John La Farge Girls Carrying a Canoe, Vaiala in Samoa 1891
“..two triple-mutant varieties..”, an “immune escape variant”.
Scientists found two triple-mutant varieties in patient samples in four states: Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh. Researchers in the country have dubbed it the “Bengal strain” and say it has the potential to be even more infectious than the double-mutant variant. This is because three COVID variants have merged to form a new, possibly deadlier variant. The Times of India spoke to Vinod Scaria, a researcher at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India, who said that the triple mutant was also an “immune escape variant” – a strain that helps the virus attach to human cells and hide from the immune system.
He added that it could have evolved from the double-mutant variant – which experts say is likely behind the recent surge of COVID in the country . Sreedhar Chinnaswamy, a researcher from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in India, told the Times of India that the variant also carried the E484K mutation, a characteristic found in both the South African and Brazilian variants. “In other words, you may not be safe from this variant even if you were previously infected by another strain, or even if you have been vaccinated,” said Chinnaswamy.
View from India. Talk about condescending language:
Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with.”
The United States of America has projected its geopolitical rivalry with China as a great conflict between good and evil, between liberty and tyranny. The USA and other western countries claim to care a great deal about human rights but quite clearly, they do not care enough about the human right to life. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that western emphasis on human rights is one humoungous farce. At a time when India is suffering a tragedy dealing with the pandemic, western countries have chosen to offer sermons and lectures instead of sympathy and support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued veiled threats on Thursday. Amidst the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said that there are concerns that India will not be able to meet pharmaceutical demands in her country and they will have to ‘rethink’ their policies should that be the case.
Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with. If that is not the case now, we will have to rethink.” But Germany is not the only country that has been making such insensitive remarks. The USA has enforced an embargo on the export of raw materials essential for the production of Covid-19 vaccines, which jeopardised vaccine production in India. CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, appealed to the Biden administration to lift the embargo but to no effect. When asked about the matter, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “We have a special responsibility to the American people.”
“It’s, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated,” he said. “Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world — more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” Price added. The western media, which demonises India over its nationalist concerns, does not see any dichotomy with the approach by the USA and has been remained conspicuously silent over the matter. US concerns are understandable but it is starkly at odds with what it preaches to other countries.
Fun with numbers:
“..your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!”
In addition people love to mix relative and absolute risk to deceive people on a regular basis and in every case doing so is a fraud. This was repeatedly done in “selling” the vaccines to the public. You must compare like with like or you’re lying. For example if the risk of death if you do not get the vaccine is 1/50 (2%) and the risk if you DO get the vaccine is 1/500 (0.2%) then while it is true that your risk of dying has been cut by 90% you only had a 2% risk of dying if infected in the first place. That is, you were going to survive 98% of the time; now you will survive 99.8%. That sounds like a fabulous improvement except if only 10% of the people got the infection in a year with no vaccine to start with then your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!
That is there’s only an 0.2% risk of death that can possibly be improved upon! Thus you must now rate the risk of the vaccine doing evil things to you against the 2/1,000 chance of death, not 2/100 since if you get stabbed that risk is certain where infection is not. But for those who are not morbid isn’t 2/100 — in fact the absolute risk if you are infected and not particularly morbid is, by the CDC, 1/50,000. This is confirmed by the NY Coroner data, which when back-computed winds up in approximately the same place; for statistical purposes they are the same, and that is good because independent confirmation from actual “boots on the ground” in confirmation of a theoretical framework provides assurance that the “best guess” is likely close to reality. Thus I am quite comfortable with that number.
The CDC also says that about 10% of the population (~33 million, approximately) people got Covid-19 in that they “tested positive” for it. I do not believe that number because it is based on PCR testing with extremely high Ct values and we know that results in lots of false positives. But assuming it is correct this means that the actual risk across one year is not 1/50,000 it is 1/500,000 since you’re only 10% likely to have gotten the infection. Again, this is by the CDC data, not my data. Note that if 2/3rds of those “positives” are false then the risk of death for a non-morbid person over a year would be approximately 1/1,250,000. These are vanishingly small odds. The CDC and so-called “experts” are all started out saying that the blood clot risk was 1-in-1,000,000.
