Mar 272021
 


Wynn Bullock Child on a Forest Road 1958

 

The Emergency State (Whitehead)
Supreme Court Judge: Covid Restrictions To Last For 10 Years (SN)
Risk of Asymptomatic Spread Minimal. Variants Over-Hyped – Bhattacharya (LDS)
Nation’s First ‘Vaccine Passport’ Coming To New York (NYP)
Former CDC Director Says COVID-19 Escaped From Wuhan Lab (ZH)
Fauci Rejects Ex-CDC director’s Claim That COVID-19 Came From Wuhan Lab (NYP)
Fauci Slammed For Denying The US Is Approaching Herd Immunity (DM)
“Where Am I Here?” (Kunstler)
Hunter Biden Texts Shoot Down Secret Service Denial Over Gun Incident (NYP)
Hunter Biden and Family Join President On Weekend Away (DM)
Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage (DP)
The Top 10 Percent Through The Ages (AEA)
Suez Canal Crisis: Here Are The Cargoes In The Crossfire (Miller)
The Death of Humor (Matt Taibbi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No government willingly relinquishes power. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.”

The Emergency State (Whitehead)

The seeds of this present madness were sown several decades ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions. Comprising the country’s Continuity of Government (COG) plan, these directives, which do not need congressional approval, provide a skeletal outline of the actions the president will take in the event of a “national emergency.”

Mind you, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose, and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president. Just what sort of actions the president will take once he declares a national emergency can barely be discerned from the barebones directives. However, one thing is clear: in the event of a national emergency, the COG directives give unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power to the executive branch and its unelected minions. The country would then be subjected to martial law by default, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be suspended. The emergency state is now out in the open for all to see. Unfortunately, “we the people” refuse to see what’s before us.

This is how freedom dies. We erect our own prison walls, and as our rights dwindle away, we forge our own chains of servitude to the police state. Be warned, however: once you surrender your freedoms to the government—no matter how compelling the reason might be for doing so—you can never get them back. No government willingly relinquishes power. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

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“..scientists skeptical of lockdown policies have been “subjected to an extraordinarily unpleasant campaign of personal abuse”

Supreme Court Judge: Covid Restrictions To Last For 10 Years (SN)

British former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has warned that “social controls” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic may be kept in place by governments for up to a decade. “It’s politically unrealistic to expect the Government to backtrack now,” commented Sumption, who has been highly critical of the government’s ‘totalitarian’ lockdown policies. The judge compared the reaction to rationing after the Second World War, which went on for nine years, adding that this time “I think it may be even longer.” “An interesting parallel is the continuation of wartime food rationing after the last war. People were in favour of that because they were in favour of social control,” he said during a ‘Sketch notes on’ podcast.

“In the 1951 general election, the Labour party lost its majority entirely because people with five years more experience of social control got fed up with it. Sooner or later that will happen in this country,” he added. Sumption’s warning comes in the wake of Public Health England officials stating that restrictions will remain in place for as long as other countries have not vaccinated everyone, a process likely to take years. England’s chief medical officer also recently asserted that the pandemic restrictions, which have been in place on and off for a year, have “improved life” for some people. Despite promising an end to restrictions in June, the UK government yesterday extended emergency COVID laws until October, with Health minister Matt Hancock refusing to say how long they will remain in place after that.

Lord Sumption also noted during the podcast that scientists skeptical of lockdown policies have been “subjected to an extraordinarily unpleasant campaign of personal abuse”. “I know a lot of people that would prefer not to put their head above the parapet,” He continued, adding “From the very moment I started to make these points I began to get emails from politicians who agreed with what I had to say but that they themselves didn’t dare to speak out. That I think is a very serious state of affairs.” The judge also argued that governments are using the virus politically, noting “They have consistently tried to maintain that the virus is indiscriminate when it is perfectly well-established that it primarily affects people with identifiable vulnerabilities, particularly in the elderly.”

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Professor Jay Bhattacharya is one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration.

Risk of Asymptomatic Spread Minimal. Variants Over-Hyped – Bhattacharya (LDS)

Why have the media, politicians and many scientists sought to panic the populace about SARS-CoV-2 far beyond what the evidence would warrant? The incentives include financial motives, political goals, the desire to protect professional reputations and many other factors. The virus is seasonal and late fall/winter is its season. It is very unlikely, given that this is the case, that the virus will spread very widely during the summer months. It is also the case that a large fraction of the UK population has already been infected or vaccinated and is immune, which will greatly reduce hospitalisation and mortality from the virus in coming months. There are tens of thousands of mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They mutate because the replication mechanisms they induce involve very little error checking. Most of the mutations either do not change the virulence of the virus, or weaken it.

There are a few mutations that provide the virus with a selective advantage in infectivity and may increase its lethality very slightly, though the evidence on this latter point is not solid. We should not be particularly concerned about the variants that have arisen to date. First, prior infection with the wild type virus and vaccination provide protection against severe outcomes arising from reinfection with the mutated virus. Second, though the mutants have taken over the few remaining cases, their rise has coincided with a sharp drop in cases and deaths, even in countries where they have come to dominate. Their selective infectivity advantage has not been enough to cause a resurgence in cases. Third, the age gradient in mortality is the same for the mutant and wild-type virus. Thus a focused protection policy is still warranted. If lockdowns could not stop the less infectious wild type virus, why would we expect them to stop the more infectious mutant virus?

[..] “The scientific evidence now strongly suggests that COVID-19 infected individuals who are asymptomatic are more than an order of magnitude less likely to spread the disease to even close contacts than symptomatic COVID-19 patients. A meta-analysis of 54 studies from around the world found that within households – where none of the safeguards that restaurants are required to apply are typically applied – symptomatic patients passed on the disease to household members in 18 per cent of instances, while asymptomatic patients passed on the disease to household members in 0.7 per cent of instances. A separate, smaller meta-analysis similarly found that asymptomatic patients are much less likely to infect others than symptomatic patients.

