Apr 202021
 
 April 20, 2021  Posted by at 8:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  67 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Don Quixote 1955

 

100 Doctors Express Opposition To Vaccinating Children (JPost)
WHO Rejects Covid Passports; Vaccines Don’t Stop Virus Transmission (RT)
World Can Bring Covid-19 Pandemic Under Control In Months – WHO Chief (RT)
‘Do Not Travel’: State Department Updates Advisory For 80% Of The World (RT)
To Conquer Nature And Death, We Have Made A New Religion Of Science (Cook)
So Wait, Russia Got Biden Elected? (Malic)
Russian Jet Intercepts US, Norwegian Patrol Aircraft (ZH)
America Can Successfully Defend Taiwan Against China – In Its Dreams (Ritter)
The $2.3 Quadrillion Global Timebomb (von Greyerz)
The Movie Follows the Script (Jim Kunstler)
Why People Are Persistently Hungry All The Time (RT)
Nils Melzer Says The Treatment Of Assange Leaves Him “Speechless” (Maurizi)

 

 

 

 

Robert Kennedy jr. on Gates and Fauci

 

 

 

 

Population Scotland 5.5 million. Covid Deaths over 10 months: 596.

 

 

“..vaccinating children is not appropriate at this time because putting even a few children at risk of unknown side effects is not worth the protection it will afford them against a disease they say is not dangerous to children.”

100 Doctors Express Opposition To Vaccinating Children (JPost)

Some 100 medical professionals have expressed opposition to vaccinating children with the coronavirus vaccine and separating between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. “We believe there is no room for vaccinating children at this time [due to] caution, modesty, the understanding that ‘haste is from the devil’; the recognition that we do not understand everything about the virus and the vaccine against it; and the first commandment of medicine: ‘First, do not harm,’” they said in a letter to the Health Ministry on Sunday. They acknowledged that the Pfizer vaccine has prevented serious coronavirus infection and mortality in children. But they said children do not usually experience severe symptoms from the coronavirus, and the long-term possible side effects of the vaccine, even if rare, would only be known after years of study.


It is also unclear how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, which variants it works against, how often booster shots will be needed and what the far-reaching implications of the periodic immunization on the immune system and the evolution of the virus could be, they wrote. The prevailing view among the scientific community is that the vaccine cannot lead to herd immunity, meaning there is no justification for vaccinating children, they added. Some Israeli health officials have said the vaccination campaign has provided Israel with herd immunity in recent weeks. The authors of the letter said vaccinating children is not appropriate at this time because putting even a few children at risk of unknown side effects is not worth the protection it will afford them against a disease they say is not dangerous to children.

Get informed!

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“..concerns that vaccinations alone won’t prevent the transmission of the virus.”

WHO Rejects Covid Passports; Vaccines Don’t Stop Virus Transmission (RT)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has staunchly rejected the use of Covid passports to reopen travel in a meeting of its emergency committee, over concerns that vaccinations alone won’t prevent the transmission of the virus. Reiterating their previously stated position on Monday, the WHO’s Emergency Committee said it opposed the use of proof of vaccination documents as a condition of international travel due to the lack of evidence over the impact of vaccination on the transmission of coronavirus. The WHO’s declaration comes amid alarm from the group over “the persistent inequity in global vaccine distribution”, with the international health body stating that Covid passports would only further promote unequal freedom of movement.


Instead, the WHO has recommended that countries impose quarantine measures for international travellers and introduce “coordinated, time-limited, risk-based and evidence-based approaches for health measures.” Concerns about the inequality that would be caused by the use of Covid passports has been sparked by wealthier nations snapping up vaccines, while poorer countries have been left without enough doses to effectively vaccinate their population. The WHO has described this growing divide between national vaccine rollouts as a “moral outrage” and “catastrophic moral failure”, demanding world leaders support a more equitable distribution of vaccines.

DeSantis

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But how? He doesn’t say.

World Can Bring Covid-19 Pandemic Under Control In Months – WHO Chief (RT)

A consistent global approach to the Covid-19 pandemic could bring it under control before the end of the year, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, despite a record week for Covid-19 infections. “We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Monday. The WHO chief also said the total number of new Covid-19 cases in the past seven days had increased for the eighth consecutive week, with a record 5.2 million infections reported.