Well, that appears to have been blatantly false too as the data on the mRNA shots says it’s far more-likely than that and that it is not confined to the J&J vaccine. As more data comes in it appears that risk is more like 1in 100,000-250,000. That’s a huge change and until it stabilizes, which will take several more months, I have no confidence in any of these figures whatsoever. I remind you that the difference between the jab and infection is that the risk from the jab is assured if you take it while the risk from infection it only occurs if you get the virus, which by the CDC again was 10% over the first year and will fall each year thereafter with successive reductions in those who are not immune either by vaccination or infection.
“Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries..”
The pharmaceutical industry is pouring resources into the growing political fight over generic coronavirus vaccines.Newly filed disclosure forms from the first quarter of 2021 show that over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver on intellectual property rights by the World Trade Organization that would allow generic vaccines to be produced globally. Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO.
Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative.The push has been followed by a number of influential voices taking the side of the drug lobby. Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., released a letter demanding that the administration “oppose any and all efforts aimed at waiving intellectual property rights.” Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has similarly criticized the proposal, echoing many of the arguments of the drug industry.
Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries, and projections show much of the world’s population may not be vaccinated until 2023 or 2024. In response, a coalition of countries, led by India and South Africa, have petitioned the WTO to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights on coronavirus-related medical products so that generic vaccines can be rapidly manufactured. The waiver requests a suspension of IP enforcement under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, treaty. If granted, local pharmaceutical plants could be granted compulsory licenses to produce coronavirus vaccines without the threat of being sued by the license holder.
Just get rid of the man.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office won’t reveal what it told the Justice Department about COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, rejecting Freedom of Information requests from The Post and other media outlets — claiming in part that doing so would be an “invasion of personal privacy.” “Please be advised that portions of the records that respond to your request are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(b) because, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,’” Jaclyn Clemmer, the governor’s record access officer, wrote in a denial response to The Post. The Associated Press received a similar denial letter.
Clemmer didn’t explain whose privacy might be invaded, or how. The Post did not request any personal ID information of nursing home residents. She also said the records sought were exempt from public disclosure because the release would “interfere with law enforcement investigations.” The Justice Department last year requested that New York and other states turn over data regarding COVID-19 infections and deaths inside nursing homes. The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and the state Assembly Judiciary Committee are also investigating claims that the Cuomo administration intentionally undercounted or lied about the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID.
Federal prosecutors initiated a probe after The Post exclusively revealed in February that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, privately admitted to state Democratic lawmakers that his administration withheld the total nursing home death toll from COVID-19 from them due to a pending federal probe. Just weeks before, state Attorney General Letitia James issued a stinging report that found Cuomo officials undercounted the COVID-linked deaths of New York’s nursing home residents by 50 percent. Within hours, a defensive state Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker added thousands to the death toll.
Troops gone, Zelensky dismantled, Putin winning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he is ready to welcome his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “at any convenient time in Moscow.” The suggestion comes after Kiev offered to meet in war-torn Donbass. Speaking before talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, Putin said Zelensky should first discuss the problems of Donbass with the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics before speaking with representatives of third countries. He included Russia in this category. “And if we are talking about the development of bilateral relations, then, please, we will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him,” Putin said. “If President Zelensky wants to start restoring relations, Russia will only welcome it.”
