Jan 162021
 


Pablo Picasso Blue nude 1902

 

Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich (DP)
79% of Americans Think The US Is Falling Apart (RT)
Americans Are Being Divided As The War On Domestic Terror Expands (TLAV)
Prosecutors Walk Back Story Of Plot To Kill Lawmakers In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Signs and Wonders (Kunstler)
At Least 23 Die After Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine In Norway (DS)
Silicon Valley and WEF Announce Vaccination Credential Initiative (Webb)
Twitter Suspends Account of Russian COVID Vaccine Citing Attempted US Hack (MPN)
Signal Is A Government Op (Levine)
When Will The Window Of Euphoria Close? (O’Rourke)
America’s Biggest Owner Of Farmland Is Now Bill Gates (F.)

 

 

America is united by the spread of the media clickbait used to divide it.

 

 

 

 

People are saying: Jimmy Dore goes on Tucker! He’s a traitor! As if this is not the way things should be, people with different views talking to each other to see what they might have in common.

But that’s not what clickbait feeds on.

 

 

New morning in America.

Or: among the growing divide in America, both sides still agree on one thing: stiff the poor.

Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich (DP)

Just two weeks after Democrats won the U.S. Senate on a promise to immediately pass $2,000 survival checks, party leaders are now proposing $1,400 checks — a lesser amount than many expected, which would save the federal government money and could address conservatives’ concerns that too much money is going to people who supposedly do not need it. And yet, Democratic lawmakers are also considering a new tax break that could cost nearly as much or more as the savings gleaned from reducing the survival checks — and the tax break’s benefits would primarily go to the rich. If passed, the new stimulus proposal released this week by president-elect Joe Biden would significantly boost the minimum wage and funding for unemployment benefits and rental assistance.

But the Biden initiative recommends sending $1,400 checks instead of $2,000 checks — a reduction that would save the federal government somewhere between $164 billion and $200 billion, based on estimates from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. At the same time, Democratic lawmakers are reportedly considering resurrecting their past proposal to temporary repeal a cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions that high earners can deduct on their federal taxes. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, temporarily repealing the current $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction would cost $136 billion over the next two years, which was the timeframe proposed for such a repeal in legislation pushed by House Democrats last year.

California Republican Rep. Mike Garcia is touting new legislation to repeal the limits on SALT deductions. Bloomberg News reported that “Democrats have been trying to restore unlimited SALT deductions since the 2017 tax law capped the benefit at $10,000.” If Democrats choose to permanently repeal the cap, it would cost almost $600 billion — or three times the amount it would cost to boost the $1,400 checks to $2,000. The survival checks and the SALT tax breaks are mirror opposites when it comes to distributing benefits. $2,000 checks would target help to the bottom 60 percent of income earners, who would see an average increase of 11 percent in their annual income, and it would be a particularly big income boost for the poorest Americans.

By contrast, the SALT deduction would mostly benefit wealthy households, with the top 5 percent of households receiving over 80 percent of the benefit. The top 1 percent of households would get roughly 60 percent of all the benefits of a SALT cap repeal, which translates to “an average tax cut of more than $33,000,” wrote Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.

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“The objective is to separate Trump and his supporters, to purge both from the public square, and likewise to leave no alternative to the ruling Democratic-RINO, Big Tech, mainstream media, corporate-state hegemon that threatens to impose its technologically enforced totalitarian rule.”

79% of Americans Think The US Is Falling Apart (RT)

Both Democrats and Republicans think America is disintegrating. But the newspeak narrative says that Trump and his supporters must be cleansed from the nation before it can heal. This totalitarian mindset could be the US’ undoing. A recent Axios-Ipsos poll suggests that 79 percent of Americans believe that the nation is disintegrating. “The question, asked Tuesday and Wednesday, reflects the collision of crises besetting the country — the backdrop of a pandemic, recession, decoupling of red/blue America, and racial injustice and the immediacy of the Capitol insurrection, followed by Impeachment II,” writes Axios AM reporter, Mike Allen. But the question of whether the US is now a failed national project is meant to put a stake into the heart of the Donald Trump presidency and to destroy, entirely, the movement he mobilized.

The purpose of the poll is to leave no doubt in the minds of readers that Trump is responsible for these national crises and must be removed from office, and never allowed to run again. The objective is to separate Trump and his supporters, to purge both from the public square, and likewise to leave no alternative to the ruling Democratic-RINO, Big Tech, mainstream media, corporate-state hegemon that threatens to impose its technologically enforced totalitarian rule. Twitter has banned the sitting president from its platform indefinitely. Facebook and Instagram have banished Trump until at least after Joe Biden’s inauguration. After Twitter began cancelling Trump followers, Amazon Web Services, Apple Store, and Google Play cancelled an entire corporation, Twitter competitor Parler. Other social media platforms could face a similar fate at the hands of the leftist authoritarian Big Tech cartel.

Tens of thousands, if not millions, of Trump supporters have either been purged from mainstream social media platforms or have fled in protest. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has recently promised more censorship and purges. Even the libertarian leader of an earlier populist movement, Ron Paul, has faced a Facebook ban (although this was subsequently claimed to be “an error”). Guilt by association seems to the rule, no matter how distant or strained the association. The purges extend well beyond social media. Trump has been cancelled by former business associates, including by one of his former financiers, Deutsche Bank. Blacklists of Trump supporters are being compiled. Congress members have called for the resignation of senators and House members who questioned the election results. If they refuse to resign, say the totalitarian wannabes about to seize complete control, they should be removed from office. ABC News contributor Rick Klein called for the “cleansing” of Trump supporters from the political landscape in a now-deleted tweet.

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“..the US has moved from the “War on [foreign] terror” to the “War on domestic terror”

Americans Are Being Divided As The War On Domestic Terror Expands (TLAV)

The first week of 2021 kicked off with chaos at the Capitol in Washington D.C. Was it a protest, a riot or an insurrection? Were there provocateurs, and if so, were they Antifa, the cops, and/or the Feds? As usual, everyone on the internet thinks they know the answer within ten minutes. Unfortunately, this genuinely leads to the spreading of unfounded theories – many based on nothing but speculation and emotion. But while the public is debating over theories and arguing amongst themselves, the newly emboldened Military Industrial Complex is eagerly anticipating the incoming Biden Administration as an opportunity to expand the War on Domestic Terror. In the immediate aftermath of the “storming of the Capitol”, the media pundits, intelligence community, and politicians began foaming at the mouth in excitement over the chance to push through Domestic Terror legislation.

Michigan representative Elissa Slotkin, also former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense and CIA analyst, said, “the post 9/11 era is over. The single greatest national security threat right now is our internal division. The threat of domestic terrorism.” Slotkin went on to say that she urges the Biden administration to “understand that the greatest threat now is internal.” TLAV writer Whitney Webb responded to Slotkin’s comment by reminding the audience that, “before Congress, Elissa worked for the CIA and the Pentagon and helped destabilize the Middle East during the Bush and Obama admins. What she says here is essentially an open announcement that the US has moved from the “War on [foreign] terror” to the “War on domestic terror”.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) also reportedly released a bulletin warning that “domestic extremists” are planning a nationwide protest to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as President. According to ABC News, “The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump.”

Since the bulletin has not been publicly released the report should be viewed skeptically. However, it’s only one of many emerging reports and articles stoking the flames of civil war and internal chaos. The fact of the matter is that this is not a new attempt to demonize the American people. This current effort is simply a continuation of the effort to label Americans as terrorists that has been taking place since at least the mid-1990’s following the Oklahoma City bombing false flag. These efforts were expanded further after the attacks of 9/11. In fact, as most readers know by now, it was Joe Biden who wrote the anti-terror legislation in the 90’s which became the basis for the Patriot ACT after 9/11.

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The “Qanon shaman” story was always just obvious bogus. But the seed has been planted, so it’s now safe to walk it back.

Prosecutors Walk Back Story Of Plot To Kill Lawmakers In Capitol Riot (JTN)

The acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin announced on Friday that there is no “direct evidence” indicating that the crowd of people who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 had any intention of killing or kidnapping members of Congress. He told reporters, “We don’t have any direct evidence of kill-capture teams,” which seemed to contradict federal prosecutors in Arizona who had alleged on Thursday in a court filing that there was evidence rioters wanted “to capture and assassinate elected officials.” Reuters reported that Sherwin was attempting to “walk back” the claims filed in Arizona, which were about Jacob Chansey, the so-called “Qanon shaman” who was shirtless and wearing horns in the Senate chamber. He allegedly left a note saying, “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”


Sherwin said that his office in D.C. is taking the lead on prosecuting crimes related to the breach of the Capitol, adding that there may have been a “disconnect” with other offices on some of the evidence. “The cases are all being charged here in D.C., and with our law enforcement partners, and what makes this case in particular unprecedented and unusual and extremely complex is the fact that, after the event, obviously thousands of people went back to their home districts,” said Sherwin. “And that has complicated things.”

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“..The poor schlemiel is headed straight into history’s discontinued merchandise bin…”

Signs and Wonders (Kunstler)

It’s late in the game but something appears to still be in play, and the Resistance is keenly aware of it: a trove of declassified documents laying out their crimes against their own countrymen. Nothing has stuck to the Resistance because they controlled the levers of adjudication. What if, under the extraordinary conditions of the moment, those levers are transferred to one arm of the government that has not disgraced itself: the military? I wrote in this blog more than once in recent years that political disorder could lead to this. Has that moment come? Thousands of troops are billeted in and around Washington DC now. Why is that? The figment of more white supremacists coming to reenact last week’s incident at the Capitol? I don’t think so. A BLM / Antifa riot, like the ones staged in cities (including Washington DC) all through the summer and fall? (Weren’t they mostly peaceful?)


Or is something else up, something that will mark an epochal shift in the fortunes of the USA? Did you catch Joe Biden on TV last night? Did his appearance fill you with the sweet, warm unction of reassurance? Or did you get the impression that I got: of a near-mummy in a state of panicky confusion, sent from his hidey-hole out to a podium to give an impersonation of someone in authority? I didn’t believe the performance for a minute. The poor schlemiel is headed straight into history’s discontinued merchandise bin. He will probably wonder what awful vanity propelled him down the memory hole as he descends into the darkness… but his memory preceded him down the memory hole and he will have forgotten how the whole thing started. His exit will be a merciful one compared to the people who trussed him up and shoved him onstage to flesh out their lame narrative.

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Increasing calls to refuse the Pfizer vaccine for people over 80.

At Least 23 Die After Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine In Norway (DS)

At least 23 people who received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. firm Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have died in Norway, with 13 of the fatalities linked to the vaccine’s side effects, authorities said Thursday. All 13 individuals were above the age of 80, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency. It noted that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s common side effects, such as fever and nausea, could have contributed to the death of some elderly recipients of the shot. Along with the 13 deaths, nine cases of serious side effects and seven instances of less serious side effects have been recorded, the agency’s medical director, Steinar Madsen, told national broadcaster NRK.


Norway launched its vaccination campaign last month, right after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Nearly 33,000 people have received a dose in the country, according to data by U.K.-based tracker OurWorldInData. The latest figures show Norway’s virus caseload currently stands at 57,736, including 511 fatalities.

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There’s not one single word here that is not scary as all hell.

Silicon Valley and WEF Announce Vaccination Credential Initiative (Webb)

On Thursday, tech giants with deep ties to the US national-security state—Microsoft, Oracle, and the MITRE Corporation—announced that they had partnered with several health-care companies to create the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to advance the implementation of digital COVID-19 vaccination records. According to a Reuters report, the VCI “aims to help people get encrypted digital copies of their immunization records stored in a digital wallet of their choice” because the “current system [of vaccination records] does not readily support convenient access and sharing of verifiable vaccination records.” The initiative, on its website, notes that the VCI is a public-private partnership “committed to empowering individuals with digital vaccination records” so that participants can “protect and improve their health” and “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.”

The initiative is essentially built on a common framework of digital vaccination “wallets” called SMART Health Cards that are meant to “work across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries” as part of a new global vaccination-record infrastructure. The host of the VCI website and one the initiative’s key backers is the Commons Project Foundation. That foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), runs the Common Trust Network, which has three goals that are analogous to those of VCI. As listed on the WEF website, the network’s goals are (1) to empower individuals by providing digital access to their health information; (2) to make it easier for individuals to understand and comply with each destination’s requirements; and (3) to help ensure that only verifiable lab results and vaccination records from trusted sources are presented for the purposes of cross-border travel and commerce.

[..] The SMART Health Cards framework was developed by a team led by the chief architect of Microsoft Healthcare, Josh Mandel, who was previously the Health IT Ecosystem lead for Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences. Verily is currently heavily involved in COVID-19 testing throughout the United States, particularly in California, and links test recipients’ results to their Google accounts. Their other COVID-19 initiatives have been criticized due to still-unresolved privacy concerns, something that has also plagued several of Verily’s other efforts pre-COVID-19, including those involving Mandel.

Of particular concern is that Verily, and by extension Google, created Project Baseline, which has been collecting “actionable genetic information” with a focus on “population health” from participants since 2017. Yet, during the COVID-19 process, Project Baseline has become an important component of Verily’s COVID-19 testing efforts, raising the unsettling possibility that Verily has been obtaining Americans’ DNA data through its COVID-19 testing activities. While Verily has not addressed this possibility directly, it is worth noting that Google has been heavily involved in amassing genomic data for several years. For instance, in 2013, Google Genomics was founded with the goal of storing and analyzing DNA data on Google Cloud servers. Now known as Cloud Life Sciences, the Google subsidiary has since developed AI algorithms that can “build your genome sequence” and “identify all the mutations that an individual inherits from their parents.”

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The CIA is hacking Russian Twitter accounts?!

Twitter Suspends Account of Russian COVID Vaccine Citing Attempted US Hack (MPN)

The Twitter account of the Russian COVID-19 “Sputnik V” vaccine was suspended yesterday after the Silicon Valley-based platform detected suspicious attempts to log into it. Raising more eyebrows was the stated location of the attempted hack: not Russia, but Virginia, U.S.A. The news immediately prompted Internet sleuths to question who was behind the hack. “Now who in Virginia might want to sabotage a global health initiative by one of Washington’s “official enemies?” wrote former MintPress contributor Morgan Artyukhina. Virginia is, of course, home to many of the three-letter national security agencies engaged in online warfare, including the CIA. Many social media users suggested this was evidence of a failed nefarious action. Sputnik’s Twitter account has since been reinstated.

Named after the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth, the vaccine is among the first to be developed and brought to market. With rich nations buying up huge quantities of Western vaccines before they were even approved, leaving little for poorer states, Sputnik is primarily being used in Russia, Asia, and Latin America. Already, 727 million doses have been ordered by 50 countries, including 200 million from India and 160 million from Russia. Meanwhile, Brazil has ordered 100 million and Mexico 24 million. Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela are also major customers. In December, Hungary became the first EU nation to purchase the shots, and there is a possibility that the vaccine could be rolled out across the continent soon. Testing occurred in a number of nations in the Global South and the vaccine will be produced in nine countries.

Like Western variants, Sputnik must be delivered in two shots weeks apart and must also be stored in deep freezer conditions (-18°C/-0.4°F). Developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute, it is a viral vector vaccine, meaning that it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the desired immune response into cells. Protein coding genes from the coronavirus are inserted into two common cold-like viruses that have been genetically modified so they cannot replicate inside the human body. Trial results suggest that the injections are between 91-95% effective, similar to the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines. However, Western politicians and press have been casting doubts and fears on the safety and effectiveness of the product for months, describing it as “controversial” (The Guardian) or “rushed” (BBC). Others, such as CNN and CNBC have characterized it as unsafe and ineffective.

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Interesting.

Signal Is A Government Op (Levine)

Signal — the privacy chat app favored by the world’s leading crypto experts — is trending again. In the wake of Twitter and Facebook’s MAGA Maidan Internet purge (which was followed by Facebook’s announcement that it was gonna start siphoning data off its WhatsApp property), Signal shot up to being the top downloaded messenger app on the planet. The New York Times is writing about it. Edward Snowden is tweeting about it, telling his fans that Signal is the only reason he’s able to stay alive (and not the fact that he’s being protected round-the-clock by Russia’s security apparatus.) Hell, Even Elon Musk is out there telling people to go Signal. So many people are flooding the app that it’s been crashing.

Given that the app is blowing up, I figure it’s a good time to roll out my periodic public service announcement: Signal was created and funded by a CIA spinoff. Yes, a CIA spinoff. Signal is not your friend. Here are the cold hard facts. Signal was developed by Open Whisper Systems, a for-profit corporation run by “Moxie Marlinspike,” a tall, lanky cryptographer who has a head full of dreadlocks and likes to surf and sail his boat. Moxie was an old friend of Tor’s now-banished chief radical promotor Jacob Appelbaum, and he’s played a similar fake-radical game — although he’s never been able to match Jake’s raw talent and dedication to the art of the con. Still, Moxie wraps himself in air of danger and mystery and hassles reporters about not divulging any personal information, not even his age. He constantly talks up his fear of Big Brother and tells stories about his FBI file.

So how big a threat is Moxie to the federal government? This big: After selling his encryption start-up to Twitter in 2011, Moxie began partnering with America’s soft-power regime change apparatus — including the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (now called the U.S. Agency for Global Media) — on developing tech to fight Internet censorship abroad. That relationship led to his next venture: a suite of government-funded encrypted chat and voice mobile apps. Say hello to Signal. If you look at Signal’s website today, you’ll find all sorts of celebrity endorsements — Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, and even Jack Dorsey. You’ll also find a “donate” button — which, by the way, you shouldn’t press because Signal has plenty of tech oligarch cash on hand these days. What you won’t find is an “about” section that explains Signal’s origin story — a story that involves several million dollars in seed and development capital from Radio Free Asia, a CIA spinoff whose history goes back to 1951 and involves all sorts of weird shit, including its association in the 1970s with the Moonies, the hardcore anti-communist Korean cult.

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“A window of euphoria as a $21 Trillion economy digests $10 Trillion of stimulus. What happens after that?”

When Will The Window Of Euphoria Close? (O’Rourke)

These certainly are interesting times. Despite a global pandemic, the S&P 500 is 5 days removed from all-time highs. Additionally, there are 20,000 members of the National Guard protecting Washington DC, notably Capitol Hill. That is 4x the amount of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their purpose is obvious – to protect the nation’s “peaceful” transfer of power from supporters of the outgoing President. Violence is expected throughout the nation next week. While those events are uncomfortable for Americans to contemplate, they have had no effect on the financial markets. Equities remain elevated and bonds have sold off, no haven bid necessary.

[..] There is little doubt as to what is fueling this insanity. In 2020, there was nearly $5 Trillion of fiscal stimulus pumped into the United States economy. There was an additional $3.25 Trillion of monetary stimulus and zero interest rate policy added as well. President elect Biden is seeking an additional $1.9 Trillion in fiscal stimulus in the coming month, and the Federal Reserve will add another $1.4 Trillion in monetary stimulus this year. This is a massive stimulus driven bubble. Market participants frequently talk about generational buying opportunities like Q1 2009, or maybe even March of 2020. Take note, 2021 is setting up to be a generational selling opportunity.

