vaccinations, and for those granted exemptions, funds are not provided for regular testing. It applies to staff regardless of whether they work in person or remotely. The Department of Health and Human Services provides funding to low-income families of preschool-age children under the federal Head Start program. The lawsuit argues that the president’s mandate is projected to lead to tens of thousands of Head Start agency staff losing their jobs and will cause programs to close or reduce capacity. “Like all of his other unlawful attempts to impose medical decisions on Americans, Biden’s overreaching orders to mask two-year-olds and force vaccinate teachers in our underserved communities will cost jobs and impede child development,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement on Tuesday. “If enacted, Biden’s authoritarianism will cut funding, programs, and childcare that working families, single mothers, and elderly raising grandchildren rely on desperately.”
Former New York Times reporter and outspoken critic of the US response to the Covid pandemic Alex Berenson is suing Twitter for suspending his account, claiming the platform “acted on behalf of the federal government. In the lawsuit, filed this week in the Northern District of California, Berenson accused Twitter of breach of contract and of violating his First Amendment rights. The alleged breach of contract stems from the fact that Berenson claims a Twitter executive had repeatedly assured him that he would be free to express his views on the platform without fear of retaliation. “Despite the controversy around his statements, a senior Twitter executive repeatedly assured Mr. Berenson that the company backed his right to free expression and that he would continue to enjoy access to the platform,” Berenson’s lawyers said in the suit.
The independent reporter and best-selling author was reportedly suspended from Twitter in August over a tweet questioning whether Covid vaccines could actually prevent infection and transmission of the virus, referring to them as “therapeutic” drugs. A Twitter spokesperson at the time said Berenson was permanently suspended for “repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules.” In the tweet, Berenson wrote: “It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it – at best – as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS.”
Berenson argues the platform acted on behalf of the Biden administration in censoring his posts, as the president himself had criticized “misinformation” about Covid spreading on social media only days before the author’s suspension. He is also claiming in his lawsuit that a California law applying to “common carriers” applies to Twitter. The legislation, dating back to 1872, regulates companies that “offer to the public to carry persons, property, or messages.” Berenson’s lawyers argue the legislation is relevant to the suit as the “courts have repeatedly applied the 1872 law to telephone companies and other technologies that did not exist at the time it was enacted,” adding that Twitter does not have the publishing freedom typically afforded due to the common carrier law.
The Supreme Court announced Wednesday it will hold a special hearing Jan. 7, 2022, on the legality of Biden administration vaccine mandates on healthcare workers and private companies with more than 100 people. The court’s decision to quickly take up the cases follows a series of different rulings in lower courts. The mandates will remain in place pending January’s oral arguments. The cases were rushed to the Supreme Court due to the time-sensitive nature of the Biden administration’s mandates. More than 17 million healthcare workers are required by the federal government to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, meanwhile, announced over the weekend it was postponing until Jan. 10 the deadline for compliance with the vaccine mandate on private businesses with more than 100 employees, which affects 84 million Americans.
The cases against a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers — State of Louisiana et al v. Xavier Becerra, Sec. of HHS, et al and Joseph Biden, President of U.S., et al v. Missouri, et al — were brought to Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. The healthcare workers’ cases were consolidated and will receive one hour total for arguments. Two cases against Biden’s business mandate were brought to Justice Kavanagh, who combined the cases and allotted one hour for arguments. Petitioners in all cases requested for the mandate to be stopped. Rather than stopping the mandate, the justices are delaying a decision until after hearing the cases in January.
On Dec. 13, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to offer the United States’ views on “Monsanto vs. Hardeman”—the latest move in what could be a landmark case for multibillion-dollar litigation linking the herbicide RoundUp to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, if the Supreme Court agrees to review the case. After a call for the views of the solicitor general, that Justice Department official will often respond with a brief commenting on whether the Supreme Court should agree to review the case. The Epoch Times has reached out to the Solicitor General for comment. Monsanto, which was acquired by the German chemical company Bayer in 2018, filed its petition after a Ninth Circuit panel ruled in favor of California resident Edwin Hardeman, who claimed his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma resulted from exposure to RoundUp.
Ninth Circuit Judge Ryan D. Nelson, a Trump appointee, found that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) did not preempt California’s law, under which RoundUp and other products containing glyphosate must feature warnings about that ingredient’s reported cancer risk. While the state of California maintains that glyphosate is carcinogenic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which enforces FIFRA, maintains glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans. Monsanto’s petition to the Supreme Court challenges the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on preemption. It also argues that the Ninth Circuit admitted low-quality expert opinions on glyphosate and cancer, deviating from the practices of other appellate courts and violating Federal Rule of Evidence 702.
One of Ukraine’s top politicians has alleged that signals coming from Russia indicate that Moscow could be plotting a full-blown nuclear attack against its Eastern European neighbor in a new sensational intervention. Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk, remarked that “as of 1991, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear capability in the world,” referring to its inherited arsenal of warheads from the collapse of the Soviet Union. He noted that Kiev “voluntarily gave this up to become a non-nuclear state” just a few years later. However, the politician alleged that Russia, which “was the guarantor of such disarmament, hints that if we continue our democratic development, it may even launch a nuclear strike against us.”
The remarks from Stefanchuk come in the foreground of concerns from Western leaders and Kiev’s intelligence service that Moscow is planning to launch a full-blown offensive against Ukraine. However, the Kremlin has repeatedly denied allegations that Russia is massing its troops along the shared demarcation line in preparation for an invasion. Instead, Moscow has accused members of the US-led military bloc of shuttling a concerning amount of weapons toward Russia’s borders and said that Western states are encouraging Kiev’s officials to engage in provocations that could spiral into an all-out conflict. Last month, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in Ukraine, “more and more forces and equipment are being accumulated on the line of contact in the Donbass, supported by an increasing number of Western instructors.” He warned that if these states cannot hold back Kiev, and are instead actually spurring it on, Moscow will “take all necessary steps to ensure our security.”
Hillary Clinton’s team long fought to keep its ties to Christopher Steele’s dossier from public view, but Special Counsel John Durham is now making clear he has a strong interest in her campaign’s behavior during the Russia collusion probe. He is even suggesting some of her aides could be summoned as trial witnesses. Durham’s earth-shaking revelation came inside a routine court filing this month in the case of Igor Y. Danchenko, a Russian analyst who was a primary source in 2016 for Steele’s now-infamous dossier. Danchenko has been charged with repeatedly lying to the FBI during the Russia collusion probe and has pleaded innocent.
Durham’s motion asked the presiding judge to determine whether Danchenko’s lawyers —Danny Onorato and Stuart Sears of the Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears law firm — pose a conflict of interest because the firm also represents the Hillary for America campaign as well as several former campaign officials in “matters before the special counsel.” “The Clinton Campaign financed the opposition research reports, colloquially known as the ‘Dossier,’ that are central to the Indictment against the defendant,” the Durham team stated in the motion. “Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the government respectfully requests that the Court inquire into the potential conflict issues set forth herein.”
[..] Prosecutors said they want to know what the Clinton campaign knew about the accuracy of the Steele dossier’s now-discredited allegations of Trump-Russia collusion and whether any campaign “representatives directed, solicited, or controlled” Danchenko’s activities assisting Steele. “The interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant could potentially diverge in connection with any plea discussions, pre-trial proceedings, hearings, trial, and sentencing proceedings,” the prosecutors told the court, often referring to the Steele dossier as “Company Reports.” “For example, the Clinton Campaign and the defendant each might have an incentive to shift blame and/or responsibility to the other party for any allegedly false information that was contained within the Company Reports and/or provided to the FBI,” the Durham filing stated.
“Moreover, it is possible that one of these parties might also seek to advance claims that they were harmed or defrauded by the other’s actions, statements, or representations.” For the first time, Durham also raised the possibility aides to Hillary Clinton could testify at Danchenko’s trial. “In the event that one or more former representatives of the Clinton Campaign (who are represented by defense counsel’s firm) are called to testify at any trial or other court proceeding, the defendant and any such witness would be represented by the same law firm, resulting in a potential conflict,” Durham’s team argued.
And for one of the first times, Durham’s team declares to a court what it believes was the political motive for the Clinton campaign to pay its law firm, Perkins Coie, to hire the Fusion GPS investigative firm to hire the retired MI6 agent Steele to write the anti-Trump Russia reports known as the dossier. “The Clinton Campaign, through Law Firm-1 and U.S. Investigative Firm-1, commissioned and financed the Company Reports in an attempt to gather and disseminate derogatory information about Donald Trump,” the filing stated.
Senate leaders revealed today that Biden’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure plan will include $86 Billion for a brand-new Capitol Building construction project. The Capitol will be expanded to hold 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and 1,423 Pfizer lobbyists. “Better. Build blur, uh, der der trunalimunumaprzure,” said Biden in a forceful speech defending the plan. “Derp rug abba loogey.” A hand then appeared from behind a curtain and injected Biden with some sort of medication, causing Biden to come to his senses.
“These Pfizer people, they’re good folks, folks! They know what they’re doing! We’re just gonna let them run the country for a while, I think. More time for me to watch Murder She Wrote on the television box!” Officials confirmed that to save time, the Biden administration plans to merge all regulatory agencies with Pfizer. They also confirmed that troops will arrive at your house tonight to administer your booster shot. Cool!
MSM at it again. This time the narrative is "Viral Blizzard". Dont fall for it peeps. Watch this snip-it taken from multiple news outlets and tell me its not a coordinated effort. pic.twitter.com/jfUiDHr9ZB
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ripped “the utter fraudulence of Tony Fauci” Wednesday night, after BuzzFeed and the Washington Post obtained thousands of pages of emails through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, revealing that the nation’s top virologist was telling the public one thing, while furiously working on damage control and narrative-shaping as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. According to Carlson, Americans assumed “that the man in charge of protecting the US from COVID must be rational and impressive,” adding “We also assumed he must be honest. But we were wrong.
“It soon became clear that Tony Fauci was just another sleazy federal bureaucrat – deeply political and often dishonest. More shocking than that we then learned that Fauci himself was implicated in the very pandemic he’d been charged with fighting.” “Fauci supported the grotesque and dangerous experiments that appeared to have made COVID possible.” -Tucker Carlson. Fauci’s emails collectively show that “from the beginning, Tony Fauci was worried that the public might conclude COVID had originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” “Why would he be concerned that Americans would conclude that?” Tucker asked. “Possibly because Tony Fauci knew that he had funded gain-of-function experiments at that very same laboratory.”
“The emails prove that Fauci lied about this under oath,” said Tucker, who highlighted an email from scientist Christian G. Anderson to Fauci, saying that he and his fellow scientists felt the virus looked ‘potentially’ engineered, and that members of his team “all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.” Fauci then sent an urgent email to his deputy – Hugh Auchincloss – with the subject “IMPORTANT,” and which read “Hugh, it is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on … You will have tasks today that must be done.”
Tucker Carlson: "Tony Fauci is no longer a scientist, assuming he ever was one. Tony Fauci is a figure of religious veneration. He is Jesus for people who don't believe in God." pic.twitter.com/MlqgxfzHar
White House coronavirus adviser and long-time U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s upcoming book has been scrubbed from and altered on online listings, amid criticism that he is profiting from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The book, “Expect the Unexpected,” was earlier pegged for a November release, according to its Amazon listing. As of Wednesday morning, the book’s listing had been entirely scrubbed from Amazon. However, a cached version of the listing, still displayed the book’s promotional description and preorder status. A cached website also shows the book’s listing on Barnes & Noble’s website, though by Wednesday morning that listing was no longer live anymore. The book appeared to still be available for preorder on some lesser known vendors such as Booktopia.
The scrubbing of the book comes after backlash from critics who accused Fauci of profiting off of the deadly pandemic the U.S. response to which he has overseen. Among those criticizing Fauci is Fox News Channel contributor Joe Concha, who compared him to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing a seven-figure book deal about his efforts during the pandemic, which resulted in a high number of death among assisted-living residents. “If you look at the numbers again, you had Cuomo profiting off a pandemic, a government official,” said Concha, also a media reporter for The Hill newspaper. “Now we have Fauci doing it as well. I think this is appalling.”
The National Institutes of Health hosted Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers at a 2011 conference focusing on scientific research that could pose a “significant threat” to human health – including manipulation of bat coronaviruses. At the event, the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Deputy Director repeatedly asserted that his controversial lab had “no regulation” on this form of risky research, The National Pulse can exclusively reveal. The 2011 event – Continuing the Global Dialogue with the Scientific and Science Policy Community with a Focus on Asia and the Western Pacific – was sponsored by the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) and sought to provide participants with a “greater understanding” of Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC).
Defined by the NIH as research “that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety,” DURC encompasses gain-of-function studies, which have come under increased scrutiny due to their role in potentially spawning COVID-19. Among the event participants were Wuhan Institute of Virology Deputy Director Yuan Zhiming, NIH Associate Director for Science Policy Amy Patterson, and top American researchers and scientific advisory board members. The NIH’s unearthed role in hosting the event follows National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci denying his agency’s relationship to the Wuhan lab.
While speaking at the event via telephone, Yuan Zhiming repeatedly emphasized that his lab and China lacked any meaningful regulation of dual-use research. “There’s no regulation in China, there’s no regulation on the identification of some dual-use research, and there’s no regulation on the classification of research or the classification of information,” he explained. “Even China, the biosafety and biosecurity philosophy is regulated by Chinese scientific community, but the dual-use research is not totally regulated. So we need to have some measure or some special program to raise the concern of principal investigators through training.”
Yuan reiterated the sentiment in his closing remarks to the conference, commenting “there’s no regulation on the dual-use identification and classification of some sensitive information, and I think maybe later the Chinese government and the Chinese scientific community will focus on the discussion in this matter.” Since the outbreak of COVID-19, however, Yuan has made rounds on American and Chinese state-run media outlets to discredit the possibility of the virus leaking from his lab.
A specially appointed epidemiological team has found “a likelihood of a link” between receiving the second dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine and the onset of myocarditis in young men, Israel’s Health Ministry said in a statement. The ministry says the team was set up following reports of cases of heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, among males aged 16 to 30 shortly after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine was administered. The link was found to be stronger in people aged 16-19 relative to other age groups, and weakens as the age of the recipients increases. Most patients who experienced the problem spent up to four days in the hospital, and 95% of the cases were classified as mild, according to the ministry.
The Health Ministry commissioned the study after 275 cases of myocarditis were reported in Israel between December 2020 and May 2021. Nearly 150 cases were recorded after the vaccine was administered. The number of cases reported after the second shot was four times greater than those recorded after the first, the ministry said. Myocarditis is a condition characterized by chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations, and can be caused by Covid-19, according to the ministry. While the type of vaccine in question is not directly mentioned in the statement, Israel relies almost exclusively on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and it’s the only product mentioned on the vaccination information page of the Health Ministry website.