“Big numbers can make us numb,” Ghebreyesus said, as he urged people not to forget that each death from the virus is a “tragedy” for families and communities. He also highlighted the “alarming” increase in infections and hospitalizations among those aged 25 to 59, “possibly” due to highly transmissible newer variants and the increased social mixing of younger generations. On Monday, the WHO’s emergency committee gave Ghebreyesus its advice on vaccines, variants, and international travel, among other coronavirus issues. The panel pushed back against Covid vaccine passport schemes, citing a lack of evidence that the jabs prevent transmission as well as ongoing global inequalities when it comes to getting hold of vaccine doses.

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“Americans who have completed immunization with FDA-approved vaccines are still considered “at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new [Covid-19] variants,”

‘Do Not Travel’: State Department Updates Advisory For 80% Of The World (RT)

Citing “unprecedented risk” from the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Department is urging Americans to reconsider going abroad and is updating its travel advisory to the highest, Level 4 warning for most of the planet. On Monday, Foggy Bottom announced that it will be updating the travel advisory during the week, to “better reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) science-based Travel Health Notices,” which will result in the number of places at Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to increase to “approximately 80% of countries worldwide.” The change does not imply a judgment on the current health situation in any given country, the State Department explained, but an “adjustment” in the travel advisory system to “rely more on CDC’s existing epidemiological assessments” and reflect “logistical factors” such as the availability of testing.


There are currently only 34 countries with a Level 4 travel warning, including war zones such as Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen; US-sanctioned countries like Venezuela, North Korea, Myanmar, Cuba and Russia; coronavirus-stricken Brazil and Argentina, and a number of African countries. The updated guidelines seem to be based on the CDC’s advisory published on Monday. Unvaccinated people are advised to delay or cancel any international travel. Americans who have completed immunization with FDA-approved vaccines are still considered “at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new [Covid-19] variants,” the CDC says.

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“The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

To Conquer Nature And Death, We Have Made A New Religion Of Science (Cook)

The British scientist James Lovelock who helped model conditions on Mars for NASA so it would have a better idea how to build the first probes to land there, is still ridiculed for the Gaia hypothesis he developed in the 1970s. He understood that our planet was best not viewed as a very large lump of rock with life-forms living on it, though distinct from it. Rather Earth was as a complete, endlessly complex, delicately balanced living entity. Over billions of years, life had grown more sophisticated, but each species, from the most primitive to the most advanced, was vital to the whole, maintaining a harmony that sustained the diversity. Few listened to Lovelock. Our god-complex got the better of us. And now, as the bees and other insects disappear, everything he warned of decades ago seems far more urgent.

Through our arrogance, we are destroying the conditions for advanced life. If we don’t stop soon, the planet will dispose of us and return to an earlier stage of its evolution. It will begin again, without us, as simple flora and microbes once again begin recreating gradually – measured in aeons – the conditions favourable to higher life forms. But the abusive, mechanistic relationship we have with our planet is mirrored by the one we have with our bodies and our health. Dualism has encouraged us to think of our bodies as fleshy vehicles, which like the metal ones need regular outside intervention, from a service to a respray or an upgrade. The pandemic has only served to underscore these unwholesome tendencies. In part, the medical establishment, like all establishments, has been corrupted by the desire for power and enrichment.

Science is not some pristine discipline, free from real-world pressures. Scientists need funding for research, they have mortgages to pay, and they crave status and career advancement like everyone else. Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial last November warning of British state corruption that had been unleashed on a grand scale by covid-19. But it was not just politicians responsible. Scientists and health experts had been implicated too: “The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency.” He added: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

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“..asked if he would run in 2024, Biden himself said he isn’t really thinking about it and adding, “I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?”

So Wait, Russia Got Biden Elected? (Malic)

Announcing a series of anti-Russian measures – incorrectly called “sanctions” – last week, President Joe Biden claimed Moscow is engaging in “efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners.” Look, here’s the deal – to borrow a phrase from Biden himself – the only one doing the delegitimizing here are Americans themselves. It wasn’t ‘Russia’ that declared the 2020 election was the “most secure… in American history.” It wasn’t the Kremlin that claimed absolutely nothing had gone wrong with any votes anywhere, and anyone so much as wondering about it was evil and ought to be silenced – it was the corporate media and Biden’s Democrats. And it wasn’t VK or Telegram that rushed to do the silencing, but the very American-owned Facebook, Twitter and Google.

It’s not Russia, either, that’s currently engaged in a push to “reimagine” US politics, elections and the very system of government. That would actually be… Biden and his own party, the Democrats. The 800-page HR1, or “For The People” Act, would fundamentally transform US elections, expanding universal mail-in ballots, mandating automatic voter registration and California-style ballot harvesting, banning voter ID or updating voter rolls, taking from states the authority to draw congressional districts – and if you try challenging it in court, narrowly defines how it can be done to the point where it’s practically impossible. Just to be sure, the Democrats are now proposing to pack – “expand,” in their parlance – the US Supreme Court.