In the span of 12 months’ time, we are setting up to witness approximately $6.5 Trillion of fiscal stimulus and $3.5 Trillion of monetary stimulus for a $21 Trillion economy. $10 Trillion of stimulus is a tremendous amount of stimulus to digest. In his futile quest for consumer price inflation, Fed Chairman Jay Powell has created a historic asset bubble that will be the downfall of the US economy. [..] The charts below of call option activity and total equity volumes reinforce that this is simply a speculative snapshot in time. A window of euphoria as a $21 Trillion economy digests $10 Trillion of stimulus. What happens after that? The window should be used for tactical exits and certainly not as entry. The day will come when this window slams shut, and it is likely to be in the coming months.

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“While Gates may be the country’s biggest farmland owner, he by no means is the largest individual landowner.”

America’s Biggest Owner Of Farmland Is Now Bill Gates (F.)

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America. After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway. While it may be surprising that a tech billionaire would also be the biggest farmland owner in the country, this is not Gates’ only foray into agriculture. In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced $306 million in grants to promote high-yield, sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The foundation has further invested in the development and proliferation of “super crops” resistant to climate change and higher-yield dairy cows. Last year, the organization announced Gates Ag One, a nonprofit to advance those efforts.

It is not entirely clear how Gates’ farmland is being used, or whether any of the land is being set aside for conservation. However, there is some indication that the land could be used in a way that aligns with the foundation’s values. Cottonwood Ag Management, a subsidiary of Cascade, is a member of Leading Harvest, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture standards that prioritize protections of crops, soil and water resources. [..] While Gates may be the country’s biggest farmland owner, he by no means is the largest individual landowner. In its list of 100 top American landowners, The Land Report gives the top spot to Liberty Media Chair John Malone, who owns 2.2 million acres of ranches and forests. CNN founder Ted Turner ranked number three with 2 million acres of ranch land across eight states. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is investing in land on a large scale, landing the 25th spot with his ownership of 420,000 acres, mainly in west Texas.

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“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

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Jan 012021
 
 January 1, 2021  Posted by at 10:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Claude Monet Boulevard des Capucines 1873

 

Pfizer Vaccine First To Receive Emergency Use Authorization From WHO (RT)
New Coronavirus Variant May Have Been In US Since October (G.)
The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb (Atl.)
World Faces COVID19 “Vaccine Apartheid” (IC)
Over 100 Republicans Will Challenge Electoral College Results (SAC)
Pence Asks Judge To End GOP Suit To Expand His Powers (JTN)
‘Keep The Light On,’ Scottish PM Sturgeon Tells EU (RT)
A Festive Message for 2021 (Varoufakis)
The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange (Greenwald)

 

 

 

 

But what does it do? It doesn’t protect you from infection, and it doesn’t protect others around you from your infection.

Pfizer Vaccine First To Receive Emergency Use Authorization From WHO (RT)

The first vaccine against the novel coronavirus approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization is Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA one produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, the WHO has announced. The world health body announced the emergency approval on Thursday, as 2020 came to a close. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) will enable countries to expedite their own regulatory approval of the vaccine, and allow UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to buy it for distribution, the WHO said. “This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to [Covid]-19 vaccines,” Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO’s assistant-Director General for access to medicines and health products, said in a statement. She added that “an even greater global effort” is needed to come up with enough of a supply to meet the needs of “priority populations everywhere,” however. The WHO is “working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards,” said Simão, urging other developers to “come forward for review and assessment.”

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There are multiple variants.

New Coronavirus Variant May Have Been In US Since October (G.)

A coronavirus variant carrying some of the same mutations as the highly contagious British variant may have been in the US since October and already be widespread, a re-analysis of more than 2m tests suggests. Genome sequencing to confirm whether the variant observed in Americans is the same as the so-called B117 variant currently circulating in the UK is under way. Results are expected within days but the revelations have prompted fresh questions about where the altered virus originated, including a small possibility that it began in the US, not the UK, or elsewhere altogether. The variant has also been found in at least 17 countries, including South Korea, Spain, Australia and Canada.

“It wouldn’t be at all surprising if at least some of the cases were B117,” said Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, who was not involved in the research, but whose team confirmed a Californian case of the B117 variant on Wednesday. “It has probably been here for a while at low levels – but you don’t see it until you look for it.” The existence of a new and highly transmissible Sars CoV-2 variant was announced by the UK’s health secretary on 14 December, after Covid-testing laboratories reported that a growing number of their positive samples were missing a signal from one of the three genes their PCR tests use to confirm the presence of the virus.

Further sequencing revealed that such “S gene dropout” was the result of mutations in the gene encoding the spike protein which the virus uses to gain entry to human cells. The variant is thought to have been circulating in the UK since September. News of the new variant has led to multiple countries restricting travel from the UK – or in the case of the US, requiring travelers to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed into the country. However, it has been detected this week in Colorado and California, and the suspicion is it may already be widespread. To investigate, scientists at the California-based DNA testing company Helix examined the prevalence of S gene dropout among 2 million of the Covid tests the company has processed in recent months.

They observed an increase in S gene dropout among positive samples since early October, when 0.25% of positive tests exhibited this pattern. This has since grown, hitting 0.5% on average last week – although in Massachusetts, which has the highest number of such samples, it currently stands at 1.85%, although no cases of the B117 variant have been announced in that state yet. Further analysis revealed mutations in some of the same regions of the S gene which are also present in the B117 variant – although full sequencing of the viral genome is needed to confirm whether this is indeed the same variant, or something else.

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A lot of assumptions.

The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb (Atl.)

A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the globe. It was first identified in the United Kingdom, where it is rapidly spreading, and has been found in multiple countries. Viruses mutate all the time, often with no impact, but this one appears to be more transmissible than other variants—meaning it spreads more easily. Barely one day after officials announced that America’s first case of the variant had been found in the United States, in a Colorado man with no history of travel, an additional case was found in California. There are still many unknowns, but much concern has focused on whether this new variant would throw off vaccine efficacy or cause more severe disease—with some degree of relief after an initial study indicated that it did not do either.

And while we need more data to feel truly reassured, many scientists believe that this variant will not decrease vaccine efficacy much, if at all. Health officials have started emphasizing the lack of evidence for more severe disease. All good and no cause for alarm, right? Wrong. A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 is a potential catastrophe in and of itself. If anything, given the stage in the pandemic we are at, a more transmissible variant is in some ways much more dangerous than a more severe variant. That’s because higher transmissibility subjects us to a more contagious virus spreading with exponential growth, whereas the risk from increased severity would have increased in a linear manner, affecting only those infected.

Increased transmissibility can wreak havoc in a very, very short time—especially when we already have uncontrolled spread in much of the United States. The short-term implications of all this are significant, and worthy of attention, even as we await more clarity from data. In fact, we should act quickly especially as we await more clarity—lack of data and the threat of even faster exponential growth argue for more urgency of action. If and when more reassuring data come in, relaxing restrictions will be easier than undoing the damage done by not having reacted in time.

To understand the difference between exponential and linear risks, consider an example put forth by Adam Kucharski, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who focuses on mathematical analyses of infectious-disease outbreaks. Kucharski compares a 50 percent increase in virus lethality to a 50 percent increase in virus transmissibility. Take a virus reproduction rate of about 1.1 and an infection fatality risk of 0.8 percent and imagine 10,000 active infections—a plausible scenario for many European cities, as Kucharski notes. As things stand, with those numbers, we’d expect 129 deaths in a month. If the fatality rate increased by 50 percent, that would lead to 193 deaths. In contrast, a 50 percent increase in transmissibility would lead to a whopping 978 deaths in just one month—assuming, in both scenarios, a six-day infection-generation time.

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Billions in profits.

World Faces COVID19 “Vaccine Apartheid” (IC)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently heaped praise on “the almost 44,000 people who selflessly raised their hands to participate in our trial.” “Each of you has helped to bring the world one step closer to our shared goal of a potential vaccine to fight this devastating pandemic,” Bourla wrote in an open letter to volunteers who took part in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine research, which was conducted in Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey as well as the U.S. His letter was published on November 9, the same day Pfizer announced that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at preventing the disease, and Bourla laid this considerable accomplishment at the feet of the medical volunteers: “You are the true heroes, and the whole world owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

But Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey will have to be satisfied with Pfizer’s gratitude, because (like most countries in the world) they won’t be receiving enough of the vaccine to inoculate their populations, at least not anytime soon. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Germany — along with Canada and the rest of the European Union — have contracted for enough doses of various Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate their populations several times over. While the U.S. is struggling with the logistics of its vaccine rollout — fewer than 3 million people have received the first dose so far — adequate supplies should eventually be available. The U.S. pre-purchased 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for $1.95 billion in the summer (and reportedly passed on the opportunity to secure another 100 million doses).

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a deal to buy another 100 million doses of the vaccine by July 2021, and the government has the option to purchase an additional 400 million doses. The U.S. has also purchased 200 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is also extremely effective against Covid-19. Those doses are due by the second quarter of 2021, and the government may buy up to 300 million more doses. And the U.S. has contracts for additional vaccine doses from Ology, Sanofi, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, whose candidates are in earlier stages of development.

Pharmaceutical companies and individual executives are already profiting handsomely from their medical breakthroughs. On the same day that he sent his open letter, Bourla, whose net worth is estimated at more than $26 million, sold more than $5 million worth of his shares of Pfizer stock. Pfizer has already made an estimated $975 million from the vaccine this year and is expected to earn another $19 billion in revenue from the vaccine in 2021, according to Morgan Stanley. Pfizer’s profit margin on the vaccine is estimated at between 60 and 80 percent. Moderna is projected to make more than $10 billion from its vaccine next year.

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Of course they will.

Over 100 Republicans Will Challenge Electoral College Results (SAC)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Wednesday he believes more than 100 members of the GOP could challenge the Electoral College results when Congress certifies the electoral votes on Jan. 6. During an interview with Charlie Sykes on “The Bulwark Podcast,” Kinzinger said he thinks “upwards of 100” GOP lawmakers could challenge the Nov. 3 election results. “I hope I’m wrong,” Kinzinger said. “I’m guessing it could be upwards of 100.” He added, “I’m just over the undermining of democracy and the frankly massive damage that’s being done with this.” Joe Biden is expected to be certified as the 2020 presidential winner, but President Donald Trump has not conceded and is encouraging members of the GOP to challenge the results.


There has been an increasing number of GOP lawmakers who have said they will support Trump’s effort in overturning the election results, including most recently Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.)
“Somebody has to stand up here,” Hawley said in an interview with Fox News Wednesday. “You’ve got 74 million Americans who feel disenfranchised, who feel like their vote doesn’t matter, and this is the one opportunity that I have as a United States senator, this process right here, my one opportunity to stand up and say something and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

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“An 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act has the vice president presiding over the congressional meeting. However the suit led by Gohmert tries to invalidate the law as an unconstitutional constraint on the vice president’s authority..”

Pence Asks Judge To End GOP Suit To Expand His Powers (JTN)

Vice President Mike Pence asked a federal judge Thursday to reject an attempt by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and other congressional Republicans to expand Pence’s official powers to allow him to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. The lawsuit was filed earlier this week and attempts to expand Pence’s role in Congress’ meeting Wednesday to count states’ electoral votes and certify Biden’s victory over Trump, according to The Hill newspaper. Pence argued in a filing Thursday to U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle that he was not the correct defendant to the suit.


“A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,” a Justice Department attorney wrote in the filing, The Hill also reported. An 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act has the vice president presiding over the congressional meeting. However the suit led by Gohmert tries to invalidate the law as an unconstitutional constraint on the vice president’s authority to choose among competing claims of victory when state-level election results are disputed. Republicans in several key battleground states have disputed Biden’s win and offered alternate “slates” of pro-Trump electors to be counted, also according to The Hill.

Read more …

WIll the UK fall apart next?

‘Keep The Light On,’ Scottish PM Sturgeon Tells EU (RT)

Within minutes of Brexit taking effect, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a message to Brussels that Scotland would be rejoining the EU “soon,” responding to recent demand for another independence referendum. “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on,” Sturgeon said as the clock struck midnight in Brussels and the UK’s exit from the European Union became official on Friday. The United Kingdom’s divorce from the continental bloc after 45 years of membership was the result of a protracted process following the 2016 referendum, which the Tory government expected would fail. Instead, a narrow majority in England and Wales backed Brexit, while Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain – by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Sturgeon came to lead the Scottish National Party (SNP) after the failure of the first Scottish independence referendum, in 2014. Only 45 percent of Scots voted to leave the UK, with 55 percent choosing to remain, in part due to warnings from Brussels that an independent Scotland would not automatically become an EU member and would have to negotiate entry from scratch. That ratio has now been reversed, according to recent polls. Research by Ipsos MORI in October indicated that support for Scottish independence was at 58 percent – an all-time high. Other polls show support for secession at anywhere between 51 and 59 percent.

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“Because things are the way they are, things will not remain the way they are.”

A Festive Message for 2021 (Varoufakis)

I am Yanis Varoufakis with a message for the New Year from DiEM25. 2020 leaves behind much debris – pain, fear, broken lives, smashed dreams. But, we also owe a debt of gratitude to 2020: It has helped expose seven fundamental secrets. We used to think of governments as powerless. But since Covid-19 struck we know better: Governments have stupendous powers that they hitherto chose not to use, deferring to the exorbitant power of Big Business. Yes, the money-trey does exist after all. Except, of course, that is only harvested by the powerful on behalf of the oligarchy: Money created by the rich for the rich. Solvency is a political decision because power-politics, not markets, decide who is bankrupt and who is not.

Wealth has nothing to do with hard work or entrepreneurship. America’s billionaires made 931 billion dollars from the pandemic. They got richer in their sleep. Yes, 2020 was a vintage year for capitalists, but capitalism died! Liberated from any remaining competition, colossal platform companies like Amazon own everything. So, yes, during 2020, Capitalism morphed into an insidious Technofeudalism. Our Europe, its civilisation and power notwithstanding, continued to sell its soul in 2020. One word suffices: Moria, the refuges prison camp in Lesbos – a mirror reflecting Europe’s cruelty and lost soul.


Yes, it has been a difficult year. We lost too many people to the pandemic. We saw exploitation flourish, driving so many into the embrace of destitution. Civil liberties took a major hit. But, despite it all, 2020 let us in on a brilliant, hope-inspiring seventh secret: Everything could be different. If this pandemic proved anything, it is that Bertolt Brecht was right when he once said: Because things are the way they are, things will not remain the way they are. I can think of no greater source of hope than this. We must thank 2020 for it. Now, it is up to us to make 2021 a year of radical change in the interests of the many. Everywhere! Happy New Year and Carpe DiEM25!

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Assange may be in prison for many more years. Monday’s a big day. But after that, appeals are sure to follow.

The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange (Greenwald)

Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class. Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce. And if they do so, they will not even realize, or at least not care, and may even regard as justifiable, that those who refuse this Orwellian bargain they have embraced (“freedom” in exchange for submission) are crushed with unlimited force.


Those who do not seek to meaningfully dissent or subvert power will usually deny — because they do not perceive — that such dissent and subversion are, in fact, rigorously prohibited. They will continue to believe blissfully that the society in which they live guarantees core civic freedoms — of speech, of press, of assembly, of due process — because they have rendered their own speech and activism, if it exists at all, so innocuous that nobody with the capacity to do so would bother to try to curtail it. The observation apocryphally attributed to socialist activist Rosa Luxemburg, imprisoned for her opposition to German involvement in World War I and then summarily executed by the state, expresses it best: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 282020
 


Eugene Delacroix Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi 1826

 

 

A little personal thank you note from the Automatic Earth is in order. 2020 has been an annus horribilis across the world, but we have been blessed with lots of attention and comments, as well as great support from our readers throughout the year, both for the Automatic Earth itself and for the Monastiraki social kitchen in Athens. Problem is, I have so many people to say thank you to.

We started covering the coronavirus early on, in January, and never looked back. Many people got their first exposure to the virus through us (pun very much intended). What developed throughout 2020 was not just a solid reader-base, but also a maturing comments section, that taught me as much as it did readers.

Thank you for that. The comments from medical professionals and others became a strong part of the entire story. And it was by no means a one-sided thing; opinions were always all over the place, as they should be.

That’s the big problem in my view that we face these days: our media have become one-dimensional, the exact opposite of what they should be. This became clear through the Trump era, and the incessant hammering of one actor vs the deafening silence about all others in the same theater and on the same stage.

 

And we see that again today: try, if you can, to find in the MSM a critical opinion about lockdowns, or facemasks, or about the newly-fangled vaccines. It’s very hard if not impossible. This one-dimensionality hides behind “the science”. Which is something that doesn’t really exist, as we know because scientists in different countries contradict each other, as do those in the same country, and scientists even often contradict themselves.

If you want people to “follow the science”, you need to convince them that this is the right thing to do. You can’t just force them to do it. Or, rather, you can try that for a short period of time, and then they will come after you. People don’t live their lives in one dimension; they can’t.

Are facemasks useful? Sure, in crowded indoor spaces. But outdoors? I have yet to see the first evidence of that, and I do read an awful lot. Let’s inject some nuance here: if there is a risk of 1 in 100,000 that someone gets infected outdoors, it that worth forcing 99,999 people to put facemasks on? Or would you rather ask them to wear those where it demonstrably matters?

Are lockdowns useful? Sure, but they can only ever be emergency measures, short and “sweet”. Because they risk destroying entire economies and societies. Lockdowns should only be used when there are no other measures available anymore.

But we haven’t exhausted the scope of all other measures, not at all. There are no governments promoting the large scale use of vitamin D, or the proper use of hydroxychloroquine, and Chris Martenson even sees his videos about ivermectin banned from YouTube. As all three substances show great promise in preventing infections, and/or limiting the consequences of being infected.

We’ve been reduced to one-dimensional lives. By now, politicians and “scientists” would rather see everyone be infected, and then “cured” by a vaccine, then not get infected in the first place. In one dimension, the world easily gets turned upside down. You just wouldn’t be able to see it, because you need three dimensions to recognize what “upside down” looks like.

 

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines may work very well, but we don’t know, because we haven’t researched that. Which, if you want to “follow the science”, is a very strange thing to do. Of course we would all like the virus to be gone, but ignoring the science doesn’t look like the way to achieve that. And that’s what we’re doing: we’re not following the science, we’re ignoring it where that fits our purposes.

We don’t know if the Pfizer vaccine protects you from being infected, we don’t know if it keeps you from infecting others, but we do know governments and airlines are talking about requiring evidence that you’ve received a dose. But for what purpose, then, exactly? Just to let all the MPs and CEOs people claim they did what they could?

-Too- many people have lost their jobs and their businesses without any country seriously having tried to stop people from becoming infected through the use of vit. D, HCQ, ivermectin. Many of these jobs and businesses will never come back. Is this worth it? Maybe if we could say we tried everything we could, but we obviously haven’t.

We sold our souls to the “science” and then to the vaccine. Which are two very very different things.

If there’s ever been a time to ask questions, it must be now. About lockdowns, facemasks and viruses, about people, communities, societies, economies. That we are being pressured into not asking those questions, makes them even more necessary.