Pfizer said in a statement cited by Reuters that it has not recorded a higher rate of myocarditis than would normally be expected in the general population. The pharma giant added that it was aware of the Israeli observations of myocarditis but has not established a causal link to its vaccine. The Israeli Health Ministry says that given the findings, it will review the 12-15-year-old population’s eligibility for the vaccine. The shot was recently approved in the EU for people aged 12 and older.
Power companies run by billionaire friends Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have chosen Wyoming to launch the first Natrium nuclear reactor project on the site of a retiring coal plant. TerraPower, founded by Gates about 15 years ago, and power company PacifiCorp, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that the exact site of the Natrium reactor demonstration plant was expected to be announced by the end of the year. Small advanced reactors, which run on different fuels to traditional reactors, are regarded by some as a critical carbon-free technology than can supplement intermittent power sources like wind and solar as states strive to cut emissions that cause climate change. “We think Natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” Gates told a media conference to launch the project in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“This is our fastest and clearest course to becoming carbon negative,” Wyoming’s governor, Mark Gordon, said. “Nuclear power is clearly a part of my all-of-the-above strategy for energy” in Wyoming, the country’s top coal-producing state. The project features a 345 megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor with molten salt-based energy storage that could boost the system’s power output to 500MW during peak power demand. TerraPower said last year that the plants would cost about $1bn. Late last year the US energy department awarded TerraPower $80m in initial funding to demonstrate Natrium technology, and the department has committed additional funding in coming years subject to congressional appropriations.
Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president and chief executive, said the demonstration plant would take about seven years to build. “We need this kind of clean energy on the grid in the 2030s,” he told reporters. Nuclear power experts have warned that advanced reactors could have higher risks than conventional ones. Fuel for many advanced reactors would have to be enriched at a much higher rate than conventional fuel, meaning the fuel supply chain could be an attractive target for militants looking to create a crude nuclear weapon, a recent report said. Levesque said that the plants would reduce proliferation risks because they reduce overall nuclear waste.
Low-orbit space planes have been named as a possible carrier of American nuclear warheads. While theoretically possible, at current technology levels such weapons would be significantly more trouble than they are worth.
According to the director-general of Russian arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey, Yan Novikov, the US has orbital bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Variants of the Boeing X-37 orbital test vehicle, launched in 2010 and officially used for scientific purposes, can theoretically carry up to six warheads, Novikov claimed during a virtual educational forum in Russia in May. In the words of Kyle Mizokami, who wrote an article on this for Popular Mechanics, “this isn’t even a good idea”.
While Mizokami’s take is titled “Don’t believe Russia”, and its main thrust is apparently that Mr. Novikov is hyping up the US orbital nukes threat to boost the sales of Almaz-Antey’s surface-to-space missiles, he does have some good points that explain why the dangers of orbital bombing are more than a little exaggerated. First off, putting nukes on an X-37 to then launch them from orbit will require extensive modification to the weapons, which will only allow two or, at best, three, to be taken on board – not nearly enough for an effective surprise attack. And to carry an element of surprise, it would have to approach Russia from a very specific direction to avoid the radars of early-warning systems – and even so, it won’t be able to hide from visual detection.
Aside from the lack of surprise, there is a long list of problems associated with space planes carrying nuclear payloads. “The idea of placing strategic nuclear weapons in low Earth orbit isn’t new. It emerged with the first successful launches of the Earth’s artificial satellites,” ex-chief of the General Staff of the Air Defense Forces, Honored Military Pilot, Colonel-General of Aviation Igor Maltsev says. According to him, for a number of reasons, space projects like this never went beyond concept or, at best, preliminary design. Why was that the case? Technically, the goal of putting these weapons in space is achievable, says Igor Maltsev. Anything can be launched to space. But when the idea is to create a strategic weapons system in orbit, there are a number of challenges that have, so far, prevented any significant progress along these lines.
The Department of Homeland Security on Friday issued a new warning bulletin, alerting Americans that domestic extremists may well use violence on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. This was at least the fourth such bulletin issued this year by Homeland Security (DHS) warning of the same danger and, thus far, none of the fears it is trying to instill into the American population has materialized. The first was a January 14 warning, from numerous federal agencies including DHS, about violence in Washington, DC and all fifty state capitols that was likely to explode in protest of Inauguration Day (a threat which did not materialize). Then came a January 27 bulletin warning of “a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks” from “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority” (that warning also was not realized).
Then there was a May 14 bulletin warning of right-wing violence “to attack higher-capacity targets,” exacerbated by the lifting of COVID lockdowns (which also never happened). And now we are treated to this new DHS warning about domestic extremists preparing violent attacks over Tulsa (it remains to be seen if a DHS fear is finally realized). Just like the first War on Terror, these threats are issued with virtually no specificity. They are just generalized warnings designed to put people in fear about their fellow citizens and to justify aggressive deployment of military and law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country. A CNN article which wildly hyped the latest danger bulletin about domestic extremists at Tulsa had to be edited with what the cable network, in an “update,” called “the additional information from the Department of Homeland Security that there is no specific or credible threats at this time.”
And the supposed dangers from domestic extremists on Inauguration Day was such a flop that even The Washington Post — one of the outlets most vocal about lurking national security dangers in general and this one in particular — had to explicitly acknowledge the failure: Thousands [of National Guard troops] had been deployed to capitals across the country late last week, ahead of a weekend in which potentially violent demonstrations were predicted by the FBI — but never materialized. Once again on Wednesday, security officials’ worst fears weren’t borne out: In some states, it was close to business as usual. In others, demonstrations were small and peaceful, with only occasional tense moments.
“The whole idea is to kill the bastards,” Gen. Thomas Power, commander of America’s nuclear forces from 1957 to 1963, once said about the use of atomic weapons. “At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.” The hold this nuclear lunacy had on the top of the U.S. government is terrifyingly illuminated in a top-secret study of U.S. war plans newly publicized by famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. The document, produced by the RAND Corporation and copied by Ellsberg at the same time he exfiltrated the Pentagon Papers from RAND, examines the U.S. response to the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis. The study’s contents were first reported on May 22 by the New York Times.
The crisis, now completely forgotten, began when China attempted to seize several small islands off its coast from Taiwan. The study shows American generals enthusiastically planning for the use of nuclear weapons against China. It is not simply that the officials looked with equanimity on the possibility of killing millions; rather, many seemed frustrated that there were any delays forced upon them by the rest of the government. If China had not changed course, civilization could have ended then and there. Ellsberg is now speaking out about the study, he said in a phone interview, for a straightforward reason: “I got scared.” The issues that led to the 1958 crisis between the U.S. and China have never been resolved; both countries are now ramping up confrontational rhetoric; and most importantly, the strategic rationale that led the U.S. to consider nuclear war then remains exactly the same today.
“You shouldn’t be confident that the current calculations are any less crazy,” Ellsberg said. His apprehension about the potential use of nuclear weapons is intimately linked to another of his key concerns: the Justice Department’s accelerating use of the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute leakers. Its chilling effect on potential whistleblowers makes it less and less likely that Americans will even know what their government is doing, much less be able to do anything about it. Ellsberg hopes his latest revelation will prompt a cultural and perhaps legal reckoning for the Act.
Global capitalists have turned back the clock to the early days of the Industrial Revolution. The working class is increasingly bereft of rights, blocked from forming unions, paid starvation wages, subject to wage theft, under constant surveillance, fired for minor infractions, exposed to dangerous carcinogens, forced to work overtime, given punishing quotas and abandoned when they are sick and old. Workers have become, here and abroad, disposable cogs to corporate oligarchs, who wallow in obscene personal wealth that dwarfs the worst excesses of the Robber Barons. In fashionable liberal circles there are, as Noam Chomsky notes, worthy and unworthy victims. Nancy Pelosi has called on global leaders not to attend the Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in Beijing in February, because of what she called a “genocide” being carried out by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority.
New York Times columnist Nick Kristof in a column rattled off a list of human rights violations overseen by China’s leader Xi Jinping, writing “[Xi] eviscerates Hong Kong freedoms, jails lawyers and journalists, seizes Canadian hostages, threatens Taiwan and, most horrifying, presides over crimes against humanity in the far western region of Xinjiang that is home to several Muslim minorities.” Not a word about the millions of workers in China who are treated little better than serfs. They live separated from their families, including their children, and housed in overcrowded company dormitories, which sees rent deducted from their paychecks, next to factories that have round-the-clock production, often making products for U.S. corporations. Workers are abused, underpaid and sickened from exposure to chemicals and toxins such as aluminum dust.
The suffering of the working class, within and outside the United States, is as ignored by our corporatized media as the suffering of the Palestinians. And yet, I would argue, it is one of the most important human rights issues of our era, since once workers are empowered, they can fend off other human rights violations. Unless workers can organize, here and in countries such as China, and achieve basic rights and living wages, it will cement into place a global serfdom that will leave workers trapped in the appalling conditions described by Friedrich Engels in his 1845 book “The Conditions of the Working Class in England” or Émile Zola‘s 1885 masterpiece “Germinal.”
China is trying to rein in the yuan as it surges to three-year highs against the U.S. dollar. A stronger yuan makes Chinese goods relatively more expensive to buyers overseas, and has spurred concerns about the competitiveness of Chinese exports — a major contributor to national economic growth. The Chinese yuan traded little changed against the U.S. dollar Thursday after the People’s Bank of China set the yuan’s daily midpoint at 6.3811 versus the greenback. That marked the second-straight day of weaker fixings, reversing six straight trading days of stronger fixings since May 24, according to data from Wind Information.
The PBOC has tried to allow the market to play a greater role in deter mining the yuan’s exchange rate. But the central bank retains some control through daily midpoint fixings against the dollar, allowing the yuan to move 2% higher or lower from that level. The weaker fix followed the central bank’s announcement late Monday that beginning June 15, financial institutions must increase the ratio of their foreign exchange deposits by 2 percentage points — to 7% from 5% currently. The hike forces banks to retain more of their foreign currency holdings, reducing the amount that could be used to influence foreign exchange rates.
It is the first such hike in 14 years since the previous change in May 2007 — before the financial crisis — economists pointed out. They estimate the move will reduce the amount of foreign currency available for long-term trading by $20 billion. Analysts said the exact dollar amount is less significant than the central bank’s message that the yuan will not move in a single direction of continued strengthening against the U.S. dollar.
The president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, has said the Games will go ahead as planned, soon after the Japan’s most senior medical adviser said holding the event under current coronavirus conditions was “not normal”. “We cannot postpone again,” Hashimoto said an interview published on Thursday in the Nikkan Sports newspaper. Shigeru Omi, head of a panel of experts that has been advising the Japanese government on its Covid-19 response since the start of the pandemic, issued his strongest warning yet of the potential risks of holding the Games. “It’s not normal to have the Olympics in a situation like this,” Omi told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, adding that organisers should explain to a sceptical public why it was pushing ahead with preparations.
Most Japanese people do not want Tokyo 2020 to be held this summer, according to recent opinion polls. Medical journals have questioned the wisdom of allowing 90,000 athletes, media, sponsors, officials and support staff to enter the country in July, while medical unions say the Games will place additional pressure on health services. The public broadcaster NHK reported that about 10,000 of the 80,000 volunteers who signed up to help during the Games have quit, but organisers said the lower numbers would not be “particularly problematic” since the decision had already been taken to ban spectators from overseas. “There’s no mistake that concerns over the coronavirus could have been a factor,” as well as scheduling conflicts due to last year’s postponement, the Nikkei business paper quoted Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto as saying.
[..] Tokyo and several other regions are under a state of emergency that is due to end on 20 June. While the rate of infections is falling in the capital, there is concern about the risks posed by new variants and Japan’s slow vaccine rollout. The vaccination programme has gathered pace in recent days, but only 2.7% of Japan’s 126 million population has been fully vaccinated. In an attempt to speed up the process with just 50 days to go before the opening ceremony, the government has said large companies and universities will be able to start inoculating staff and students from 21 June. Japan has avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other countries, but serious cases have risen during the latest outbreak. It has reported more than 750,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, and about 13,200 deaths, a relatively high number among Asian countries.
Michael Capuzzo, famous journalist and writer, started looking into ivermectin when his daughter fell ill with Covid. But even Capuzzo couldn’t get his paper published. It’s time to start talking about the untold number of deaths caused by the ban, by politics, media, medical field, social media, of mentioning anything related to ivermectin. This has gone too far.
When my daughter Grace, a vice president at a New York advertising agency, came down with COVID-19 recently, she was quarantined in a “COVID hotel” in Times Square with homeless people and quarantining travelers. The locks on her room door were removed. Nurses prowled the halls to keep her in her room and wake her up every night to check her vitals—not to treat her, because there is no approved treatment for COVID-19; only, if her oxygen plummeted, to move her to the hospital, where there is only a single effective approved treatment for COVID-19, steroids that may keep the lungs from failing.
Michael Capuzzo, a New York Times best-selling author , has just published an article titled “The Drug That Cracked Covid”. The 15-page article chronicles the gargantuan struggle being waged by frontline doctors on all continents to get ivermectin approved as a Covid-19 treatment, as well as the tireless efforts by reporters, media outlets and social media companies to thwart them. Because of ivermectin, Capuzzo says, there are “hundreds of thousands, actually millions, of people around the world, from Uttar Pradesh in India to Peru to Brazil, who are living and not dying.” Yet media outlets have done all they can to “debunk” the notion that ivermectin may serve as an effective, easily accessible and affordable treatment for Covid-19. They have parroted the arguments laid out by health regulators around the world that there just isn’t enough evidence to justify its use.
For his part, Capuzzo, as a reporter, “saw with [his] own eyes the other side [of the story]” that has gone unreported, of the many patients in the US whose lives have been saved by ivermectin and of five of the doctors that have led the battle to save lives around the world, Paul Marik, Umberto Meduri, José Iglesias, Pierre Kory and Joe Varon. These are all highly decorated doctors. Through their leadership of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance, they have already enhanced our treatment of Covid-19 by discovering and promoting the use of Corticoid steroids against the virus. But their calls for ivermectin to also be used have met with a wall of resistance from healthcare regulators and a wall of silence from media outlets.
“I really wish the world could see both sides,” Capuzzo laments. But unfortunately most reporters are not interested in telling the other side of the story. Even if they were, their publishers would probably refuse to publish it. That may explain why Capuzzo, a six-time Pulitzer-nominated journalist best known for his New York Times-bestselling nonfiction books Close to Shore and Murder Room, ended up publishing his article on ivermectin in Mountain Home, a monthly local magazine for the of the Pennsylvania mountains and New York Finger Lakes region, of which Capuzzo’s wife is the editor. It’s also the reason why I decided to dedicate today’s post to Capuzzo’s article. Put simply, as many people as possible –particularly journalists — need to read his story. As Capuzzo himself says, “I don’t know of a bigger story in the world.”