They want to appoint another four justices, and bring the ratio from the current 6:3 in favor of (nominal) ‘conservatives’ to a 7:6 ‘liberal’ majority. Never mind the SCOTUS has been the Nine since 1869, and when FDR – the closest thing to the American Caesar so far – had tried to expand the court in 1937, his own party repudiated him and refused to do so. Don’t forget the initiative to give statehood to Washington, DC – explicitly prohibited by the US Constitution – that would guarantee Democrats two more seats in the Senate. Or the fact that, asked if he would run in 2024, Biden himself said he isn’t really thinking about it and adding, “I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?”

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Happens all the time.

Russian Jet Intercepts US, Norwegian Patrol Aircraft (ZH)

A major intercept incident between Russia and US-NATO allied aircraft has occurred over the far northern Barents Sea on Monday. “A Russian fighter jet on Monday reportedly intercepted and escorted US and Norwegian patrol aircraft,” The Hill reports. “The Russian Defense Ministry said the incident over the body of water near Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia involved a MiG-31 fighter jet,” it continued, based on initial reporting by Russia’s state-run RIA news agency. NATO member Norway shares a far northern small section of Arctic border with Russia, thus the region of the Barents Sea has always been a highly sensitive defense sector for the Kremlin, for which it keeps fighter jets at Arctic bases at ‘the ready’.


It comes as tensions are still soaring over Ukraine, and after last week a Russia MiG-31 had intercepted a US spy plane near Russia’s far northeast Kamchatka Peninsula over the Pacific Ocean. Moscow has also recently denounced the US Air Force’s additional longrange bomber presence in Norway, out of which recent missions have flown over the Baltic and North seas in a ‘message’ to Russia.

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“The culpability of this systemic incompetence is so widespread, however, that there can be no serious accounting for what has transpired.”

America Can Successfully Defend Taiwan Against China – In Its Dreams (Ritter)

The US military has deteriorated to the point that the only way it could win a simulated war game in which it was called on to defend Taiwan from a ‘Chinese invasion’ force was by inventing capabilities it does not yet possess. In 2018 and 2019, the US Air Force conducted detailed simulated war games that had its forces square off against those of China. On both occasions, the US was decisively defeated, the first time challenging the Chinese in the South China Sea, and the second time defending Taiwan – which China sees as an integral part of its territory – against a Chinese invasion. In 2020, the US repeated the Taiwan scenario, and won – but only barely. The difference? In both 2018 and 2019, it played with the resources it had on hand.

Last year, it gave itself a host of new technologies and capabilities that are either not in production or aren’t even planned for development. In short, the exercise was as far removed from reality as it could get. The fact is the US can only successfully defend Taiwan from a full-scale Chinese invasion in its dreams. What the current war games underscored is that, as currently configured, equipped, and deployed, the US Air Force lacks the required combination of lethality and sustainability necessary to wage full-scale conventional conflict against a peer-level foe. The mix of aircraft currently in the US Air Force inventory was unable to ‘compete’ in the war game – even the current model of F-35 was excluded as not being up to the task of fighting and surviving against the Chinese military.

[..] Today, with the political decision having been made to depart Afghanistan, and a similar decision being brooded regarding Iraq and its corollary conflict, Syria, the US military is a fundamentally broken institution. It lost its ‘forever wars’ in the Middle East and Southwest Asia by not winning. As such, the senior leadership at the helm of the US military has been conditioned to accept defeat as de rigueur; it comes with the territory, a reality explained away by lying – either to yourself, your superiors, or both. Too many successful careers were created on the backs of lies repackaged as truth, of defeats sold as victories, as deficits portrayed as assets. In many ways, the recently concluded US Air Force war game is a byproduct of this psychosis – an exercise in self-delusion, in which reality is replaced by a fictional world where everything works as planned, even if it does not exist.

The US Air Force cannot wage a successful war against China today. Nor can it do so against Russia. Its ability to sustain a successful air campaign against either Iran or North Korea is likewise questionable. This is the kind of reality that would, in a world where facts mattered, cost a lot of senior people their jobs, in uniform and out. The culpability of this systemic incompetence is so widespread, however, that there can be no serious accounting for what has transpired. Instead, the US Air Force, having been confronted by the reality of its shortcomings, ‘invents’ a victory. In and of itself, this ‘victory’ is meaningless. If China were to invade Taiwan, there is literally nothing short of employing nuclear weapons the US could do to stop it. But by ‘beating’ China using fictional resources, the US Air Force has created a blueprint of procurement that will define its budgetary requests for the next decade.