 

Anyway, those are all issues and questions that will need to be addressed in 2021, we’ve run out of 2020 time. It’s just that it wouldn’t have been necessary; we could easily have done much if not most of it this year. But we have become information-poor, and by design to boot. Which is the opposite of what the Automatic Earth wants to be and do. We want to present all the information, and that without paywalls or things like that.

There are too many of those already, and their main effect is to restrict information at a time when people arguably need more of it. Our model of increasingly relying on donations has worked out alright in 2020, and we hope the same will be true in the new year. Thank you again so kindly for making that possible.

 

A last word, again, about the Monastiraki kitchen: when you see things get harder for yourself, as so many have, it should be a natural reflex to wonder how they are for those less fortunate, because it’s a safe bet they will be hit even harder. It took me way too long to learn that. The team at the kitchen have that down: give, give, and never take. Enormous thanks to all of them.

That you allow me to support them is an honor, and a great responsibility which I take very seriously, both to those who donate and those who receive. Thank you, all of you.

One day when you’re old, and you ask yourself what has been the most important thing you did in your life, the answer will have to be what you did for other people. That is both the only possible outcome, and it’s also at the same time the very thing that is threatened most by the incessant lockdowns and facemask mandates. People need people.

Have a great 2021, stick with the Automatic Earth, and stick with each other.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

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

 

 

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

 

Dec 262020
 


Salvador Dali Christmas Tree 1959

 

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)
UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)
Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)
Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)
Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)
Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)
Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)
Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)
Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)
Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)
Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

“Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.”

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)

Pfizer just inked a second deal with the federal government to supply an additional 100 million doses of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021. This is on top of Pfizer’s earlier deal for 100 million doses, currently being shipped. At around $20 per dose, Pfizer shareholders will do nicely, and the Pfizer CEO cashed in $5.6 million in stock at the time of the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Pfizer deserves enormous credit for the speed with which its vaccine secured the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. But Pfizer’s vaccine strategy was designed from the outset to maximize shareholder profit, not the greater good. Pfizer set out to be first across the finish line and reap a public relations bonanza. That’s why it pursued an mRNA vaccine, which can be developed and manufactured much faster than traditional vaccines.

But Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius to retain its efficacy. Developing countries do not have and cannot afford such a cold chain. That means Pfizer is off the hook to provide low- or no-cost doses to billions of people in poorer nations. The Moderna vaccine, also an mRNA vaccine, was designed to require normal vaccine refrigeration at around minus 20 degrees Celsius . Note, also, that Pfizer declined U.S. government subsidies to fund its vaccine development. This preserved Pfizer’s negotiating independence, avoided bureaucratic delays and helped Pfizer get to the finish line first. Taking no subsidies enabled Pfizer to deflect any government pressure to make its vaccine available at lower cost.

There’s another problem. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses with 21- and 28-day intervals, respectively, between vaccinations. Typically, this will result in 50 percent slippage; half those who receive the first shot will not return for the second. Some will forget, others will experience side effects, and others will believe wrongly that one jab is good enough. Meanwhile, Britain’s AstraZeneca has developed an equally effective COVID-19 vaccine that requires normal refrigeration and can therefore use existing vaccine supply chains that extend to rural areas. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at $2 per dose versus $20 per dose (that is, $40 per person) for Pfizer’s. AstraZeneca has pledged not to profit from COVID-19 vaccine sales and to waive patent protections. Pfizer has done neither.

Pfizer’s strategy is simple. Be first to market and make a boatload of money by “skimming the cream,” supplying vaccines to those willing to pay. Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.

Read more …

“Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory.”

UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives. The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks. People living in households where someone has caught Covid could be injected with the drug to ensure they do not become infected too. It could also be given to university students, among whom the virus has spread rapidly because they live, study and socialise together.

Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at University College London Hospitals NHS trust (UCLH) who is leading a study called Storm Chaser into the drug, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.,” The drug has been developed by UCLH and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company that has also, along with Oxford University, created a vaccine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to approve for use in Britain next week. The team hope the trial shows that the cocktail of antibodies protects against Covid-19 for between six and 12 months. Trial participants are receiving it as two doses, one after the other.

If it is approved, it would be offered to someone who has been exposed to Covid in the previous eight days. It could be available as soon as March or April if it is approved by the medicines regulator after it has reviewed evidence from the study. The trial involves ULCH, several other British hospitals and a network of 100 sites globally. This month University College hospital became the first site in the world to recruit patients into the randomised control trial and give them the jab or a placebo. “To date we have injected 10 participants – staff, students and other people – who were exposed to the virus at home, in a healthcare setting or student halls,” said Houlihan. She and colleagues would closely follow the participants to see which of them develop Covid-19.

The immediate protection that the drug promises could play a vital role in reducing the impact of the virus until everyone has been immunised. The vaccination programme is under way using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and is expected to take until next summer. NHS England accelerated the vaccine deployment this week after criticism from hospital bosses, GP leaders and the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt that it was taking too long. “The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” Houlihan said. “We could say to trial participants who have been exposed: yes, you can have the vaccine. But we wouldn’t be telling them that would protect them from the disease, because it’s too late by then [because the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines do not confer full immunity for around a month].”

[..] The drug involves a long-acting antibody combination known as AZD7442, which has been developed by AstraZeneca. Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory. In documents on a clinical trial that AstraZeneca has registered in the US, it explains that it is investigating “the efficacy of AZD7442 for the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults. The Sars-CoV-2 spike protein contains the virus’s RBD [receptor-binding domain], which enables the virus to bind to receptors on human cells. By targeting this region of the virus’s spike protein, antibodies can block the virus’s attachment to human cells, and therefore is expected to block infection.”

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“Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested.”

Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)

The vaccines approved by the FDA, along with those approved by other countries like China and Russia, have gone through the fastest possible testing. Tens of thousands of individuals have been placed in control and treatment groups in order to determine two things: to what extent do the vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting infected (efficiency) and how common and severe are the side effects (safety)? Meeting both criteria is sufficient for approval, which is how it should be. But there is another crucial question, to what extent do the vaccines reduce transmission of the virus to others?

The answer does not affect whether these vaccines should be employed, but they do have large consequences for other policies during this phase of the pandemic, such as rules for separation and masking, restrictions on activities and events, resumption of in-person schooling, and how much should be spent on interventions like ventilation overhauls. To the extent that vaccination reduces transmission, other restrictions and investments can be modified as the vaccinated portion of the population increases. Unfortunately, our knowledge of this issue is minimal. We don’t have any published lab results at all, and we are at least months away from meaningful epidemiological data.

A rollout that prioritizes crucial learning could change this. Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested. Others matched to them by relevant demographic, economic and other variables would be controls and would not receive any vaccines during the trial period. (Note that the lack of blinding at the community level should not be a serious problem as long as unvaccinated individuals in treatment communities are given a convincing placebo.) Everyone living in these communities would be tested regularly. We could then observe differences between community infection rates corresponding to treatment and infer transmission probabilities under real world conditions. It might also be possible to learn how transmission varies across the different viral strains that have emerged. The entire operation could be accomplished within the space of a month or less.

Read more …

You have allergies? Stay away.

Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)

The chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed said the frequency of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is higher than what would be expected for other jabs, according to a report.Dr. Moncef Slaoui said the last time he was updated on allergic reactions was Tuesday, when there were six cases, and added that the data on COVID-19 immunizations is lagging behind the actual numbers, CNN reported. “That frequency, as it stood yesterday, is superior to what one would expect with other vaccines,” he said. Slaoui said discussions are underway between the vaccine makers and the National Institutes of Health to consider holding clinical trials of vaccines in very allergic populations, such as people who always have to carry anti-allergy medication in an EpiPen.

Read more …

January will be bleak.

Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)

Millions more people will be waking to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day when new tier changes come into force in England. New lockdowns are set to be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be reimposed on Saturday. Those in the strict tier 4 in England will increase by 6 million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK. It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.


There were also 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing to 244,146 the number of positive tests in the past seven days. The new measures were being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week. Areas moving into tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest. Tier-4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and the forced closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

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“In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over.”

Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)

There has been a great deal of political narrative engineering/fabrication surrounding President Trump’s admonitions to congress about a pork-filled COVID relief package. With a budgetary “shut-down” date looming on Monday, let’s look at the issues. First, there’s no such thing as a federal government “shut-down”; the only thing that happens if with a budgetary date exceeded is “non essential” government employees told to stay home (reference the prior “sequestration” nonsense). Second, the jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and pork-filled scheme of spending within the $900 billion COVID relief package is disconnected from the Omnibus spending bill ($1.5 trillion) that was combined into a single legislative construct for convenience only.

The Omnibus bill (non budget spending/allocation) and the COVID bill can be separated, because they are technically separate bills. President Trump wants congress to re-write the $900 billion COVID bill to provide $2,000 per person instead of $600 per person. In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over. This is not a hard issue to resolve. The only reason UniParty congress is fighting Trump is because their lobbyist and foreign government bribes are part of the $900 billion and will not pass the scrutiny of public opinion if standing alone.

To try and conflate the issues Pelosi changed on part of the pork-laden COVID bill to $2k/person, without removing all the pork. The GOP voted against that scheme and the media are now claiming that loggerhead derails the omnibus part of the spending “package”. Again, Omnibus is separate from COVID relief. The obtuse arguments are conflated and false. The Omnibus spending bill can be sent to POTUS without the COVID part included. The reason why McConnell and Pelosi want to keep them attached is because the combination makes a 5,500 page mess that hides the pork.

Read more …

“Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks?”

Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)

After Nov. 3, the meaning of some words and concepts abruptly changed. Have you noticed how new realities have replaced old ones? Media cross-examination of the president is now an out-of-date idea. The time for gotcha questions has come and gone. Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks? The old pre-election truth was that new vaccines take years to develop. The new postelection truth is that it’s no big deal to bring out new vaccines in nine months. Impeaching a first-term president after his first midterm election — on a strictly partisan vote, for political reasons other than the Constitution’s “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — is now a terrible idea.

Worse would be to appoint a special counsel to harass a president on unfounded charges of collusion with China. An even scarier notion would be a conservative dream team of partisan lawyers hounding President Joe Biden — using a 22-month, $40 million blank check. It would be unprofessional for university psychologists and physicians from a distance to diagnose, in pop fashion, the mental faculties of a President Biden. Certainly, there would never be talk about Department of Justice officials contemplating wearing a wire as part of an entrapment scheme to remove a President Biden through the 25th Amendment. That would almost constitute a coup attempt. Almost as bad would be for the holdover FBI director to start “memorializing” his private conversations with Joe Biden on FBI devices. He might then leak such memos to the press — just in case he were to be fired for secretly investigating Biden for “Chinese collusion” and then lying about such a probe.

What happened to the Logan Act? Not long ago it was assumed to be a critically needed guardrail. Wouldn’t it now ensure that presidential transition team members were not calling foreign leaders while Donald Trump is still president? How has it suddenly become a defunct, ossified relic? Leaking classified material would be about the worst thing government officials could do. Imagine if a Trump holdover, burrowed into the new Biden administration, released a transcript of Biden’s private conversations with the Mexican president or the Australian prime minister. Such a breach of trust would be almost as bad as a turncoat anti-Biden mole seeking to resist presidential directives. Imagine if this anonymous staffer were given an op-ed in the New York Tines to claim that a cadre of old-time Democrats were shocked by Biden’s cognitive decline and resisting his directives.

Read more …

$100 million for a Senate seat. Inflation much?

Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)

Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock have each raised over $100 million in the past two months, shattering Senate fundraising records and out-raising their respective challengers, Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Their $210 million total was split almost evenly, with Ossoff reporting $106.8 million and Warnock reporting $103.4 million, two totals funded largely by small-dollar donors across the country, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though outraised, Perdue and Loeffler raised over $130 million in total, reporting $68 and $64.1 million, respectively. All four totals broke the previous Senate fundraising record set by South Carolina challenger Jaime Harrison in the third quarter of 2020 when he reported raising $57 million in his bid against South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.


Ossoff and Warnock have spent $67 and $53 million on television advertisements since the November election, compared to $34 million and $36 million for Perdue and Loeffler. But while the two Democrats have outspent both incumbents, outside GOP groups have erased much of their financial edge, Politico reported. Georgia’s two Senate runoffs have become almost completely nationalized given their stakes. If Democrats flip both seats then they would have 50 seats, just enough for a majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. If Republicans, however, can defend both seats, then they would have a 52-48 Senate majority, which would prevent Democratic control of Congress and the White House and likely block much of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda once he takes office in January.

Read more …

1,246 pages.

Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)

The post-Brexit trade deal agreed by the UK and the European Union goes beyond the bloc’s so-called “Canada-style” trade accord, the BBC has reported, citing a full copy of the agreement. The 1,246-page document, which includes about 800 pages of annexes and footnotes, includes a late compromise on electric cars, the corporation said. The EU had sought to offer tariff-free access only to those British vehicles that are made mostly with European parts. This measure will now be phased in over six years but is less generous than the UK requested. The BBC also reported there is a commitment not to lower standards on the environment, workers’ rights and climate change with mechanisms to enforce it.

However there is also a mutual right to “rebalance” the agreement if there are “significant divergences” in future that are capable of “impacting trade”. The dispensations go beyond standard free-trade agreements such as those between the EU and Canada or Japan, reflecting the UK’s history in the single market which was established in 1993. Johnson had described the agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve, as a “jumbo” free trade deal along the lines of that between the EU and Canada and urged Britain to move on from the divisions caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The BBC reported that restrictions compensation for unfair subsidies to companies “do not apply” in situations such as natural disasters which will exempt the EU’s large current pandemic support package for aviation, aerospace, climate change and electric cars. Parliament will debate and vote on the deal on Wednesday, a day before the transition period lapses. Downing Street has thus far published only a short summary of the agreement that sets out the shape of the future relationship between the EU and Brussels.

Read more …

Make it stop!

Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)

Last month, commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed after a 20-month worldwide grounding, following two deadly accidents. Now we’re finding out, weeks later, after the Max was cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return to the skies safely, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 Max suffered engine issues during flight. According to Aviation24.be, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX (registered C-FSNQ) was on a test flight after storage from Marana Pinal, Arizona, to Montreal, Canada, when the incident occurred. Luckily, the aircraft had no passengers and only three crew members.


Engine issues shortly developed after the plane took off. The crew noticed the “left engine had low hydraulic pressure,” said Aviation24.be. Then more complications developed with the aircraft: “The crew and airline dispatch/engineering controllers initially decided to continue to Montreal but the crew received an indication of a fuel imbalance from the left-hand wing and shut the left hand engine down,” said the aviation website. The crew was forced to declare a “PAN-PAN” emergency, meaning the plane was in severe jeopardy and had to divert from its pre-planned flight route and land in Tucson. The incident took place on Dec. 22, according to Aviation24.be.

Read more …

“In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.”

Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

And so, on Christmas morning, having suffered the night visitations of vexing spirits — or was that just the strange interaction of Zyprexa and Zolpidem — Joe Biden woke up (in a manner of speaking) to find himself transformed. He was no longer dogged by the prospect of being president of the US, but, rather, was convinced he had become the provincial plenipotentiary of a Chinese overseas possession known as Golden Wok West, where CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping can order up any asset for take-out. What a relief, Joe thought, as they brought in his morning meds. Here, now, was a one-horse pony of a different color, Joe mused, chugging down his 5mg of Haldol.

Ol’ Joe went to bed on the blessed silent night fretting that soon he’d have to answer to all those caterwauling losers about to be tossed from their McHouses and apartments after nearly a year of nonpayment. But no, the shabby dwellings would now just become the property of the People’s Liberation Army, as that very fine organization prepared to sort things out in the flea market once known as America.

Was there anything left of value? Wasn’t that a puzzlement? The former so-called Yang-kees had squandered all their laid-up treasure turning their continent into a demolition derby — six-laners lined by muffler shops, chain stores, and fried food shacks — and when all their financial resources were used up, they’d borrowed so much more money that all the certified public accountants who ever lived could not keep up with the compounded interest calculations if they worked double-shifts until the end of time. In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.

Now, all that was left for Joe Biden to do was to sign some paperwork and, maybe three times a week, emerge from his basement to smile and explain to eager members of the inquisitive news media why he preferred General Tso’s Chicken over Hunan Beef. At least that’s how things seemed to shake out in Joe Biden’s brain on Christmas morning as Dr. Jill helped him to the bathroom….

Read more …

 

 

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“If people can’t control their own emotions then they have to start to control other people’s behavior.”
– John Cleese

 

 

 

 

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Dec 192020
 
 December 19, 2020  Posted by at 7:35 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Mi esposa desnuda 1945

 

 

Over the past 5 years I’ve addressed this numerous times, and it just goes on. When the MSM, WaPo, NYT, CNN, MSNBC, started to feel a real threat to their existence and survival from social media, they changed course radically. They no longer attempted to inform people, they began to shape their readers’ and watchers’ opinions. And it worked.

That change appears to bear fruit. The WaPo announced the other day they’re hiring 150 more “reporters”. Who are not really reporters, in the new setting they’re more like narrators. They’re servants to the narratives favored by editors and owners, the ones they expect -and know- to generate the most clickbaits.

Superficially, the media landscape sort of still looks the same, same logos, same slogans, but below the surface everything has changed. What’s important is no longer News, but the favored interpretation of it. It seems to work miracles for the MSM, but it’s dangerous for the nation. Because: where are you going to get your news, on the basis of which you can form your own opinion?

And if you can’t get news that doesn’t already have an inbuilt opinion, how are you supposed to have a opinion of your own? At the end of the day, you will be left with a nation that is poorly informed and has no opinions of its own. Everyone just regurgitates opinions forced upon them 24/7.

The main difference with 5 years ago is probably that social media have joined the MSM in their strategy. They now all force-shape opinions for clickbait. And nobody puts a loophole in their way:

 

Facebook Joins Twitter In Reverting To Pre-Election News Feed Algorithms

Facebook has reversed its election-season policy of prioritizing mainstream media stories in News Feed after a similar move from Twitter. This is as Mark Zuckerberg is sued for allegedly helping tip the vote in favor of Joe Biden. An algorithm tweak that saw Facebook users deluged with mainstream media stories following last month’s elections has been reversed, the social media behemoth told the New York Times on Wednesday, insisting that the change – which significantly boosted traffic for establishment outlets like CNN, NPR, and the Times itself while suppressing alt-media and right-wing sites – was never meant to be permanent.


Boosting the importance of “news ecosystem quality,” essentially a reputational score applied to news outlets, was “a temporary change we made to help limit the spread of inaccurate claims about the election,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the outlet. He explained that the platform was still prioritizing so-called “authoritative and informative news” on “important global topics like elections, Covid-19 and climate change.” The tech giant opted to return to pre-election policies despite the protests of some employees who preferred the “nicer news feed,” sources present at one post-vote Facebook meeting claimed, describing the prioritization of establishment sources as one of several “break glass measures” designed for the care and feeding of a desirable post-election narrative.