Marik had been keeping tabs on Ivermectin but hadn’t included it in his protocols. He knew the drug as a core medicine on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, and it is wellestablished in the literature as a “wonder drug” that won the 2015 Nobel Prize for its discoverer, Japanese microbiologist Satoshi Omura, for nearly eradicating two of the “most dis guring and devastating diseases” in history, river blindness and elephantiasis, that had plagued millions of people in Africa countries, one of the great achievements in the history of medicine. The drug was also well known as a standard treatment for scabies and lice, from nurseries to nursing homes. A veterinary version keeps millions of family dogs and cats, farm animals, and cattle safe from worms and parasitic diseases.
An over-the-counter medicine in France, Ivermectin is safer than Tylenol and “one of the safest drugs ever given to humanity,” Dr. Marik said, with “3.7 billion doses administered in forty years, that’s B for billion, and only extremely rare serious side e ects.” An earlier Australian study, reported in the journal Antiviral Research, showed that Ivermectin, which blocked other RNA viruses like Dengue virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, influenza, the Avian fu, and HIV1/AIDS in vitro, decimated the coronavirus in vitro, wiping out “essentially all viral material by 48 hours.” But more research was needed in human beings. But by October Marik’s concerns were answered. ¬e studies were well-designed university trials that showed amazing anti-COVID-19 activity at the normal doses used to treat parasites.
Though small and endlessly diverse by large, Western big pharma “one-size-fits all” random control trials, the Ivermectin studies were a mosaic of hundreds of scientists and many thousands of patients in trials all over the world, all showing the same remarkable efficacy against all phases of COVID-19 no matter what dose or age or severity of the patient. “Penicillin never was randomized,” Marik says. “It just obviously worked. Ivermectin obviously works.” Marik was astonished. “If you were to say, tell me the characteristics of a perfect drug to treat COVID-19, what would you ask for?” he said. “I think you would ask rstly for something that’s safe, that’s cheap, that’s readily available, and has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. People would say, “That’s ridiculous. There could not possibly be a drug that has all of those characteristics. That’s just unreasonable. But we do have such a drug. The drug is called Ivermectin.”
A news blackout by the world’s leading media came down on Ivermectin like an iron curtain. Reporters who trumpeted the COVID-19 terror in India and Brazil didn’t report that Ivermectin was crushing the P-1 variant in the Brazilian rain forest and killing COVID-19 and all variants in India. That Ivermectin was saving tens of thousands of lives in South America wasn’t news, but mocking the continent’s peasants for taking horse paste was. Journalists denied the world knowledge of the most effective life-saving therapies in the pandemic, Kory said, especially among the elderly, people of color, and the poor, while wringing their hands at the tragedy of their disparate rates of death.
Three days after Kory’s testimony, an Associated Press “fact-check reporter” interviewed Kory “for twenty minutes in which I recounted all of the existing trials evidence (over fifteen randomized and multiple observational trials) all showing dramatic benefits of Ivermectin,” he said. Then she wrote: “AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There’s no evidence Ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against COVID-19.” Like many critics, she didn’t explore the Ivermectin data or evidence in any detail, but merely dismissed its “insufficient evidence,” quoting instead the lack of a recommendation by the NIH or WHO. To describe the real evidence in any detail would put the AP and public health agencies in the difficult position of explaining how the lives of thousands of poor people in developing countries don’t count in these matters.
Not just in media but in social media, Ivermectin has inspired a strange new form of Western and pharmaceutical imperialism. On January 12, 2021, the Brazilian Ministry of Health tweeted to its 1.2 million followers not to wait with COVID-19 until it’s too late but “go to a Health Unit and request early treatment,” only to have Twitter take down the official public health pronouncement of the sovereign fifth largest nation in the world for “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.” (Early treatment is code for Ivermectin.) On January 31, the Slovak Ministry of Health announced its decision on Facebook to allow use of Ivermectin, causing Facebook to take down that post and removed the entire page it was on, the Ivermectin for MDs Team, with 10,200 members from more than 100 countries.
In Argentina, Professor and doctor Hector Carvallo, whose prophylactic studies are renowned by other researchers, says all his scientific documentation for Ivermectin is quickly scrubbed from the Internet. “I am afraid,” he wrote to Marik and his colleagues, “we have affected the most sensitive organ on humans: the wallet…” As Kory’s testimony was climbing toward nine million views, YouTube, owned by Google, erased his official Senate testimony, saying it endangered the community. Kory’s biggest voice was silenced.
A coronavirus drug developed by Therapeutica Borealis, a pharmaceutical firm in Turku, has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The nasal spray contains hydroxychloroquine, among other ingredients. Earlier in May, the company said it had received approval for a patent application, based on which it expected a final patent this month. “The final patent is an important milestone for us on our way to the market. Our next goal is to find an established pharmaceutical industry company with an international business scale,” says Professor Kalervo Väänänen, one of the three inventors and founders of Therapeutica Borealis, in a press release on Monday. Väänänen is a cell biologist and former rector of the University of Turku.
The co-inventors of the drug and co-founders of Therapeutica Borealis are Lauri Kangas, an adjunct professor of science at the University of Turku, and Matti Rihko, a psychologist, and board chair of the Turku Chamber of Commerce and of the University of Turku. He is also a former CEO of the Raisio food corporation, known for its cholesterol-lowering Benecol products. According to the company, the nasal spray acts on cell function in nasal mucous in three ways, impairing the ability of the virus to penetrate the body and multiply, thus reducing the risk of serious illness. [..] The firm said that the drug’s active ingredients – aprotinin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin – are well-known and widely used drugs, but in this product are used in a new, targeted manner on the upper respiratory mucous membrane.
All the drug molecules covered by the patent are approved for the treatment of other diseases, but if used systemically, for instance as pills or infusions swallowed by patients, the amounts of drugs would be high and potentially harmful. For topical use, as in a nasal spray, the concentrations of the active ingredients throughout the body remain very low but are sufficient locally to prevent the passage and replication of the virus, making the drug safer and more effective, says Therapeutica Borealis.
Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while. The findings, published May 24 in the journal Nature, suggest that mild cases of COVID-19 leave those infected with lasting antibody protection and that repeated bouts of illness are likely to be uncommon. “Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said senior author Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology & immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology.
“But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau. Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.” During a viral infection, antibody-producing immune cells rapidly multiply and circulate in the blood, driving antibody levels sky-high. Once the infection is resolved, most such cells die off, and blood antibody levels drop. A small population of antibody-producing cells, called long-lived plasma cells, migrate to the bone marrow and settle in, where they continually secrete low levels of antibodies into the bloodstream to help guard against another encounter with the virus. The key to figuring out whether COVID-19 leads to long-lasting antibody protection, Ellebedy realized, lies in the bone marrow.
Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly lied and should be fired. Paul said on Just the News’ “Water Cooler” show that Fauci lied to Congress when he said the National Institutes of Health did not fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “He oughta be immediately fired,” said Paul, who has repeatedly clashed with Fauci over numerous COVID-19 issues. “He’s been lying to us since the very beginning. He first said no masks work, which wasn’t true. Then he said all masks work and that wasn’t true either. The N95 masks work, the rest of them don’t. But he’s been dishonest from the very beginning.” The Kentucky Republican Paul also said Fauci has lied “so-called with good intentions, noble lies, but he has been dishonest and he should be dismissed.”
I have just returned from a visit to my family in India. It was hard to escape. To get to the US from India, I needed a COVID test. The Indian government has seriously restricted who can provide COVID testing, treatment, and vaccination. Private doctors and hospitals that are not approved face brutal legal consequences if they provide COVID treatment. Emergency powers were centralized early last year in the hands of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He gave himself direct control over the bureaucrats of the states, making local governments largely impotent and dependent on him. In their supreme wisdom, government bureaucrats concluded that because the prefix “COVID-” exists in treatment, vaccination, and testing, they must all be performed at the same place.
For my test, I sat in a petri dish of COVID, with those coming out positive sitting right next to me. Desperate, vulnerable old people, who merely wanted to get their jabs, sat among us. Those who were sick for reasons other than COVID were among us too, for the government has required everyone who is sick to be tested for COVID first . A microcosm of how everything is done in India, the tests were given haphazardly, with samples getting mixed up, nurses spending most of their time fighting among themselves, and — lacking a lineup system — people crowded together, pushing and breathing into the mouths of one another. A few days earlier, the government had given notice of the rate of tests and further restricted where they could be performed.
A bribe-taking system would have been my preference to bypass government restrictions, but no such system has evolved yet. Nevertheless, corruption has exploded, and self-centeredness, apathy, a dog-eat-dog environment has come to the surface. You see this everywhere; the scavengers are out in full force. I went to a private COVID hospital. The situation in government hospitals is far worse, beyond my capacity to cope with it. Yet the story of COVID in India is hardly about COVID as such, which is nothing more than a trigger. More than twice as many people died of fairly easily treatable tuberculosis in 2020 than of COVID. Instead, this is a story of foolish rulers, completely hollowed out institutions, and a pathetically irrational and tribal society.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) believes that intelligence on COVID-19 originating from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is forthcoming, and will be revealed by force of legislation if it is not released otherwise. Braun told the “John Solomon Reports” podcast about the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2021 that he introduced with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.): “Something was afoot even a week to two weeks ago — we were just a little ahead of the game when we rolled that out — where I think we’re going to hear more information. “When you got somebody like Dr. Fauci that moves goalposts from one end zone to the other and then back again, and wherever it needs to kind of plop down, when you hear the head of the WHO, when you hear the Biden administration now saying that there needs to be an investigation — of course, they’re still saying WHO needs to do it itself.
“That’s like the fox in the henhouse metaphor. So something is happening. And that’s why, with our bill out there, it’s now very pertinent.” Braun is confident the truth will soon emerge. “I think we’re gonna get to the bottom of it,” he said. “It’s just a question of, will we need a bill to do it? I don’t even think we’re going to need that because I think there’s going to be stuff coming forward that might flush it out without having to force it legislatively. If not, we’re prepared to roll up the support. Sadly, we probably won’t get one Democrat on it, though.” Braun was asked where Congress could get information on COVID and Wuhan. “How about in our own DHS?” he replied. “How about in our own Director of National Intelligence? That’s the essence of declassifying this stuff. And when you’ve got such a political posture that has dominated the dynamic, we just need that — we need the Freedom of Information Act, in essence, to release all this stuff that’s been classified.”
Memories can be tricky. I have long been haunted by the inflation of the 1970s. Fifty years ago, when I had just started my career as a professional economist at the Federal Reserve, I was witness to the birth of the Great Inflation as a Fed insider. That left me with the recurring nightmares of a financial post-traumatic stress disorder. The bad dreams are back.
They center on the Fed’s legendary chairman at the time, Arthur F. Burns, who brought a unique perspective to the US central bank as an expert on the business cycle. In 1946, he co-authored the definitive treatise on the seemingly rhythmic ups and downs of the US economy back to the mid-nineteenth century. Working for him was intimidating, especially for someone in my position. I had been tasked with formal weekly briefings on the very subjects Burns knew best. He used that knowledge to poke holes in staff presentations. I found quickly that you couldn’t tell him anything.
Yet Burns, who ruled the Fed with an iron fist, lacked an analytical framework to assess the interplay between the real economy and inflation, and how that relationship was connected to monetary policy. As a data junkie, he was prone to segment the problems he faced as a policymaker, especially the emergence of what would soon become the Great Inflation. Like business cycles, he believed price trends were heavily influenced by idiosyncratic, or exogenous, factors – “noise” that had nothing to do with monetary policy.
This was a blunder of epic proportions. When US oil prices quadrupled following the OPEC oil embargo in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Burns argued that, since this had nothing to do with monetary policy, the Fed should exclude oil and energy-related products (such as home heating oil and electricity) from the consumer price index. The staff protested, arguing that it made no sense to ignore such important items, especially because they had a weight of over 11% in the CPI. Burns was adamant: If we on the staff wouldn’t perform the calculation, he would have it done by “someone in New York” – an allusion to his prior affiliations at Columbia University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Then came surging food prices, which Burns surmised in 1973 were traceable to unusual weather – specifically, an El Niño event that had decimated Peruvian anchovies in 1972. He insisted that this was the source of rising fertilizer and feedstock prices, in turn driving up beef, poultry, and pork prices. Like good soldiers, we gulped and followed his order to take food – which had a weight of 25% – out of the CPI.
We didn’t know it at the time, but we had just created the first version of what is now fondly known as the core inflation rate – that purified portion of the CPI that purportedly is free of the volatile “special factors” of food and energy, where gyrations were traceable to distant wars and weather. Burns was pleased. Monetary policy needed to focus on more stable underlying inflation trends, he argued, and we had provided him with the perfect tool to sharpen his focus.
As Capitol Hill lawmakers continue to insist that initiatives like Medicare for All are too expensive, a new congressional report shows that the United States government is on a path to spend more than a half-trillion dollars on nuclear weapons in just the next decade. The report emerges at the same time a separate analysis shows that a handful of top executives at defense contractors are being wildly enriched by a Pentagon spending spree. The first report from the Congressional Budget Office finds that the federal government is on track to spend $634 billion over the next decade to maintain its nuclear forces, according to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Almost two-thirds of those costs are for the Department of Defense, mostly to maintain ballistic missile submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles. About one-third is for the Department of Energy.
For comparison that is: • 1.5 times the cost of all of the $1,400 stimulus checks that were sent to people through the American Rescue Plan earlier this year • Nearly 14 times the $47 billion that Congress has spent so far this year helping Americans who are behind on rent. • Over one-third of the cost of cancelling the $1.7 trillion in student debt held by Americans, most of which is never going to be repaid. • More than 7 times the estimated $81 billion of outstanding medical debt in America, as of 2018. The new CBO estimate represents a 28-percent increase over the last 10-year estimate that the CBO made on U.S. nuclear forces two years ago.
The figures were released just a few weeks after a new analysis from the Center for International Policy, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, found that “In 2020 alone, the CEOs of the [Pentagon’s] top five contractors received a total of $105.4 million in compensation.” When accounting for all top corporate officials, these firms paid out more than a quarter billion dollars of total executive compensation in 2020 — and paid out more than $1 billion over the last four years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
The EU has threatened to block exports of coronavirus vaccines to countries outside the bloc such as Britain, after AstraZeneca was accused of failing to give a satisfactory explanation for a huge shortfall of promised doses to member states. The pharmaceutical company’s new distribution plans were said to be “unacceptable” after it “surprisingly” informed the European commission on Friday that there would be significant shortfalls on the original schedule. The EU has been due to receive 100m doses in the first quarter of this year. But it is feared that the bloc will only receive half of that despite making large advance purchases ahead of authorisation of the vaccine by the European medicines agency.