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“..account managers and traders can bet billions on a daily basis with no skin in the game but massive potential upside if nothing goes wrong.”

The $2.3 Quadrillion Global Timebomb (von Greyerz)

As I warned in last week’s article on Archegos and Credit Suisse, investment banks have created a timebomb with the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives monster. A few years ago, the BIS (Bank of International Settlement) in Basel reduced the $1.5 quadrillion to $600 trillion with a pen stroke. But the real gross figure was still $1.5q at the time. According to my sources, the real figure today is probably over $2 quadrillion. A major part of the outstanding derivatives are OTC (over the counter) and hidden in off balance sheet special purpose vehicles. The $30 billion in Archegos derivatives that went up in smoke over a weekend is just the tip of the iceberg. The hedge fund Archegos lost everything and the normal uber-leveraged players Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Nomura etc lost at least $30 billion.

These investment banks are making casino bets that they can’t afford to lose. What their boards and top management don’t realise or understand is that the traders, supported by easily manipulated risk managers, are betting the bank on a daily basis. Most of these ludicrously high bets are in the derivatives market. The management doesn’t understand how they work or what the risks are and the account managers and traders can bet billions on a daily basis with no skin in the game but massive potential upside if nothing goes wrong. But we are now entering an era when things will go wrong. The leverage is just too high and the bets totally out of proportion to the equity. Just take the notorious Deutsche Bank (DB) that has outstanding derivatives of €37 trillion against total equity of €62 billion.

Thus the derivatives position is 600X the equity. Or to put it in a different way, the equity is 0.17% of the outstanding derivatives. So a loss of 0.2% on the derivatives will wipe the share capital and the bank out! Now the DB risk managers will argue that the net derivatives position is just a fraction of the €37 trillion at €20 billion. That is of course nonsense as we saw with Archegos when a few banks let $30 billion over a weekend. Derivatives can only be netted down on the basis that counterparties pay up. But in a real systemic crisis, counterparties will disappear and gross exposure will remain gross. So all that netting doesn’t stand up to real scrutiny. But it is typical for today’s casino banking world when depositors, shareholders and governments take all the downside risk and the management all the upside.

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“The video has the status of a religious icon, portraying, as it seems to, the vivid distillation of the black experience in America..”

The Movie Follows the Script (Jim Kunstler)

Former police officer Chauvin is charged with Murder 2, Murder 3, and Manslaughter all predicated on varying degrees of intention and recklessness in the death of George Floyd, the internationally acclaimed saint-of-oppressed-peoples who died under Mr. Chauvin’s knee in an indelible video shared ‘round the world last May. The video has the status of a religious icon, portraying, as it seems to, the vivid distillation of the black experience in America: pure, unalloyed, hateful, murderous subjugation. The trouble is what’s not in the indelible picture: Mr. Floyd’s prodigious ingestion of the world’s hardest narcotic, fentanyl, at a level likely to cause death, plus methedrine, plus THC, on top of a 90-percent blockage of a coronary artery, and other cardiopathies, and Covid-19, all according to the official medical examiner.

Also, as it happened in the instance of his arrest, Mr. Floyd was failing to follow police instructions, and acting dangerously deranged — behavior apt to lead to police restraint, under which he died, rest his soul. So, now it will be left to the jury to sort all this out, under the threat of getting “doxed” (having their home addresses disclosed) by the Black Lives Matter org, as well as following the $27-million lawsuit settlement on the Floyd family for “wrongful death” by the Minneapolis City Council before the trial commenced — not exactly a propitious lead-in for a fair outcome. One might even view the public expressions of black opinion leaders and politicians as coercive — but then coercion is the animating spirit of liberal Wokery, the wish and the will to punish at all costs.

In any case, the fine spring weather around the country invites the young and energetic to caper angrily in the streets after a harsh winter of lockdowns. The mobs will turn out, things will burn, businesses will get looted (and destroyed), and people will get hurt. So it will be for two reasons: groups of people follow social scripts and societies give tacit permission for the acting-out of feelings — in this case, feelings of grievance that demand retribution and vengeance. What’s actually at issue here is whether black people in America really want to join with the other ethnic groups present in the land in a national common culture — that is, a consensus about behavior, ceremonies, and manners — or would rather opt out of it, oppose it, or violently destroy what’s left of it.

Chauvin judge

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Blood glucose.