 

And that feeds through to all news:

 

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines

Twitter will remove tweets that spread harmful misinformation, starting with the Covid-19 vaccine, the company has announced – and from 2021 it will begin to label tweets that push conspiracy theories. The move sees the company follow Facebook and YouTube in tightening up policies around the coronavirus vaccination as the rollout of the jab begins across the world. “Starting next week, we will prioritise the removal of the most harmful misleading information,” the US company said in a blogpost. “And during the coming weeks, we will begin to label tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines.”

This is of course not about lies about vaccines, it’s about questions about vaccines. We are not supposed or allowed to ask questions about them, we’re supposed to take them and shut up. Emergency, don’t you know?! More on that in a minute. First, let’s step back 5 years or so.

The MSM were very quick in denouncing Trump’s candidacy for President. That then led to -much- more of the same when he was elected, by which time they realized Trump meant more clickbait than they could ever have imagined, and that in turn became the Mueller investigation. “Based” on blatant lies and propaganda, it was all reported as “news” for 3-4 years.

More such empty nonsense then led to the impeachment procedure, which the current Hunter Biden probe entirely cuts down to size: there were plenty reasons for Trump to ask Zelensky to look into Hunter’s history with Burisma. And then some. But the one half of Americans who get their “news” from the MSM will have completely missed that, just like they now miss what really goes on in Hunter world.

Negative stories about Trump generate clickbait, and not-so-negative ones do not. That right there is your entire American media landscape today, and yes, again, it’s dangerous for the nation. It’s bad enough if people draw different conclusions from the same news, but it’s a whole other story if they have don’t have access to the news in the first place, but only to half of it, boiled and brewed in a narrative sauce.

Similarly, it took the MSM barely more than 5 minutes to declare Joe Biden the president-elect, even though they know that’s not their announcement to make. They just do it, because they trust their audience won’t notice the difference. Still, that, too, is dangerous.

 

Which leads us, seamlessly, into the vaccine reporting. It would appear that today is THE day to question the vaccines being rolled out by the billions, but the media tell us we’re not supposed, or allowed, to do that. Take your shot and shut your face.

But the “approved” vaccines so far, the Pfizer and Moderna ones, are based on an entirely new and untested technology, messenger RNA. Could they work, could they be a new frontline for medicine? Yes, perhaps they could. But shouldn’t their mid- and long term effects be assessed? Of course they should. mRNA is being treated like GMOs, which lobby to be declared safe as soon as someone doesn’t drop dead in the first hours. While we’re playing games across generations with our own genetic material.

And at the same time that the mRNA vaccines are being rushed through, potentially much less questionable approaches, like vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, are said to need much more research before they can be rolled out. That looks like there’s a game being played, and the MSM are a big player in it. Nothing to do with reporting the news, but with only a part of it.

We’re getting lost in a -dark?- web of opinions disguised as news. We can not ask the questions that we know everyone should ask. The Moderna mRNA vaccine was approved in the US the other day as it was simultaneously found to offer immunity for just 2 months. And on the basis of that, vaccination passports are being prepared for all of our societies. While we might find much better protection in vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin. Or the Russian and Chinese vaccines. But those must not be discussed.

 

Are lockdowns a good idea? From what I can see, only in the short term. And we’re already way past the short term. Beyond that, you start ripping apart society itself, you start tearing down what makes society function, i.e. the people in it, and their interactions. Without which those people won’t be the same people anymore.

We can pretend we still have societies without people’s contacts and interactions, but the longer it takes, the more it becomes pretense. It’s interesting to see how politicians and their scientific advisors behave, and manage to hold on to power and public trust, but if you watch the performance of the media, it’s not terribly surprising.

If you shut down any dissent before it even happens, things will appear hunky-dory for a while. Thing is, it will be short-lived. The odds of the virus vanishing from the northern hemisphere before spring sets in, just based on untested mRNA vaccines, don’t look good. Maybe we should ask the bookies, they’re good at this sort of thing.

But to me it looks like we’re betting everything on red, just because certain parties and interests like it that way. Can mRNA vaccines save us? Perhaps. But we have no way of knowing, we’re just gambling.

 

We should try a multi-pronged approach, look at all vaccines developed so far, Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Western. Throw in HCQ and ivermectin, get everyone on 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day, and see where we get. We’re doing this wrong, and the media tell us to do it wrong. It’s a business model they’ve perfected in the Trump era.

And we are much poorer for it. We no longer think, we let others think for us. Based on a model of unleashing an overkill cacophony of ever-repeating messages, to which very few of us have any resistance. Neither in politics nor in epidemiology is that ever a wise idea.

But first of all, we need to give everyone back their own thoughts, their own ideas, their own opinion, based on actual news reports. Because if we don’t, this thing will blow up in many more faces than we care to even imagine before spring even arrives. Be careful out there.

 

 

 

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I’d like to take you to the ceremony
Well, that is if I remember the way
You see Jack and Jill they’re going to join their misery
I’m afraid it’s time for everyone to pray

You can see they’ve finally taken cover
They’re willing, yeah they’re willing to obey
Their vows are difficult, they’re for each other
So let nobody put a loophole, a loophole in their way

Why Don’t You Try – Leonard Cohen

 

 

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Dec 122020
 


Laura Gilpin The Rio Grande Yields Its Surplus to the Sea 1947

 

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)
AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)
More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)
Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)
US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)
Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)
Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)
The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)
Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)
CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)
Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)
£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

 

 

 

 

Promising. But I would focus on drugs that prevent infection. Ivermectin.

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)

The research, by the global Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care (GenOMICC) consortium, compared the DNA of 2,244 critically ill Covid patients from 208 UK intensive care units with the genetic make-up of healthy individuals in a control group. The analysis revealed key differences in five genes, named IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9 and CCR2, which partially explained why the sick patients became critically ill. Having identified the troublesome genes, the team was able to predict what drug treatments were likely to help. One drug that holds promise for future Covid treatment is a rheumatoid arthritis medicine called baricitinib. This reduces the activity of TYK2, which the research suggests will help reduce dangerous levels of inflammation in the lungs. Another is an antibody-based medicine that blocks CCR2 and is in clinical trials for psoriasis.

Beyond calming down the immune system, drugs may help invigorate the body’s ability to fight the virus. Some compounds are known to boost the activity of Ifnar2 and are likely to protect people from serious infections by mimicking proteins released by the immune system to fight viruses. However, these would probably need to be given early on to have a substantial impact, the scientists said. “This is a wonderful breakthrough, really, in understanding what causes the severe disease,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a co-author on the study. The findings have been shared with groups around the world who are running clinical trials to assess whether drugs that are already in use for other conditions can help save patients with severe Covid-19 disease.

Baillie said that drugs highlighted by the research should now become the top priority for inclusion in clinical trials. “Making those choices really matters,” he said. “If we choose the right intervention to try next in clinical trials then we’ll find out that it works sooner and that could save tens of thousands of lives.” The study is published in Nature. People with Covid-19 tend to develop symptoms as the virus multiplies in their body, but those who die often succumb to excessive lung inflammation which is driven by the immune system. Doctors running Oxford University’s Recovery trial discovered in the summer that the cheap steroid dexamethasone slashed deaths among patients needing supplemental oxygen by up to a third, by damping down the immune system.

But more drugs are needed to help patients who do not respond to the steroid, Baillie said. “Two-thirds of them are still dying even treated with dexamethasone, so there’s a long way to go in preventing that inflammation, and we really urgently need new targets,” he said.

Read more …

“It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.”

AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced a partnership with the team behind the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine to explore the potential of combining its own experimental formula with the pioneering Russian product. The agreement, revealed on Friday morning, came after the Russian scientists took to Twitter to propose that AstraZeneca try the combination. They said it was worth experimenting with the model preferred by Moscow researchers and using two different types of injection, rather than relying on the same one twice, as AstraZeneca has done previously. In a statement to the press, the British company unveiled “a clinical trial programme to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Sputnik V, developed by the Russian Gamaleya Research institute.”

They added that “combinations of different Covid-19 vaccines may be an important step in generating wider protection through a stronger immune response and better accessibility.” Responding to the news, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the Gamaleya Institute’s research, wrote that it was “an example of Russia’s proactive approach: it has not only created one of the world’s most effective vaccines to date against the coronavirus, but is ready to share Sputnik V vectors with those willing to produce vaccines using the two-vector technology.” “This unique example of cooperation between scientists from different countries in jointly fighting coronavirus will play a decisive role in achieving a final victory over the pandemic globally,” Kirill Dmitriev, the fund’s CEO added, saying that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is already saving people’s lives in Russia today through a large-scale vaccination programme.

“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic.” [..] The UK media has previously drawn criticism for its coverage of Sputnik V. Earlier this week, the BBC reported that it had been “rushed out to wary Russians,” while remaining far more positive about the start of immunizations in the country using US pharma giant Pfizer’s vaccine. It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.

Read more …

Warp speed approval. But more research needs to be done on vitamin D?

FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and authorized it for emergency use in the United States. It is the first vaccine to be approved for use in the U.S., and it followed an FDA advisory committee’s endorsement of the shot for people age 16 and older. The vaccine was found to be 95% effective, with only mild side effects. Earlier Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had said that people could be receiving the vaccine as early as next Monday. It was previously approved for use in the United Kingdom and Canada. President Trump announced the approval on Twitter, thanking all the scientists and medical professionals who participated in the Operation Warp Speed project that gave rise to the fastest vaccine development in history.

Read more …

Remember yesterday’s quote:

“..communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)

Across the country, restaurants have been decimated by the pandemic. But according to a new survey conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, New York restaurants are hurting more from the economic crisis in comparison to the industry nationwide. According to the survey — which polled 6,000 restaurant operators, including 238 in New York, over the last two weeks of November – 54 percent of NY restauranteurs say it is likely that they will close in the next six months if another federal relief package does not come through, compared to 37 percent nationwide. Nearly 60 percent of NY operators say they are considering going into hibernation until the pandemic is over, compared to 36 percent nationwide.


The operating landscape has been extremely tough for NYC restaurateurs throughout the pandemic. Restaurants in the city are currently operating at 25 percent indoor capacity with a 10 p.m. nightly curfew, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that indoor dining could be completely banned starting next week. Overall, the National Restaurant Association estimates that one in six restaurants across the country have already permanently shuttered due to the economic crisis amid the pandemic. If the estimate is accurate, that would mean that 8,333 restaurants, including 4,500 establishments in NYC, have permanently shut down so far, according to the New York State Restaurant Association. However, the true number of restaurant closures during the pandemic may not be fully known for years.

Read more …

Warped logic:

“Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference..”

Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that indoor dining would be shut down again in New York City, even as the state released contract-tracing data which showed bars and restaurants accounted for just 1.43% of COVID-19 cases in the three months ending in November. “Indoor dining will close in New York City starting Monday,” Cuomo announced, citing an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. “Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC’s density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk,” he said. “Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining will continue.” Cuomo released a detailed breakdown of sources of COVID-19 exposure during a press briefing on Friday. The contact-tracing data was derived from a statewide analysis of 46,000 COVID-19 cases from September through November.

Private household and social gatherings were responsible for 73.84% of the cases statewide, while health care delivery accounted for 7.81% of cases and higher education accounted for slight more than 2%. Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference” in reducing COVID-19’s spread. But the decision drew immediate criticism from NYC restaurant groups, who have warned for months that Cuomo’s restrictions would cripple the industry. “While public health and safety must be paramount, Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the State’s own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” the NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement.

New York City was one of the hardest-hit areas of the country by the virus, and saw strict lockdowns that shuttered businesses, schools and restaurants. But in recent months the city has been taking baby-step attempts at reopening, with limited indoor dining and a few days of in-person schooling a week at some of the city’s public schools. New York City restaurants, which make up a key pillar of the city’s economy, were permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30 after months of being shut down, while schools have partially reopened this week after being shut down at the end of November.

Read more …

The sides are growing further apart, as the inevitable process continues. Curious. The 18 AGs who signed with Texas are now accused of sedition.

US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening rejected the state of Texas’ challenge to the 2020 election results in four battleground states, extinguishing one of the last remaining hopes for President Trump’s campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s lead in those states. “The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the justices ruled. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.” Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting statement, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction,” Alito wrote. “…I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”

Read more …

“..yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings..”

Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)

If you were President DJ Trump, would you suspect that the CIA might be playing dangerous games with you (and by extension, the nation)? Are you aware that China has a 75 percent investment stake in the holding company that now owns Dominion? Are there grounds to suppose that China somehow interfered in the election? With assistance from an eager Democratic Party and the CIA?Would Mr. Trump, of all people, let such a thing stand? Especially considering the evidence that the putative “winner” of the election, Joe Biden, the kid from Scranton, PA, was up to his eyeballs, with the rest of his family, in Chinese funny-money? (Not to mention money from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, and other lands?)

Note: information about this evidence gleaned from Hunter Biden’s forgotten laptop was deliberately suppressed in October by the major newspapers and cable news stations, with help from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, along with a claque of “fifty former and current intel officials” led John Brennan, who denounced the reports from The New York Post in a public letter as “Russian disinformation” — yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings. Are you aware that in the weeks since the election there have been unusual movements of US military aircraft around the country, including C-130 “Hercules” troop carrier planes? And that the navy has two carrier groups out along the Pacific Coast and three strung along the Atlantic coast? That’s what I hear. Remember, the president cleaned house at the top of the Pentagon this fall, and probably not for nothing.

Sounds like preparation for something… some extraordinary executive action to prevent the national security risk known as Joe Biden from being sworn-in as president — in the absence of anything else in a strictly constitutional way that would keep that from happening, like a Supreme Court decision that would order the rare passing on of the disputed 2020 election to the House of Representatives for resolution, with a strong statistical likelihood that the body would re-elect Mr. Trump. These are the sorts of things I imagine the Supreme Court justices might be palavering about and weighing over their sherry in the comfortable back room of their august clubhouse. There is, of course, the likelihood that such a momentous decision to send the vote to the House would provoke a violent, batshit crazy response from the Democratic Party’s street warriors, BLM and Antifa — thus the C-130 flights perhaps deploying troops around the country. This time, expect the Black Blocs to get their asses kicked, and swiftly. Expect also a mind-blowing raft of arrests of political celebrities on charges like treason. Does it sound like a bad dream? Yeah, kind of does. But there it is.

Read more …

“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be?”

Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)

For the past four years, the mainstream media has pushed the baseless ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory with absolute impunity, because it catered to the narrative by the Democrats about why they lost the 2016 election and served to delegitimize Trump. Every anonymous accusation, from the Steele Dossier and “Russian bounties” in Afghanistan to the Atlantic smear piece about Trump insulting US troops, was treated as gospel truth. Meanwhile, any attempt by the president to push back was denounced as an “attack” on free press. Yet these very same paladins of “our democracy” cheered when the New York Post was censored by Twitter, in an actual attack on free speech.

Never mind that the paper was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton – whom Democrats now worship as some sort of hero, because of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical retcon of history – there was zero collegial solidarity on display. Less than that, even: you had Jake Tapper of CNN “helpfully” advising the Post to delete their “offending” tweet in order to “end the whole thing [in] 15 seconds.” Another CNN megastar, Christiane Amanpour, had once infamously attacked Trump for “delegitimizing the press” and insisted that “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” But when it came to the Hunter Biden story, Amanpour was perfectly happy to let the New York Post rot in Big Tech jail.

Asked by a Republican guest why she wasn’t actually doing journalism when it came to the Biden laptop, Amanpour indignantly responded “we’re not going to do your work for you.” The Freudian slip suggested Amanpour and CNN were busy doing someone else’s work – and it should be obvious at this point who that is. If you’re still expecting an apology, explanation of soul-searching from the Big Tech and mainstream media, you’re either terminally naive or simply not paying attention. Look at how they’re covering the Hunter Biden story, now that they have no choice. The documents were “made public – but went largely unnoticed” prior to the election, says the Daily Beast, that most mainstream of tabloids.

Notice the passive voice, as if the documents didn’t go “unnoticed” only by their readers, because the Beast and its fellow-travelers deliberately refused to notice them. Mind you, the suppression of the Hunter Biden story is just the most blatant example of media misbehavior. The partisan slant, selective reporting and “fact-checking,” and downright lies by omission are legion at this point. “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be? Now consider that these are the very same media and Big Tech who declared Biden won the election fair and square, while dealing with any claims otherwise in the exact same manner as they did with the Hunter laptop story: label as “disinformation,” facetiously “fact-check” or censor outright.

They apparently believe they can dictate what Americans are allowed to say or think, and even determine reality itself. They believe they can get away with it because most people, even Republicans whining about how this is unfair, continue to implicitly accept this arrangement. After all, it’s one of those“forms to which they are accustomed.” I wouldn’t count on that being the state of affairs much longer, though. There appears to be a growing realization among Trump supporters that “if only the truth is told, everything will sort itself out” is a trope of 1980s Hollywood, and that the axis of mainstream media and Silicon Valley has no ethics beyond power. The end justifies the means, and the only morality is who/whom wields it. What happens to America if this realization reaches critical mass is anybody’s guess. God willing, there won’t be blood. Either way, the Axis of Deceit will have only itself to blame. Newton’s Third Law is as implacable in politics as it is in physics; the longer you trespass against reality, the harder it will push back.

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“..it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.”

The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)

Start with the headline: Supporting the 2020 U.S. Election. YouTube in its company blog can’t even say, “Banning Election Conspiracy Theories.” They have to employ the Orwellian language of politicians — Healthy Forests, Clear Skies, “Supported” Elections — because Google and YouTube are now political actors, who can’t speak plainly any more than a drunk can walk in a straight line. The company wrote Wednesday: “Yesterday was the safe-harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election… For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors.”

This announcement came down at roughly the same time Hunter Biden was announcing that his “tax affairs” were under investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. Part of that investigation concerned whether or not he had violated tax and money laundering laws in, as CNN put it, “foreign countries, principally China.” Information suggestive of money-laundering and tax issues in China and other countries was in the cache of emails reported in the New York Post story blocked by Twitter and Facebook. [..] How important was that Hunter Biden story? That’s debatable, but the fact that tech companies blocked it, and professional journalists gleefully lied about it, has a direct bearing on YouTube’s decision now to bar Trumpist freakouts over the election results.

If you want a population of people to stop thinking an election was stolen from them, it’s hard to think of a worse method than ordering a news blackout after it’s just been demonstrated that the last major blackout was a fraud. Close your eyes and imagine what would have happened if Facebook and Google had banned 9/11 Truth on the advice of intelligence officials in the Bush years, and it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.

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“America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China.”

Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)

Instead of the official projection of a worst-case scenario of 150,000 dead, Australia has suffered 908 deaths in the pandemic to date. Every country, every state faced the same fateful moment of awesome responsibility and awful choice. The pandemic struck the countries of the world like an avenging angel, wreaking havoc on the unready and the uncaring, the slothful and the prideful, and re-ordered the world. After an uncertain start, Australia ultimately made the right choices. Its leaders, yes, but also its people. The pandemic was a severe test of leadership, and of nation-state capability, but also of social cohesion and public culture. The whole of the people had to accept some personal inconvenience for the common good. In successful countries they did; in failed ones they did not.

And the countries that met the public health test had a much better chance of meeting the economic test. Australia’s responses have elevated it into a small elite of competent countries. “Our system has performed impressively and that puts a spring in your step and makes other countries interested in you,” says the director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove. “And that’s a positive. The prestige of smaller, well governed countries has risen, mainly in our part of the world – Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia.” The most dramatic effects have been in the biggest powers. “Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability,” Henry Kissinger said in April. “When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed.”