The Russian leader’s statement comes after Zelensky suggested a summit “anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbass where the war is going on,” earlier this week. “Ukraine and Russia, despite their shared past, look to the future in different ways. We are us. You are you,” Zelensky said. “But this is not necessarily a problem; it is an opportunity. At the very least, an opportunity, before it is too late, to stop the murderous mathematics of future war losses.” [..] the self-declared Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republics (LNR) – are unrecognized by both Russia and Ukraine. However, according to Kiev, they are under the control of the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies. Following Zelensky’s invite to Putin, the heads of both the DNR and LNR invited the Ukrainian leader to meet and hold talks in Donbass, suggesting he deals directly with them instead.
“I urge you, Mr. Zelensky, not to invite the leaders of third countries to the line of contact, but rather to go there yourself for an honest and open conversation with us,” said Denis Pushilin, the leader in Donetsk.
They will never leave.
The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan and the surrounding regions to aid in President Biden’s plan to withdraw all combat troops by September 11th. Since Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by extending the withdrawal deadline, attacks against US forces in Afghanistan could start up again after May 1st, the original pull-out deadline. The Pentagon said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the deployment of a number of B-52 bombers to Afghanistan, two of which already arrived. Austin also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region. “It would be foolhardy and imprudent not to assume that there could be resistance and opposition from the Taliban,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.
On Thursday, the Taliban said it’s “too early” to say if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st, although the group has warned of “consequences” for Biden’s failure to meet the withdrawal deadline. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. President Biden’s decision to extend the withdrawal deadline does little but risk US casualties. President Biden said he wants all troops out of Afghanistan by September 11th, but questions remain over the presence of Pentagon contractors, and US military officials have made clear that they want to maintain the ability to bomb targets in the country.
President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan is working its way through Congress. Biden’s primary goals are to improve and rebuild the nation’s deteriorating highways, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, airports, water systems, electricity grids and other important structures, while also saving the environment and creating millions of new jobs in the green and clean energy space. Biden is calling for solar and wind industries to become the new leaders of the U.S. economy. A big part of his “Build Back Better” program entails developing a “modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.”
According to Biden’s green energy jobs plan, there are already three million people in the United States presently employed in the clean energy economy. Wind turbine service technician is No. 1 on the list of the fastest-growing occupations, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Solar panel installers are in third place. “But, that is only the beginning of what is possible if we harness all of our talent and creativity,” Biden’s plan reads. “If executed strategically, our response to climate change can create more than 10 million well-paying jobs in the United States that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class enjoyed by communities across the country, not just in cities along the coasts.”
[..] Here are some of the examples how it will be accomplished. “This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs—line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.”
“The U.S. can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The U.S. will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.” While new jobs may be added, there are concerns over workers who may lose their livelihoods. CBS News reported, “The oil sector is still the largest employer in the energy field.” Before the pandemic, there were more than 600,000 workers employed in the oil industry. Natural gas, fracking and coal-related positions account for hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be in jeopardy.
The cryptocurrency market fell sharply on Friday amid concerns over new taxes that could be unveiled by US President Joe Biden, and after one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges went bust. The most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, fell below its key psychological threshold of $50,000 on Friday morning. As of 07:05 GMT bitcoin was down nearly 10% percent to trade at around $48,800, according to CoinDesk data. The drop has stalled bitcoin’s enormous rally, and it’s currently heading for the biggest weekly drop since February. The slide also sees bitcoin losing its market dominance. According to the data from price-tracking website CoinGecko, the ratio of bitcoin’s value to the overall crypto market cap has fallen below 50%. Other top crypto assets also took a dive on Friday. Second-largest cryptocurrency ethereum faced similar losses to bitcoin and was trading at $2,215.
The sharp drop came less than 24 hours after the currency hit a new all-time high. Ripple’s XRP saw the biggest drop among the top 10 cryptocurrencies. The third-largest digital currency plunged almost 20%. The drops came hours after reports emerged that President Biden was planning to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. According to the plan, capital gains taxes may be nearly doubled for people earning more than $1 million, triggering concerns that it will affect gains from digital assets. Other bad news weighing on the crypto market happened earlier this week, when Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex abruptly halted its trading operations, while its CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer left the country. The company said that it needed five working days to resume operations, but hundreds of thousands of investors fear that their assets may be lost.