In a heated call with AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, on Monday, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the company must live up to its contractual obligations. The EMA is expected to authorise the vaccine by the end of this week. Von der Leyen’s spokesperson said: “She made it clear that she expects AstraZeneca to deliver on the contractual arrangements foreseen in the advance purchasing agreement. “She reminded Mr Soriot that the EU has invested significant amounts in the company up front precisely to ensure that production is ramped up even before the conditional market authorisation is delivered by the European Medicines Agency. “Of course, production issues can appear with the complex vaccine, but we expect the company to find solutions and to exploit all possible flexibilities to deliver swiftly.”
The EU’s health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, made a televised statement to express her frustration at the company’s behaviour, warning that the answers so far provided had not been satisfactory. Late on Monday evening following discussions with executives representing the pharmaceutical company, Kyriakides tweeted: “Discussions with AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations. “EU member states are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold. “With our member states, we have requested from [Astrazeneca] a detailed planning of vaccine deliveries and when distribution will take place to member states. Another meeting will be convened on Wednesday to discuss the matter further.”
The economic blow from Covid-19 has cost workers around the world $3.7tn (£2.7tn) in lost earnings, after the pandemic wiped out four times the number of working hours lost in the 2008 financial crisis, according to the UN’s labour body. The International Labour Organization (ILO) said women and younger workers had borne the brunt of job losses and reductions in hours, and warned that people in sectors hardest-hit by the crisis – such as hospitality and retail – risked being left behind when the economy recovers. Sounding the alarm that entrenched levels of inequality risked becoming a defining feature of the economic rebound from Covid-19, the Geneva-based agency said that governments around the world needed to take urgent action to support those at the heart of the storm.
In its annual analysis of the global jobs market, it said 8.8% of working hours were lost in 2020 relative to the end of 2019, equivalent to 255m full-time jobs. This is approximately four times bigger than the damage suffered by workers as a consequence of the 2008-9 financial crisis. These “massive losses” resulted in an 8.3% decline in global labour income, before government support measures are included, according to the ILO, equivalent to $3.7tn in earnings – about 4.4% of global GDP. Women have been more affected than men by the disruption to the jobs market, with female workers more likely to drop out of work altogether and stop looking for a new job. Younger workers have also been particularly hard hit, either losing jobs, dropping out of the labour force or delaying the search for a first job.
The ILO said there were some encouraging signs of recovery at the start of 2021 as the Covid-19 vaccine is gradually deployed around the world. However, it still estimated the continuing economic fallout would lead to a 3% loss of working hours globally in 2021 compared with the end of 2019, equivalent to 90m full-time jobs. In a pessimistic scenario, which assumes slow progress on vaccination, working hours would fall by 4.6% this year, while on an optimistic path the world economy would still lose 1.3% of working hours.
The House delivered its single impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, setting the stage for a February 8 trial. Just three Senate Republicans were present during the formal delivery of the article; Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney and Roger Marshall. Senators will get sworn in as jurors on Tuesday, according to a previous statement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), while both the impeachment managers who will argue the House Democrats’ case, and Trump’s defense team, will have time to draft and file legal briefs, according to CNBC. “The managers, headed by lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., carried the article across the Capitol to the Senate on Monday in masked pairs as part of a formal procession. As Raskin read the charge against Trump, a smattering of senators wearing face coverings looked on from within the chamber.” -CNBC
Ironically, Trump – the only president to be impeached twice by the House – is unlikely to be convicted according to none other than President Biden, who told CNN he believed the outcome would be different if Trump had six months left in office – but that he doubts the required 17 GOP senators will vote to convict. Which begs the question if the entire exercise is moot, then why do it as it will only further polarize the already deeply divided US society and certainly not help the “unity” that Biden is allegedly striving to achieve. Trump was charged by the House with incitement of insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 by, as House Democrats claim, ‘falsely claiming that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 election,’ and then encouraging his supporters to show up and challenge the electoral college count.
According to the article, Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” and “thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump “has to happen”, Joe Biden told CNN on Monday. While acknowledging the effect it could have on his agenda, the president said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen”. Biden said he didn’t think enough Republican senators would vote for impeachment to convict, though he also said the outcome might well have been different if Trump had had six months left in his term. “The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Biden said. The US House on Monday delivered its article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for Trump’s second impeachment trial and the first ever Senate trial of a former US president.
Trump has been charged with inciting the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, when an assault by a violent pro-Trump mob lead to the deaths of five people. Monday’s delivery and formal reading of the charge marks the opening of the trial, although arguments are set to start the week of 8 February. Republicans and Democrats last week agreed to a two-week delay to the start of the proceedings to allow both sides to prepare arguments and give senators a fortnight to negotiate vital legislation to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and consider Biden’s cabinet appointments. Following Trump’s impeachment in the House on 13 January, Biden had said he hoped senators would “deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation”.
Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy is presiding over the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Trump in the Democratic-led Senate, the lawmakers announced in a statement on Monday. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the first impeachment trial against Trump, which centered on his phone conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, in which he brought up Hunter Biden’s work with a Ukrainian gas company while his father, Joe Biden, was U.S. vice president. Leahy, the new Senate president pro tempore, voted in favor of convicting Trump on both articles of impeachment during the first trial against Trump in February 2020. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents. When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement on Monday. “It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.” Leahy also said he considers holding the president pro tempore position “one of the highest honors and most serious responsibilities” of his political career. “When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws,” he said.
The Democrats appear intent on instituting one-party rule in the United States. They’re trying to use the U.S. Capitol riots as an excuse to criminalize dissent and banish conservative voices from the public sphere, and at the same time they’re hoping to use their temporary, razor-thin majority in Congress to rewrite the rules governing our elections in a way designed to keep the Democratic Party entrenched in power for decades to come. In the House, Democrats have revived sweeping election reform legislation that died in the Senate during the previous session, perhaps hoping they can browbeat enough Republicans into going along with them. If that happens, the “Grand Old Party” of Abraham Lincoln might as well disband, because Republicans would never have any hope of regaining a congressional majority or controlling the White House under the rules that HR 1 would put in place.
Although the Constitution explicitly places state legislatures in charge of managing federal elections, HR 1 seeks to use the power of the purse to bludgeon the states into conforming to a centralized system pioneered in California and other deep-blue states. Congress can’t technically compel the states to change their voting laws, but seasoned politicians know that the states have become dependent on federal money to run their elections, and can’t afford to pick up the tab themselves. To make matters worse, HR 1 declares that Congress possesses “ultimate supervisory power over Federal elections” — an extraordinary usurpation of governmental authority that the Founders specifically assigned to the states. The 2020 election witnessed private interests dictating the manner in which the election was conducted in the nation’s urban cores.
Mark Zuckerberg alone poured $419 million into this scheme. The goal of centralizing power in the hands of the federal government has long been at the heart of liberal politics, and this legislation demonstrates why. HR 1 would codify the very practices — many of them currently illegal in most states — that created widespread irregularities in the 2020 elections and contributed greatly to public mistrust of the electoral process. In 2020, state and local officials used the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to ignore or deliberately violate state election laws. If HR 1 is enacted, they won’t need any such excuse in 2022 because the states will have no choice but to implement policies such as legalized ballot harvesting, early voting, and universal mail-in voting, as well as repeal of voter ID laws, signature-matching laws, and other ballot security measures.
A hypothetical “Patriot Party” led by former President Donald Trump would win the support of almost a quarter — 23% — of the electorate, bumping the GOP down to third place with just 17%, according to a new Just the News poll with Scott Rasmussen. The startling survey result comes amid reports that Senate Republican support for convicting Trump in an impeachment trial is fast eroding. A Trump third party could provoke a pivotal realignment in American politics. With the support of 46% of registered voters in the new poll, Democrats would reap the benefits of a fractured opposition and entrench themselves as the nation’s dominant party — even without majority support.
Among “very conservative” voters — who make up a disproportionately large bloc within the Republican primary electorate — a Trump Patriot Party crushes the GOP 55%-24%. Should Trump remain in the GOP, his wide lead among these highly motivated voters affords him great leverage to influence the direction of the party by wielding the threat of conservative primary challenges against establishment Republicans ill at ease with the former president’s combative brew of conservatism infused with populism and nationalism. Despite Trump’s outperformance in 2020 of recent GOP presidential candidates among minorities, African-American and Hispanic voters effectively split evenly between the GOP and a Patriot Party in the the new poll.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will not back the elimination of the filibuster. “I do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition. It’s not who I am,” West Virginia’s Manchin said on Monday, according to The Hill. “If I haven’t said it very plain, maybe Sen. McConnell hasn’t understood, I want to basically say it for you. That I will not vote in this Congress, that’s two years, right? I will not vote” to alter the filibuster, the senator said in an interview on Monday, according to Politico. Sinema of Arizona is also unwilling to support nixing the filibuster. According to the Washington Post, a Sinema spokesperson said that the lawmaker is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.” “The Senate filibuster has evolved over the course of its history into a de facto supermajority requirement, necessitating 60 votes to end debate and advance legislation,” according to the Post.
The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary on Monday. Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary, a Cabinet position that will be crucial in helping steer the country out of the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Yellen previously served as the first female chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton and the first female chair of the Federal Reserve under President Obama. Her confirmation as Treasury secretary makes her the first person to have held all three economic power positions in the federal government. Yellen told senators during her confirmation hearings that her immediate focus would be pandemic relief. With her confirmation, she can immediately start negotiating and working with Congress to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.
“The damage has been sweeping, and as the President-elect said last Thursday, our response must be, too,” Yellen said last week. Yellen also endorsed Biden’s tax reform plan in her testimony, but she said the administration’s top legislative priority would be economic stimulus, with infrastructure not too far behind. “The focus right now is on providing relief and on helping families keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and not on raising taxes.” “Neither the president-elect nor I propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”
In a significant attempt to overhaul how it moderates content, Twitter on Monday unveiled Birdwatch, a pilot program to crowdsource fact-checks to combat misinformation. Birdwatch will allow regular users, called “Birdwatchers,” to identify tweets they think have misinformation and write notes with more information and context, which is similar to Wikipedia, where registered volunteers write, update and edit articles for accuracy. Anyone can apply to be a Birdwatcher, and the only requirements are a valid phone number, email and no recent violations of Twitter’s rules. Birdwatch notes will appear beneath a tweet, and in an effort to prevent people from gaming the system, Birdwatchers will be able to rate the effectiveness of each note, impacting the note’s ranking.
The program is currently a pilot, and is only available via a separate website, but eventually the company wants to expand Birdwatch to the rest of Twitter. During the pilot, Twitter said it wants to focus on making Birdwatch “resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure “it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.” “We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors,” Twitter Vice President Keith Coleman said in a blog post.
Twitter has long been under pressure to prevent misinformation from spreading on its platform. But it wasn’t until this year that the company took more aggressive action. Twitter fact-checked tweets from former president Donald Trump and other politicians about Covid-19, mail-in voting and the election results. Those labels linked to news organizations or other institutions offering credible information. The social network eventually banned Trump entirely, citing tweets that could incite more violence following the Capitol riot. The intention of Birdwatch, though, is to expand those efforts beyond “circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention,” Coleman said.
A former CIA software engineer charged with leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks says it’s cruel and unusual punishment that he’s awaiting trial in solitary confinement, housed in a vermin-infested cell of a jail unit where inmates are treated like “caged animals ” Joshua Schulte, 32, has asked a Manhattan federal judge to force the federal Bureau of Prisons to improve conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he has been held for over two years under highly restrictive conditions usually reserved for terrorism defendants. In court papers Tuesday, Schulte maintained he is held in conditions “below that of impoverished persons living in third world countries.” “It is barbaric and inhumane to lock human beings into boxes for years and years — it is a punishment worse than death,” the court filing said.
Last year, a jury deadlocked on espionage charges alleging that Schulte stole a massive trove of the agency’s hacking tools and gave it to the organization that publishes news leaks. He was convicted of lesser charges of contempt of court and making false statements. He is scheduled for another trial on espionage charges in June in what was said to be the largest leak in CIA history involving classified information. Afterward, he faces a separate trial on child pornography charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. In his 20s, Schulte, originally from Lubbock, Texas, worked as a coder at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where digital sleuths design computer code to spy on foreign adversaries.
The so-called Vault 7 leak published in March 2017 by WikiLeaks revealed how the CIA hacked Apple and Android smartphones in overseas spying operations and efforts to turn internet-connected televisions into listening devices. After a yearlong probe, investigators blamed Schulte, who had already left the agency after falling out with colleagues and supervisors and moved to New York City to work at a news agency. At trial, a prosecutor called the leaks “devastating to national security.” A defense lawyer said the materials could have been accessed and stolen by hundreds of people. Juror Alexis Anthony said she never thought the evidence was strong enough to convict Schulte of espionage-related charges.
According to the court papers, Schulte has been in solitary confinement and not been outdoors in over two years under special administrative measures designed to severely restrict an inmate’s communications and interactions with others. Prosecutors say the measures are necessary after Schulte tried to leak even more classified information using a contraband cellphone that had been smuggled into the jail. They said he declared an “information war” and was “prepared to burn down the United States government.” Schulte’s filthy cell, the size of a parking space, is infested with rodents, rodent droppings, cockroaches and mold and there is no heating, air conditioning or functioning plumbing, the court papers said, while sunlight is blocked by a blacked out window. Television access is permitted for one hour per week.
Leon Black, the billionaire co-founder of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, will be stepping down from his role as CEO of the $433 billion in assets firm. Black, who will remain as chairman, will be replaced by co-founder Marc Rowan by mid-year. The announcement of changed leadership came on Monday evening as Apollo released findings of an investigation directed by its board of directors into Black’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier who was criminally charged with human trafficking in 2019. Apollo said its investigation, conducted by law firm Dechert, found “no evidence that Mr. Black was involved in any way with Mr. Epstein’s criminal activities at any time.”
However, the report did show that Black paid Epstein a stunning $158 million in fees for services, loaned him over $30 million in loans and made a $10 million donation to Epstein’s charity, all figures that are multiples of what was previously reported. While the changing of guard atop one of the world’s largest private equity firms was characterized as part of its succession planning—Black is turning 70 this year and has been one of Wall Street’s most feared dealmakers for decades—it is also a maneuver by Apollo to move past well over a year of Epstein-related questions, which have slowed the firm’s growth, sunk its stock at times, and been a troubling mystery for its investors.
Black is the most prominent Wall Street A-lister connected to Epstein, a disgraced financier who was convicted and jailed for sex trafficking charges in 2008. After a Miami Herald investigation into Epstein in 2018, it was revealed that his trafficking operation was far greater than the public had known due to a sweetheart deal he cut with Florida prosecutors. The Herald found Epstein’s alleged trafficking was international and included numerous victims who came forward with allegations. The investigation, which won reporter Julia K. Brown a Pulitzer prize, caused prosecutors to reopen their investigations of Epstein, and exposed deep ties between Epstein, Wall Street power players like Black and well connected politicians and heads of state.
