James McNeill Whistler Miss Ethel Philip Reading 1894
Richard Werner @scientificecon:
BREAKING: There is, after all, now a reason for social distancing: Organic humans may wish to stay away from the vaccinated GMOs because of the risk of “shedding” adverse vaccination effects from the vaccinated (genetically modified people) to the unvaccinated (organic people).
“Short-term prevention of “infection” among the 81% of those with existing T-cell recognition to the nucleocapsid proteins is not only stupid it is likely to kill people over the intermediate and longer term..”
• Science Catches Up – And Burns You All (Denninger)
From the Nature study: “Taken together, SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes enabled detection of post-infectious T cell immunity in 100% of individuals convalescing from COVID-19 and revealed pre-existing T cell responses in 81% of unexposed individuals.” Now we know what Diamond Princess happened the way it did. It was never possible for more than 20% of the people on that ship to get seriously-symptomatic Covid-19 despite being cooped up in close quarters for weeks with an aerosol-spread disease and cruise passengers generally being wildly-overrepresented for various morbidity factors. It also completely explains why one of two people quarantined in the same cabin got sick and the other did not.
We also know why my friend’s grandfather was killed by it but his equally-morbid grandmother was not touched symptomatically even though she tested positive despite literally sleeping in the same bed with him until he wound up in the hospital and ultimately expired. We also know why there is no place on the planet that has seen >20% of people with significant, symptomatic disease from Covid-19. Not a single place has had that happen, even where sanitation is crap and people spread it like crazy (e.g. Iran where they lick monuments sequentially — literally.) This study explains every single example seen everywhere in the world, including high-concentration examples, of infection with Covid-19 back to the start of the pandemic.
We now know why no more than 20% of any exposed population has ever exhibited materially-serious disease — it simply was not possible as no more than 20% of the population was potentially susceptible to serious disease. Ever. Period. [..] “Short-term prevention of “infection” among the 81% of those with existing T-cell recognition to the nucleocapsid proteins is not only stupid it is likely to kill people over the intermediate and longer term since those who are not vaccinated and get infected with partial resistance build additional and durable immunity via said low-symptom and asymptomatic infections which do not materially harm them and blocking that process is harmful, not helpful. This group includes nearly all young adults and children for which people are trying to force vaccination.”
Ciarán McCollum: “..the DGC certificates are useless as proof of whether you are infected, or can or cannot spread the virus.”
• Legal Worries On EU’s ‘Green Certificates’ For Covid Travel (EUO)
An instrument of unusual significance is quietly on its way to becoming law in Europe: the proposal for a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ (DGC). Up for a vote in the European Parliament’s plenary on Wednesday, it erects a “universal framework” for the control of disease within the Schengen area. The EU Commission has presented it as a return to freedom of movement, essentially suspended by member states since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic. However the DGC, which creates certificates for Europeans showing the bearer has been vaccinated, tested or achieved immunity, is already beginning to lose its sheen. Last week, the WHO asked that any plans for making proof of vaccination a condition of entry be abandoned, after the US ruled out enforcing vaccination cards on its territory.
So is it wise for Europe to continue with its own? Freedom of movement is perhaps the European Union’s most cherished achievement, certainly among northerners seeking a visa-free sun holiday. In my home of Northern Ireland, with our ever-fragile cross-border peace agreement, we have a special appreciation for the importance of keeping borders open. The recent EU threat to impose a ‘vaccine border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic imperilled that peace. The EU can’t afford another blunder on borders, so it’s in its own interest that the DGC does what it says on the tin. However a cursory glance at the contents suggests a case of mislabeling or at least a lack of legal certainty. The commission assures us that the DGC will not restore (or entrench) border controls.
But “universal framework” can only be read as a euphemism for checks within the Schengen zone. It is article 3 of the DGC that creates certificates of vaccination, testing and immunity. Border guards will have to inspect these. As it’s put in Article 3(1), there will be “cross-border verification”, performed by the member state “authorities” mentioned in Article 9(2). In the absence of such checks, the certificates would be useless and the “universal framework” would not exist. With vaccinated Europeans travellers separated from non-vaccinated, infected from non-infected, and immune from non-immune—the DGC, if applied, would be a guarantee of discrimination within the EU.