What kind of society allows this?
Last week, the country’s largest banks announced their quarterly earnings, crushing estimates and expectations nearly across the board. It marked another surprisingly profitable quarter in what’s become quite a run since the coronavirus hit the U.S. over a year ago. Banks, to the surprise of nobody, have been among the first American institutions to recover, and have done so dramatically. Millions of working people lag behind. One of the more unheralded profit centers that has driven that money train is the return of overdraft fees. In the last three months of 2020, 12 of the 15 largest American banks, all of them with consumer-facing banking operations, reaped huge revenue just from slapping overdraft fees on needy and vulnerable Americans during the very worst days of the pandemic.
JPMorgan Chase, for example, made a stunning $1.5 billion in revenue on overdraft alone in 2020, according to recent FDIC filings. During that same period, Bank of America made $1.1 billion in profits, and Wells Fargo made $1.3 billion. The final three months of 2020, when the pandemic was at its most widespread and deadliest, were also the year’s most profitable, with all three of those banks pulling down over $300 million just in overdraft fees. So while Americans suffered through the worst wave of our worst public-health crisis in 100 years, with unemployment sky-high and intermittently lapsed federal benefits, the country’s biggest banks were gouging the poorest Americans for billions of dollars in punitive fees.
“Banks could’ve capped overdraft fees for a certain number of months, or had no fees during the pandemic, but they didn’t want to give up a dollar of overdraft revenue in any formal way,” said Rebecca Borné, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. “So what we see now is a return to business as usual, where our largest banks each took over a billion dollars out of the checking accounts of people during one of the worst years in our history. It’s a gobsmacking amount of money.” Overdraft is essentially a forced high-cost payday loan. When a bank customer overdraws their account, they can still pay for whatever put them over the limit, but they are assessed an overdraft fee, typically around $35, for the privilege. That is often imposed on an overdrafted amount of money even much smaller than that, and can be repeated every day that an account remains overdrawn. The other option would be to deny transactions based on nonsufficient funds, but that wouldn’t make the bank any money.
This uniquely profitable part of the banking sector almost exclusively targets the very poor. According to a 2017 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 5 percent of all accounts have over 20 overdrafts a year, which produce 63.3 percent of all overdraft fees paid by consumers. Another 4.2 percent of bank accounts have over ten overdrafts a year and make up more than 15 percent of fees paid by consumers. Overdraft is a particularly pernicious form of predatory financial activity, functionally more exploitative and expensive than what we call the “alternative” financial sector of payday loans and check-cashing stores. As University of California, Irvine professor Mehrsa Baradaran writes in her book How the Other Half Banks, “If you consider the fee as a payment the customer makes for the extension of credit for the overdrawn amount, a 2008 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) study showed that these fees carry an effective APR in excess of 3,500 percent!”
“He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”
Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, made an inspired plea recently. The Harvard man and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother is a member of the so-called “SALT caucus,” a group of congressfolk threatening to hold up Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill if it doesn’t include a full repeal of a Donald Trump-imposed $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local taxes. “It is high time that Congress reinstates the state and local tax deduction, so we can get more dollars back into the pockets of so many struggling families,” intoned Gottheimer, one of 32 members of the SALT caucus, which includes 8 Republicans. Pressure on Biden to repeal the SALT cap has been amping up, mainly from tri-state Democrats like Gottheimer, fellow New Jerseyan Bill Pascrell, and Tom Suozzi of New York.
“No SALT, no deal!” the trio power-tweeted a few weeks back. Just a few days ago, Gottheimer even came up with a new way to argue the plan, offering to pay for the repeal of the SALT cap by increasing audits. “There is a way to do this by going after what people owe already,” he said. The effort by the “SALT caucus” to hold a $2 trillion relief bill hostage in order to help what they’re calling “struggling families” in the “middle class” is just the latest development in a years-long saga revealing Congress at its phoniest and most shameless. This issue that “means so much to the American people,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is really a niche matter concerning a sliver of the most well-off Americans in a handful of blue states, who were made the target of a political prank of sorts by the Trump administration in 2017.