Asymptomatic individuals are an order of magnitude less likely to infect others than symptomatic individuals, even in intimate settings such as people living in the same household where people are much less likely to follow social distancing and masking practices that they follow outside the household. Spread of the disease in less intimate settings by asymptomatic individuals – including religious services, in-person restaurant visits, gyms, and other public settings – are likely to be even less likely than in the household.

The evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease is very weak. The only randomised evaluation of mask efficacy in preventing Covid infection found very small, statistically insignificant effects [Danish mask study]. And masks are deleterious to the social and educational development of children, especially young children. They are not needed to address the epidemic. In Sweden, for instance, children have been in school maskless almost the whole of the epidemic, with no child Covid deaths and teachers contracting Covid at rates that are lower than the average of other workers.”

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“An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

Nation’s First ‘Vaccine Passport’ Coming To New York (NYP)

The nation’s very first “vaccine passport” is coming to the Big Apple. The program, dubbed the “Excelsior Pass,” is an app that will allow New Yorkers to prove their vaccination status, or recent history of a negative COVID-19 test, in order to gain entry to events and businesses, Governor Cuomo announced in a news release Friday. “Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” the news release explains. “Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

The app won’t show any health information when scanned — it’ll only show a green checkmark if the person has been vaccinated or tested negatively or a red “x” if they haven’t. Major venues, such as Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany, will begin using the app next week and on April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to “smaller arts, entertainment and event venues,” Cuomo’s office said. The app, which launched Friday, already works to prove vaccination status or negative test results and can be used to gain access to wedding receptions, which now require negative tests from attendees, and other events above the social gathering limit.

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

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“It’s only an opinion; I’m allowed to have opinions now,” he added.”

Former CDC Director Says COVID-19 Escaped From Wuhan Lab (ZH)

Former CDC Director Robert Redfield says that SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, did not originate from a wet market in Wuhan, China, and instead escaped from a nearby lab which was performing gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses to make them more easily infect humans. “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human,” Redfield told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in an interview set to air Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET. “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonot to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more & more efficient in human to human transmission.” “It’s only an opinion; I’m allowed to have opinions now,” he added.

When asked how he believes the lab was working to make the virus infect humans more efficiently, he said “Let’s just say, I have a coronavirus, and I’m working on it — most of us in the lab are trying to grow virus. We try to make it grow better and better and better and better, so we can do experiments and figure out about it. That’s the way I put it together.” Redfield, a virologist picked by former President Trump to lead the Centers for Disease Control, said he believes that the pandemic began as a localized outbreak in Wuhan in September or October of 2019, earlier than the official timeline, and that it spread to every province in China over the ensuing months.

“And while the rest of the world was told the only initial Covid-19 cases in China had originated from a wet market in Wuhan, Redfield is confident the evidence suggests that was simply not the case. According to Redfield, even his counterpart at the China CDC, Dr. George Gao, was initially left in the dark about the magnitude of the problem until early January. He described a private phone call he had with Gao in early January 2020, when Gao became distraught and started crying after finding “a lot of cases” among individuals who had not been to the wet market. Gao, Redfield says, “came to the conclusion that the cat was out of the bag.” The initial mortality rates in China were somewhere between “5-10%,” Redfield told me. “I’d probably be cryin’ too,” he added. …The United States wasn’t formally notified of the “mysterious cluster of pneumonia patients” until December 31, 2019. Those were critical weeks and months that countries around the world could’ve been preparing. -Dr. Sanjay Gupta via CNN

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“Fauci’s organization sent $7.4 million taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan lab for research including “gain of function” research.”

“In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.”

Fauci Rejects Ex-CDC director’s Claim That COVID-19 Came From Wuhan Lab (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday blew off claims from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab, saying Redfield was merely expressing an “opinion.” During the White House coronavirus briefing, Fauci said the virus that causes COVID-19 was likely already spreading in China weeks before it was detected — which helped it become more contagious. “The alternative explanation … is that this virus was actually circulating in China, likely in Wuhan, for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December 2019,” Fauci explained. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could’ve adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to and at the time it was recognized.”


In a new interview out Friday, Redfield — who oversaw the CDC at the peak of the deadly global pandemic — said it was his “opinion” as a top virologist that SARS-CoV-2 “escaped” from the laboratory in Wuhan. The highly contagious bug is widely accepted to have originated in animals before it adapted to humans. But Redfield said if that were the case, “it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission.” “I just don’t think this makes biological sense,” he added. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reiterated Redfield’s comments that he was just expressing an opinion. “So Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion to a possibility,” Fauci said, “but again, there are other alternatives, others that most people hold by.”

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‘I don’t think it’s healthy for a small group of people to be making all the public health recommendations. It’s good to have multiple voices..’

Fauci Slammed For Denying The US Is Approaching Herd Immunity (DM)

A Johns Hopkins professor has slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci for denying that the United States is approaching herd immunity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Marty Makary, who is also a Fox News contributor, told Brian Kilmeade on Thursday that ‘it’s not healthy for a small group of people’ to be making all the health decisions for Americans. ‘I don’t think it’s healthy for a small group of people to be making all the public health recommendations. It’s good to have multiple voices,’ Makary said. He claims that the low rate of reinfections and high percentages of people showing antibodies indicate that the United States is approaching herd immunity through both vaccinations and natural immunity, which he claims Fauci has ignored.

There have been more than 133 million vaccines administered in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Thursday, there have been 30,076,486 total infections with 546,507 deaths from COVID-19. The Johns Hopkins professor slammed Fauci’s track record throughout the pandemic and for initially missing the mark on how the virus is transmitted, the effectiveness of masks and mitigation. ‘His job is to prepare us for a pandemic and tell us how to manage it. He mostly missed the pandemic for the two months prior, never prepared us, was wrong on masks,’ Makary said. ‘We should have known that but the aerosolized transmission because Sars-CoV-2 behaves like Sars-CoV-1. That was aerosolized droplets as well. He was around for that.’