One of the foremost, shockingly, is the United States itself. The virus exposed its divided political system as not just an entertaining foible but as a deep national liability. Political division paralysed policy. In many countries politics is regarded as a sport, a game. In a crisis, we now learn, politics literally is a matter of life and death for the people and of national destiny for the country. Even today, nine months on, the US cannot agree to stop the needless mass death nor agree on fiscal policy. With the daily death toll outstripping the 9/11 count, the US Congress remains deadlocked in negotiations for a second economic stimulus. It negotiates, sometimes month to month, sometimes week to week, the funding to “keep the government open”. The asinine has become the norm.

The US President is surrounded by men with guns for his protection. But they cannot defend against bovine stupidity and political obduracy. The President caught the virus. Donald Trump bears responsibility for his negligence. The pandemic spelt the end of his presidency. But he is the inheritor of America’s deepening crisis of overpoliticisation, not its author. America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China. They are not equal in every way, but China is now America’s peer. And its rival. The US is a much diminished power.

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Problem solved?!

CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a report examining the costs associated with universal healthcare proposals that are based on Medicare’s fee-for-service program and found that implementing a single-payer health insurance program in the United States would not only guarantee coverage for every person in the country but would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide. In the words of researcher Matt Bruenig—founder and president of the progressive think tank People’s Policy Project who called the CBO’s working paper (pdf) on the topic “more exhaustive than any other recent study on the subject”—the new analysis shows that administrative costs under a single-payer healthcare system “will be lower than what even the most rabid Medicare for All supporters have traditionally claimed.”

According to Bruenig, “Modeling the cost of a single-payer program is relatively straightforward. You begin with the status quo healthcare system and then make educated guesses about the following questions: • How many more units of healthcare services will be demanded and supplied when price barriers are removed? • How much more efficient will health insurance administration be after the enrollment and payment systems are radically simplified? • How much money will be saved by reducing the payment rates for healthcare providers and drug companies? In its analysis, the CBO looked at several distinct single-payer designs and determined that four such systems—fully implemented by 2030—would save anywhere from $42 billion to $743 billion that year alone.

Bruenig explained that the CBO option that most closely resembles current Medicare for All proposals is the one based on low payment rates and low cost sharing, which would generate $650 billion in savings in 2030. If one were to add long-term support and services to that option, as many current Medicare for All proposals do, savings would fall to about $300 billion, he noted.

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First they all bury the story, and now even NBC is after Hunter? ¿Qué pasa?

Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)

Hunter Biden’s former business partner sent him an email in 2017 saying he did not disclose on his tax returns $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian natural gas company where he sat on the board, according to a copy of the email obtained by NBC News. The message from Eric Schwerin, then president of Rosemont Seneca Partners, says Hunter Biden would need to “amend” his 2014 returns to reflect the “unreported” income, according to the copy of the email. “In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,” says the email dated Jan. 16, 2017. The email goes on to note that Hunter Biden, who is now the subject of a federal tax probe, netted more than $1.2 million for the year.


The earnings include the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm. The email was made available by Rudy Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. Costello has said he was given a copy of one of Hunter Biden’s hard drives from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware. NBC News did not have access to the full drive. It is not known what, if any, action Hunter Biden took in response to the email. Federal prosecutors in Delaware are scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China as part of a tax probe that began in 2018, according to a source familiar with the inquiry. There’s no indication that his work for the Burisma national gas company is part of the investigation, but the email obtained by NBC News raises fresh questions about Hunter Biden’s tax affairs.

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Was this the steepest street in Britain?

£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

What do you do when your two-bed semi detached house that you are selling for £345,000 becomes the site of a world-famous work of art overnight? That is the conundrum now facing the Makin family whose Bristol home was adorned with a Banksy mural in the early hours of Thursday morning. Alex Makin, whose mother owns the house, tells The Art Newspaper the family is taking the property off the market while it considers its next steps. “The main thing is to try and protect the work because it’s such an iconic piece—a) because it’s Banksy and b) because of the year, it’s Covid-related,” Makin says of the work, which shows an older woman sneezing with such force her dentures have been catapulted out of her mouth. Within hours of the work being painted, Makin had the mural covered with a Perspex sheet.


He adds: “We’re not really sure what we’re going to do at the moment. It would be an amazing thing to keep in the family, but we also want to make sure it is properly protected. It’s been a fairly tough year for my mum, so this feels like a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.” Banksy’s pieces have been known to double the price of a property, while one art market specialist valued this latest piece at £3m-£5m in The Sun newspaper. However, Robert Pain, the client director of Bristol estate agents NEXA, offers a more cautionary valuation. “It’s a conundrum, though a wonderful conundrum to have: everyone wants a Banksy on their wall but does it alter what the bricks and mortar are worth?” he asks. “Ultimately, is it a work of art on brick, potentially worth a million. If so, do you remove it and spend £60,000 rebuilding the wall?”

Read more …

 

 

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Street corner in Athens.

 

 

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 December 10, 2020  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  39 Responses »


August Strindberg Alpine Landscape I 1894

 

No Drinking Alcohol For Two Months After COVID19 Vaccine – Russia (NYP)
Uni Of Pittsburgh Medical Center Won’t Require Staff To Take Vaccine (ZH)
‘95% Effective’ May Not Mean What You Think It Means (Neuburger)
Trump Campaign, 16 Other States Join Texas Motion To Supreme Court (JTN)
Trump To Meet With Ten State Attorneys General Backing Case To Overturn Election (F.)
Sen. Ron Johnson Does Not Rule Out Challenging Electoral College Results (JTN)
Hunter Biden Under Federal Investigation For Possible Tax Fraud (NYP)
Hunter Biden Criminal Probe Bolsters Claim About Beijing’s Influence In US (GG)
House Intel GOP Not Told About Eric Swalwell Relationship With Chinese Spy (NYP)
Secret Deal Gave Chinese Spies Free Rein In Switzerland (G.)
Clinton Associate 2016 Anti-Trump Dossier Claimed Russian FSB Source (JTN)
ECB To Unveil Yet Another Stimulus Package (R.)
Federal Trade Commission Calls For Breakup Of Facebook (NBC)

 

 

 

 

People with (auto-)immune issues were already not getting a vaccine. Now they add everyone with severe allergies; must be 25% of people?! Re: peanuts, asthma, hay fever. And you can’t travel etc., without proof of being vaccinated. While the CEO for Pfizer says they have no idea if even with the vaccine, you will not infect other people. Where’s the logic? Also, 4 people got facial paralysis after taking the Pfizer vaccine.

No drinkie, no problem!

No Drinking Alcohol For Two Months After COVID19 Vaccine – Russia (NYP)

Russian officials are warning citizens to avoid alcohol for two months after receiving the country’s COVID-19 vaccine — tough-to-swallow news for one of the world’s heaviest-drinking countries. The warning came from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who said in an interview that Russians will have to observe extra precautions during the 42 days it takes for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to become effective. “[Russians] will have to refrain from visiting crowded places, wear face masks, use sanitizers, minimize contacts and refrain from drinking alcohol or taking immunosuppressant drugs,” Golikova told TASS News Agency. Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, echoed the sentiments in an interview with Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, as reported in the Moscow Times.


“It’s a strain on the body. If we want to stay healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol,” she said. According to the World Health Organization, Russia is the fourth-largest consumer of alcohol per person in the world. The average Russian consumes 15.1 liters (almost 4 gallons) of alcohol a year, according to the agency. Russia’s efforts to vaccinate its population began in earnest over the weekend in Moscow. Health authorities in the country estimate that 100,000 people have already been inoculated. “By the end of the week, all regions of the country will join this campaign,” Golikova said. Russian health officials say the Sputnik V vaccine is over 90 percent effective, but reports say medical workers who have taken the shot have come down with COVID-19. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly refused to take it.

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Common sense.

Uni Of Pittsburgh Medical Center Won’t Require Staff To Take Vaccine (ZH)

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) won’t require its health care employees to take the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine, which the medical provider expects to begin offering as soon as this month, according to PennLive. The reason are several-fold, according to UPMC medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology, Dr. Graham Snyder. For starters, general uncertainty over the vaccine. And while the $21 billion nonprofit organization (which employs 89,000 people) has a mandatory flu vaccination policy, it’s “based on decades of experience with the influenza vaccine,” according to Snyder. “But there’s no comparable data for a COVID-19 vaccine, or on whether a mandate is the best way to get large numbers of people to become vaccinated, Snyder said on Tuesday.

The first COVID-19 vaccine, from Pfizer, is expected to soon receive emergency approval. A second vaccine, from Moderna, is also expected to soon receive emergency approval. Distribution of at least one vaccine is expected to begin this month. Snyder said UPMC is “very excited about the preliminary information we have about how safe the vaccine is and how it will work.” Still, he said UPMC will conduct its own review of the vaccines before injecting any of its employees.” -PennLive. “Until we learn more and build our own experience with this vaccine, plus, until we see the uptake of vaccine in our communities, and have an understanding about the role that vaccination has in ending this pandemic, it’s not the right thing to make it mandatory,” said Snyder – who added that UPMC’s independent review won’t slow down their plans to distribute the vaxx.

On Tuesday, UPMC outlined their plans for receiving and distributing shots of the vaccine – while planning to launch an information campaign ‘to persuade the public to get vaccinated’ – despite their own hesitance over the jab. Perhaps it has something to do with several UPMC employees having participated in vaccine trials, only to report fever, fatigue or arm pain, with some needing to take a day or two off from work. According to Snyder, this is “a normal and healthy immune response.”

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See my article Sunday: 95% Vaccine Efficacy? Not So Fast.

‘95% Effective’ May Not Mean What You Think It Means (Neuburger)

To a lay person, a phrase like “95% effective” means one of two things: either that she or he, upon exposure to the virus, is protected 95% of the time, or that 95% of the people who take the vaccine are protected 100% of the time. And this is where the mutual eagerness of the two highly motivated groups — the public; the profiteers — intersect. The public wants to hear “95% effectiveness” and think it knows what those words means. The drug companies want the same thing as the public; it wants the public to think it knows what those words mean. But in the world of drug advertising, the word “effective” does not mean what you think it means. The other way to look at effectiveness is this: Based on the numbers released from phase 3 trials, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, but 1% of the time. In the same way, the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective, but 2% of the time.

To sort this out, let’s look at real numbers, thanks to Twitter friend David Windt. For the Moderna product, the phase 3 trial contained 30,000 individuals divided between those given the vaccine and those given a placebo. Let’s assume that individuals in each group were allowed to roam freely “in the wild” — that is, told to live their regular lives among the general population, including going out infrequently, staying masked, and practicing social distance — as opposed being proactively and aggressively exposed to the virus by the researchers, which would be highly immoral, to say the least. In the Moderna vaccinated group, 11 people out of 15,000 got the virus (by Moderna’s definition of what “got the virus means”) for an overall infection rate of 0.07%. (There’s disagreement about whether the drug company’s “got the virus” measurements are well chosen [..] But we’ll ignore that point for now.)

In the Moderna placebo group, 185 people of 15,000 got the virus, for an overall infection rate of 1.23%. Do you see where this is headed? If you divide 0.07% by 1.23%, you get a 5.7% infection rate — or inversely, a 94% protection rate, which is what’s claimed. But that’s a percentage of a percentage, a ratio of a ratio, something called the “relative rate” in the medical profession. What this really means is that, of the 1.23% of people who would have gotten the virus in the vaccinated group, 94% of them didn’t. But Moderna isn’t testing 30,000 people who are infected with the virus, or even 15,000 people. Only 185 people “got the virus” (by their definition) in the placebo group. That population was reduced to 11 people with vaccination. These are very small numbers. As stated above, the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective — but only 1.23% of the time.

[..] For comparison, let’s look at the absolute numbers from the Moderna test. In the unprotected population, 1.23% of the people who could have been exposed to the virus, got it. In the vaccinated population exposed to the same conditions, a little less than 0.07% got the virus. Subtracting the two, the absolute gain in protection was 1.16% — that is, taking the vaccine bought you a little over 1% in absolute protection. The numbers for the Pfizer vaccine are similar. According to Windt, “the infection rate was reduced slightly, from 0.75% to 0.04% – that’s “95% efficacy” [but] these results do NOT mean that 95% of those vaccinated are protected.” In absolute terms, taking the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of getting the virus by just 0.71%.

Read more …

No matter how much people dump on this, it was always going to go this route.

Trump Campaign, 16 Other States Join Texas Motion To Supreme Court (JTN)

The Trump campaign and seventeen states have now joined a motion filed in Texas asking the Supreme Court to delay the conclusion of the election in four key states based on concerns of potentially unconstitutional voting systems and procedures. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton late Monday asked the country’s highest court to invalidate the Nov. 3 election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, arguing officials in those four battleground states violated the Constitution by making changes to how ballots were cast and counted without legislative approval. Paxton’s suit asks the justices to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the states “from taking action to certify presidential electors or to have such electors take any official action including without limitation participating in the Electoral College.”

The Supreme Court as of Wednesday afternoon had yet to publicly say whether it will hear the case. In the meantime, 17 other states have signed on as amici curiae, signaling their support of the suit’s efforts. Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and others announced that they mutually hold “several important interests in this case.” On Wednesday, the Trump campaign also announced that it was intervening in the suit on the side of Texas. The campaign said in an announcement that President Trump’s “rights as a candidate are affected by the Defendant States’ failure to follow and enforce state election laws during the 2020 election.” “After reviewing the motion filed by Texas in the U.S. Supreme Court, I have determined that I will support the motion in all legally appropriate manners,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican, tweeted late Tuesday.

“The integrity of our elections is a critical part of our nation and it must be upheld.” Also late Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said on Twitter that his state is “in the fight” after Texas announced its election challenge. The court deciding to hear the case would be a huge victory for President Trump’s lawyers and others trying to get the courts to investigate voter fraud, states’ last-minute changes to voting laws and numerous other issues, all in hope of having the certification of the 2020 presidential race delayed and potentially overturned.

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17 now. That’s a sizeable chunk of America.

Trump To Meet With Ten State Attorneys General Backing Case To Overturn Election (F.)

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with a group of Republican state attorneys general at the White House on Wednesday – most of whom are engaged in or supporting an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election – as he still refuses to concede just days before the electoral college is set to vote. Trump is scheduled to have lunch with the attorneys general in the cabinet room of the White House at 12:45pm EST, according to a public schedule released by the White House Wednesday evening. The list of attendees, provided to Forbes by White House spokesperson Judd Deere, includes Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is spearheading the lawsuit, which is aimed at overturning the results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Also on the list are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Utah, all of whom signed an amicus brief released Wednesday supporting the Texas case.


Also expected to attend is Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich – who represents a state Biden won and who filed a separate amicus brief “respecting” the Texas lawsuit – and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who did not join either brief. The case – which Trump called “the big one” and said he would be “intervening” in – seeks to invalidate electors in the four key states based on allegations the states expansions of mail-in voting due to Covid-19 resulted in substantial fraud. The fraud claims pushed by the lawsuit have continuously been rejected by courts, with one election law expert deriding the case as, “utter garbage. Dangerous garbage, but garbage.”

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“The only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness. That will be the goal of the hearing.”

Sen. Ron Johnson Does Not Rule Out Challenging Electoral College Results (JTN)

Sen. Ron Johnson is not ruling out the possibility of challenging the Electoral College results in January when Congress is slated to certify the vote. “I would say it depends on what we found out,” the Wisconsin Republican said to reporters when he was asked about whether he plans on challenging election results, according to The Hill. “The American people need more information. I’m not ready to just close and slam the book on this thing and go ‘OK, let’s walk away from it.'” Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama has indicated that he intends to object to some states’ Electoral College votes. Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced Wednesday that the committee will hold a hearing next week about election irregularities.


“Today I gave notice for a hearing for next Wednesday titled ‘Examining Irregularities in the 2020 election,'” the senator said in a statement. “I am mindful that many of the issues that have been raised have been, and will continue to be, appropriately resolved in the courts. But the fact remains that a large percentage of the American public does not view the 2020 election result as legitimate because of apparent irregularities that have not been fully examined. That is not a sustainable state of affairs for our country. The only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness. That will be the goal of the hearing.”

Ron Johnson

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I wonder about the timing here. The probe started in 2018, and he says he only learned about it yesterday? He had zero idea for over 2 years?

Hunter Biden Under Federal Investigation For Possible Tax Fraud (NYP)

President-elect Joe Biden’s son revealed Wednesday that he’s under federal investigation for possible tax fraud, with a report saying the Justice Department is examining his overseas business dealings. The probe also reportedly involves a laptop that belonged to Hunter Biden, the existence of which was first reported by The Post, and which contains communciations and documents detailing some of his business dealings in China and Ukraine. Hunter Biden, 50, disclosed the probe in a statement released by his father’s presidential transition office. “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter Biden said in the statement.

“I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.” A statement attributed to “the Biden-Harris Transition” said, “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.” The probe began in 2018, sources told Fox News and CNN. Investigators are looking into whether Hunter and his business associates violated various tax and money laundering laws, CNN said. The probe is focused on Hunter’s business dealings in China and other countries and invovles transactions with people who posed counterintelligence concerns, CNN said.

The investigation was put on hold during the run-up to the November election due to Justice Department guidelines that prohibit activity that could influence a political race, CNN said. But it’s since resumed and is entering a new phase, with the FBI and IRS issuing subpoenas and seeking interviews, CNN said. Fox News reported that the probe includes examining the Hunter Biden laptop exposed by The Post, citing two sources familiar with the investigation. The probe is before a grand jury, and involves so-called “Suspicious Activity Reports” from banks flagging transfers of funds from China and other nations, Fox News also said.

In September, Republican senators released a report on Hunter’s business affairs that said he “and his family were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.” Some of those ties “raise criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns,” the report said. Wednesday’s surprise disclosure of the federal probe came exactly one year after FBI agents seized a laptop from a Delaware computer shop whose owner claims it was left there by Hunter and never retrieved.

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Greenwald. “We have our old friends who are at the top of America’s core inner circle of power and influence.”

Hunter Biden Criminal Probe Bolsters Claim About Beijing’s Influence In US (GG)

Hunter Biden acknowledged today that he has been notified of an active criminal investigation into his tax affairs by the U.S. Attorney for Delaware. Among the numerous prongs of the inquiry, CNN reports, investigators are examining “whether Hunter Biden and his associates violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, principally China.” Documents relating to Hunter Biden’s exploitation of his father’s name to enrich himself and other relatives through deals with China were among the cache published in the week before the election by The New York Post — revelations censored by Twitter and Facebook and steadfastly ignored by most mainstream news outlets. That concerted repression effort by media outlets and Silicon Valley left it to right-wing outlet such as Fox News and The Daily Caller to report, which in turn meant that millions of Americans were kept in the dark before voting.