There are a lot of people who own homes in blue states, could use the deduction, probably don’t think of themselves as rich, and would balk at the idea that repealing the cap would be a luxury giveaway. The story has been framed in the press as more of an everyman issue, and the fact that most of the money at stake involves people at the very top of the curve has been obscured. The start of this story was classic Trump. Looking for ways to help pay for his own monster tax break at the end of 2017, the Donald decided to poke Democrats with a long stick, via the cap on the unlimited state and local tax deduction. “He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”
Economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump, called the cap “Death to Democrats.” On October 11th, 2017, Trump explained to an approving Sean Hannity that he, Trump, was just trying to help states with fiscal problems help themselves. Note the loving repetition here of the word, “borrowing”: “You know, you have some really well-run states that have very little borrowing. Some have no borrowing, very little borrowing. And it’s unfair that a state that is well-run is really subsidizing states that have been horribly mismanaged. I won’t use names, but we understand the names. But there are some states that have hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in borrowing.”
Very long, but hey, from Michael Hudson!
Delphi’s warning that lust for monetary silver (philarguria) was the only thing that could destroy Sparta was echoed by Plato, Socrates and other philosophers accusing wealth addiction of leading to greedy and hubristic behavior that impoverished society at large. Creditors were singled out for reducing debtors to bondage and taking their land. Near the outset of Plato’s Republic (1 at 331c-d, written c. 380 BC), Socrates (who was put to death nearly twenty years earlier, in 399) discusses the morality of repaying debts in circumstances where this would lead to anti-social consequences. Cephalus, a businessman living in the commercial Piraeus district, states the typical ethic that it is fair to pay back what one has borrowed.
Socrates asks if it would be just to return weapons to a man who has become a lunatic. If a madman is intent on murder, Socrates asks, will not returning his weapon to him enable him to commit unjust acts? In view of the likely adverse social consequences, paying back such a creditor would be the wrong thing to do. It all depends on what creditors will do with their returns, and how their actions affect society. Book 8 of the Republicelaborates upon this discussion, describing how wealth leads its owners to act in ways detrimental to society.
In contrast to 20th-century price theory assuming diminishing enjoyment or “marginal utility” for each additional unit of a specific consumer good, Greek philosophy saw monetary wealth as being insatiable, becoming more addictive and compulsive. In Aristophanes’ last play, Ploutos(written in 388), the character Karion observes that one may become over-satiated with food – bread, sweets, cakes, figs and barley – but no one ever has enough wealth. His friend Chremelos (the root of whose name is chrema, exchange value and hence money-wealth) observes:
Give a man a sum of thirteen talents,
and all the more he hungers for sixteen.
Give him sixteen, and he must needs have forty,
or life’s not worth living, so he says. (lines 189- 93)
“.. if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask. ”
A new study found that anyone still wearing a mask at this point is probably just super ugly. The study looked at thousands of Americans still wearing masks and thousands who have long since thrown away all their masks. The findings were conclusive: the vast majority of people who still choose to wear a mask everywhere they go were much uglier than those who are currently blessing the world by letting everyone see their beautiful faces. “Look, the vaccine is out there, numbers are way down, your risk of dying is very, very low — if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask.
“You might have what we call a ‘face for radio’ in the business, if you know what I’m saying.” “Like, let’s just be honest here. We’re not gonna judge you. If you want to keep wearing the mask because you have a sad, no-good, loser face, fine. No one is going to stop you. Just don’t keep pushing for mask mandates for those who have incredibly good-looking faces.” The study also found that those who no longer wear a mask are tremendous, beautiful, “maybe the best-looking people of all time.”
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