During the segment, Makary explained why he believed Americans have already started to reach herd immunity. ‘After you get the infection, your body develops antibodies. These are the same antibodies the vaccine is trying to trigger and create,’ Makary said. ‘When you have circulating antibodies, that means have you protection from the infection.’ The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that about 38% of Californians had antibodies against the coronavirus, according to figures presented during a virtual meeting hosted by the California Medical Association. During the webinar, researchers said that 45% of people in Los Angeles have these antibodies. The Bay Area and greater Sacramento region each recorded 32% of the population with COVID-19 antibodies.

Makary pointed to this data as evidence that Americans are approaching herd immunity. ‘That’s why infections are down 95% in Los Angeles over the last 10 weeks, their positivity rate is down to 1.6% right now,’ Makary said.

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“As Mr. Biden would say, anyway… I’ve gone on too long about that….”

“Where Am I Here?” (Kunstler)

I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to hear Joe Biden tell America — with a faraway gleam in those ol’ blue Konstantin Chernenko eyes — that he’s expecting to run for a second term. The prospect must engross him, so effervescent was his campaign of 2020! Like all presidents, he’s learning on-the-job, but he’s already lapping Franklin Roosevelt in the hundred-day dash of executive action, showing those wicked CCP envoys who’s boss (why, they are, of course), and turning the depraved white supremacist state of Texas into a vibrant Honduras del Norte. As Mr. Biden would say, anyway… I’ve gone on too long about that….

Meanwhile, from offstage you could hear the crunch of his handlers chewing their Xanax, knowing that the game was a brain-fart away from disaster. Well, he only wandered away from the podium one time, and he dutifully followed the script. In fact, the script was right there in his hand the entire white-knuckle hour of this debut press conference, and he often appeared to be reading straight off the page. I’m sure he was making a funny when he said he came to the Senate 120 years ago. (Remember the battle over Wm. H Taft’s nomination to be Territorial Governor of the Philippines? And how, in the hearings, then-freshman Senator Ol’ Joe B produced three New Haven doxies who testified about Taft’s “abnormal appetites” during the nominee’s years at Yale?)

Traditionally, presidential press conferences are opportunities to inform the nation where things stand, and to send signals to the other nations (“friend and foe alike” as JFK used to say) about America’s intentions, especially in the nuclear age, with the world so nervously on edge. What did Americans learn from Mr. Biden’s debut? Mainly that an old dog can do some old tricks, follow a script, play the politician, fill a suit, run his mouth, and go through the motions — fulfilling people’s cynical expectation that some trip is being laid on them. Foreign observers will probably note that the executive branch is being run by a politburo more secretive even than the old gang who ran the USSR. No one in this country seems to notice.

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Does this have legs?

Hunter Biden Texts Shoot Down Secret Service Denial Over Gun Incident (NYP)

Hunter Biden sent a text message that said the Secret Service responded after his handgun disappeared in 2018 — contradicting the agency’s assertion that it wasn’t involved, The Post has learned. In a lengthy message sent the following year, President Biden’s son described the situation in detail, saying his former sister-in-law-turned-lover, Hallie Biden, tossed the firearm into a trash bin outside Janssen’s Market, a gourmet grocery store in Wilmington, Del. “She stole the gun out of my trunk lock box and threw it in a garbage can full to the top at Jansens [sic]. Then told me it was my problem to deal with,” Hunter wrote.

“Then when the police the FBI the secret service came on the scene she said she took it from me because she was scared I would harm myself due to my drug and alcohol problem and our volatile relationship and that she was afraid for the kids.” The Jan. 29, 2019, message adds: “Really not joking the cop kept me convinced that Hallie was implying she was scared of me.” In another message, sent closer to the incident, Hunter described the handgun as “my 38.” “Took from lock box of truck and put it IN PapER BAG AND Threw it in trash can at local high end grocer. For no reason,” he wrote on Dec. 6, 2018.

“And I freaked when I saw it was missing 10 minutes after she took it and when she went back to get it after I scared the s–t out of her it was gone which led to state police investigation of me. True story.” Both messages are contained on a hard drive obtained by The Post that holds the contents of a damaged laptop computer that was left at Wilmington repair shop by Hunter in April 2019 and never retrieved.

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Well, look who just popped up. There are no coincidences here. Is it a deflection from the gun story?

Hunter Biden and Family Join President On Weekend Away (DM)

Hunter Biden and his family joined President Joe Biden on Friday as he flew to his home in Delaware for the fourth weekend since taking office. The 51-year-old, his wife Melissa, and their baby son Beau were seen leaving the White House Friday afternoon as they traveled to Wilmington with his father. Hunter held his 12-month-old son in his arms with Melissa close behind him before boarding Marine One from the South Lawn. The Bidens flew to the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland where they then traveled to Wilmington on Air Force One. When Biden landed in Wilmington he spoke to reporters there and was asked about having Baby Beau on board. ‘It’s really great,’ the doting grandfather replied. The family getaway comes just two weeks after the White House press corps criticized the president for his frequent trips home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Press secretary Jen Psaki later defended the commander-in-chief saying: ‘The president lives in Wilmington. It’s his home. That’s where he’s lived for many, many years. ‘And as you know, as any president of the United States does, he takes a private airplane called Air Force One to travel there.’ Hunter was also reported to have been splitting his time between California and Delaware before moving into a family home in Venice earlier this year. The president’s embattled son made headlines once again this week after it was reported the Secret Service tried to intervene in a 2018 police investigation involving Hunter and his then-girlfriend, his brother’s widow Hallie. A report published by Politico revealed Hallie threw a gun she’d found in his car into a grocery store trash can because she thought he was going to kill himself with it.

No one in the Biden family was entitled to Secret Service protection at the time but Politico cites unnamed sources who say that agents from the Secret Service offices in Wilmington and Philadelphia kept an ‘informal’ role in protecting them after Joe left office as Vice President in 2017.

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Nah, the entire honor goes to Slo’ Joe.

Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage (DP)

The parent company of some of America’s largest fast food chains is claiming credit for convincing Congress to exclude a $15 minimum wage from the recent COVID relief bill, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Daily Poster. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm named after an Ayn Rand character, also says it is now working to thwart new union rights legislation. The company’s boasts come just a few months after a government report found that some of its chains had among the highest percentage of workers relying on food stamps. Inspire Brands — which owns Jimmy Johns, Arby’s, Sonic, and Buffalo Wild Wings, plus recently acquired Dunkin’ Donuts for $11.3 billion in November — on Thursday sent employees and franchisees a review of its government lobbying activity that highlighted its success in keeping the $15 minimum wage out of Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.

“We were successful in our advocacy efforts to remove the Raise the Wage Act, which would have increased the federal minimum wage to $15 and eliminated the tip credit,” reads the report. Further down, the report notes the company’s ongoing lobbying campaign in the Senate against the PRO Act, which recently passed the House and contains a laundry list of organized labor’s goals, such as eliminating right-to-work laws and banning mandatory company-sponsored meetings that are designed to discourage union activity. “You get the impression that they’re actively spitting in our eye, saying ‘Yes, we worked to suppress wages of our employees and we’re just going to brazenly tell you,’” one Inspire Brands worker told The Daily Poster. “I really do think that a line was crossed. You’re just going to brazenly tell your employees, ‘not only did we work to kill wages, but going forward we’re also going to make sure that the PRO Act doesn’t pass either.’”

During the 2020 campaign, Democrats pledged to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would boost the wages of 32 million workers nationwide, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). However, efforts to include a $15 minimum wage in Biden’s pandemic aid bill failed after the Senate parliamentarian advised Democrats such a hike should not be passed by budget reconciliation and Vice President Kamala Harris declined to use her authority to override the decision. Inspire Brands’ success in eliminating the minimum wage hike from the bill follows Dunkin’ Brands’ then-CEO Nigel Travis saying in 2015 that a $15 wage would be “absolutely outrageous.” At the time, unions noted that Travis was being paid more than $4,000 every hour.

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We’re back to 1340.

The Top 10 Percent Through The Ages (AEA)

The COVID-19 pandemic may be increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. But how does today’s changing inequality compare to the past? In a paper in the Journal of Economic Literature, author Guido Alfani summarized the efforts of historians whose archival research has greatly increased economists’ knowledge of past wealth holdings. His work helps put today’s wealth polarization in perspective. Alfani’s estimates from the Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe (EINITE) database show that from 1300 to 1800 inequality grew steadily almost everywhere in Europe, with the exception of the century-long decline triggered by the Black Death. Figure 8 from his paper combines the estimates of the period 1300-1800 with estimates of inequality in postindustrial Europe.

The chart shows the average share of wealth held by the richest 10 percent in two separate regions of Europe. The black line is an average of the Sabaudian State (roughly modern Piedmont, Italy), the Florentine State, the Kingdom of Naples, and the Republic of Venice. The grey line is an average for France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden (sourced from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century). Although the areas of Europe differ before and after 1800, there is a relatively smooth transition between the two series. The rate of growth of the share of the top 10 percent in the period 1810–1910 was nearly the same as the period 1550–1800. Only two episodes interrupted a steady growth in inequality—the Black Death of 1347–52 and the 1914–45 period of the World Wars.


The most fatal pandemic recorded in human history caused the top 10 percent to lose 15–20 percent of the overall wealth. And the global wars caused an even larger drop for the rich, from almost 90 percent in 1910 to 75 percent in 1950. (It is interesting to note that contrary to our perception that our societies are less unequal than those of the past, the share of wealth of the richest 10 percent in 2010 was about the same as it was in 1340.) Alfani goes on to explain that post–Black Death plagues were unable to produce inequality reduction due to institutional adaptation and human agency. This indicates that today’s policymakers do have control over the gap between the haves and the have-nots by designing institutions in a way that protects the general population from excessive greed.

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The video is good. Sound on.

Suez Canal Crisis: Here Are The Cargoes In The Crossfire (Miller)

The “slow boat from China” just got a lot slower. Shipping sentiment toward the Suez Canal grounding of the Ever Given has taken a major turn. Operators are now opting to bypass the traffic jam and take the long detour around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Ship-positioning data already confirms abrupt turns toward the cape by multiple ships. Container ships such as the HMM Rotterdam, Ever Greet, Maersk Skarstind and Hyundai Prestige; the crude tanker Marlin Santorini; and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier Pan Americas, among others, have made beelines toward the cape. If the Ever Given is not refloated at high tide on Sunday, many more detours are expected. There were 237 ships stuck at anchor awaiting canal transits as of Friday, according to Egypt’s Leth Agencies. That’s up sharply from 156 the day before.


Global ocean trade is fluid. The Suez Canal closure doesn’t block cargo. It changes the arrival date. The extent of delays from rerouting depends upon port pairs and vessel speed. A container ship traveling at 17 knots passing India en route from China to Rotterdam would take nine more days on the cape route than using the canal. If its destination was Italy, it would take 13 more days. The double whammy of the canal queue and rerouting delays renders the global shipping network less efficient. The same ship capacity will not move the same cargo volume in the same time frame. This will have a wide range of effects — some bad, some good — for shippers, vessel operators and investors.

To gauge potential consequences, American Shipper analyzed historical data from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and obtained more recent data from trade-intelligence companies VesselsValue and Kpler. The SCA data is a year old but shows the long-term trends. American Shipper separated SCA’s cargo data into three categories: containerized volume, dry cargo volume (bulkers and general cargo) and liquid (tanker) volume.

Suez Canal Traffic Update – Audio on

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Review of Killer Cartoons, edited by David Wallis, and White, by Bret Easton Ellis.

The Death of Humor (Matt Taibbi)

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo won the condemnation of the whole world again, with the following cover:


Why Meghan quit Buckingham: Because I couldn’t breathe anymore.