But the just-revealed federal criminal investigation in Delaware is focused on exactly the questions which corporate media outlets refused to examine for fear that doing so would help Trump: namely, whether Hunter Biden engaged in illicit behavior in China and what impact that might have on his father’s presidency. The allegations at the heart of this investigation compel an examination of a fascinating and at-times disturbing speech at a major financial event held last week in Shanghai. In that speech, a Chinese scholar of political science and international finance, Di Donghseng, insisted that Beijing will have far more influence in Washington under a Biden administration than it did with the Trump administration.

The reason, Di said, is that China’s ability to get its way in Washington has long depended upon its numerous powerful Wall Street allies. But those allies, he said, had difficulty controlling Trump, but will exert virtually unfettered power over Biden. That China cultivated extensive financial ties to Hunter Biden, Di explained, will be crucial for bolstering Beijing’s influence even further. Di, who in addition to his teaching positions is also Vice Dean of Beijing’s Renmin University’s School of International Relations, delivered his remarks alongside three other Chinese banking and development experts. [..] The centerpiece of Di’s speech was the history he set forth of how Beijing has long successfully managed to protect its interests in the halls of American power: namely, by relying on “friends” in Wall Street and other U.S. ruling class sectors — which worked efficiently until the Trump presidency.

Referring to the Trump-era trade war between the two countries, Di posed this question: “Why did China and the U.S. use to be able to settle all kinds of issues between 1992 [when Clinton became President] and 2016 [when Obama’s left office]?” He then provided this answer: “No matter what kind of crises we encountered — be it the Yinhe incident [when the U.S. interdicted a Chinese ship in the mistaken belief it carried chemical weapons for Iran], the bombing of the embassy [the 1992 bombing by the U.S. of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade], or the crashing of the plane [the 2001 crashing of a U.S. military spy plane into a Chinese fighter jet] — things were all solved in no time, like a couple do with their quarrels starting at the bedhead but ending at the bed end. We fixed everything in two months. What is the reason? I’m going to throw out something maybe a little bit explosive here. It’s just because we have people at the top. We have our old friends who are at the top of America’s core inner circle of power and influence.”

Read more …

Swalwell needs to be investigated for real.

House Intel GOP Not Told About Eric Swalwell Relationship With Chinese Spy (NYP)

House Intelligence Committee Republicans were surprised to learn this week that a member of their panel, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy who slept with US politicians as a tactic to elicit information. Swalwell, who represents a California district south of Oakland, received an FBI “defensive briefing” in 2015 on operative Fang Fang, but most if not all Republicans on the elite committee weren’t told that a colleague had been targeted by China. Fang, also known as Christine Fang, returned to China in mid-2015 as US officials heightened their scrutiny of her string of honey-trap seductions. She reportedly fundraised for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign before he joined the Intelligence Committee in 2015.

A congressional Republican source told The Post that Intelligence Committee Republicans had not been informed of the relationship. The committee is supposed to have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive information to fulfill its oversight role of shadowy government programs. If the Chinese operation occurred as described in a bombshell Tuesday article in Axios, it’s unclear why lawmakers aside from Swalwell were kept in the dark, especially since Fang may have targeted Swalwell due to his proximity to sensitive information. The Post asked Swalwell’s 12 Democratic colleagues on the Intelligence Committee, including Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), about when they learned of Swalwell’s association with Fang, but they did not immediately reply.

Swalwell has not said if he had a romantic relationship with Fang, who allegedly seduced two Midwest mayors as part of her operation from 2011 to 2015. He claimed in a Wednesday CNN appearance that he “can’t talk too much about the details of the case” because the information should be kept secret. The issue is likely to dog Swalwell as Republicans demand more information. “Did Schiff and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi know? Why did no one take any steps to keep sensitive intel, at least as it relates to China, far away from a member who is at best potentially compromised?” a Republican close to the White House told The Post.

Read more …

Lots of China stories all of a sudden.

Secret Deal Gave Chinese Spies Free Rein In Switzerland (G.)

The full text of a secret deal between Switzerland and China that allowed Chinese security officials access to the country at Swiss taxpayers’ expense has been revealed for the first time as the government pushes to renew it. The five-year “readmission agreement”, which was signed in 2015 and expired on Monday, lay out terms for Chinese agents to travel to Switzerland and interview suspected Chinese nationals that Swiss authorities wished to deport. Unlike more than 50 similar deals Switzerland has signed with other countries, it was never published by the government and was not even publicly acknowledged until August. The official English translation of the agreement has been obtained by Safeguard Defenders, an Asia-focused human rights campaign group.

It reveals an extraordinary commitment to secrecy within an agreement that had itself been concealed from the public, the group says. The “experts” from the ministry of public security (MPS) had to be invited on the two-week “missions”, but once the invitation had been issued China could choose its agents without Swiss approval. They could enter the country without official status, and Switzerland committed to keeping their identity confidential. The reports they produced for Swiss authorities were also kept secret. Readmission deals are a regular part of international law, but Safeguard Defenders said the 2015 arrangement with Beijing, which was not reciprocal, was of “an entirely different character” from others signed by Switzerland.

The secrecy surrounding both the agreement itself and the work of Chinese agents, the choice of partner – a security super-ministry with extensive remit including police and intelligence services – and even the presence of agents were unusual. “In only a minority of cases [do other readmission] deals allow for the other party to send representatives to accompany the individual to be returned, and in those cases [the representatives] are limited to that specific activity, and it is a public, official duty being carried out,” Safeguard Defenders said. The deal was extremely favourable to the Chinese and went above and beyond normal migration information-sharing arrangements, said Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University in the US.

Read more …

If Crossfire Hurricans is not thoroughly and indepenndently investigated, how will the FBI ever recover?

Clinton Associate 2016 Anti-Trump Dossier Claimed Russian FSB Source (JTN)

Evidence released by the Senate this month reveals that longtime Hillary Clinton associate Cody Shearer received anti-Trump dirt in 2016 from a Russian intelligence source and got it into the hands of the FBI through the ex-British spy Christopher Steele. Shearer’s claim that his information came from a Russian FSB source, experts say, should have alerted senior US officials that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties Russia was compromised by its sources, Clinton surrogates and alleged Russian spies. The documents also indicate the State Department played a much larger role than previously reported in shaping the media narrative, and eventually the official Obama administration intelligence assessment that Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win in 2016, lawmakers said.

“Clinton confidantes and campaign surrogates repeatedly sought information from individuals with links to known or suspected Russian intelligence officers and assets,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis, told Just the News. “This demonstrates the double standard and bias of the FBI’s investigation of only Trump campaign officials for their contacts with Russian agents. Americans deserve equal justice, and the FBI has a long way to go before its integrity and credibility is restored.” The new documents released jointly by Johnson’s committee and the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Chuck Grassley sheds significant new light on the extensive network of Clinton associates who participated and exerted influence on the 2016-17 effort to falsely portray Trump as the agent of a hostile power.

One of Shearer’s reports, alleging that Trump was compromised by Russian intelligence, made its way to the FBI shortly before the 2016 election through a series of Clinton allies. It included Steele, the British ex-spy who authored a now-debunked dossier tying the Trump campaign and associates to Kremlin officials. Steele submitted the Shearer memo, titled “FSB Interview,” to the FBI as a supplement to his own Trump-Russia reporting funded by the Clinton campaign. In a prefatory note to the Shearer memo, Steele wrote to his FBI handlers that “some of the reporting is remarkably similar” to his own, especially regarding “TRUMP’s compromise by the FSB,” and the “funding of the TRUMP campaign.” Steele dated Shearer’s memo Oct. 19, 2016. Two days later, the FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Trump adviser Carter Page based on some of the information from Steele’s dossier.

Read more …

For the banks.

ECB To Unveil Yet Another Stimulus Package (R.)

The European Central Bank will unveil fresh stimulus measures on Thursday to prop up the recession-hit currency bloc long enough for a coronavirus vaccine to be deployed and its devastated economy to start to heal. With fresh support measures already promised, only the details of the package remain up in the air. But the bottom line is clear: borrowing costs will be kept close to zero for years so that governments and firms can spend their way out of the biggest recession in living memory. The ECB’s challenge will be to balance a growing range of short-term risks against improving long term prospects, indicating that its move will be big but lack the “shock and awe” impact of previous crisis-fighting measures.

“With the positive news in terms of vaccine development, Europe is now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Oxford Economics said in a note. “However, the short-term outlook remains extremely challenging, with euro zone GDP likely to contract in the fourth quarter.” For now, the 19-country euro zone is facing a triple shock: a lingering second wave of the pandemic, the prospect of a hard Brexit and political stalemate over the European Union’s 750 billion euro ($908 billion) recovery fund. But all three are seen as temporary shocks, with the political strife likely to be resolved and the pandemic easing by the spring, leaving the ECB with the task of getting the bloc through a difficult winter.

The economy also recovered surprisingly quickly after the first wave of coronavirus lockdowns, suggesting more resilience than is built into economic models. Fresh projections could thus point to lower growth in 2021 but better prospects in 2022, leaving the overall growth path little changed.

Read more …

This is supposed to happen under Biden?

Federal Trade Commission Calls For Breakup Of Facebook (NBC)

The Federal Trade Commission sued to break up Facebook on Wednesday, asking a federal court to force the sell-off of assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp as independent businesses. “Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire,” the commission said in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit asks the court to order the “divestiture of assets, divestiture or reconstruction of businesses (including, but not limited to, Instagram and/or WhatsApp),” as well as other possible relief the court might want to add.

The announcement is a major step that has been years in the making, with Facebook and several other major U.S. technology companies having grown quickly in the past 10 years with little government oversight. But the lack of scrutiny has changed recently, with a series of lawsuits that now threaten to rein in the dominance of big American tech firms that have grown to be among the world’s most valuable companies. Attorneys general from 48 states and territories said they were filing their own lawsuit against Facebook, reflecting the broad and bipartisan concern about how much power Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have accumulated on the internet. Facebook’s share price fell by as much as 4 percent after the news, before paring its losses.

“Breakup Facebook” has become a rally cry for the company’s critics — from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to one of Facebook’s wealthy founders, Chris Hughes, who last year wrote a 6,000-word case for a break-up. But the idea has never been truly attempted in court. Facebook said it was reviewing the two lawsuits, and pointed out that the FTC approved the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions at the time. “Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day,” Facebook said in a statement, adding that it would have more to say soon.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 062020
 


Giorgio de Chirico Piazza d’Italia 1913

 

 

A -short- look at how vaccine makers like Pfizer and Moderna get to claim a 90% or even 95% efficacy for their products, with the help of regular Automatic Earth commenter Doc Robinson (not a medical doctor) and his quotes from the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The way the companies report their efficacy may be normal in their circles, but will, in the “normal” world, be experienced as confusing if not outright misleading.

What they do -simplified-, let’s take the Pfizer report, is they have 20,000 volunteers who get a vaccine, in this case 8 are infected, and that gives a result of -well- over 90% efficacy. But that is largely meaningless, because it appears to assume that all remaining 19,992 volunteers would have gotten infected if not for the vaccine.

To give this meaning, the world of science has long insisted on control groups (placebo groups), in this case also 20,000 strong, who don’t get a vaccine. If you know how many in that group are infected, you know -much better- hoe effective the vaccine is. Turns out, in the control group 86 out of 20,000 were infected. More than 8, but much less than 20,000. 19,914 unvaccinated people never got infected.

The 90%-95% numbers “measure” relative risk reduction. The absolute risk reduction is completely different. In the Pfizer case, 99.57% of the unvaccinated people did not become infected, while 99.96% of the vaccinated people did not become infected. Therefore, the absolute risk reduction is 99.96% – 99.57% = 0.39%. While there remain many questions swirling around the mid- to long term effects of taking the vaccine.

You would think this is the most relevant information out there for those thinking about being vaccinated or not, and not the 95% relative risk reduction. But the latter info is what is reported. And sure, it sounds much better.

Here are a few excerpts from British Medical Journal pieces as Doc Robinson selected them earlier this week:

(Comment Doc Robinson)
(British Medical Journal)

“…leading both companies to claim around 95% efficacy. Let’s put this in perspective. First, a relative risk reduction is being reported, not absolute risk reduction, which appears to be less than 1%. Second, these results refer to the trials’ primary endpoint of covid-19 of essentially any severity, and importantly not the vaccine’s ability to save lives, nor the ability to prevent infection, nor the efficacy in important subgroups (e.g. frail elderly). Those still remain unknown.

Third, these results reflect a time point relatively soon after vaccination, and we know nothing about vaccine performance at 3, 6, or 12 months, so cannot compare these efficacy numbers against other vaccines like influenza vaccines (which are judged over a season). Fourth, children, adolescents, and immunocompromised individuals were largely excluded from the trials, so we still lack any data on these important populations.

I previously argued that the trials are studying the wrong endpoint, and for an urgent need to correct course and study more important endpoints like prevention of severe disease and transmission in high risk people. Yet…”

(Comment Doc Robinson)
(British Medical Journal)

Moderna’s phase III trial has shown that, so far, the vaccine is 94.5% effective. (Mahase, BMJ 2020;371:m4471, November 17) As with the Pfizer vaccine news release, few numbers are provided, but we can approximate the absolute risk reduction for a vaccinated individual and the Number Needed To Vaccinate (NNTV): There were 90 cases of Covid-19 illness in a placebo group of 15,000 (0.006) and 5 cases in a vaccine group of 15,000 (0.00033). This yields an absolute risk reduction of 0.00567 and NNTV = 176 (1/0.00567).


There were 11 severe illnesses, all in the placebo group, for an absolute risk reduction of 0.00073 and NNTV = 1370. So to prevent one severe illness 1370 individuals must be vaccinated. The other 1369 individuals are not saved from a severe illness, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them… Shouldn’t absolute risk reduction be reported so individuals can make fully informed decisions about vaccinations?

(Comment Doc Robinson)

Some questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, from the British Medical Journal BMJ. The “absolute risk reduction” is relatively small and is being downplayed by the vaccine manufacturers. This is a calculation of how much the vaccine reduces the likelihood that a person would become infected.

For example, if a non-vaccinated person has a 50% chance of becoming infected with a disease, and a vaccinated person has a 10% chance, then the “absolute risk reduction” would be 40%. The absolute risk reductions for the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are estimated to be less than 1%.

For the Pfizer vaccine, it’s only about 0.4% reduction. For the Moderna vaccine, it’s only about 0.6% reduction in the risk of having a detectable infection (and less than 0.1% reduction in the risk of getting a “severe” infection).

Thus, for the Moderna vaccine “to prevent one severe illness 1370 individuals must be vaccinated. The other 1369 individuals are not saved from a severe illness, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them.”

(British Medical Journal)

94 cases in a trial that has enrolled about 40,000 subjects: 8 cases in a vaccine group of 20,000 and 86 cases in a placebo group of 20,000. This yields a Covid-19 attack rate of 0.0004 in the vaccine group and 0.0043 in the placebo group. Relative risk (RR) for vaccination = 0.093, which translates into a “vaccine effectiveness” of 90.7% [100(1-0.093)]. This sounds impressive, but the absolute risk reduction for an individual is only about 0.4% (0.0043-0.0004=0.0039).


The Number Needed To Vaccinate (NNTV) = 256 (1/0.0039), which means that to prevent just 1 Covid-19 case 256 individuals must get the vaccine; the other 255 individuals derive no benefit, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them……We’ve already heard that an early effect of the vaccine is “like a hangover or the flu.” Will vaccinees who are later exposed to coronaviruses have more severe illness as a result of antibody-dependent enhancement of infection (ADEI), a known hazard of coronavirus vaccines? Is there squalene in the Pfizer vaccine? If so, will vaccinees be subject to autoimmune diseases, like Gulf War Syndrome and narcolepsy that have been associated with the adjuvant?

(Comment Doc Robinson)

When Pfizer said its vaccine may be “more than 90% effective” this meant that during the vaccine trial, 8 people (out of 20,000) in the vaccinated group became infected, while 86 people (out of 20,000) in the placebo group became infected, giving an effectiveness of 90.7% (based on the relative risk reduction, not the absolute risk reduction). If 80% of these trial participants were already immune prior to this trial, then the non-immune people would be 20% (or 4,000 in each group), and the “effectiveness” based on relative risk reduction to the non-immune people would still be 90.7%.

Imagine a vaccine trial where the entire population of the United States participates, with half the people getting the vaccine and half getting a placebo. If only 86 unvaccinated people (out of 165 million unvaccinated) become infected, while 8 vaccinated people (out of 165 million vaccinated) become infected, then the trial result would still be “more than 90% effective” even though the infection rates are such a tiny percentage of the population.

To me, these are the more relevant numbers coming out of that Pfizer trial:
99.57% of the unvaccinated people did not become infected.
99.96% of the vaccinated people did not become infected.
Absolute risk reduction = 99.96% – 99.57% = 0.39%

 

 

Ergo, to reduce our risk of getting infected by 0.4% or 0.6%, we will now all have to be vaccinated and carry vaccination passports with us if we want to be part of “regular” society, even as the Pfizer CEO himself admitted the company has no idea whether being vaccinated provides us with any protection from infecting others. Excuse me?

 

 

 

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Dec 052020
 


Paul Cézanne Young Italian Woman at a Table c1900

 

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)
Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)
Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)
Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)
The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)
The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)
Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)
Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)
A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)
Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)
Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)
AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)
Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)
Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

 

 

 

 

“There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.”

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)

Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center has ordered 1.5 million doses of a Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, hospital director Zeev Rotstein said Tuesday. First reported on Army Radio, Rotstein added that the hospital will give the Health Ministry all necessary data about the vaccine this week, with the goal of obtaining a permit to administer it to Israelis. Rotstein, who has clashed repeatedly with the ministry in recent months, is convinced that the fears voiced in the media about the vaccine aren’t well-founded, and that they have more to do with the global struggle between Russia and the United States than with the scientific data. But even if the ministry refuses to approve the vaccine, he said in an interview with Haaretz, “We’ll have something do with it,” because Hadassah also operates overseas.

The Russian vaccine has been in phase three clinical trials since August and has already been given to tens of thousands of people. Hadassah’s branch in Moscow has both given the vaccine to people and monitored them afterward, “and the results and safety we’ve seen have been very good,” Rotstein said. Hadassah’s activities in Moscow are what led the Russian authorities to propose that the hospital seek Israeli approval for the vaccine, he added. If the phase three trials show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, and if the Health Ministry approves its use, the vaccine could be available in Israel in two to three months.

Rotstein stressed that until the phase three trial ends and the data has been analyzed, it’s impossible to know if the vaccine will be effective in preventing the virus. But based on the data so far, he said, “There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.” Both the development of the Russian vaccine and Russia’s unusual decision to administer it to its own citizens, even before the phase three trials ended, have been widely criticized worldwide. But Rotstein insisted that much of this criticism stems from the American-Russian battle over who will develop a vaccine first.

Read more …

Yeah, very convincing.

Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)

Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to create immunity against the bug for at least three months, the biotech company said. Thirty-four healthy adults who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were shown to have antibodies for 90 days, according to new findings published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first dose “produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination,” the study said. The two doses were administered 28 days apart.


The report did not make clear what level of risk people would have after 90 days and whether another shot would be needed. Earlier this week, Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, saying data shows its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective against coronavirus. On Friday, the Massachusetts-based company said it would be able to produce 500 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. “For 500 million, I am very comfortable we are gonna get there,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said at the Nasdaq Investor Conference.