Growing food and getting it to markets is the most critical activity. Poor Bill Gates, addled by his fortune, has bought up something like a quarter-million acres of farmland. His grandiosity prompts him to believe he can organize farming on the super-giant scale — Walmart for corn and turnips. Nothing could be further from the real coming trend: a reduction of scale and scope of farming and of the distribution supply lines that serve it. Poor Bill doesn’t seem to realize that the oil-and-gas-based “inputs” (fertilizers, pesticides) won’t be there for him, nor will the million-dollar diesel-powered combines. Nor the trucking industry. He could do more good for mankind getting into the mule business. (He won’t. Lacks razzle-dazzle.)
The transition between the old giant agri-biz model of farming and the emergent system of small-scaled farms based on human and animal labor will be arduous and disorderly in the early going. A lot of people will miss a lot of meals, and you know what that means. Working on a farm will be one way to make sure you get enough to eat. But also consider all the businesses that have to be created from scratch on the local level to serve the logistics of farming. You are already seeing many food products unavailable in the supermarkets. That will become more distressingly obvious in the disorders of 2021. When food deliveries to the supermarkets get really spotty, the farmers’ markets will not just be for schmoozing over lattes and almond croissants.
For those perhaps not paying attention, Covid-19 has destroyed what remains of education, especially the public school system. It was already moribund, waiting to crash, reduced to a pension racket for teachers. Going forward, the money won’t be there to operate these giant centralized schools and their yellow buses (while paying out pensions). The virus has kick-started exactly the kind of home-schooling pod system (several families combining) that can be reorganized into small-scale schooling for people who want it. People who don’t want it can move into their future without knowing how to read or do arithmetic. We’ll finally get a good test of the noble savage hypothesis. As for the colleges and universities, their business models are toast. They’ll be downscaling and shuttering as far ahead as the eye can see. Whatever remains will be more like finishing schools for neo-medieval ladies and gentlemen — and, by the way, the distinction between men and women will be reestablished. Why? Because reality insists on it. There will be plenty of work for former professors of Intersectionality in the sorghum fields.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a “public meeting” last week on what it titled “Development of Guidance Documents To Support License Renewal For 100 Years Of Plant Operation.” Comments from the “public” were strongly opposed to the NRC’s desire for it to let nuclear power plants run for a century. “I request you pause and consider before you go ahead on this reckless path,” testified Michel Lee, chairman of the New York-based Council on Energy & Conservation Policy. “Our position and that of our constituents is a resounding no,” declared Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at the national organization Beyond Nuclear.
“It’s time to stop this whole nuke con job,” said Erica Grey, nuclear issues chair of the Virginia Sierra Club. There is “no solution” to dealing with nuclear waste, she said. It is “unethical to continue to make the most toxic waste known to mankind.” And, “renewable energy” with solar and wind “can power the world.” Jan Boudart, a board member of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, spoke, too, of the lack of consideration of nuclear waste. Cited was the higher likelihood of accidents with plants permitted to run for 100 years. Whether the NRC—often called the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission—listens is highly unlikely considering its record of rubberstamping whatever has been sought by other nuclear promoters in government and the nuclear industry.
Nuclear power plants when they began being built were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So operating licenses were limited to 40 years. But with the major decline of nuclear power—the U.S. is down to 94 plants from a high of 129 and only two are now under construction—the nuclear promoters in the U.S. government and nuclear industry are pushing to let nuclear power plants run for 100 years to somehow keep nuclear power going.
There are still far too many people out there with opinions derived from confirmation bias. Please stop it, open your minds. Whether it’s Soleimani or this downed jet, it’s fine if you need some time to figure things out. WWIII? Attacking Iran? These things would cost Trump the presidency. And he knows it.
Meanwhile, why are the US and Canada falling over themselves to declare the shooting down of the 737-800NG (if that’s even what happened) “unintentional” and “accidental”? That brings back memories of MH17. Where the opposite happened.
And why did Iran go from refusing to hand over black boxes, to inviting the US and others in, within 24 hours? Detente?
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted an invitation from Iran to take part in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian airplane in Tehran, the agency confirmed late on Thursday. The NTSB said in a statement its Response Operations Center had received formal notification from Iran of Wednesday’s crash of the Boeing 737-800 that killed all 176 on board. “The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash,” the agency said. The NTSB confirmed it would take part in the probe after an Iranian official told Reuters of the agreement. “The NTSB has replied to our chief investigator and has announced an accredited representative,” Farhad Parvaresh, Iran’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization, part of the United Nations, told Reuters.
A person briefed on the matter said it was unclear what if anything its representative would be able to do under U.S. sanctions. NTSB said in its statement it “continues to monitor the situation surrounding the crash and evaluate its level of participation in the investigation.” The United States is allowed to take part under global rules since the Boeing 737-800NG jet was designed and built there. Canada, which had dozens of passengers onboard, has also assigned an expert, while a team from Ukraine held discussions in Tehran on Thursday, Parvaresh said in a telephone interview. Iran is ready to provide consular facilities and visas for accredited investigators, he added.
Sweden and Afghanistan, which had some passengers on board, have also been notified. France may also be involved as it was one of the countries where the engines were made, Parvaresh said. He denied U.S. and Canadian claims that the jet had been shot down accidentally and said Iran was committed to a full and transparent investigation for the accident, adding it was too early to speculate on the cause. “As Iranians we feel this tragedy and disaster for us and for the families,” Parvaresh said, expressing condolences to the relatives of the people who died. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier the jet was probably brought down by an accidental Iranian missile strike, citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources.
The U.S. government believes Iran shot down the plane by mistake, three U.S. officials told Reuters. The Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq. Parvaresh said expert testimony indicated that the aircraft could not have been hit by a missile and that it was important to keep the crash investigation non-political. “I think we should keep this purely technical and not confuse it with political tensions in the region. We should leave it to experts to investigate and make their report.”
Canada said on Thursday that a surface-to-air missile brought down a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran, while the Ukrainian government said it was investigating reports of debris from a Russian-made Tor-M1 missile. The Tor, also called the SA-15 Gauntlet by NATO, is a short-range “point defense” system that integrates the missile launcher and radar into a single tracked vehicle. It is designed to be mobile and lethal against targets at altitudes up to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) and at ranges of 12 km (7.5 miles), according to the Federation of American Scientists, which researches and analyses “catastrophic threats to national and international security”.
Military aircraft and cruise missiles – which the Tor system is designed to destroy – typically plot their courses to avoid being spotted on radar. They are equipped with systems such as chaff, which confuses radar, and flares, which act as decoys for heat-seeking missiles. The jet that crashed on Wednesday, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, would have filed a flight plan and had no defensive features. It was unlikely the flight crew had time to react to any missile, said Michael Duitsman, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. “They probably wouldn’t have even seen it coming,” Duitsman said. “Right after takeoff, the pilots were probably preoccupied with other things.”
To attack a target, the Tor operator must identify it on the radar screen and direct the missile to launch. There were several other civilian aircraft nearby when Flight 752 crashed just a few kilometers from the airport. All of those aircraft would have been visible on the radar screen of the Tor battery as well as civilian radar at the airport. [..] Tor missiles are guided by radar and fly at almost three times the speed of sound. That means that if launched at a target 5 km (3 miles) away, they will arrive within about five seconds. They have a small warhead – about 15 kg (33 lb) of high explosive – but are designed to spray fragments of shredded metal, like bullets, into a target upon detonation.
Impeachment against Trump has now been used several times to push him to act aggressively in the middle-east, contrary to his policy and self-interest. On all the ‘impeachment threat – then strike’ occasions, Trump ordered strikes on predictable targets – targets so predictable and oddly executed, that Syrian and Iranian forces barely felt them. There appears to be at the very least an ‘unspoken communication’ at play, where strikes are made to assuage political needs but not to inflict serious damage. If Trump really wanted an excuse to strike Iran, he’s had it before.
There was precisely such an opportunity when subversives in government hatched a plan to push Trump into a war with Iran, when two planes were sent to violate Iranian airspace – one manned, the other unmanned – flying in close proximity. This created the chance that Iran’s downing of either plane could be used as a pretext for a major war-creating strike on Iran.
Despite Trump’s acting reasonably, government actors and media attempted to create a sensation where Trump was ridiculed for ‘calling off’ a planned retaliation in the aftermath of the downed drone. The same liberal media and Democratic Party establishment that attacked Trump’s de-escalation then from a hawkish perspective, today manifest as doves who suddenly oppose Trump’s reckless hawkishness. Here, in the aftermath of the drone incident, a Trump policy was formulated – and it’s a policy that figures prominently in de-escalation in the aftermath of the assassination of Soleimani and Iran’s measured response. The policy is this – if Iran kills Americans, then the U.S escalates. If the U.S does something provocative, then Iran is actually allowed to respond militarily, so long as American personnel are not killed.
[..] A war with Iran would push the anti-war sentiments of independent voters away from Trump, and towards a more revitalized and mobilized Democrat Party anti-war base. Trump needs an anti-war base to be re-elected, and war with Iran pushes that base towards nearly any Democrat candidate. At the same time, Trump also needs the continued support from America’s Christian Zionist evangelical ‘Israel Firsters’, as well as the infamous AIPAC, not only to be re-elected, but to maintain the support in the senate against impeachment. That conflict between Trump’s two greatest populist strengths – between Trump’s anti-war base and his Christian Zionist base – largely defines his weakest political spot. That’s why it’s the best place to attack him.
Scott Ritter on Twitter: “I’m a huge @TulsiGabbard fan, but she is treading on dangerous ground. The implication here is that Iran has nuclear weapons ambition. If you buy into this fallacy, you empower those who will use this as a justification for war.”
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard blasted President Donald Trump’s actions toward Iran, claiming that his decisions has brought the Persian Gulf nation closer “than ever before” to obtaining a nuclear weapon. “Trump’s war with Iran is undermining our national security and putting all Americans in greater danger,” Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman and Iraq War veteran, warned in a Thursday tweet, sharing a clip of herself discussing recent tensions with Iran on CNN. “Iran is closer now to a nuclear weapon than ever before. And it’s opening the door to resurgence of ISIS/Al-Qaeda,” she claimed.
Iran is believed to be closer today to possessing a nuclear weapon than it has been under the restrictions of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from in May 2018. Still, it appears to be an exaggeration to say the country is closer than “ever before” to obtaining such a weapon. The JCPOA successfully reduced Iran’s uranium enrichment program, with U.S. intelligence leaders saying last year it would take the Islamic Republic at “about one year” to create a nuclear weapon. Before that agreement, Iran was believed to be within two to three months of creating highly enriched uranium that could be used in a weapon, according to a July 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service.
[..] Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based security think tank, told CBS News that Iran could now develop a nuclear weapon within six months. She noted, however, that Iran has still expressed support for the JCPOA but plans to no longer abide by its obligations under the deal. Iran “is still allowing the verification by [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors,” she told CBS.
Iran could have nuclear weapons in one to two years if the country carries on violating the 2015 nuclear accord, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday. “If they continue with unravelling the Vienna agreement, then yes, within a fairly short period of time, between one and two years, they could have access to a nuclear weapon, which is not an option”, Le Drian said on RTL radio. EU foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to seek ways to guide the United States and Iran away from confrontation, knowing that a miscalculation on either side could leave the bloc facing a war and a serious nuclear proliferation crisis on its doorstep.
“I spoke to the president today,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL) said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “The president told me he is more antiwar than I am, and I love the president for that. The thing is, I think a few of the advisers of the president are trying to slow-walk the administration into war. When the president relies on his instincts and we have the Trump doctrine, we kill the terrorist and we come home.” “I think this War Powers Resolution was worthy of support because it did not criticize the president,” Gaetz said. “It did not say he was wrong in killing [Quds Force Gen.] Soleimani. But…it did say that if any president wants to drag our nation into another forever Middle East war that they require the approval of the United States Congress.”
“That’s something I deeply believe. And I think it’s something the president deeply believes,” Gaetz explained. Tucker Carlson questioned Gaetz’s claim that his vote had Trump’s support. “Just to be totally clear,” Tucker Carlson asked, “you are one of three Republicans who voted, in effect, against the president’s stated position but you just talked to the president and he said that he is on your side?” “Well, the president probably would have preferred that I vote with the other Republicans,” Gaetz responded. “He [Trump] certainly said that. I think on these broader questions of war and peace, Donald Trump understands that the pro-war candidate loses presidential elections … it’s typically the anti-war candidates that win.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he will press Republicans to accept four witnesses, including John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, even if the Senate rejects testimony at the start of the trial to determine whether Trump should be convicted of abusing his power and obstructing Congress over Ukraine. “Those votes at the beginning of the trial will not be the last votes on witnesses and documents. Make no mistake, we will continue to revisit the issue,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. Schumer, who needs only four of the 100-seat Senate’s 53 Republicans to join Democrats on the witness question, could succeed by pressuring vulnerable Republicans such as Senator Susan Collins and Senator Cory Gardner, who face re-election challenges in swing states in November.
Without witnesses, Democrats fear Senate Republicans could move quickly to dismiss the charges against Trump. But securing witnesses could also open a Pandora’s box for Democrats. Trump has said he would like to hear from former Vice President Joe Biden, his businessman son Hunter Biden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry. Trump also has said he might try to block Bolton from testifying. “When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say… We can’t do that,” he told reporters at the White House.
In the United States the criminal justice (sic) system is itself not subject to law. We see immunity to law continually as police commit felonies against citizens and even murder children and walk away free. We see it all the time when prosecutors conduct political prosecutions and when they prosecute the innocent in order to build their conviction record. We see it when judges fail to prevent prosecutors from withholding exculpatory evidence and bribing witnesses and when judges accept coerced plea deals that deprive the defendant of a jury trial.
We just saw it again when federal prosecutors recommended a six month prison sentence for Lt. Gen. Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency accused of lying to the FBI about nothing of any importance, for being uncooperative in the Justice (sic) Department’s effort to frame President Trump with false “Russiagate” charges. The Justice (sic) Department prosecutor said: “The sentence should adequately deter the defendant from violating the law, and to promote respect for the law. It is clear that the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions.”
That is precisely what the Justice (sic) Department itself did for years in their orchestration of the fake Russiagate charges against Trump. The prosecutor’s hypocrisy is overwhelming. The Justice (sic) Department is a criminal organization. It has no sense of justice. Convicting the innocent builds the conviction rate of the prosecutor as effectively as convicting the guilty. The Horowitz report of the Justice (sic) Department’s lies to the FISA court did not recommend a six-month prision sentence for those Justice (sic) Deplartment officials who lied to the government. Horowitz covered up the crimes by converting them into “mistakes.” Yes, they are embarrassing “mistakes,” but mistakes don’t bring prison sentences.