Reactions ranged from “abhorrent” to “hateful” to “wrong on every level,” with many offering versions of the now-mandatory observation that the magazine is not only bad now, but “has always been disgusting.” This cover is probably an 8 or 9 on the offensiveness scale, and I laughed. It goes after everyone: Queen Elizabeth, depicted as a more deranged version of Derek Chauvin (the stubby leg hairs are a nice touch); Meghan Markle, the princess living in incomparable luxury whose victimhood has become a global pop-culture fixation; and, most of all, the inevitable chorus of outraged commentators who’ll insist they “enjoy good satire as much as the next person” but just can’t abide this particular effort that “goes too far,” it being just a coincidence that none of these people have laughed since grade school and don’t miss it.

Six years ago, after terrorists killed 10 people at Hebdo’s Paris offices in a brutal gun attack, the paper’s writers, editors, and cartoonists were initially celebrated worldwide as martyrs to the cause of free speech and democratic values. In France alone on January 11, 2015, over 3 million people marched in a show of solidarity with the victims, who’d been killed for drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. Protesters also marched in defiance of those who would shoot people for drawing cartoons, especially since this particular group of killers also fatally shot four people at a kosher supermarket in an anti-Semitic attack. For about five minutes, Je Suis Charlie was a rallying cry around the world.

In an early preview of the West’s growing sympathy for eliminating heretics, cracks quickly appeared in the post-massacre defense of Charlie Hebdo. Pope Francis said that if someone “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.” Bill Donohoe, head of the American Catholic League, wrote, “Muslims are right to be angry,” and said of Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.” New York Times columnist and noted humor expert David Brooks wrote an essay, “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo,” arguing that although “it’s almost always wrong to try to suppress speech,” these French miscreants should be excluded from polite society, and consigned to the “kids’ table,” along with Bill Maher and Ann Coulter.

Humor is dying all over, for obvious reasons. All comedy is subversive and authoritarianism is the fashion. Comics exist to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, and we live in an age when people believe they have a constitutional right to be taken seriously, even if — especially if — they’re idiots, repeating thoughts they only just heard for the first time minutes ago. Because humor deflates stupid ideas, humorists are denounced in all cultures that worship stupid ideas, like Spain under the Inquisition, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or today’s United States.

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Sep 172020
 


René Magritte Sixteenth of September 1956

 

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)
Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)
President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)
Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)
Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)
Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)
Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)
The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)
60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)
New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)
Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)
Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

 

 

We passed 30 million total global cases overnight. That is a lot of people. And at 300,000 new cases a day, 9 million will be added each month.

India hasn’t breached the 100,000 number in one day so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can think what you want about performances like this one by CDC head Robert Redfield, but the problem with the CDC, as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Fauci, should be obvious. The same will go for similar bureaus in other countries. That is, they basically go unchallenged for decades (I know, there was SARS), which inevitably makes them lazy and riddled with inertia.

This is best exemplified by the fact that Fauci has been heading his institute since 1984. Plenty of time to get all chummy with the Big Pharma people he sees on a regular basis, and one thing leads to another. And then when an emergeny occurs, we find out that they have no way left to deal with an emergency, because they’re all rusty and dusty. Which of course they will vehemently deny.

Meanwhile, Fauci has said may different, even contradictory things, and Redfield does no better. First, there is no vaccine, so this is pure hypothesis. And even then it will take another year?! Great message. Which the CDC itself walked back within hours to boot. And the way he’s flopping that piece of cloth around, saying it’s better than a vaccine, is just horrible. He’s had 9 months to drown the US in N95 masks, and be effective. So where are they?

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)

The U.S. should have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for Americans to return to “regular life” by the third quarter of next year, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel he expects vaccinations to begin in November or December, but in limited quantities with those most in need getting the first doses, such as health-care workers. He said it will take about “six to nine months” to get the entire American public vaccinated. “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third … late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” he told the U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies.

The CDC later walked back Redfield’s testimony after President Donald Trump criticized him at a White House press conference. The CDC said Redfield’s timeline referred to when all Americans will complete their immunizations. “He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans,” CDC spokesman Paul Fulton Jr. said in an email to CNBC. At the hearing, Redfield said the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed was unprecedented. He told lawmakers that a vaccine usually takes four to six years. There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus. Three drugmakers are currently in late-stage testing for potential vaccines and expect to know if they work by the end of the year.

Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely won’t get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year. Whichever vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it’s cleared for public distribution, medical experts warn. The vaccine will likely require two doses at varying intervals, and states still face logistical challenges such as setting up distribution sites and acquiring enough needles, syringes and bottles needed for immunizations.

Redfield

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“..It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training..”

Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)

President Trump’s administration canceled another critical race theory training that was set to occur through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite the president’s recent executive order banning those types of events, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said Tuesday. OMB Director Russ Vought announced the decision just a day after Discovery Institute researcher Chris Rufo reported on the training, underscoring the administration’s recent responsiveness to news on this issue. “Glad to report, per @POTUS’s directive, this training is being cancelled immediately,” Vought tweeted, alongside Rufo’s post about the issue. Rufo’s revelations appeared to prompt Trump’s executive order earlier this month.

Rufo noted on Monday that the CDC was hosting a training focused on “systems of structured inequality,” blaming systemic racism for deaths from COVID-19 and at the hands of police. It admonishes the “myth of meritocracy” and “myth of american exceptionalism,” among other objectives that Rufo said represented “textbook critical race theory.” It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training, which appeared to take place on Thursday. Rufo responded to Vought’s announcement by demanding accountability and threatening to release names of those involved if the CDC didn’t take action on its own.

A senior administration official told Fox News that all agencies are supposed to adhere to the president’s order, and that the president’s team is attempting to stop trainings that are continuing despite the cease and desist order. In Vought’s initial letter on the issue, he denounced the trainings as un-American. “According to press reports, in some cases these training have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job,” he said. “These types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the federal workforce,” he said.