Read more …

More confidence? Based on what? Just news stories?

Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)

As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the share of Americans who say they plan to get vaccinated has increased as the public has grown more confident that the development process will deliver a safe and effective vaccine. Still, the U.S. public is far from uniform in views about a vaccine. A majority says they would be uncomfortable being among the first to take it, and a sizable minority appear certain to pass on getting vaccinated. Overall, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September.

39% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – says it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Yet, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September.

These findings come on the heels of preliminary analysis from two separate clinical trials that have produced vaccines that are over 90% effective; the FDA is expected to issue decisions about the emergency authorization of these vaccines in the coming weeks. While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.


The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

Read more …

What is being done about this? Why do we never read about that?

Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)

The coronavirus death toll at U.S. nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was brutal and unrelenting. The Life Care Center nursing home outside Seattle made international headlines in March after the coronavirus infected residents and staff, resulting in at least 123 cases and dozens of deaths. In New Jersey, public officials discovered 17 bodies piled into a makeshift morgue in a nursing home in April when Covid-19 fatalities overwhelmed the facility. Nursing homes, which house the most vulnerable of society, quickly became ground zero for countless coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. in the early months of the pandemic. While the outbreak subsided somewhat this fall, long-term care facilities are now seeing their most intense surge in Covid cases since at least the summer.

As new cases break record after record most days, infections at long-term care facilities reached a new weekly high in late November, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic magazine. More than 46,000 infections at those facilities were recorded in what was the worst week in six months; reliable data only goes back that far. Despite making up just 5.7% of all U.S. Covid cases, nursing home and assisted living facilities residents and staff accounted for 39.3% of the deaths, according to tracking project data. That number is generally considered low since many nursing home deaths tend to get reported without an underlying cause, physicians have said.

Deaths at U.S. nursing homes for the week ended last Thursday topped 3,000 — the highest weekly death toll since June, pushing cumulative fatalities over 100,000, according to the tracking project. “I’ve likened nursing homes to being like a tinderbox. It takes one person, one person, to unknowingly bring the virus into a facility and it could kill several people, make a lot of people sick,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician at Florida Atlantic University who works as a clinician in nursing homes. No matter what precautions staff take, it’s going to be difficult to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes, said Ouslander, who is also a professor of integrated medical science. “All those elements of the perfect storm are in place.”

Read more …

The Households Survey showed an actual decline of 74,000 working people. 100s of 1000s no longer count as in the labor force.

The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)

Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections. Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.

But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14. So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. Despite the cut-off dates having kept much of the Covid-impacted jobs data out of the results, the data have actually deteriorated in several aspects, including the number of people with jobs as reported by households, the employment-population rate, and the labor force.

The headline number of 245,000 jobs created came from surveys of establishments (companies, governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, etc.). That survey doesn’t track gig workers. It depicted a lousy recovery. But lousy as it was, it was the more benign part. The survey of households, on the other hand, tracks people who are working full or part time, including gig workers. And households reported that the number of people with jobs ticked down to 149.7 million. This wasn’t a slowdown in growth, but an actual decline of 74,000 working people – the first month-to-month decline since April.

The chart shows both results, from establishments (green) and from households (red) – the biggest part of the difference being gig workers. It’s obvious that even by November 12, before the real impact of the Covid surge, this was no good, in terms of catching up with population growth, or in terms of anything else:

The employment-population ratio, which tracks the number of employed workers against the working-age population (16 years or older) also dipped in November, to 57.3%, a level first seen since in 1972:

Read more …

From Bernie campaigner Sirota. He’ll never be left near a Dem campaign again.

The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)

Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes. And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments.

This disconnect between Biden nominating business-friendly corporatists and Beltway liberals effusively celebrating those nominees spotlights the latter groups’ decision to genuflect for access and influence — rather than being brutally honest about the situation. That strategy of appeasement has almost never worked in an America where change has typically come only through opposition, struggle and sacrifice. And yet somehow, prostration remains the dominant strategy among the professional left. Why? In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington.

Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects. The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies. It could also help permanently change what is even considered politically possible in the future.

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Seems the left has little to no spine.

Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)

Few portions of political discourse are as predictably shallow as presidential Cabinet discourse. Who should run the Department of Transportation? An affable also-ran in the Democratic primary who once said something about trains? A moderate politician or a businessman who might bring the country together from their perch at the agency that handles civil aviation and our highways? “No,” a sage voice somewhere in Washington, or Delaware, says. “It should be Rahm Emanuel.” As Chicagoans know, Emanuel’s most ambitious step into transportation policy as mayor was his endorsement of a high-speed tunnel project from Elon Musk that has yet to materialize. Chicagoans also know that Emanuel’s efforts to cover up video of a black teen’s murder by a Chicago policeman probably better qualify him for a post at the CIA.

That agency, we’ve been told this week, might finally be headed by a Black man; we also know a woman has been chosen to run the Department of Defense. Overall, Democratic policy professionals of all identities and stripes have been given plenty of reasons to rejoice at Biden’s choices so far. Civilians in Yemen have not. It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it did to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential Cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along, and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination.

There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could. The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over.

“Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after Election Day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left to take on or accept unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.

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Turley points out that the timing indicates Durham now focuses on members of the perspective Biden administration.

“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.”

Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)

Attorney General Bill Barr made two important evidentiary decisions yesterday that delivered body blows to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. First, Barr declared that the Justice Department has not found evidence of systemic fraud in the election. Second, he declared that there was sufficient evidence to appoint United States Attorney John Durham as a Special Counsel on the origins of the Russia probe. The move confirmed that, in a chaotic and spinning political galaxy, Bill Barr remains the one fixed and immovable object. By appointing Durham as a Special Counsel, Barr contradicted news reports before the election that Durham was frustrated and found nothing of significance despite Barr’s pressure.

Some of us expressed doubts over those reports since Durham asked for this investigation to be upgraded to a criminal matter, secured the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, and asked recently for over a thousand pages of classified intelligence material. Under the Justice Department regulations, Barr had to find (and Durham apparently agreed) that there is need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” He must also find the appointment in the public interest. Notably, the investigation of Clinesmith is effectively completed. So, what is the criminal investigation and what is the conflict?

Presumably, the conflict is not in the current administration since it would have required an earlier appointment. The conflict would seem to be found in the upcoming Biden administration. Some conflicts developing seem obvious as Biden turns to a host of former Obama officials for positions, including the possible selection of Sally Yates as Attorney General. Yates was directly involved in the Russian investigation and signed off on the controversial surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. She now says that she would never have signed the application if she knew what she knows today.

Durham is now authorized to investigate anyone who may have “violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.” The list of the names of people falling within that mandate is a who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to . . . yes . . . Joe Biden. Bizarrely, reports have claimed that Trump was irate at the move as a “smokescreen” to delay the release of the report. That ignores not just the legal but political significance of the action. From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.

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“Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk?”

A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)

Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk? Is it, at least, worth looking into, considering the evidence trail? Many people on the Left, who read and view only the captive Left news media, may know nothing about Hunter B’s laptop and the tales it told because social media blacked out all the news about it and the mainstream media went along with the blackout. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $350-million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), that was chiefly active in setting up Democratic vote-harvesting operations. Could he be liable for prosecution in enabling ballot fraud? Has the FBI asked him any questions?

Another story ‘out there’ says that behind the election hijinks a war is underway between the DOD and the CIA. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that all special operations run by the CIA would henceforward report to the SecDef. In effect, the President has ordered the dismantling of the CIA’s troublemaking capabilities, reducing the agency to the task of intel analysis. This means, for instance, ending the CIA’s ability to foment “color revolutions” (coups d’état) in foreign lands — with the implication that irregularities around the Dominion System may have amounted to an attempted color revolution in the USA. Is it worth wondering whether former CIA Director John Brennan, a leftist activist and probably an architect of RussiaGate, was involved in any of the election ops? If the FBI won’t question him about it, who will? (Answer: The Department of Defense.) Ditto Gina Haspel, current CIA Director. After all, what were the Dominion servers doing at the CIA’s server farm in Germany?

Events are moving quickly under the plodding surface of the ongoing swing state hearings, which are largely concerned with on-site mail-in ballot fraud shenanigans. Will the Supreme Court take a case in the few days left before the state vote certification deadline next Tuesday? Will Mr. Trump intervene with some extraordinary measure — martial law, the Insurrection Act? — to actually abort the election and bring about some kind of do-over? Will the country survive its own feckless inability to hold a credible vote? Stand by with me on all that.

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Let the dice roll where they may. Still, Dec 14 doesn’t sound like “plenty of time”.

Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)

Attorney Sidney Powell says there’s plenty of time for President Donald Trump’s legal team to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ‘With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn’t apply,” Powell said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Stinchfield” in reference to the ”safe harbor” deadline that frees a state from further challenge if it resolves all disputes and certifies its voting results. ”We have at least until Dec. 14,” she said. ”We might file more suits. The court in Michigan or Wisconsin today just gave us a great order recognizing that. These are not pure election contests we are filing. These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time. The states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.”


Powell, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has been a part of multiple lawsuits in a crusade to overturn results from the 2020 election. Several states have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Newsmax has yet to project a winner as Trump continues to contest the results in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it wouldn’t accept a lawsuit by Trump’s legal team, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through the lower courts. The president asked the court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democrat counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.

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It doesn’t shut up Flynn anymore.

Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)

In a Freedom of Information case related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, District Judge Reggie Walton said on Friday that Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have a lot of options in dealing with the fact that President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon, “unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.” “I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit,” said Walton, according to the National Law Journal. “I don’t know if that’s correct or not,” the judge continued. “Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued. I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,” Walton added.


[..] Emmet Sullivan, who was presiding over the case, refused to dismiss the charges even though there was no one attempting to prosecute the case. The legal process has dragged on through the appeals process, and finally President Trump issued a full pardon on November 25. On November 30, the DOJ notified Sullivan of the pardon, but he has still refused to drop the case. Judge Walton appears to have hinted at what Sullivan is thinking as he refuses to dismiss the case. Solomon Wisenberg, former deputy independent counsel, told Just the News that “It is disappointing but not surprising that Sullivan has yet to dismiss the case.”

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Shouldn’t all these machines be audited? And then be retired?

AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)

Leaders in the Arizona state legislature on Friday called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems software and equipment in Maricopa County, a request of which county leaders appear “supportive.” The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus announced it intent to seek such an audit via Twitter on Friday afternoon. “As a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing our election system,” incoming Senate Government Chairperson Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in the news release, “I am pleased to learn that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is supportive of conducting an independent audit of their voting software and equipment.” House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said: “A significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred. And with the number of irregularities it is easy to see why.” Petersen also called it “imperative” that officials conduct a forensic audit on Dominion’s setup in the county. Democrat Joe Biden currently has a lead of about 0.3% in Arizona in the Nov. 3 presidential balloting.

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“Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles..”

Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)

The Netherlands was one of Europe’s most prolific buyers of Teslas but now the Dutch honeymoon seems to be over, with Tesla facing a lawsuit from a large taxi company, and a group of disgruntled car owners considering a class action suit. Bios Group, a taxi firm that operates a fleet of more than 70 Teslas out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is taking Elon Musk’s company to court over €1.3m in damages, citing a high number of defects in the vehicles and difficulties in getting them repaired. There are defects with some 20 of the 70 taxis, ranging from broken power steering to broken drive shafts and broken power steering, according to the Hella Hueck’s story in Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad.

Bios had to have 75 defects repaired in 2018 and another 60 in 2019. Even more problematically Bios says there have been problems with odometer readings in the cars being inaccurate, registering journeys from the wrong location or for the wrong distance, something which could land the taxi company in legal difficulties. Though the European car industry may feel like it has been outcompeted by Tesla in electric vehicles — Tesla has a bigger share of the electric vehicle market than all the European carmakers combined — these types of service quality problems may yet give the incumbent automakers an opportunity to win back customers. Bios says it has recently bought 5 Audi E-trons, in part because it expects better after-sales service from Audi.

There have been many recent reports about problems with Tesla vehicles. In June, JD Power, a consumer intelligence company whose car reliability report is considered the industry standard found that Tesla owners reported more problems in their first 90 days of ownership than the other 31 US auto brands included in the study. Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with an industry average of 166 problems per 100 vehicles. Bios bought the fleet of 72 Model S Teslas in 2014 for €5.7m, one of Europe’s biggest fleets at the time, creating a splash of publicity for the young car company as the fleet paraded around the streets surrounding Schiphol, proclaiming the airport’s commitment to going 100% electric.

But in the last few years, Bios says, it has grown steadily more difficult to get the faulty cars repaired, finally leaving them with no option but to launch a court case to get a resolution. In October, meanwhile, a group of disgruntled Dutch Tesla owners have started the Tesla Claims Foundation, bringing together owners who want Tesla to do more to repair faults in their cars. Some 200 people have so far joined the foundation, with complaints ranging from relatively simple things like rattling noises and poorly working windscreen wipers to broken computers and charging problems.

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Stoen in the conservative press.

Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

Ah, a left-wing America Firster! Not quite, as his subsequent work and his entertaining new memoir, Chasing the Light, illumine, but Oliver Stone, our most political major filmmaker, evinces a rowdily heterodox vision shaped by the unusual quartet of Jim Morrison, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Capra, and Jean-Luc Godard. What do you call a man who joins the Merchant Marine on a whim, runs up big pro football gambling debts, and takes the Old Right view of FDR’s foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? I’d call him an American. Stone was a rich kid, the son of an FDR-hating Jewish Republican who had served on Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force staff and a French Catholic party girl. He attended the Hill School, played on the tennis team, was devastated by his parents’ divorce, and then went seriously off script.


Avid for experiences, Stone dropped out of Yale, taught in a Catholic school in Taiwan, and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He came home with a Bronze Star, shrapnel in his ass, and a taste for “powerful Vietnamese weed.” Stone’s politics hadn’t changed all that much, though. He had supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and would vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In later years he became more explicitly libertarian, expressing support for Ron Paul and making a film about Edward Snowden. At root, Oliver Stone is a patriot who despises the American Empire for corrupting his country. JFK, his fantasia on the Deep State, echoes Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex.” Platoon and Salvador bespeak an old-fangled American anti-interventionism in an age when that tendency, once the default position of ordinary Americans, is a virtual thoughtcrime.

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Dec 042020
 


Stanley Kubrick Walking the streets of New York 1946

 

Pfizer Not Sure If Someone Can Transmit Virus After Vaccination (Hill)
NHS Staff No Longer Top Priority For Covid Vaccine (G.)
Half The World Could Get Russian Sputnik V COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
Facebook Bans Anti-Vaccine “Conspiracy Theories” As US Rollout Begins (ZH)
GOP Senators Release 400 Pages Of New Docs On Crossfire Hurricane (SAC)
DNI Ratcliffe Says He Has Given ‘1000s Of Documents To John Durham’ (JTN)
The Georgia Runoffs and Our Embattled Constitution (RCP)
Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile (VF)
Bill Clinton ‘Couldn’t Stay Away’ From Jeffrey Epstein (ZH)
Will The Empire Sacrifice the Dollar? (CHS)
Banks To Chairman Powell On Libor: Foxtrot Oscar (Whalen)
Bank of England Criticised For Losing Track Of £50bn Of Banknotes (G.)
China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy (Wired)
Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World” (CP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s starting to feel like we’re going to need new definitions for “vaccine” as well as for “immunization”.

Pfizer Not Sure If Someone Can Transmit Virus After Vaccination (Hill)

Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla told Dateline host Lester Holt that the pharmaceutical company was “not certain” if the vaccine prevented the coronavirus from being transmitted, saying, “This is something that needs to be examined.” In a prime-time special titled “Race for a Vaccine” set to air Thursday, Holt questioned Bourla and other individuals involved in the development and distribution of the medicine. In November, Pfizer announced that its vaccine candidate had been shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 and has applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.K. became the first country to approve Pfizer’s vaccine this week with the first round of immunizations expected to roll out next week.


In a list of interview highlights released before the special, Holt asked Bourla, “Even though I’ve had the protection, am I still able to transmit it to other people?” “I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now with what we know,” Bourla responded. Though Pfizer’s vaccine has shown promising results, challenges have surfaced when it comes to distributing and administering it. The vaccine must be delivered and stored in extreme sub-zero temperatures, which has heightened the demand for dry ice. Once the vaccine is kept at normal refrigeration temperatures, it must be used within four or five days or be discarded. The vaccine is administered in two doses spaced a few weeks apart.

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“NHS personnel will be able to take the vaccine into care homes to immunise residents later this month..”

NHS Staff No Longer Top Priority For Covid Vaccine (G.)

NHS staff will no longer get the coronavirus vaccine first after a drastic rethink about who should be given priority, it emerged last night. The new immunisation strategy is likely to disappoint and worry thousands of frontline staff – and comes amid urgent warnings from NHS chiefs that hospitals could be “overwhelmed” in January by a third wave of Covid-19 caused by mingling over Christmas. Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “If we get a prolonged cold snap in January the NHS risks being overwhelmed. The Covid-19 restrictions should remain appropriately tough. “Trust leaders are worried about the impact of looser regulations over Christmas.”

Frontline personnel were due to have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine when the NHS starts its rollout, which is expected to be next Tuesday after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved it on Wednesday. However, hospitals will instead begin by immunising care home staff, and hospital inpatients and outpatients aged over 80. The new UK-wide guidance on priority groups was issued by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) amid uncertainty over when the rest of the 5m-strong initial batch of doses that ministers ordered will reach the UK.

NHS personnel will be able to take the vaccine into care homes to immunise residents later this month if, as expected, the MHRA agrees that the batches of 975 doses it comes in can be subdivided and the stability and safety of the drug be maintained. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the leader of the British Medical Association, said it backed care home residents getting the jab first. However, that means NHS staff will be left at higher risk of getting infected and potentially dying, he added.

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How does Sputnik V differ from the Pfizer “vaccine”?

Half The World Could Get Russian Sputnik V COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

At least 40 countries, representing more than half of the world’s population, have expressed interest in Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, the team behind it have said as mass vaccination begins in Moscow. At a presentation to the United Nations on Thursday, scientists from the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the formula, said that preliminary orders have been placed for more than 1.2 billion doses. Trials involving 45,000 people across the globe have concluded that 95 percent of those given both doses of Sputnik V develop immunity to the virus. On Wednesday, the vaccine’s creators released footage of vials touching down in India ahead of the start of studies into its efficacy there.


A number of countries, including Hungary, Venezuela and the UAE, have already imported sufficient quantities to conduct their own tests. At the same time, the Philippines announced that it would work with Russia to secure access to supplies in order to begin mass immunizations early next year. On Thursday, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin announced that residents of the capital would be able to access the vaccine from Saturday. Doctors, teachers and social workers will be first in line for appointments, and an “electronic immunization record” will be set up. According to Sobyanin, Muscovites will be able to get the jab at ‘vaccine points’ set up around the city. President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of the program on Wednesday, adding that “the production of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine against the coronavirus infection, is what allows us to begin the vaccination.”

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Our new Supreme Court.