This is simply not permissable under the Schengen Code. Chapter II of the Schengen Borders Code allows for the temporary reintroduction of internal borders in some circumstances, but that does not include a public health emergency. The whole endeavour is even more absurd if one acknowledges the scientific certainty that being vaccinated does not mean that one cannot be a carrier of the virus, nor infect others. We already know from the European Medicines Agency and WHO, confirmed by a decision this month of the Conseil d’État (France’s Supreme Court), that no proof exists of vaccination halting the spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, in the last months many courts including the Lisbon Court of Appeal and Administrative Court of Vienna have held that PCR testing is unreliable and cannot be relied on for determining infection; a physician must perform a proper medical diagnosis. Thus the DGC certificates are useless as proof of whether you are infected, or can or cannot spread the virus.
They even have several different passport apps.
• NHS App To Be Used As Coronavirus Passport For International Travel (Sky)
Britons will find out which countries they will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel to this summer “in the next couple of weeks” – as the transport secretary confirmed an NHS app will be used as a COVID passport for travel abroad. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, international travel without one of the current exemptions – which exclude holidays – will not be allowed any earlier than 17 May. Ministers have set out plans for a “traffic light” system to be used this summer to categorise different destinations. And, speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed “in the next couple of weeks” he will be able to give details on which countries have made it on to the “green list”.
These will be destinations where Britons will be able to travel without having to quarantine on their return, although they will still need to undergo a COVID test before their departure, as well as on their return to the UK. Mr Shapps also confirmed an NHS app will be used to allow Britons to demonstrate whether they have had a COVID jab, or tested negative for the virus, before travelling abroad. “It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing,” he added. “I’m working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that system can be internationally recognised.” Government sources clarified the app would not be the NHS COVID app – currently used to “check in” to venues such as pubs and restaurants for contact-tracing purposes – but would instead be the NHS app used to book general appointments.
70% of the population allegedly has antibodies.
• UK Councils Are Recruiting Armies Of New Covid Marshals (DM)
Armies of new Covid marshals are being hired across the country for jobs that could last for another two years despite lockdown restrictions being set to end in eight weeks’ time. Councils in England are in the process of recruiting a new legion of marshals who are expected to take to the streets from July this year despite Government plans to lift remaining coronavirus restrictions on June 21. It comes as data revealed nearly 40 million Britons now live in practically ‘Covid-free’ areas following the UK’s hugely successful vaccine rollout and continued lockdown measures. Hertfordshire County Council is among those advertising for Covid marshals, with the local authority offering a contract worth an estimated £3 million to a provider that can supply 60 marshals from July 1 until January 31 next year.
The contract also comes with a possible one-year extension to 2023. In its description of the marshals’ duties, the contract notice reads: ‘Provide practical support to aid and encourage compliance, such as dedicated staff in public areas, business support, or support for individuals.’ It continues: ‘Introduce measures to aid public and business awareness and understanding of regulations and guidance.’ Hertfordshire County Council defended its decision to recruit marshals, saying it is ‘not indicative of any increases in restrictions from July 2021 onwards’. Jim McManus, director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council, said: ‘In line with the Government’s projections for the roadmap out of lockdown, we are working towards restrictions being eased by 21 June 2021, but we know that the virus is still circulating and will be for some time.
‘We know from last year that numbers of infections can change rapidly, and Government are very clear that we should plan in case a third wave arises. ‘It would be a dereliction of duty not to prepare for a third wave, at the same time as doing all we can to prevent it happening by keeping infections as low as possible so we can enjoy summer with no restrictions.
“It Was Uncle Tony All Along..”