Now that we know the only Russiagate scandal was its orchestration by the CIA, Justice (sic) Department, and Democrats, failing to cooperate with the special counsel investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election is nonsensical as we know for a definite fact that there was no such interference. [..] This is how corrupt American law has become. A man is being put in prison for 6 months for not cooperating with an investigation of an event that did not happen! If Trump doesn’t pardon Flynn (and Manafort and Stone), and fire the corrupt prosecutors who falsely prosecuted Flynn, Trump deserves no one’s support. A president who will not defend his own people from unwarranted prosecution is not worthy of support.
Boeing on Thursday released hundreds of internal messages that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 Max that was grounded in March after two fatal crashes, prompting outrage from US lawmakers. In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the Max following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one unnamed employee wrote. In one message, dated November 2015, which appears to shed light on lobbying methods used when facing demands from regulators, a Boeing employee notes regulators were likely to want simulator training for a particular type of cockpit alert.
“We are going to push back very hard on this and will likely need support at the highest levels when it comes time for the final negotiation,” the employee writes. The planemaker said some communications “raise questions” about Boeing’s interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in connection with the simulator qualification process. In releasing redacted versions of what it called “completely unacceptable” communications, Boeing said it was committed to transparency with the regulator. Unredacted versions of the messages were turned over to the FAA and Congress in December.
Peter DeFazio, the House transportation committee chairman, who has been investigating the Max, said the messages “paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally”. He added: “they show a coordinated effort dating back to the earliest days of the 737 Max program to conceal critical information from regulators and the public”.
Newly released internal emails from Boeing Co. paint a disturbing picture of its 737 Max program, with employees bragging about fooling FAA regulators and ridiculing its safety. The emails were part of more than 100 pages of documents sent Thursday by Boeing to House and Senate committees that have been investigating the aircraft maker in the wake of two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a combined 346 people. The 737 Max family has been grounded for nearly a year, with no return date yet. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” read one email.
Some messages detail problems with the development of Boeing’s 737 Max simulator and suggest the planes got FAA approval under false pretences. “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees says in a 2018 email, apparently referring to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration. “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee emailed a colleague. “No,” the co-worker responded. “These newly-released emails are incredibly damning,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement Thursday night. “They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public.”
The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to speed permitting for major infrastructure projects like oil pipelines, road expansions and bridges, one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the president’s tenure. The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), would help the administration advance big energy and infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline or roads, bridges and federal buildings that President Donald Trump and industry groups complained have been hampered by red tape. “For the first time in over 40 years today we are issuing a new rule under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to completely overhaul the dysfunctional bureaucratic system that has created these massive obstructions,” Trump said at the White House on Thursday.
The proposal to update the how NEPA, the 50-year bedrock federal environmental law, is implemented is part of Trump’s broader effort to cut regulations and oversight to boost industry. “This proposal affects virtually every significant decision made by the federal government that affects the environment,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, adding that the NEPA reform would be the “most significant deregulatory proposal” of the Trump administration. The proposed rule says federal agencies would not need to factor in the “cumulative impacts” of a project, which could include its impact on climate change, making it easier for major fossil fuel projects to sail through the approval process and avoid legal challenges.
[..] Trump’s efforts to cut regulatory red tape have been praised by industry. But they have so far largely backfired by triggering waves of lawsuits that the administration has lost in court, according to a running tally here by the New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity. Over the last few years, federal courts have ruled that NEPA requires the federal government to consider a project’s carbon footprint in decisions related to leasing public lands for drilling or building pipelines.
China is poised to realize a dream that a few decades ago most experts would have dismissed as wishful thinking. For centuries, China dreamed of building a “moderately prosperous society” in all respects. And this year, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China will realize that dream despite having a population of more than 1.3 billion. Late leader Deng Xiaoping resurrected this ancient but never-realized goal when reform and opening-up were launched. Chinese leaders who followed adopted it, adding additional details. President Xi Jinping included it in his seminal “four-pronged comprehensive strategy” in 2014. Xi explained the notion in great detail at the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October 2017 in a speech titled, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects”, mentioning the concept 18 times.
He said that building a moderately prosperous society in all respects meant promoting social fairness and justice, as well as ensuring steady access to childcare, education, employment, medical service, elderly care, housing and social assistance. He pledged to “intensify poverty alleviation, see that all our people have a greater sense of fulfillment as they contribute to and gain from development, and continue to promote well-rounded human development and common prosperity for everyone.” Now, a little more than two years later, the results are in, and China is about to eradicate absolute poverty. In 1979, China’s per capita GDP was $200. It is now estimated to be $10,000, a 50-fold increase – with GDP growth averaging just shy of 10 percent a year.
Over the past four decades, China has lifted about 800 million people out of poverty, which is 70 percent of the global total. Little wonder China is set to become the first developing country to achieve the first of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: No poverty. China’s rural population living under the currently defined poverty line of $1.90 per person per day fell from 770 million in 1978 to 16.6 million in 2018, and the rural poverty level declined from 97.5 percent to 1.7 percent, a decrease of 95.8 percent. In 2019 alone, about 340 impoverished counties and 10 million people were lifted out of poverty. And Xi has pledged that after the eradication of absolutely poverty in 2020, China will launch a campaign to eliminate relative poverty.
China will “steadily and prudently” diversify its US$3.1 trillion foreign exchange reserve holdings, the government agency managing the assets pledged in its 2020 work plan, suggesting a subtle policy change in the way Beijing uses its hard currency holdings. The careful approach would “promote the diversified use … and ensure the safety, flow, and preservation and appreciation of foreign exchange reserve assets,” China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement published on Sunday, which summarised the results of its annual work conference last week. It is the first time that SAFE, headed by Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, has called for “prudence” in diversifying China’s reserve assets in its annual work conference statement.
The regulator also vowed to improve its management of reserves “with Chinese characteristics”, although it did not explain what that meant. SAFE added it would prevent risks caused by external shocks endangering “national economic and financial security” in 2020. China’s diversification strategy for its foreign exchange reserves – which generally indicates a reduction in holdings of US government bonds for other riskier assets – has gained speed in the past decade after the creation of a separate sovereign wealth fund in 2007. SAFE has created a special office of lending dollars to institutions like the China Development Bank to finance overseas projects and launched a number of overseas offices for investment.
In its 2018 annual report, SAFE revealed for the first time the share of US dollar denominated assets in its reserves portfolio for the period 2005 to 2014. Dollar assets accounted for 58 per cent of China’s total reserves by 2014 – the most recent data provided – down from 79 per cent in 2005, the report showed. By international standards, the share of US dollar assets in China’s reserves in 2014 was below average. The latest data from the International Monetary Fund showed that 61.8 per cent of the world’s reserves assets were denominated in US dollars at the end of the third quarter last year.
Two monetary-policy experts, contradicting former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, said they wanted the central bank to consider new “radical” approaches to fight the next recession, out of a concern that existing tools might not be as effective as they were in the last crisis. In a Sunday morning panel at the American Economic Association annual meeting, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the Fed’s QE program, in which the central bank would buy government bonds to bring down long-term rates, might not pack so much punch because the 10-year Treasury note is already close to 1%. “I’m less optimistic about the incremental efficacy of QE,” Summers said.
“I don’t think pushing 10-year rates down from 100 basis points to 50 basis points or 20 basis points has [a] significant incremental effect.” In a speech to the AEA on Saturday night, former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said he thought the Fed had to the tools, including QE, to successfully combat a severe downturn. Bernanke said he thought QE, and verbal guidance from the Fed, would be equivalent to a 300-basis-point easing of the central bank’s benchmark federal funds rate. Adam Posen, a former policy maker at the Bank of England, urged the Fed to consider “radical” approaches, including a new tool called “yield-curve control” to fight the next downturn.
The Bank of Japan has already been using yield-curve control since 2016 to fight deflation. “The BOJ has gotten it right. Yield-curve control is a success story,” Posen said. Under this policy, last used in the U.S. during World War II, the Fed would announce it intended to peg the 10-year Treasury rate at a specific low rate. Low rates would help spur activity. And with the Fed guaranteeing low rates, Congress could boost government spending. “It enables fiscal policy, it doesn’t judge it,” Posen said. It was used during World War II precisely because the government needed to boost fiscal spending.
A consistent point of view. The west makes sure nobody here believes it, but Iran has said the same thing for many years. It’s a religious issue. And just because we warp Christian values to allow for the inclusion of nukes, doesn’t mean they should do the same with the Islam.
Prohibited by the supreme leader’s decree, nuclear weapons are inconsistent with Iran’s defensive doctrine, the country’s UN envoy said after Tehran announced the suspension of limits under the 2015 deal. Iran’s decision to lift restrictions on uranium enrichment – after a US drone strike killed General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport – made headlines in Western media, with some speculating that the Islamic Republic could be seeking nuclear weapons. However, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, reassured the public that this is not the case – even though the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is now in jeopardy.
There is “no place for nuclear weapons in Iran’s defensive doctrine,” he told PBS Newshour, adding that the country is also abiding by the Non-Proliferation Treaty – a 1968 pact that aims for nuclear disarmament and sets standards for arms control. We are not interested in having a nuclear weapon, because we have a very clear, clear-cut religious edict by our supreme leader prohibiting nuclear weapons. Tehran has meticulously followed the provisions of the nuclear deal even, though it has received “almost nothing in return,” Takht-Ravanchi said. And while the European parties to the JCPOA (from which Tehran expected to receive benefits) “didn’t act in accordance with the deal,” Iran has chosen not to abandon it completely. “If Iran is given the benefits of the deal, we will go back to the full implementation of it,” the ambassador stated.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday U.S. lawmakers should wait for the facts before criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to kill top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week. “We can and we should learn more about the intelligence and thinking that led to this operation and the plan to defend American personnel and interests in the wake of it,” McConnell said at the U.S. Capitol after lawmakers returned from winter break. “Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts. Rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has the votes to quash Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer’s (N.Y.) demands to require additional witnesses testify at the start of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Two key moderate senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), on Monday evening backed McConnell’s position that the Senate should follow the precedent of the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and defer until later in the process the question of calling additional witnesses. Collins told reporters at Monday evening votes that the Senate should follow the 1999 precedent and consider the question of subpoenaing additional witnesses and documents only after House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present their opening arguments.
She noted in a statement Monday that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) adopted a resolution in 1999 to set out the rules for the proceeding that didn’t include any agreement for specific witnesses to testify. “The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton approach — worked well,” she said. Murkowski also urged colleagues to follow the path laid out during the Clinton trial. “I think we need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that,” she told reporters.
A whole new game. Maybe Bloomberg still has a shot. But really, the time between Super Tuesday and the elections should be used to form a united front. Not going to happen. Trump is the only thing that keeps the Dems together.
Democrats are now beginning to confront a very real scenario where the nomination — and the winnowing — will not be decided in states where campaigns have been plowing ground for more than a year, but in places and calendar dates so deep into primary season that until recently they’ve received almost no attention at all. The Iowa field is bunched together with little daylight between a handful of well-funded candidates. Each of the four early voting states continues to present the prospect of a different winner. And, at the end of that gauntlet on Super Tuesday, a free-spending billionaire — Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor — is waiting to challenge whichever candidate or candidates emerge.
It’s a unique set of circumstances that has the campaigns — and party officials — scrambling to make sense of the reconfigured landscape. Looking at the possibility of a still-contested nomination even after Super Tuesday’s massive delegate allocation on March 3, Washington state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski said mid-March will “probably matter more than ever before.” One strategist working with a presidential candidate said, “We’ve never had a situation where we get past Super Tuesday and there’s still five people in the field,” predicting that possibility this year. “We’re in bizarro world here,” the strategist said.
[..] “Super Tuesday is typically a wild scramble, and anybody who’s still surviving is usually limping a little bit in terms of money. They’re spread thin in terms of where to go,” said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist. “Campaigns can’t pay to have simultaneous overhead in all of the early states and all of the next round of states with quality people. So they put all of their best people in early states and then cut and paste them into the next states.” For later states, said Matt Bennett, a veteran of the 2004 presidential campaign and a co-founder of the center-left group Third Way, “The strategy is wait and pray. There is no other strategy … I just think you basically ignore it, and then they’ll frantically run around in those states for a week.”
China must end the construction of all new coal-fired power plants in order to meet long-term climate goals in the most economically feasible manner, according to a study co-authored by a government-backed research institute. China’s energy strategy over the next decade is under close scrutiny as it aims to bring climate warming carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 and fulfill a pledge made as part of the 2015 Paris agreement. But with economic growth at its slowest pace in nearly 30 years, Beijing has continued to approve new coal-fired plants, raising fears the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas is backtracking on its commitments.
Beijing is capable of phasing out coal to help meet a global target to keep temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, but only if it embarks on a “structured and sustainable” closure strategy to minimize the economic impact, according to the study by Chinese government researchers and the University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability published on Monday. The report, which evaluated more than 1,000 existing coal-fired power plants, said China must first end new construction and then rapidly close older and inefficient plants. As much as 112 gigawatts (GW) does not meet environmental standards and could be shut down immediately, it said.
China currently has over 1,000 GW of coal-fired power, accounting for about 60% of the country’s total installed generation capacity. “Well-designed policies can help lower the cost of coal-power deep decarbonization,” said Jiang Kejun, research professor with the Chinese government-backed Energy Research Institute, one of the report’s authors. [..] Beijing promised last year to show the “highest possible ambition” when drawing up new climate pledges for the coming decade, but it has built 42.9 GW of new coal-fired power capacity since the start of 2018, with another 121 GW under construction.
American Airlines said on Monday it had reached a confidential agreement with Boeing to address damages the airline incurred in 2019 due to the ongoing grounding of its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. American, the largest U.S. airline, said the compensation will be received over several years. The airline will use more than $30 million of the compensation for the airline’s 2019 employee profit-sharing program. American said it does not expect any material financial impact of the agreement to be realized in its fourth-quarter 2019 earnings and it will continue talks regarding compensation for damages related to the MAX grounding beyond 2019. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines’ 28,000 flight attendants, said it welcomed the news about compensation, and was evaluating the details.
Chelsea Clinton has reaped $9 million in compensation since 2011 for serving on the board of an internet investment company, according to Barron’s, the financial publication. Barron’s reported Sunday that Clinton has profited handsomely as a board member for IAC/InterActiveCorp, a media and internet investment company that has an ownership stake in 150 well-known brands, such as Vimeo, Tinder, Angie’s List and Home Advisor. Clinton, the only child of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has served on IAC’s board since 2011 and receives an annual $50,000 retainer and $250,000 worth of restricted IAC stock units, Barron’s reports.