Vought also directed agencies to identify ways to sever government contracts that supported those trainings. Last week, Rufo flagged a training through an Education Department contractor, which purportedly pushed for radical changes to education and doing “away with prison,” among other things. One document stated that “schools are built to manage racism” and that “we all” seem to abide by a racial contract that says it’s ok for white people to kill [B]lacks with immunity.”

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“Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people..”

President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)

Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color. The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

“According to the Marxian view,” wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, “human society is organized into classes whose interests stand in irreconcilable opposition.” Mises called this view a “conflict doctrine,” which opposed the “harmony doctrine” of classical liberalism. According to the classical liberals, in a free market economy, capitalists and workers were natural allies, not enemies. Indeed, in a free society all rights-respecting individuals were natural allies. Critical Race Theory arose as a distinct movement in law schools in the late 1980s. CRT inherited many of its premises and perspectives from its Marxist ancestry. The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King famously said. In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures. And, as we’ve seen from the government training curricula, modern CRT forthrightly judges white people by the color of their skin, prejudging them as racist by virtue of their race. This race-based “pre-trial guilty verdict” of racism is itself, by definition, racist. The classical liberal “harmony doctrine” was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.

But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism. Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT. A huge portion of society’s ills were attributed to one particular collective’s diabolical domination: capitalist hegemony for Marxism, white supremacy for CRT. Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people. Both try to foment resentment, envy, and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class it claims to champion.

Critical Race Theory
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306000528757923848

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The Senate Homeland Security Committee appears to be getting restless about the Durham probe.

Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted on Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for dozens of Obama-era officials involved in ‘spygate,’ including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former DNI James Clapper — and longtime US intelligence operative Stephen Halper, who the Obama administration paid nearly half-a-million dollars to help the FBI spy on the 2016 Trump campaign. The committee authorized chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to issue notices for taking depositions, subpoenas, records requests, and testimony related to the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation – along with the DOJ Inspector General’s review of said investigation, as well as the “unmasking” of individuals connected to the Trump campaign, transition team, and administration, according to Fox News.

“The committee also authorized subpoenas for Sidney Blumenthal, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, former FBI agent Joe Pientka, former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former FBI director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith – who pleaded guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the investigation into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign – among others.”

As part of the authorization, Johnson may subpoena “the production of all records” related to the FBI’s initial Russia probe, as well as unmasking requests for “James Baker, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, FBI case agent Steven Somma, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Teftt, former deputy assistant attorney general Tashina Gauhar.” Halper, meanwhile, is a former government official and longtime spook for the CIA and FBI, who was outed as the FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign after the Washington Post and the New York Times ran reports that corroborated a March report by the Daily Caller detailing Halper’s outreach to several low-level aides to the Trump campaign, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

These contacts are notable, as Halper’s infiltration of the Trump campaign corresponds with the two of the four targets of the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane – in which the agency sent counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and others to a London meeting in the Summer of 2016 with former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer – who says Papadopoulos drunkenly admitted to knowing that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s emails. The 74-year-old Halper who split his time between his Virginia farm and teaching at Cambridge, approached several Trump campaign aides during the 2016 US election for purposes of espionage – on behalf of the FBI, headed at the time by the recently very quiet James Comey. Halper continued to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page well after the election, and now we find that he was trying to infiltrate the Trump administration.

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Does anyone except the principals actors think these things should NOT be investigated?

Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)

An official who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation wrote in a recently released email that he or she was in possession of an iPhone belonging to Lisa Page three days after the former FBI lawyer’s last day on the job and at a time when the device was thought to have been lost. The special counsel’s office (SCO) and the Justice Department previously claimed to have no documents to show who handled Page’s iPhone after she turned it in on July 14, 2017, or who improperly wiped it two weeks later, before it could be checked for records, in violation of SCO policy. But documents released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sept. 11 tell a different story, with three officials certifying that Page turned over her phone and one claiming to have been in possession of it.

“I have her phone and laptop,” an administrative officer with the initials LFW wrote in a July 17, 2017, email to Christopher Greer, an assistant director at the DOJ Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Beth McGarry, the executive officer at the special counsel’s office, told Greer in an email sent earlier in the day that Page “returned her mobile phone and laptop.” On the same day, a property custodian officer, whose name is redacted in the documents, signed a form on which Page certified that she turned in her phone and the officer certified that “all government property has been returned or otherwise properly accounted for.” The July 17 timing of the two statements and the signature is significant. The DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) previously concluded that there were no records of who had the phone after July 14. The records about Page’s phone are part of a DOJ disclosure that revealed that members of the Mueller team improperly wiped at least 22 iPhones before they could be checked for records.

[..] Mueller’s team used a total of 92 iPhones, according to the documents. Four of the phones appear in the inventory logs, but not on the records officer’s log, suggesting they were either recorded without their unique asset tag or evaded the officer entirely. One of the four phones belonged to deputy special counsel Aaron Zebley. Another belonged to Zainab Ahmad, a special counsel attorney. One phone was partially wiped. Four phones were improperly handed over to the OCIO and wiped before the records officer’s review. As many as seven phones with no asset tags noted by the records officer were either reassigned or wiped before the officer could assess the device for records.

The pattern of questionable deletions has drawn the attention of lawmakers. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairmen of the finance and oversight committees, respectively, sent a letter to the DOJ and the FBI last week asking for more information about what happened with the phones. “It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understanding their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” Grassley wrote. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane.”

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His dad is running for president. Which is when in America the family is dragged in. But where is Hunter? Too much of a liability? The press can’t ask Joe, because all questions are pre-scripted.

Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)

A Treasury Department agency that polices financial threats such as money laundering flagged several foreign transactions to Hunter Biden-connected businesses as “suspicious” during the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the Trump administration. The concerns from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) were highlighted in Suspicious Activity Reports turned over to Senate committees over the last year in conjunction with investigations into the Russia and Ukraine scandals, according to several officials familiar with the evidence. As those Senate investigations wind toward the issuance of their first official report later this month, an essential question has emerged:

Did U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agencies do anything to determine if the money flowing to Vice President Joe Biden’s son posed any criminal or intelligence threats? [..] Senate Democrats first called attention to the existence of the SARs in a little-noticed letter late last year and are now bracing for the flagged financial transactions to be a major revelation in a joint report they expect to be published by the GOP-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Finance Committees as early as next week. “The Republicans have had this in their back pocket for some time to make headlines as the election drew closer,” one Democratic source told Just the News.