• Separating Rumor From Fact On Covid-19’S Origin (Sharyl Attkisson)
When the former head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, recently said Covid-19 likely leaked from a Chinese research lab, news headlines called it “shocking.” Dr. Robert Redfield on CNN: “I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory— you know, escaped.” That was followed by a flurry of media reports ridiculing the notion; insisting that Covid-19 probably jumped from bats to people through an unexplained, natural route. But there’s new information that hasn’t been widely reported. A sizable segment of the research community has formed the same opinion as Dr. Redfield: that Covid-19 leaked from experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Jamie Metzl, World Health Organization International Advisory Committee on Human Genome Editing:
“There are scientists all around the world who have told me that they believe the most likely origin of COVID-19, of the pandemic, is an accidental lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” Jamie Metzl is a member of the World Health Organization International Advisory Committee on Human Genome Editing. Sharyl (to Metzl): “What have you been told, and what have you found about scientists who feel like they can’t step forward?” Metzl: “Many of these people are afraid to step forward. They’ve called it career suicide, because there are so many contentious issues, because the stakes are so high. Because the Chinese government, in collaboration, or conjunction, or maybe not even association, but with some very high-level and prominent scientists have put forward this story that I think is wrong.”
Two scientists with knowledge of the matter told me the U.S. government conducted genome sequencing almost immediately in the pandemic. Among other things, they say Covid-19 shows clear hallmarks of man’s intervention. French virologist Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Prize recipient, arrived at the same conclusion a year ago. He says Covid-19’s genetics reveal “manipulation.” “Someone added sequences,” he said. “It’s the work of professionals, of molecular biologists…a very meticulous work.” Genetic analysis alone isn’t 100% conclusive, because results must be compared to viruses from the Wuhan lab. And sources confirm: “We never got the sample from China.” But scientists who spoke with me say genome sequencing, coupled with what’s known about research conducted by a U.S.-Chinese partnership, leaves them with little doubt that Covid-19 is a product of experiments.
After Biden Inauguration.
• US Rejected Russian Offer for Complete Reset In Relations (RT)
The Kremlin proposed a complete reset in the strained relationship between Moscow and Washington after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, but it was turned down by the White House, Russia’s chief diplomat said on Tuesday. Speaking to journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Russia wants to get back on a sound footing in its relationship with the US. “If it only depended on us, we would return to normal relations,” Lavrov explained, noting that the first step would be to cancel the expulsions of Russian diplomats from Washington, and US diplomats from Moscow. “We offered this to President Biden’s Administration as soon as he took all the necessary oaths and assumed power,” he continued. “I mentioned this to Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken.”
According to Lavrov, the crisis began when former President Barack Obama took measures against Russia prior to his leaving office. After the election of Donald Trump, Moscow remained patient and waited for the new administration to reverse the “excesses” of the outgoing president, but it never happened. “I very much hope that Washington, as we do, recognizes their responsibility for stability in the world,” Lavrov continued. “There are not only problems between Russia and the US that complicate the lives of our citizens… but also disagreements that put international security at serious risk, in the broadest sense of the word.” In recent weeks, relations between Moscow and Washington have become even more strained.
“Russian officials have recently called Ukraine’s lobbying to get Russia banned from SWIFT “a declaration of war”…”
• EU Seeks SWIFT Shut-Off For Russia “If Ukraine Aggression Continues” (ZH)
Days after President Putin warned the West of a “harsh” and “asymmetrical” response if it crosses Russia’s ‘red line’ concerning NATO troop positioning and the recently renewed Ukraine standoff, the European Parliament in Brussels has proposed a new resolution to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT payment system. Dated Wednesday, April 28, it’s entitled, “European Parliament resolution on Russia, the case of Alexei Navalny, the military build-up on Ukraine’s border and Russian attacks in the Czech Republic.” The over 50 European Parliament lawmakers cited “aggression and continued destabilization of Ukraine, hostile behavior towards and outright attacks on EU member states and societies.” It further appears a ‘preventative’ and threatening measure in the instance of any future scenario of major Russian troop build-up in Crimea and along Ukraine’s border such as occurred over the last month.