She reported owning $8.95 million worth of IAC stock to the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of December. Barron’s notes that IAC’s stock has risen 89 percent, 50 percent and 36 percent in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, a far steeper rise than the broader stock market. Clinton’s public profile has proved a valuable commodity. She earned an annual salary of $600,000 working as a special correspondent for NBC News in 2013 and part of 2014. Clinton was named to the board of Expedia Group in March of 2017, a position that typically earned $250,000 in 2015, according to a report at the time by The Guardian. Both IAC and Expedia are controlled by Barry Diller, the business and television mogul, who is a friend of Hillary Clinton.
Officials will kill thousands of camels in Australia as they drink too much water amid the wildfires. Leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northwest Australia will send helicopters to kill up to 10,000 camels in a five-day campaign starting Wednesday, The Australian reported. The order to kill comes as a drought makes the camels more desperate for water, causing chaos in local communities. Marita Baker, an APY executive board member, told the newspaper that the camels were causing problems in her community of Kanypi. “We have been stuck in stinking hot and uncomfortable conditions, feeling unwell, because the camels are coming in and knocking down fences, getting in around the houses and trying to get to water through air conditioners,’’ she said.
The State Department for Environment and Water will send the helicopters up. The camels’ bodies will be burnt or buried if they are accessible, but in remote areas, their bodies will be left. The camels are also being removed due to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, since camels emit one ton of carbon dioxide per year. The animal’s population also doubles every nine years if not regulated. The National Feral Camel Management Plan estimated about one million camels lived in three states and the Northern territory in 2010, according to the newspaper. One million camels is the equivalent of having 400,000 more cars on the roads, Tim Moore, chief executive of carbon farming specialists RegenCo, told the newspaper.
Aboriginal cultural fire practitioner Dennis Barber led a series of cultural burns on six hectares of bushland at Ngurrumpaa in 2015 and 2016 – the first burns in the area since a wildfire swept through in 1994. “There’s nothing more powerful than doing it and feeling like you’re doing the right thing, and seeing the results,” he said. Unlike hazard reduction burning, cultural burns are cooler and slower moving, usually no taller than knee height, leaving tree canopies untouched and allowing animals to take refuge from the flames. Small fires are lit with matches, instead of drip torches, and burn in a circular pattern. Mr Barber says the ancient practice is informed by thousands of years of traditional knowledge.
“It’s more than just putting the fire on the ground – it’s actually knowing the country, knowing what’s there … the soil types, the geology, the trees, the animals, the breeding times of animals, the flowering times of plants,” he said. The timing and frequency of burns depend on the environmental “system”. A former park ranger with 15 years’ professional firefighting experience, Mr Barber says he had a “light bulb moment” at a cultural burning workshop with Indigenous elders in far north Queensland in 2010. “Everything that I’d been doing as a professional firefighter, thinking that I was doing the right thing, was wrong, because I viewed fire in the landscape totally differently after that week,” he said.
“That’s where I got the bug to come back and actually spread that knowledge and see it happening in other parts of Australia.” The Wiradjuri man started Koori Country Firesticks in 2016 to promote cultural burning as an alternative to hazard reduction techniques in NSW. The organisation has culturally burnt around 50 hectares of land across the Hunter Valley and Sydney, mainly on private properties at the request of owners. But the 55-year-old has met plenty of resistance from governments, professional firefighters, national parks and even ecologists. “It’s been a little bit frustrating, but I’ve just decided I’m not going to let that stand in the way anymore,” he said.
Scientists have discovered a new form of brain activity related to how cells process information. The incredible find suggests our brains might be even more powerful than previously thought, according to the team. The new research, conducted by German and Greek scientists and published in Science, centers on signals sent and received by the ends of neurons, known as ‘dendrites.’ The information passed by these parts of the brain is key to how the organ decides subsequent actions. Working with slices of human brain tissue, the team found unexpectedly complex electrical activity in the dendrites of human pyramidal neurons.
Modeling this activity then showed that single neurons were capable of solving computational problems which were thought to need a lot more brain power. “The dendrites are central to understanding the brain because they are at the core of what determines the computational power of single neurons,”said study co-author Matthew Larkum, a neuroscientist at Humboldt University of Berlin. “There was a ‘eureka’ moment when we saw the dendritic action potentials for the first time.” Little is currently known about how dendrites operate in other species, or if this kind of high-computational activity is uniquely human. However, it’s incredibly difficult to record dendrite activity in humans or animals while they’re alive, and Larkum says more research is needed to fill in these blanks.
It’s been a long time since I wrote anything at all about nuclear energy. And even then I thought the whole discussion had been wrapped up and thrown away. But I guess it’s inevitable that as the climate change debate develops, there’d be parties seeking to revive the nukes ‘discussion’, because there’s so much potential profit in there. And then today I came upon this report, and a few interpretations of it, that set me off again, and brought back the whole Yucca Mountain issue to mind.
Please note that in all that follows, there is ONE very obvious notion to keep in mind: nuclear energy is a huge economic loss-maker, no matter how and where you look.
And that makes nukes, right from the get-go, completely unfit to replace anything fossil-fuel based, because coal and oil and gas are sources that do the opposite: they generate huge profits while nukes generate huge losses, i.e.: you can’t run your economy on nuclear. You can not run an economy on any energy source that generates economic losses. It does NOT get simpler than that. It’s the economics of energy, and for once economics are right (though not economists, name me one who understands this. Hi, Steve!).
Mind you, you can’t run our present complex economies and societies on renewables either, no more than you can run them on nuclear. Much simpler economies, sure, but then you will have to figure out how you’re going to pay for that. It’s hard to comprehend to which extent fossil fuels have shaped our world, but we have no choice but to try, because this is one thing you don’t want to get wrong.
The report comes from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), which studied 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951. Their own abstract says the following:
The debate on effective climate protection is heating up in Germany and the rest of the world. Nuclear energy is being touted as “clean” energy. Given the circumstances, the present study analyzed the historical, current, and future costs and risks of nuclear energy. The findings show that nuclear energy can by no means be called “clean” due to radioactive emissions, which will endanger humans and the natural environment for over one million years. And it harbors the high risk of proliferation. An empirical survey of the 674 nuclear power plants that have ever been built showed that private economic motives never played a role.
Instead military interests have always been the driving force behind their construction. Even ignoring the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, private economy-only investment in nuclear power plant would result in high losses— an average of five billion euros per nuclear power plant, as one financial simulation revealed. In countries such as China and Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, private investment does not play a role either. Nuclear power is too expensive and dangerous; therefore it should not be part of the climate-friendly energy mix of the future.
In other words, nuclear energy is already a huge economic loser even before decommissioning and waste storage are taken into consideration, and those last two costs are by far the largest. So much so that it even makes precious little sense to calculate nuke costs without including decommissioning and waste storage costs. But people do it, and they get paid for that….
A site called Renew Economy, which appears to be Australian, has this comment on the DIW report (they’re one of the few I found that had any comment at all):
A new study of the economics of nuclear power has found that nuclear power has never been financially viable, finding that most plants have been built while heavily subsidised by governments, and often motivated by military purposes, and is not a good approach to tackling climate change. The study has come from DIW Berlin, a leading German economic think-tank, and found that the average 1,000MW nuclear power plant built since 1951 resulted in an average economic loss of 4.8 billion euros ($7.7 billion AUD). The report comes amid a hot debate over the future of nuclear power in both Germany and Australia.
The report published by the German Institute for Economic Research (known as DIW Berlin) reviewed the development of 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951, finding that none of the plants was built using ‘private capital under competitive conditions’. “The results showed that in all cases, an investment would generate significant financial losses. The (weighted) average net present value was around minus 4.8 billion euros,” the study says. “Even in the best case, the net present value was approximately minus 1.5 billion euros. The authors included conservative assumptions with high electricity prices, low capital costs, and specific investment. Considering all assumptions regarding the uncertain parameters, nuclear energy is never profitable.”
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The report authors are also pessimistic about the future of nuclear power, concluding that nuclear power will remain unprofitable into the foreseeable future. Unlike Australia, Germany has a history of nuclear power use, which as recently as 2010, supplied around a quarter of Germany’s electricity. The government led by Angela Merkel has committed to the complete phase-out of nuclear power by 2022. The report found that when nuclear power plants were built using private investment, that “large state subsidies” were used to make the projects viable, and that in most cases, nuclear power stations were built at a loss.
DIW Berlin calculated that for every 1,000 Megawatts of nuclear power capacity that has been built since 1951, there were average economic losses of between 1.5 to 8.9 billion Euros. “Nuclear power was never designed for commercial electricity generation; it was aimed at nuclear weapons. That is why nuclear electricity has been and will continue to be uneconomical. Further, nuclear energy is by no means ‘clean.’ Its radioactivity will endanger humans and the natural world for over one million years,” Christian von Hirschhausen, co-author of the study said.
The DIW Berlin report stressed that governments should not be seduced by claims that nuclear power was a solution to the climate crisis. “Nuclear energy for climate protection” is an old narrative that is as inaccurate today as it was in the 1970s. Describing nuclear energy as “clean” ignores the significant environmental risks and radioactive emissions it engenders along the process chain and beyond,” the report concluded.
Another site called Recharge Transition finds basically the same:
Nuclear power is economically unviable, dangerous and should not be labelled as a clean form of energy, the renowned German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) said, pointing to research it has carried out on the profitability of investments in nuclear power plants. DIW Berlin is one of the leading economic think tanks in Germany. According to “numerous scientific studies,” none of the world’s more than 600 nuclear power stations have ever been economically viable, and the plants could only be operated for years due to government subsidies, the institute claims.
“That nuclear energy has never been economically competitive comes as no surprise as electricity production has always only be a by-product. Military and geo-strategical interests have always come first and this energy source has been massively subsidised,” the study’s author Christian von Hirschhausen said. “Now it is also certain that it won’t be profitable in the future either to invest in atomic energy – neither in new nuclear power plants, nor in the extension of existing ones. “If in addition you consider that nuclear power absolutely isn’t safe, the fairy tale of a climate friendly alternative to fossil energy sources completely collapses.”
And you know what’s “funny” is that as mentioned before, the report never even talks about decommissioning and storage. For me, this was a closed topic, got it, move on. But I looked it up anyway. I couldn’t remember the dates the judge had set. I knew he had thrown out the EPA’s 10,000 years for guaranteed storage safety.
10,000 years is already way beyond man’s powers to guarantee anything at all, it’s pure hubris. According to YuccaMountain.org, the latest a judge mentioned is at least 300,000 years. You know, half-life and all that. I didn’t remember if it was 100,000 or 1 million, and it makes no difference at all, man can make no claim of being capable of doing either, or even 10,000.
On July 9, 2004, the Court of Appeals ruled on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Lawsuits. The judges dismissed almost all of the State’s claims except a key challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Court ruled that the EPA’s 10,000-year safety standard on radiation containment at the site was arbitrary and inconsistent with the congressionally-mandated recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. The Court also struck down the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing standards insofar as they include a 10,000 year compliance limit.
The National Academy of Sciences said the radiation safety standard should be set at a higher limit, when the waste would be at its peak radiation levels – at least 300,000 years from the time the waste is sent to Yucca. The EPA was required by law to base its rule on NAS’ recommendation, but chose to set the standard at 10,000 years instead.
[..] State officials believe the ruling will significantly delay or even scrap the project. State Attorney General Brian Sandoval claimed a sound victory for Nevada, saying that the EPA would have to form a new rule with a tougher standard – a standard the Energy Department would not be able to meet due to Yucca Mountain’s inferior geology. This “is a fatal blow to the repository ,” Sandoval said. DOE itself has expressed doubts in the past about being able to meet a longer time limit. As quoted by the Court, former project director Lake Barrett wrote in 1999 that a safety standard significantly longer than 10,000 years would be “unworkable and probably unimplementable.”
Yeah, there are dozens of nuclear plants either under construction or in planning phases as we speak. We are told to see Chernobyl and Fukushima as unfortunate accidents, and there are plenty nuclear plants that never have accidents like those, but even then they are all of them gigantic economic loss-makers, and that’s before decommissioning and waste storage, which generate additional behemoth financial losses, and in the end are incapable of solving the problems they themselves generate. It’s all exclusively about profit, damn humans or other lifeforms, and damn the torpedoes.
And the little green Martians out there in space somewhere are watching us saying ”A potentially smart species. Too bad they’re doomed by their own ultimate hubris. But why would they volunteer to nuke their offspring?”
One more time: you can not run an economy on an energy source that generates economic losses. It is NOT an option. Our present economies have been made possible by fossil energy sources that gave us 10-100 times more energy than we put in to extract them. Those days are over. Please adjust your lifestyles accordingly.
How are you sleeping lately? Some Americans are feeling uneasy. Consumer confidence fell to a two-year low in June, the Conference Board announced this week. It fell to 121.5 this month from a 131.3 in May. That’s the lowest level since September 2017. “The escalation in trade and tariff tensions earlier this month appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence,” Lynn Franco, senior director at the Conference Board, said in a statement. Continued uncertainty could “diminish” people’s confidence in the economic expansion, she added. Many people are living with wildly fluctuating income, a recent report from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System said.
“Volatile income and low savings can turn common experiences — such as waiting a few days for a bank deposit to be available — into a problem.” Despite unemployment hitting a 49-year low, plus low interest rates and inflation, people are feeling skittish. “A major trade war between the U.S. and China represents our greatest economic risk,” according to Lynn Reaser, chief economist of the Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors. All of these worries are taking their toll. 78% of adults are losing sleep over work, relationships, retirement and other worries, according to a study released Thursday by personal-finance site Bankrate.com. Over half (56%) of Americans are lying awake at night worrying about money.
Early this year, U.S. authorities filed criminal charges—including bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and theft of technology—against the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, a Chinese giant named Huawei. Chinese dominance in telecom equipment has created a crisis among Western espionage agencies, who, fearful of Chinese spying, are attempting to prevent the spread of Huawei equipment worldwide, especially in the critical 5G next-generation mobile networking space. In response to the campaign to block the purchase of Huawei equipment, the company has engaged in a public relations offensive.
The company’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei, portrayed Western fears as an advertisement for its products, which are, he said, “so good that the U.S. government is scared.” There’s little question the Chinese government is interested in using equipment to spy. What is surprising is Zhengfei is right about the products. Huawei, a relatively new company in the telecom equipment space, has amassed top market share because its equipment—espionage vulnerabilities aside—is the best value on the market. In historical terms, this is a shocking turnaround. Americans invented the telephone business and until recently dominated production and research. But in the last 20 years, every single American producer of key telecommunication equipment sectors is gone.
Today, only two European makers—Ericsson and Nokia—are left to compete with Huawei and another Chinese competitor, ZTE. This story of lost American leadership and production is not unique. In fact, the destruction of America’s once vibrant military and commercial industrial capacity in many sectors has become the single biggest unacknowledged threat to our national security. Because of public policies focused on finance instead of production, the United States increasingly cannot produce or maintain vital systems upon which our economy, our military, and our allies rely. Huawei is just a particularly prominent example.