[..] The SAR reports were requested as Senate investigators dug into a labyrinth of global businesses that Hunter Biden and his business partners became involved with in Russia, China, Ukraine and elsewhere while his father Joe Biden served as the vice president and Obama administration foreign policy point person. That includes Hunter Biden’s controversial addition in spring 2014 to the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas firm with a long record of corruption allegations. SARs are one of the law enforcement community’s most powerful and secretive tools in the war against money laundering, drug cartels and terrorist threats, providing real-time warnings from financial institutions to FinCEN that certain transactions have characteristics that make them suspicious.

Treasury typically receives or generates one million to two million Suspicious Activity Reports a year. So a SAR report in and of itself is not evidence of wrongdoing, but it is usually a starting point for investigation, experts say. The question that remains is whether FBI or ODNI did anything to investigate these suspicious reports after they were alerted by FinCEN. [..] Hunter Biden’s globe-trotting business activities have long generated controversy because they often occurred in the shadows of his father’s foreign policy portfolio. Hunter Biden, for instance, traveled aboard Air Force Two in December 2013 with the vice president to Beijing, walking away soon after with a stake in an investment fund that received funding from the state-owned Bank of China. As his father’s administration took several actions favorable to Beijing, such as opening U.S. capital markets to Chinese companies, Hunter Biden closed deals in China.

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“Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life..”

Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)

GOP Senator John Kennedy used a startling cultural reference to portray his belief that believes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is crazy, saying that he often thinks she has ‘is one of those people who tried Tide Pods’ laundry detergent. Appearing with Sean Hannity, Kennedy was addressing Pelosi’s obsession with the $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill. “Sean, with respect, there are times, particularly recently, when I think Speaker Pelosi is one of those people who tried Tide pods,” Kennedy hilariously stated. “I want you to think about what she proposed today, this is what the speaker is threatening to do,” he continued, adding “She is threatening to keep the House Democrats in session and prevent them from going home and running for reelection unless the Senate Republicans agree to the speaker’s $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill.”


“On the one hand we can vote for Pelosi’s $3.4 trillion bill or we can agree to allow her to put the House Democratic majority into jeopardy. That’s just bone deep down to the marrow foolish,” Kennedy urged. Kennedy further emphasised that Nothing is going to get done while the Democrats refuse to back down over something that is never going to come to fruition. “Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life,” Kennedy added.

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PCR worked at the Reagan White House.

The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)

Those of you old enough to remember President Reagan will remember all the presstitute insinuations about Reagan being senile and falling asleep at cabinet meetings. Of course, the presstitutes were never at cabinet meetings. Reagan successfully confronted the two major problems of his time—stagflation and the nuclear armageddon that could result from misunderstood intentions or a warning system error. Reagan’s supply-side policy deep-sixed stagflation—the simultaneous rise of inflation and unemployment—and his negotiations with Soviet President Gorbachev ended the Cold War.

The Establishment has buried both achievements, and today Reagan is understood as the president who made Americans feel good while he cut taxes for the rich and poured money into the Pentagon and defense contractors. Reagan’s “star wars” was more illusion than real. It’s purpose was to convince the Soviets to end the Cold War. This was also the purpose of his military interventions against leftish takeovers in the US “sphere of influence.” The reason for these interventions was to give the message to Moscow that there would be no further territorial gains for communism. Americans today, especially the youth, know nothing about how the Reagan administration gave us two decades of economic growth without having to pay for it with rising inflation, and they do not know that Reagan ended the Cold War.

Today the rightwing and Russians themselves believe that Reagan won the Cold War. That was not Reagan’s goal. President Reagan told those of us involved that the purpose was “to end, not win, the Cold War,” and that we must never act or speak in any way that implied that we had prevailed over the Soviets. Wikipedia, a disinformation website, opens its account of Reagan’s foreign policy with a blatant lie: “The foreign policy of the Ronald Reagan administration was the foreign policy of the United States from 1981 to 1989. The main goal was winning the Cold War.” The ignorance of whoever wrote this is extraordinary.

The Soviets never would have agreed to losing the Cold War. President Reagan understood this, which is why he emphasized that our purpose was to end, not win, the Cold War.

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And counting.

60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)

Yelp on Wednesday released its latest Economic Impact Report, revealing business closures across the U.S. are increasing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll. As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July. In addition to monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the businesses whose closures have become permanent. That number has steadily increased throughout the past six months, now reaching 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July,” Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, told CNBC. Yelp’s September report marks six months since March 1, the date that the company considers to be the beginning of the business crisis. In order to gather closure data, Yelp monitors changes in business hours or descriptions on its app, offering an immediate, localized view of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses. “Despite the hard hit small businesses have certainly taken, we’ve seen that home, local, professional and automotive services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic better than other industries,” Norman noted.


The data supports the trend that most consumers are choosing to stay home over patronizing establishments physically, as home and professional services such as landscapers, contractors and lawyers, see a much lower closure rate than clothing stores and even home decor businesses. Auto and towing services also reported a relatively low closure rate. “Consumers still need these services,” Norman said. “Through the rise of virtual consultations, and contactless or socially distanced services, these businesses have been particularly resilient during this time.” Throughout the past six months, restaurants, bars and nightlife venues have been hit the hardest by the restrictions brought by the pandemic: 32,109 restaurants have closed, as of Aug. 31. The number of restaurants forced to permanently close is slightly above Yelp’s total average, at 61%.

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New Zealand has spin doctors too: “Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy..”