Despite the Kremlin last week ordering a troop draw down after the conclusion of Black Sea military drills, the EU is clearly seeking to drastically beef up the “cost” automatically imposed on Russia for “threats” against Ukrainian sovereignty. Here’s what the key section of the new punitive resolution says on SWIFT: “…Underscores that if such a military build-up were in the future to be transformed into an invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the EU must make clear that the price for such a violation of international law and norms would be severe; insists, therefore, that in such circumstances imports of oil and gas from Russia to the EU be immediately stopped, while Russia should be excluded from the SWIFT payment system, and all assets in the EU of oligarchs close to the Russian authorities and their families in the EU need to be frozen and their visas cancelled;”
It’s certainly not the first time that Western allies have threatened such. The threat to cut off Russia from the global system for financial messaging and cross-border payments which acts as the protector of the dollar reserve system has lingered for the past half-decade, since the initial Crimea crisis and the start of war in eastern Ukraine. Russian officials have recently called Ukraine’s lobbying to get Russia banned from SWIFT “a declaration of war”…
“..the proceedings and the trial, arguing that from the start Russia’s guilt has been presumed while never proven..”
• The MH17 Trial: The Dangers of Presuming (MPN)
Only one of the four men charged – Oleg Pulatov – will be represented in court, although he himself will remain in Russia. At the time of writing, it is not certain that his attorneys will have had an opportunity to visit him. Russian law does not allow the extradition of its citizens for hearings outside of Russia. Russia’s offer to hold the trial in Russia was rejected, predictably. But there are far more significant flaws to the proceedings as currently constituted. One member of the JIT — Malaysia, headquarters of the owner of MH17, the flag carrier Malaysia Airlines — was not admitted to the JIT until 2015, months after it had been constituted, and has rejected the findings of the JIT.
The prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, professed considerable skepticism about the proceedings and the trial, arguing that from the start Russia’s guilt has been presumed while never proven. Western mainstream media coverage of the incident — fed with a narrative prepared within six hours of the crash by the Ukrainian intelligence service (SBU), whose business is the protection of Ukrainian national interests — presumed Russian guilt from day one, best exemplified by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the headline of its most popular British newspaper, The Sun: “Putin’s Missile,” on the morning after the crash.
[..] The presumption of Russian guilt in the shooting down of MH17 on July 17, 2014 is extremely convenient to the government of Ukraine. Which is why it is so very problematic that Ukraine, which suffered no loss of life in MH17, has been one of the five nations represented on the Dutch-led JIT while Russia is not a member, and that most of the evidence collected by the JIT has come from Ukrainian intelligence (SBU), a body that exists solely to serve the interests of Ukraine and that has been implicated by MH17 blogger and analyst Hector Reban in theft, torture and murder. Much of the information most sensitive to the case — notably concerning the “Buk route” (the route it is alleged a Buk unit followed to travel from Russia to Donbass and back), intercepted communications, text and visual postings on social media, and the supply of witnesses — comes from the SBU and much of it, by its very nature, is highly susceptible to malpractice or other forms of contamination. The JIT has warmly thanked the SBU for its collaboration and for many months the JIT worked in close proximity to the SBU in Kiev.
“This particular report from the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was written in consultation with the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the DHS, and a partridge in a pear tree…”
• The CIA Has Been Taking Over for Decades (MPN)
December 22, 1963 — exactly one month after President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, former President Harry S. Truman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that most people, especially our perfumed ruling elite, wanted to ignore. Truman, who signed the CIA into existence just after World War II, wrote: “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—the CIA. […] For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. …There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”
Not only did that adorn the pages of the Washington Post one month after JFK’s death, Truman hand wrote the first draft just one week after JFK met up with a bunch of bullets in Dallas. Sure, one may wish Harry had sent his thoughts to John a month before the President’s televised execution. Maybe he could’ve sent a singing telegram or something. But let’s at least give Truman partial credit for the belated message. Before his death, President Kennedy also held no love for the Central Intelligence Agency. Following the calamitous Bay of Pigs invasion, Kennedy said he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” Point being, clearly Truman, who created the CIA, and Kennedy, who met a mysterious untimely end by professional killers, knew the agency had run amok.