The average age of passenger cars and trucks on the road in the US ticked up again in 2019, to another record of 11.8 years, IHS Markit reported today. When I entered the car business in 1985, the average age had just ticked up to 7.8 years, and the industry was fretting over it and thought the trend would have to reverse, and customers would soon come out of hiding and massively replace those old clunkers with new vehicles, and everyone would sell more and make more. But those industry hopes for a sustained reversal of the trend of the rising average age have been bitterly disappointed:
This rising average age is largely driven by vehicles lasting longer – an unintended consequence of relentless improvements in overall quality, forced upon automakers by finicky customers in an ultra-competitive market where automakers struggle to stay alive. To make it in the US, they have to constantly improve their products, and stragglers that can’t compete are left unceremoniously by the wayside. US consumers are brutal. This unintended consequence of rising overall quality contributes to the dreadful industry problem: The US, despite constant population growth, is a horribly mature auto market. In 1999, so 20 years ago, new vehicle sales reached a record of 16.9 million units.
This record was broken in 2000, with 17.3 million units. Then sales tapered off. By 2007, they’d dropped to 16.1 million units. Then the Financial Crisis hit, GM and Chrysler went bankrupt, Ford almost did, and peak-to-trough, sales plunged 40% to 10.4 million units by 2009. The recovery has been steep, and in 2015, finally the old record of the year 2000 was broken, but barely with 17.48 million units, and in 2016, the industry eked out another record of 17.55 million units. And that was it. Sales have fizzled since then. So far in 2019, the data indicates that sales are likely to fall below 17 million units, according to my own estimates, bringing the industry right back where it had been 20 years ago in 1999:
Up until a few weeks ago the Baoshang Bank’s prospects seemed bright enough. According to Baoshing’s most recent regulatory filing, the smallish lender based in Inner-Mongolia, made a $600 million profit in 2017. It had assets of around $90 billion, non-performing loans were modest — under 2 per cent — and its capital buffers would fit comfortably with the global demands of a Tier1 bank. Then it collapsed. That set off a series of events rarely, if ever, seen in Chinese banking. Regulators seized Baoshang, the first action of its type since 1998. That may have shaken the foundations of Chinese banking, but of far greater significance was the collapse caused by China’s first recorded interbank default.
It is yet to be a “Lehman moment” — where the credit market freezes, banks stop lending to each other and the economy teeters above the abyss —but it has, as Societe Generale’s Wei Yao noted, “triggered severe liquidity tensions in the interbank market”. “The Baoshang incidence has challenged one fundamental belief of China’s financial system; interbank defaults are not possible thanks to 100 per cent implicit guarantees,” Ms Yao said. “Now that credit risks and counter-party risks have finally descended on this very core market in China’s financial system, all the key players in the system have to figure out how to price risks in the new paradigm, and quickly.”
Ms Yao said the understandable consequence was “a big and unpleasant wave of risk repricing”, with major banks shying away from doing business with smaller lenders. And that’s a worry, as small-to-medium sized banks combined have balance sheets as big as the big banks combined, but are far more dependent on interbank funding. The central bank (PBoC) immediately pumped around 600 billion yuan ($125 billion) into the system and halted a run on the banks by guaranteeing 100 per cent of all retail deposits.
Deutsche Bank’s shares rose as much as 4.8% on Friday after Germany’s biggest bank passed an annual health check by the U.S. Federal Reserve, in a boost to its Wall Street operations. But the Federal Reserve placed conditions on the U.S. operations of Credit Suisse, knocking its shares 1% lower after identifying weaknesses in its capital planning. The tests assess whether it is safe for banks to implement their capital plans, including using extra capital for stock buybacks, dividends and other purposes beyond providing a cushion against losses. They are designed to avoid a repeat of the taxpayer bailouts of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
Deutsche Bank, whose U.S. business has been plagued by litigation, underperformance and regulatory investigations, topped the German bluechip index .GDAX in Frankfurt after its U.S. shares were up as much as 6% in after-the-bell trading on Thursday following the Fed’s news. The German bank maintained a large presence on Wall Street after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, while Credit Suisse made big cuts. But Deutsche’s efforts to compete with U.S. rivals have been hampered by litigation and regulatory investigations. Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Christian Sewing, who is battling to turn the bank around, said the Fed’s decision was “excellent news” in a memo to staff on its website. “Achieving success here was one of the key goals we set a year ago. It is a huge step forward for our business in the U.S. and globally. A strong operating platform in the Americas is essential to our clients,” he said.
Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, billionaire investor and Elliott Management founder, Paul Singer, warned that the global economy is heading toward a “significant market downturn” cautioning that “the global financial system is very much toward the risky end of the spectrum.” While Paul Singer’s traditionally downcast outlook is hardly surprising, as it permeates every investor letter published by the successful investor who has been particularly clear in the past decade that the Fed’s monetary experiment will end terribly, he sees two particular reasons why the economy is approaching a tipping point: “global debt is at an all-time high.
Derivatives are at an all-time high and it took all of this monetary easing to get to where we are today and I don’t think central bankers, or policymakers or academics are in any better shape to predict the next downturn and I think we are the high end of the risk spectrum.” He then ominously added that “I’m expecting the possibility of a significant market downturn.” How bad would the crash be? According to the Elliott Management CEO, there will be a market “correction” of 30% to 40% when the downturn hits, although unlike Goldman – which gave a timeline of 12 months in which the next major market will materialize, Singer said he couldn’t predict the timing.
In the panel discussion, Singer also said the market meltdown late last year after interest rates spiked in the 4th quarter was the first hint of a pending slump, as it indicated that the Federal Reserve and other central banks were now victims of their policies, something he has been warning about for years. “December supported the notion that they’re trapped,” he said. “What they should have done, and what they should do now, is try to restore the soundness of money. They should not be cutting rates right now. They should be calling on the congresses and parliaments around the developed world to take steps to deal with the economic slowdown in growth.”
NATO allies gave the U.S. no firm commitments that they will participate in a global effort to secure international waterways against threats from Iran, acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday, wrapping up his first alliance meeting. Esper said the U.S. will come back next month and provide reluctant allies more details on exactly how the Iranian threat has escalated in recent months, and how nations can work together to deter further aggression. “At the end of the day what our ask is here, near term, is to publicly condemn Iran’s bad behavior,” Esper said as he prepared to leave Brussels. “And in the meantime, in order to avoid a military escalation, help us maintain the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf and wherever.”
Esper, who didn’t have high expectations for firm commitments coming in, got little of either, though he said that some allies privately expressed interest in hearing more. Esper’s visit to NATO, just days after he took over at the Pentagon, came amid sharply increased tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, as well as bombings in Iraq. Iranian forces also shot down an American drone that it said had flown into its airspace, which the U.S. disputes. Earlier this week, as he headed to NATO, Esper said his goal was to persuade allies that the confrontation with Iran is a global challenge requiring an international response, and that it is “not Iran versus the United States.”
Boeing says it expects to finish work on updated flight-control software for the 737 Max in September, a sign that the troubled jet likely won’t be flying until late this year. The latest delay in fixing the Max came a day after the disclosure that government test pilots found a new technology flaw in the plane during a test on a flight simulator. The plane has been grounded since mid-March after two crashes that killed 346 people. Preliminary accident reports pointed to software that erroneously pointed the planes’ noses down and overpowered pilots’ efforts to regain control. A Boeing official said Thursday that the company expects to submit the software update to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval “in the September timeframe.”
Once Boeing submits its changes, the FAA is expected to take several weeks to analyze them, and airlines would need additional time to take their grounded Max jets out of storage and prepare them to fly again. Airlines were already lowering expectations for a quick return of the plane, which has been grounded since mid-March. Southwest Airlines, the biggest operator of Max jets, announced Thursday that it has taken the plane out of its schedule for another month, through Oct. 1. Earlier this week, United Airlines pulled the plane from its schedule through early September.
While Boeing engineers continue working on the plane’s software, company lawyers pushed Thursday to settle lawsuits brought by the families of dozens of passengers killed in the October crash of a Lion Air Max off the coast of Indonesia and the March crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max near Addis Ababa. Boeing and the families of Lion Air Flight 610 victims agreed to mediation that could lead to early settlements. However, the families of some Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 passengers are resisting mediation. “There are many families here who will not want to participate in mediation until they know what Boeing knew, when they knew it, what they did about it, and what they’re going to do about it to prevent this kind of disaster from occurring again,” said Robert Clifford, a Chicago lawyer who filed lawsuits on behalf of nearly two dozen victims of the Ethiopian crash.
FTSE Russell will rebalance its suite of indexes at the close of trade Friday, and the changes will reflect several broad trends in equity markets over the past year, including the resilience of large-capitalization companies, the dismal performance of smaller U.S. firms, and the emergence of new, highly valued technology companies that promise to, or already have, revolutionized their respective industries. “We reconstitute the Russell indexes annually to accurately reflect equity markets,” said Catherine Yoshimoto, director of product management at FTSE Russell, in an interview. “All the companies are ranked by total market capitalization and the break point between the [large cap] Russell 1000 and [small cap] Russell 2000 are reset.”
The dividing line between the large cap index and the small fell this year, from a capitalization of $3.7 billion to $3.6 billion, as a result of the poor performance of small cap companies, which shrunk in average market capitalization from $2.5 trillion to $2.4 trillion, as the small cap index fell 6.3% over the past 12 months, versus a 7.5% rise in price for larger companies. Steven DeSanctis, equity strategist at Jefferies told MarketWatch that today’s environment — with rising labor costs, material costs and new trade barriers — is especially difficult for small companies to navigate. He estimates that earnings for Russell 2000 companies fell 14.5% in the first quarter of this year on 3.4% of sales growth, while the second quarter will likely show small-cap earnings falling 11.5%, on 3.6% of revenue growth. “Small cap companies are getting squeezed at the margin,” he said. “A lot of companies have revenue growth but falling profits.”
Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency has been caught financing a group of grifters and fraudsters at the expense of the American taxpayers. In the latest case, just another in the agency’s 72-year history, the Trump administration-appointed ad hoc board of CITGO, the US subsidiary of the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, stands accused of steering $70 million of escrowed funds, earmarked for PDVSA’s fiscal year 2020 bond, to the pockets of CIA-supported officials of the Venezuelan opposition “Popular Will” party headed by the so-called “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.
In addition to Guaidó, who is accused by the legitimate Venezuelan government of money laundering, treason, and corruption, other Popular Will leaders under investigation by both the Venezuelan Attorney General and the US Justice Department include Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s envoy in Washington; Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, Guaidó’s emissaries in Cucuta, a Colombian-Venezuelan border town; Sergio Vargara, Barrera’s brother-in-law and a Member of the Venezuelan Congress; Guaidó’s “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, opposition businessman Miguel Sabal; and Guaidó’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero. Over two dozen other Popular Will leaders are also under investigation for fraud involving money earmarked by the Trump administration, particularly Iran-Contra scandal felon and current Trump special envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams.
Barrera and Rojas are accused of spending money given to the Popular Will by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a longtime CIA financial pass-through, for “humanitarian relief” for alleged massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. The Popular Will grifters reportedly used the aid money, including that which was raised by Virgin Group’s billionaire founder and obvious CIA dupe Richard Branson, for expensive hotels, fancy restaurants, nightclubs, prostitutes, and clothing.
– Reduction of the public debt with an embedded growth clause: the higher the national income, the more creditors will receive, and the reverse. Varoufakis said that this will force lenders to become partners in the recovery of Greece.
– Ending austerity by a drastic reduction of surpluses. Varoufakis said that Syriza and ND have pledged to return to the lenders the equivalent of at least 7,000 euros per capita each year from the so-called primary state surpluses. MeRA25 will unilaterally reduce these surpluses by 60-100 pct, depending on the recovery rate, he added.
– Abolition of obligatory prepayment of 100% of taxes, and capping the VAT rate at 18% for cash purchases, 15% for using a credit card. Reduction of corporate tax: e.g. from current 29 pct, to 26 pct for large businesses, 20 pct for medium-sized ones and 15 pct for small businesses; capping profits on SMEs at 50 pct tax (currently at 75 pct).
– Public extra-bank reliant payment system allowing free digital transactions among citizens, businesses and the state, benefitting all: e.g. by mutual debt cancellation, tax deductions, funding of anti-poverty programs, reducting the hold of private banks and the European Central Bank on citizens and state alike.
– Establishment of a public management company of private debt, so that non-performing loans (NPLs) are transferred from banks to this organisation, in exchange for government guarantees not counted towards public debt. In addition, a ban on loan sales, foreclosure auctions, especially of primary residences and small businesses.
– Inclusion under the Foundation of Social Insurance (IKA) of all freelancers who work more than 8 hours a week for the same employer. Incentives towards start-up entrepreneurs with a 5-year exemption from taxes and insurance contributions.
– Conversion of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund to a Development Bank, abolition of all privatizations, and use of public property as collateral to create investment flows in the public sector; the new bank’s shares will be owned by insurance funds, boosting their capitalization.
Yanis Varoufakis insisted that these measures would be implemented without negotiation with Greece’s lenders and financial institutions, and underlined that the creditors might react by bringing back GRexit scenarios. In this case, which he ruled out, “it will cost them 1 trillion euros.” “If we continue to apply Syriza’s fourth memorandum there will be no young people left in our country,” concluded Varoufakis, who also reiterated that his party will not give a vote of confidence to either Syriza or New Democracy, but will nevertheless support any bill it considers fair.
Inside an Indiana aquafarming complex, thousands of salmon eggs genetically modified to grow faster than normal are hatching into tiny fish. After growing to roughly 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in indoor tanks, they could be served in restaurants by late next year. The salmon produced by AquaBounty are the first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption in the U.S. They represent one way companies are pushing to transform the plants and animals we eat, even as consumer advocacy groups call for greater caution. AquaBounty hasn’t sold any fish in the U.S. yet, but it says its salmon may first turn up in places like restaurants or university cafeterias, which would decide whether to tell diners that the fish are genetically modified.
“It’s their customer, not ours,” said Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty’s CEO. To produce its fish, Aquabounty injected Atlantic salmon with DNA from other fish species that make them grow to full size in about 18 months, which could be about twice as fast as regular salmon. The company says that’s more efficient since less feed is required. The eggs were shipped to the U.S. from the company’s Canadian location last month after clearing final regulatory hurdles.
As AquaBounty worked through years of government approvals, several grocers including Kroger and Whole Foods responded to a campaign by consumer groups with a vow to not sell the fish. Already, most corn and soy in the U.S. is genetically modified to be more resistant to pests and herbicides. But as genetically modified salmon make their way to dinner plates, the pace of change to the food supply could accelerate. This month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to simplify regulations for genetically engineered plants and animals. The move comes as companies are turning to a newer gene-editing technology that makes it easier to tinker with plant and animal DNA.