New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)

New Zealand has entered a recession with the economy contracting 12.2% in the June quarter – the largest drop since such records began in 1987. Paul Pascoe at Stats NZ said the GDP fall was “by far the largest on record in New Zealand” and reflected months spent in lockdown. Industries such as retail, accommodation, restaurants and transport saw significant declines; as did construction and manufacturing at 25.8% and 13% respectively. Household domestic spending dropped by 12%. Annually, GDP fell by 2% – the first annual decline since the March 2010 quarter. New Zealand’s economic retraction is higher than Australia’s 7% and Canada at 11.5%, but much less than in India, Singapore and the UK.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, placed New Zealand in a strict one-month lockdown on 26 March. No one was allowed to leave their home unless buying groceries, medicines, or taking an hour of exercise in their neighbourhood. At the time Ardern said the lockdown was necessary to control the spread of the virus and her priority was saving lives at any cost. Fewer than 2,000 people have become infected with the virus in New Zealand while 25 have died. The country’s efforts at containing the disease have been widely praised by epidemiologists around the world. The finance minister, Grant Robertson, said Thursday’s figures were “expected” and the result of the government’s “go hard, go early” response to the pandemic.

“This result was better than the treasury forecast of 16% and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Robertson said. “The June quarter includes almost the entire time New Zealand was in alert level 4 which we moved into on March 26 so this result is not surprising.” Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy”.

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“This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said.”

Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)

Julian Assange has again interrupted his extradition hearing, claiming that he never put informants lives at risk, when he published hundreds of thousands of State Department documents on his WikiLeaks website. The 49-year-old intervened in his extradition hearing for the second time since it’s resumption at the Old Bailey in London last week, earning him another stern reprimand from the judge hearing his case. Assange cried out from the dock after lunchtime during evidence being given by former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the classified Pentagon Papers that revealed the US government knew it would not win the Vietnam War based on existing resources.

Ellsberg was pursed under the Espionage Act as is Assange. All charges against him were eventually dropped and he has become a vocal supporter of Assange as well as Chelsea Manning, who leaked to Assange the hacked files. Ellsberg also supports Edward Snowden who leaked classified documents he had access to as a CIA subcontractor. The United States government has asked Britain to extradite Assange to face 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act with most charges relating to computer hacking. However, the US government is pursuing Assange over the publication of unredacted documents which exposed the names of informants. The distinction the US government is repeatedly trying to make separates Assange from the press which also published information revealed by WikiLeaks but without naming journalists, human rights advocates and dissidents who were informing on their governments and repressive regimes.

Ellsberg confirmed that when he leaked his cache of documents, he withheld four volumes of documents. But he said that the only withheld these because they related to negotiations which he did not want to jeopardise. Assange’s outburst came as the QC representing the US government, James Lewis, was cross-examining Ellsberg. Lewis cited an Ethiopian journalist who fled the country after being interrogated and threatened once he was outed as having been a source for the United States. Lewis also read out media reporting of a Chinese national named in the WikiLeaks cables reported being harrassed by non-state groups. The Chinese national fled to the United States.

Ellsberg claimed to have never seen evidence that an informant exposed by WikiLeaks was harmed or killed in retaliation. “I find the government highly cynical … am I right in believing not one of them who was subject to threats or interrogation by these brutal and ruthless regimes actually suffered physical harm? “Were any of the threats carried out? Even one? Isn’t the answer no?” Ellsberg said. “The rules are you don’t get to ask questions, I do,” said Lewis. Assange also rejected the claims that he put lives at risk. “Through his rhetorical sleight of hand he is suggesting that I put lives at risk,” Assange said from the dock. “This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser reprimanded Assange, for the second time in as many weeks. “I have warned you about this before, you are not entitled to interfere like this,” she said.

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We all know this. Why does the US base its entire case now on this nonsense?

Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

A senior investigative journalist who worked on the release of thousands of military and diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks has rubbished prosecution claims that Julian Assange and his organisation put the lives of U.S. service members and informants at risk. John Goetz, an investigations editor with the German public broadcaster NDR, had been a reporter with Der Spiegel at the time of the releases between 2010 and 2011. That included the Afghan and Iraq war diaries, in addition to the release of U.S. diplomatic cables that came to be known as Cablegate. James Lewis QC, on behalf of the U.S. government, told the Old Bailey last week that Assange is not being prosecuted for receiving the documents, but because he risked lives with “reckless publication”.

Goetz told the court on Wednesday (September 16) that Assange and WikiLeaks in fact had a “very rigorous redaction process” – on occasion more censorious than the Pentagon when the same documents were released by Freedom of Information Act requests. As the lead investigative journalist for Der Spiegel, Goetz was among a handful of journalists to be invited to the Guardian’s “bunker” in London where they, alongside WikiLeaks and New York Times staff, worked on removing sensitive names from documents. Goetz said that redaction and what Assange called the “harm-minimisation process” was central from the very beginning of his involvement in June 2010 and how Eric Schmitt of The New York Times was tasked with contacting the White House prior to publication due to the newspaper’s location and existing relationship.

As a result of that early communication, WikiLeaks and the partner publications withheld 15,000 documents from the Afghan War Logs “to protect innocents being harmed,” he said. “It was communicated to the White House that 15,000 documents would not be published because of the harm minimisation process and that is what happened.” While media partners worked on redacting specific documents, Assange was concerned with a technological solution that could aid the process due to the high volume of documents that were being evaluated, it was added. The same redaction process continued during the later publication of the Iraq War Diary and the U.S. State Department cables, Goetz said, but that communication with the State Department was later ceased when the department realised they were in fact helping journalists find the most damaging stories by requesting which files were to be redacted.

Goetz said: “There was a conference call with State Department officials such as PJ Crowley and others and they expressed in the phone call the numbers of the documents they were concerned about. “We were writing the document numbers down and it was easy to look at the documents where there were sensitive names to see if there was any significant names that had to be redacted. “We were very happy to receive these names and in many ways it was quite interesting to know which documents they were concerned about, but there was a pause in the conversation and then they – [the State Department] – stopped talking to us because it was clear that they were giving us an index of the most interesting stories.”

Read more …

 

 

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