Facebook Bans Anti-Vaccine “Conspiracy Theories” As US Rollout Begins (ZH)

It was probably inevitable. Just in time for the vaccine rollout in the US this coming week (as Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said, inventory has already been loaded on to trucks, and will be en route to destinations across the country as soon as the FDA gives the green light) Facebook said Thursday that it’s “updating its policies around the coronavirus by removing false claims about upcoming vaccines”. The social media giant said it will be monitoring for misinformation that has been debunked by public health experts on both Facebook and Instagram. “This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines. For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,” Facebook said in its announcement.

The company added that it will also remove conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines that we know today are false, such as that specific populations are being forced to test the vaccine against their will. “Since it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve, we will regularly update the claims we remove based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more,” Facebook added, but also said that it would “not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight.” Previously, Facebook removed Covid-19 misinformation that could contribute to “imminent physical harm.” That included false claims or cures about the disease, that the coronavirus is caused by 5G, or that it does not exist.

According to the Independent, PA News Agency editor Tom Phillips said social media companies should do more to combat misinformation, but they also must be extremely careful not to go too far and quash public debate. “We have seen a lot of the internet platforms take stricter measures against vaccine misinformation and I think that is the correct approach. Could some of them go further? Yes, possibly.” “But at the same time, it is important to remember the importance of free speech. It’s not illegitimate to have questions or worries about the vaccine and it’s important that we don’t just react by trying to suppress those questions. We allow people to ask the questions, get good quality answers and make up their minds based on good quality information.”

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How crazy would it be if Crossfire Hurricane never gets thoroughly investigated?

GOP Senators Release 400 Pages Of New Docs On Crossfire Hurricane (SAC)

Two top GOP Senators released more than 400 pages of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of the now-debunked probe into President Donald Trump and his alleged ties with Russia, known as the ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ probe. The Senators also stated in their letter Thursday that the documents they received are still far less than what they had originally requested in their official letters sent in May to the FBI and State Department. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R- Wisconsin, and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R -Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the documents as part of their ongoing probe into the FBI’s malfeasance during the Obama administration’s probe into Trump.

Some of the documents, which SaraACarter.com is still reviewing, are now declassified Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of State documents. “The Committees obtained these records through joint requests, as well as Chairman Johnson’s August 6, 2020, subpoena to the FBI,” stated a press release. “The Chairmen also released a comprehensive timeline of key events related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” In a joint statement from Grassley and Johnson they said “for years, the American people have demanded answers to questions regarding the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and its targeting of the Trump campaign, the presidential transition, and the Trump administration.”

“Our committees have sought to uncover and expose misconduct by calling on agencies to declassify and produce text messages, internal emails, and other investigative material, which in turn we have made public,” they noted. “Although agency bureaucrats have fought tooth and nail to keep records hidden, our commitment to transparency has never wavered.” The chairmen added that “the documents we are releasing today are the product of our continued fight for transparency. These documents are far less than what we have requested, but we are making them public so the American people can decide for themselves what wrongdoing did and did not occur.”

In May, the Senators asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to turn over all material regarding former British Spy Christopher Steele’s communications and documents related to the now debunked dossier used to investigate Trump. Wray has been uncooperative with the Senate requests and has been slow to produce the documents since he was appointed by Trump to the position, said numerous Congressional staff familiar with the requests. In the letter to Wray, Johnson and Grassley requested that they were “seeking information about Christopher Steele’s interactions with State Department employees before the 2016 presidential election.”

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Durham is starting to look like a black hole.

DNI Ratcliffe Says He Has Given ‘1000s Of Documents To John Durham’ (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe during an interview with the Washington Examiner on Thursday said that he has given thousands of documents to U.S. Attorney John Durham, but Ratcliffe noted that much of the material includes information that cannot be publicly released. “Between my predecessor Richard Grenell in an acting capacity and myself, we have declassified most of the intelligence community documents that would be suitable for the public to see, that wouldn’t jeopardize sources and methods,” Ratcliffe told the Washington Examiner. “There are others, many many documents — I think it’s been out there that I’ve provided literally thousands of documents to John Durham, but many of those do contain sources and methods that we can’t make public for a number of reasons, including to jeopardize any investigation that’s going there. So I think the level of cooperation — I’ve given them everything that they’ve asked for.”


Ratcliffe said that wrongdoing definitely occurred and Americans are entitled to “an accounting.” “There was an abuse of power and of legal authorities, and it’s not a question about whether those things took place — they did. I mean, there’s an FBI lawyer who is going to jail for counterfeiting evidence before the FISA court. And that after all of the Obama-Biden senior national security officials said the idea of illegal spying and abuse at the FISA court is a bunch of nonsense, and now, they’re sprinting the opposite direction,” Ratcliffe stated. “I mean, literally, every one of them — Comey, McCabe, Yates — they’ve all said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re shocked and had we only known.’ And so, again, the American people deserve an accounting, and I’ve certainly provided a lot of information to the now-special counsel to provide that accounting, and I’m counting, like all Americans, on him to talk about a lot of the things that I know that I can’t talk about.”

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“..the rise of political parties undermines the separation of powers and, with it, one of the Founders’ barriers against consolidated, oppressive power..”

The Georgia Runoffs and Our Embattled Constitution (RCP)

If Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win Georgia’s Jan. 5 Senate runoffs, Democrats will control both houses of Congress as well as the presidency. The Republican Party, which won nearly half the national vote, will have no check on the Democrats, aside from the Senate’s filibuster rule. Although that rule requires a supermajority to pass some legislation and appointments, it can be abolished by a simple majority when the new Senate convenes. Preventing one-party rule is one of the strongest arguments advanced by Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. They are reminding voters of the threat posed by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who proudly announced: “Now we take Georgia, then we change the world.”

That might be a winning line for national fundraising, but it’s more problematic for the Georgia electorate. Not many voters there want to “change the world,” so Warnock and Ossoff are downplaying it. Don’t expect to seek to see Schumer on the stump in Atlanta, Augusta, or Macon. It’s understandable that the national debate should focus on which party will control the Senate and just how radical the Democrats’ program will be if they do. But just beneath the surface lurk potential constitutional issues, which have received almost no attention. The basic problem is this: although America’s Founders were deeply concerned about tyranny, centralized power, and the suppression of individual rights and constructed institutional barriers to prevent those abuses, they never envisioned the mechanisms that pose serious threats today.

One of those threats is one-party rule. It’s understandable the Founders missed that since they worked before the age of entrenched and nationalized political parties. The closest analogues were England’s Whigs and Tories, but they were a far cry from modern parties. The political world envisioned by America’s Founders was populated not by parties but by cross-cutting “factions,” much like today’s interest groups. The Federalist Papers (especially the famous No. 10, written by James Madison as “Publius”) argued that, in a large republic like America, multiple factions would emerge, push against each other, and usually block any one from dominating.To prevent government authority from becoming too centralized and oppressive, the Constitutional Convention divided that authority among the three branches.

Each one, they figured, would have strong institutional interests in preventing the others from encroaching. It was a profound insight, and a remarkably successful one. But with the rise of modern political parties, it faced a challenge that no 18th century politician could imagine. Strong political parties unify their members across the legislative and executive branches. The stronger their common interests as Democrats or Republicans, the weaker their institutional interests as members of House or Senate, if those interests diverge from fellow partisans in the other house or branch. Put differently, the rise of political parties undermines the separation of powers and, with it, one of the Founders’ barriers against consolidated, oppressive power.

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is Doug Band fully turning on the Clintons?

Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile (VF)

Doug Band’s office at Teneo, the corporate advisory firm he cofounded, is decorated like a wing of the Bill Clinton presidential library. Framed photographs of the 42nd president adorn virtually every surface except for windows overlooking the rush hour traffic crawling down Park Avenue. “A lot of these pictures are just about moments,” Band said one morning last winter as he showed me his collection. Band, a broad-shouldered man with dark eyes and prematurely graying hair, appeared in many of the pictures. There were photos of Band and Clinton playing golf with Barack Obama, posing backstage with Michael Jackson, and meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. “Bill Clinton was my life for almost 20 years,” Band said.

Band was 22 when he landed an unpaid internship in the White House counsel’s office midway through Clinton’s first term. He served as Clinton’s “body man” during the second while earning a Georgetown law degree at night. On paper, the job is a glorified gofer, but Band leveraged the position to build a filial bond with the leader of the free world. When Clinton left office in January 2001, Band was one of the aides Clinton invited to go with him. Band took on a role that was equal parts fixer, gatekeeper, wingman, consigliere, and adopted son. (Officially, his title was counselor.) “They were with each other all the time,” said former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, who first got to know Band in the Clinton White House.

Band virtually invented Clinton’s postpresidential life. He set up Clinton’s Harlem office, helped launch the Clinton Foundation, and created the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the annual Davos-style conference that Clinton hosted in New York. Band and Clinton circled the globe in a private jet with a Rat Pack of billionaires that included supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, movie producer Steve Bing, and, infamously, Jeffrey Epstein. Before Clinton had quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, he dialed Band at the first sign of chest pains. There were years that Clinton spent more time with Band than with any other person—including Hillary and Chelsea. But when I met Band last February, he hadn’t been in a room with Bill Clinton in nearly five years. He couldn’t remember the last time they had spoken. “I don’t want anything to do with that whole world,” Band said after we’d been talking for nearly an hour.

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More Doug Band.

Bill Clinton ‘Couldn’t Stay Away’ From Jeffrey Epstein (ZH)

Bill Clinton’s former top aide and Chelsea Clinton nemesis Doug Band has told Vanity Fair that former President Bill Clinton did visit Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous “pedo island” in January 2003, and that he was unable to push Epstein out of Clinton’s orbit since they flew to Africa together in 2002 aboard the the pedophile’s (Epstein’s) private 727, dubbed the “Lolita Express.” “Band said he had no idea about Epstein’s sex crimes back then but got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship. But Clinton continued to socialize with Epstein and take his money. In 2006 Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton made more than two dozen trips on Epstein’s jet around this time, Epstein’s flight logs show. In January 2003, according to Band, Clinton visited Epstein’s private Caribbean island, Little St. James. Band said it was one of the few trips he declined to go on in his time with Clinton.” -Vanity Fair

Band – who revealed the Clinton Foundation’s ‘for-profit’ activity and accused Chelsea Clinton of tapping Foundation funds to pay for her wedding (known only because of WikiLeaks) – also says Chelsea Clinton had a relationship with Epstein and his alleged co-conspirator in an underage sex trafficking ring, Ghislaine Maxwell. “Chelsea had ties to Epstein and Maxwell, Band said; he showed me a photo of Bill and Chelsea posing with Epstein and Maxwell at the King of Morocco’s wedding. Chelsea remained friends with Maxwell for years after the press revealed Maxwell was a close associate of Epstein’s. For instance, Chelsea invited Maxwell to her 2010 wedding at the Brooke Astor estate in Rhinebeck, New York, after Epstein had pleaded guilty in Florida to procuring sex from a minor.” -Vanity Fair

“Ghislaine had access to yachts and nice homes. Chelsea needed that,” said Band. Band notably created the now-defunct Clinton Global Initiative, which has helped to raise $74 billion for Clinton global charities, according to Newsmax. Thanks again to WikiLeaks, we also know that Band was soliciting donations for Clinton through his PR and investment firm, Teneo in an sordid example of “pay for play” which most of the mainstream media refused to cover – which he worried about in an email to John Podesta, saying: “If this story gets out, we are screwed.”

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As rumors swirl about the Euro’s steep rise due to the ECB running out of powertools.

Will The Empire Sacrifice the Dollar? (CHS)

Let’s keep it simple: US dollar up, stocks down. US dollar down, stocks up. Stocks up, billionaires get richer. Since that spot of bother in March 2020 when the US dollar (USD) soared and stocks cratered, the USD has been in a free-fall, boosting the wealth of America’s Robber Barons and various other skimmers, scammers and other undeserving scoundrels. Chief among the undeserving scoundrels feasting on the decline of the USD are global stock markets which have soared not because revenues and profits are soaring but because the USD has plummeted. The Federal Reserve is widely worshiped as the Ultimate Power in the Universe, a kind of financial Death Star. The Fed has seen fit to crush the USD to further boost the wealth of billionaires and save global stock markets from their well-deserved ruin.

[..] The Fed is not the Empire, it is the handmaiden of the Empire. The Fed’s dual mandate– for PR purposes, stable employment and prices–is actually balancing the conflicting demands of a global and domestic currency–Triffin’s Paradox writ large. The inherent problem with a reserve currency is that it must meet global economic needs and domestic needs, and these are intrinsically in conflict. America’s billionaires and pension funds want the US stock market to loft higher on the back of a declining USD, but that diminishes the global purchasing power of the USD–a trend heading for economic ruin.

The Fed has had numerous reasons to weaken the dollar since March: a desperate need to “save” global stock markets from well-deserved collapse, and an equally desperate need to keep the dollar weak so global debtors with loans denominated in dollars can manage to service their trillions in USD-denominated debts. But drawing a line extending this short-term necessity all the way to hyper-inflationary oblivion is a grave misreading of the Empire’s need for the exorbitant privilege of a strong dollar. The Fed is about done with its “rescue” of billionaires and global markets and debtors. Against virtually all expectations of seers, pundits, gurus, etc. the USD is about to start serving the Empire in its foundational role. As for stock markets–the devil take the hindmost.

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“The 2017 decision by the Fed to do away with LIBOR is one of the most ill-considered and thoughtless actions taken by the US central bank in many years..”

Banks To Chairman Powell On Libor: Foxtrot Oscar (Whalen)

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve Board and other agencies blinked on the ill-advised transition from LIBOR as a pricing mechanism for financing various types of assets and secured money market transactions. “The Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today issued a statement encouraging banks to cease entering into new contracts that use USD LIBOR as a reference rate as soon as practicable and in any event by December 31, 2021, in order to facilitate an orderly—and safe and sound— LIBOR transition.” Unfortunately, as we wrote back in September in National Mortgage News (“Housing market needs SOFR alternative — now”), the proposed “replacement” for LIBOR — the secured overnight funding rate or SOFR — is not really a market price at all.

“According to the Fed, SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight, collateralized by Treasury securities,” we wrote in NMN. “In fact, SOFR is an imaginary, backward-looking benchmark dreamed up by the economists at the Fed with no discernable market.” The 2017 decision by the Fed to do away with LIBOR is one of the most ill-considered and thoughtless actions taken by the US central bank in many years. Not only did the Fed displayed its ignorance of the workings of the US capital markets, but it also revealed its arrogance and stupidly. Simply stated, LIBOR is a price for conducting financing in dollars. SOFR is an economists’ wet dream, a backward-looking measure that may seem interesting from a research perspective, but one that lacks actual liquidity.

As we noted in NMN, the solution for the “problem” with LIBOR is to fix the existing benchmark, not to dream up some farcical concept and then try to bully insured depository institutions to use SOFR for actual risk taking. We understand that many banks have told regulators privately the same thing we hear from clients in the too-be-announced (TBA) market for mortgage backed securities (MBS): SOFR is a non-starter and must be discarded. As late as last week, the Fed and other regulators were trying to bully the large dealer banks to stop using LIBOR by December 31st. The resounding answer: “Foxtrot Oscar.” Indeed, a growing number of analysts seem to have reached the same conclusion that we made months ago, namely that asking banks to take tens of billions of dollars in risk every day using SOFR as the pricing mechanism would be unsafe and unsound.

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Go to the mattresses.

Bank of England Criticised For Losing Track Of £50bn Of Banknotes (G.)

It is known throughout the world as a byword for security. But the Bank of England is evidently a tad unclear on the whereabouts of £50bn of banknotes, and it doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about it, a powerful group of MPs has said. In a stiff rebuke for Threadneedle Street, the Commons public accounts committee said the money – equivalent to a stack of £5 notes more than 800 miles high – had essentially gone “missing” because the Bank did not keep close enough tabs on cash usage in modern Britain. Despite walls 8ft thick and an imposing reputation for guarding billions of pounds of gold bars in its vaults, the PAC said the Bank had nonetheless displayed a “lax attitude to whereabouts of bulk of sterling cash supply”.

However, banknotes by their very design are not traceable, making it hard for the Bank to follow the money and know exactly where its notes end up. According to a report from the National Audit Office, there are about £50bn worth of issued banknotes that may be being used overseas or in the UK, a tiny fraction of the trillions of pounds in money circulating in the UK economy in physical notes and by digital transfers. The PAC speculated that this money could be stashed away under mattresses as unreported household savings, may have been taken abroad, or used in the shadow economy. “The Bank of England doesn’t know,” it said.

The value of banknotes in circulation has shot up this year, which the Bank has said is probably because more people started hoarding cash during the Covid-19 pandemic in case they needed it. Coin use has declined over recent years, with the production of new pennies and pounds by the Royal Mint falling by about 65% in the last decade, a trend which could be accelerated by the pandemic as more people move to using contactless debit card payments. Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “£50bn of sterling notes – or about three-quarters of this precious and dwindling supply – is stashed somewhere but the Bank of England doesn’t know where, who by, or what for, and doesn’t seem very curious.

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“..produced results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer..”

China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy (Wired)

Last Year GOOGLE won international acclaim when its prototype quantum computer completed a calculation in minutes that its researchers estimated would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years. That met the definition for quantum supremacy—the moment a quantum machine does something impractical for a conventional computer. Thursday, China’s leading quantum research group made its own declaration of quantum supremacy, in the journal Science. A system called Jiuzhang produced results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer. The two systems work differently. Google builds quantum circuits using supercold, superconducting metal, while the team at University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, recorded its result by manipulating photons, particles of light.

No quantum computer is yet ready to do useful work. But the indications that two fundamentally different forms of the technology can outperform supercomputers will buoy the hopes—and investments—of the embryonic industry. Google and rivals including IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, and several large startups have all spent heavily on developing quantum computing hardware in recent years. Google and IBM offer access to their latest prototypes over the internet, while Microsoft’s and Amazon’s cloud platforms each host a smorgasboard of quantum hardware from others, including Honeywell.

The potential power of quantum computers springs from their basic building blocks, dubbed qubits. Like the bits of conventional computers, they can represent 0s and 1s of data; but qubits can also exploit quantum mechanics to attain an unusual state called a superposition that encapsulates the possibilities of both. With enough qubits it’s possible to take computational shortcuts conventional computers can’t—an advantage that grows as more qubits work together. Quantum computers don’t yet rule the world, because engineers haven’t been able to get enough qubits working together reliably enough. The quantum mechanical effects they depend on are very delicate. Google and the Chinese group were able to stage their supremacy experiments because they managed to corral qubits in relatively large numbers.

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Ukraine once fed half of Europe. Seems worth a Maidan revolution.

Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World” (CP)

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion. In 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, are eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not food security.

Consider Ukraine. The organisation Grain found that in 2014 small farmers operated 16% of agricultural land in that country, but provided 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms were delivering impressive outputs. Following the toppling of Ukraine’s government in early 2014, the way was paved for foreign investors and Western agribusiness to take a firm hold over the agri-food sector. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan to Ukraine in 2014 included agricultural deregulation intended to benefit foreign agribusiness. Natural resource and land policy shifts were being designed to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.

Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, stated at the time that the World Bank and IMF were intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around the control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations had acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land. Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

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