Yet the CIA is still here, bigger and filled with more Bond villains than ever, and now they have a whole cavalcade of other intelligence agencies working with them. The Intelligence Community just recently put out a report that showed that their component agencies are indeed working to surveil, harass, and attack an assortment of U.S. citizens. This particular report from the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was written in consultation with the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the DHS, and a partridge in a pear tree. (An evil, kinda dastardly partridge. Not a good partridge at all. Like the kind of partridge that would eat the last pickle and then put the jar back in the fridge, so that later when you’re excited to grab a delicious crispy pickle, there’s nothin’ there but a jar full of pickle urine. So yeah, the worst partridge.)
“..this is basically all the modern economy is. It’s a bunch of people making promises to make things (mostly homes, to be honest) in exchange for some amount of deposits that they conjured up from nothing in the form of a contract.”
• The Scarcity of Money Myth (Cullen Roche)
“money” is really just a bunch of contractual agreements. It’s “I’ll give you 25 apples at this time next year and this monetary note will settle that debt”. Loans create deposits. Deposits are money. Anyone who’s read this website for 10 minutes probably knows that. But all those loans, all that money, is just an agreement between two parties. It’s just a contractual agreement created from thin air. The government didn’t need to be involved (though that could certainly help in lots of ways). We didn’t need gold bars or physical coins or anything “natural” here. We just needed two people to make an agreement denominated in some specific terms. In its simplest sense, that’s really all money is – an agreement between two people that other people ultimately exchange in the meantime for all sorts of other stuff of relative value.
The key point here is that that money has value because someone has strong demand for it, presumably because there’s the promise of valuable goods and services attached to it. I want those 25 apples in the future and so do lots of other people so the demand for that money is strong because it’s a claim on real resources (assuming of course the 25 apples actually come into existence). And this is basically all the modern economy is. It’s a bunch of people making promises to make things (mostly homes, to be honest) in exchange for some amount of deposits that they conjured up from nothing in the form of a contract.
The more important key point is that money is elastic. This means that we can create more of these agreements as needed to meet the demands of the economy. A lot of us have been trained to believe that more money is necessarily bad/inflationary. But this need not be true so long as we produce the corresponding real resources to support the demand for that money. In fact, this is a good thing because it provides us with a monetary system that can flexibly react to the needs of its users. And this is what all credit based monetary systems are – flexible systems that can expand and contract financial assets as needed. Within the piping of the existing system banks are the primary issuers of the loans that supply that needed liquidity.
The alternative is some sort of fixed money supply that relies on relative price changes and the kindness of rich people to lend some of that money. While this could work in theory, it doesn’t work in reality because the system just isn’t dynamic enough. And this is the primary reason why we end up with what people refer to as “fractional reserve” style systems. In other words, someone (or something) tries to fix the money supply using gold or reserves or some other fixed supply asset. And credit markets naturally build off of these systems because the fixed supply system isn’t elastic enough. This is good as it allows us to grow more apples and build more houses on demand, as needed to meet our needs.
Long diatribe from Ben. Bitcoin as an art form.
• In Praise of Bitcoin (Ben Hunt)
Because the artistic Bitcoin identity I admire and value has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept. Because what made Bitcoin special in the first place is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance. Yes, the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy strike back. They always do when it comes to money. Not with imperial stormtroopers or legislative sanction, but with golden handcuffs and administrative surveillance. It’s not that the State and the status quo institutionalization of capital – call it Wall Street, for short – have any desire to ban Bitcoin. Why would they do that?
No, far better to accommodate and swallow Bitcoin, like they have every other financial “innovation” for the past 1,000 years. Far better to neuter the censorship-resistant and anonymity-preserving aspects of Bitcoin, and turn it into another gaming table in the Wall Street casino. In my dystopian vision, Bitcoin isn’t banned or criminalized. Pfft. That’s a rookie, weak State move. No, I see a future where everyone buys Bitcoin. Where you are encouraged to buy Bitcoin. Where Bitcoin is sold to you morning, noon and night. Where normie economists get on conference calls late at night because they’re Bitcoin price-curious. Except it’s not really Bitcoin.
Instead, it’s Bitcoin!™ — a cartoon version of the OG Bitcoin, either a Wall Street-abstracted representation of the price of Bitcoin or a government-painted version of Bitcoin in Dayglo orange. Either way — abstracted or painted — your Bitcoin!™ is trackable and traceable, fully KYC and AML and FBAR and SWIFT and every other US Treasury acronym-compliant. Either way, your Bitcoin!™ has all the revolutionary potential of a bumper sticker and all the identity signaling power of a small tattoo on your upper arm. Bitcoin!™ doesn’t stick it to the Man … Bitcoin!™ IS the Man. Welcome to the MMXXI Hunger Games.
Where all the stimulus ends up.
• Deutsche Bank Warns Soaring Food Prices Will Lead To Social Unrest (ZH)
Yesterday we explained why with prices already soaring, global inflation was about to go into overdrive as the leading food price indicator that is the Bloomberg Agri spot index hit the highest level in six years. In a nutshell, this is a problem since food is a large component of CPI baskets in Asia, and “this large inflationary impulse in the region that houses more than half the world’s population should result in higher wage costs in the factory base of the world. As CPI and PPI rise in Asia, it will feed through globally in the months ahead.” Today, DB’s Jim Reid picked that chart as his “Chart of the day”, repeating what readers already know, namely that Bloomberg’s agriculture spot index has risen by c.76% year-on-year, noting that “that’s the biggest annual rise in nearly a decade, and there are only a couple of other comparable episodes since the index begins back in 1991.”
Like us, Reid then patiently tries to explain to all the idiots – like those employed in the Marriner Eccles building – that the importance of this record surge “extends far beyond your weekly shop, as there’s an extensive literature connecting higher food prices to periods of social unrest.” Indeed, you’ll notice from the chart that the last big surge from the middle of 2010 to early 2011 coincided with the start of the Arab Spring, for which food inflation is regarded as a contributing factor. While this is hardly new [..] Reid also reminds us that emerging markets are more vulnerable to this trend, since their consumers spend a far greater share of their income on food than those in the developed world.
The DB strategist then goes all-in and says what everyone is thinking, namely that “this trend of higher food prices leading to social unrest extends far back into history and surrounds many key turning points. The French Revolution of 1789, which overthrew the Ancien Régime, came after a succession of poor harvests that led to major rises in food prices. It was a similar story at the time of Europe’s 1848 revolutions too, which followed the failure of potato crops in the 1840s and the associated severe famine in much of Europe. And the 1917 overthrow of the Tsarist regime in Russia took place in the context of food shortages as well.” So while it remains to be seen what the consequences of today’s surge in food prices could be, Reid cautions that “given the hardship that’s already occurred thanks to the pandemic, a fresh wave of unrest would be no surprise on a historical basis.”
Bit too positive? Stop using the word “sustainable” for these things, it makes me cringe.
• Scientists Find Way To Remove Polluting Microplastics With Bacteria (G.)
Microbiologists have devised a sustainable way to remove polluting microplastics from the environment – and they want to use bacteria to do the job. Bacteria naturally tend to group together and stick to surfaces, and this creates an adhesive substance called “biofilm” – we see it every morning when brushing our teeth and getting rid of dental plaque, for example. Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) want to use this sticky bacteria property and create tape-like microbe nets that can capture microplastics in polluted water to form an easily disposable and recyclable blob.
Although these findings, presented on Wednesday at the Microbiology Society’s annual conference, are still preliminary, this invention could pave the way for sustainably lowering plastic pollution levels in the long run by simply using something found in nature. “It is imperative to develop effective solutions that trap, collect, and even recycle these microplastics to stop the ‘plastification’ of our natural environments,” said Sylvia Lang Liu, microbiology researcher at PolyU and lead researcher on this project. Microplastics are the plastic fragments, usually smaller than 5mm, which are accidentally released into the environment during production and breakdown of, for example, grocery bags or water bottles – or during everyday activities such as washing synthetic clothes such as nylon or using personal care products with scrubbing microbeads in them.
Although they are tiny, the risk they post to the environment is huge. Microplastics are not easily biodegradable, so they stick around for long periods of time and they also absorb and accumulate toxic chemicals. They disperse into wastewater and into the oceans, endangering marine animals who end up eating them and eventually trickling into the food chain and harming human health too. Microplastics had been found in more than 114 aquatic species in 2018, according to the International Maritime Organization, and they have been found in salt, lettuce, apples, and more. Yet, there are not any sustainable, one-size-fit-all ways to eliminate microplastics.
People should go to jail for these things. They never do.
• Revealed: UK Campaign to Force Assange From Ecuadorian Embassy (CN)
The UK government paid £8,330 in November 2018 to bring Ecuador’s defence minister Oswaldo Jarrín to Britain, two months before the planned seizure of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, it can be revealed. It is unusual for foreign ministers to have their trips to the UK paid by the British government, and the week-long visit came after Prime Minister Theresa May had been told to “butter up” Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, in order to get Assange expelled from the embassy. The new information comes from UK Foreign Office documents released to Declassified, as well as the recently published diaries of former foreign office minister, Sir Alan Duncan, who was a key player in the Assange negotiations.
The documents note that “the main objective” of the November 2018 visit was Jarrín’s “participation” at an annual national counter-terrorism exercise that rehearses the government’s response to a major terrorist attack. The exercise is organised by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, a part of the Home Office which “oversees the Security Service [MI5] and police counter-terrorism operations in the UK”. It is unclear why Ecuador’s defence minister was chosen to attend a counter-terrorism exercise as the South American nation is not a target of terrorist groups. The documents note that “one of the main meetings” was with then armed forces minister Mark Lancaster, after which the Ministry of Defence reported the two countries were “strengthening our ties”. Jarrín also visited the Foreign Office’s “crisis centre” and met with the head of UK Export Finance, Louis Taylor.
Two months before Jarrín’s visit, in September 2018, the UK government had spent another £12,806 facilitating a three-day visit by Ecuadorian officials concerned with fighting corruption and money laundering in the country. The evaluation of the trip noted that it helped the UK government to “build strong relationships” and that “the UK was subsequently commended as a partner of choice to President of the Republic [Lenín Moreno]”. A Foreign Office spokesperson told Declassified: “The Foreign Office regularly arranges meetings with ministers and officials from other countries to encourage closer engagement with our international partners and help achieve our foreign policy objectives.” She added: “As part of this work, some of the costs of these visits are occasionally covered by the Department or by Posts. These are carefully considered on a case by case basis, and only when resources are available.”
British security officials also visited Ecuador in the build-up to Assange’s exit from the embassy, government records show. In July 2018, Philip Barton, then director general of security at the Foreign Office, flew to Ecuador for “short notice bilateral meetings” with its foreign ministry. A week after his return he travelled to Cheltenham for “meetings at GCHQ”, the UK’s largest intelligence agency, government travel logs show. Then, two weeks before Assange was expelled from the embassy, on March 27, 2019, Britain’s then deputy national security adviser for intelligence, Richard Moore, spent £4,469 on a business-class flight to Ecuador, the logs show. Moore was appointed chief of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, just over a year later. Barton now runs the Foreign Office.
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“I’ve got the world in my window.”
Michael Collins (died yesterday at 90) snapped this photo of the lunar module returning to the command module after landing on the Moon. With the Earth in the background, all of humanity is in this photograph, save Collins himself.
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