Why People Are Persistently Hungry All The Time (RT)

A study between multiple universities has revisited the link between blood sugar and appetite, and found the relationship is far more complex than previously understood, yielding new insights on how to tame persistent hunger. The researchers examined blood sugar responses and other indicators from 1,070 participants in the UK and the US, sourcing data from the PREDICT (Personalised REsponses to DIetary Composition Trial) nutrition research project. The volunteers ate standardised breakfasts, after which they were free to choose their remaining meals throughout the remainder of the day, observing a fasting window for three hours after breakfast. They continuously wore blood glucose monitors and recorded what and when they ate each day using a phone app, along with their self-reported hunger levels, over the study period of two weeks.


The researchers discovered that dips in blood glucose levels, aka “sugar dips,” were significantly linked with appetite levels and energy intake/calorie consumption. Participants with big blood sugar dips experienced a nine percent increase in appetite, consumed their second meal of the day half an hour sooner, and posted an overall average consumption of 300 calories more throughout the course of the day, than those who didn’t experience these sugar dips. The research shows “great potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health,” says senior author and genetic epidemiologist Ana Valdes from the University of Nottingham. “Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off, and just a few hundred extra calories every day can add up to several pounds of weight gain over a year.”

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“When you visited him, he told you: Please, save my life. What does he have in common with other victims of torture?”

Nils Melzer Says The Treatment Of Assange Leaves Him “Speechless” (Maurizi)

He deals with torture victims on a daily basis, so he is not easily shocked by abuses. And yet, he says, he is ‘speechless’ when it comes to the case of Julian Assange. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has just published a book in German: “Der Fall Julian Assange”, which reconstructs his investigation based on exclusive documents. He tells Il Fatto Quotidiano what he has discovered and what he thinks is likely to happen. What made a Special Rapporteur on Torture work on the Assange case and write a book on it?

“When Julian Assange was still at the embassy in December 2018, his legal team actually reached out to my office. I remember it was just before Christmas, I saw this message pop up on my screen and I swiped it away immediately. I had this intuitive reaction: what does that guy want? He’s a rapist, a narcissist, a hacker, this isn’t serious, so I just discarded it. I have around 15 requests per day, and I can do one, it’s very routine for me to decide quickly, but I remember those negative emotions I had, that I usually don’t have. Three months later his lawyers came back to me in March 2019, and they also sent me Dr. Sondra Crosby’s medical assessment. And I knew Dr. Crosby was a big name as an independent medical expert, who was not associated with Assange activists.

I read these objective assessments by Dr. Crosby, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, I also read an article by James Goodale the Pentagon Papers man. I realised that I had strong prejudices against Assange, even though it’s my profession as a Human Rights expert to be objective. I started investigating further, scratching the surface of this case. The deeper I got into the case, the more dirt and contradictions came to the light. I also knew that I could not rely on information in the media and in the press, because that’s precisely the source that had deceived me in the first place. To be objective, I had to go visit him in prison, and, to be sure, I took not one medical doctor, but even two medical doctors with me, who are independent from each other and are not employed by the UN; they work as external experts for the International Criminal Court, the International Committee of the Red Cross and so on.

We spent 4 hours with Julian Assange, I spoke to him for one hour, and the forensic expert had one hour for a physical examination, and the psychiatrist did a two-hour psychiatric examination. Each medical examination was done separately from the other, so they wouldn’t influence each other. All three of us at the end compared our conclusions and agreed that he showed all the signs that are typical of victims of psychological torture. I must admit that I didn’t expect such a clear result. I reported back to the involved governments by the end of May. I was convinced Julian Assange had been deliberately persecuted and kept in a legal limbo in Sweden, in the US, in the UK and everywhere to put him under pressure and to make him crack. It was done very publicly, in order to make an example of him, to scare other investigative journalists. The message was: ‘If you expose our dirty secrets, this is what is going to happen to you, and no one can protect you. We can violate your rights every day the way we want and no one can do anything about it.’

[..] When you visited him, he told you: Please, save my life. What does he have in common with other victims of torture? “Torture is used for a wide range of purposes. There is the classic context of interrogations, the other one is torture to intimidate, like when they come to a village and they rape a woman in the village square, in front of everybody, it’s not as much to punish her, as it is to intimidate the population. That’s a very common purpose of torture, even more common than interrogation, and that’s what they are doing with Assange. In a modern democratic society they are not doing it by flogging, but they are doing it using the psychological method, by excluding him from society, by defaming him, by humiliating him in the media, in the press. Think of the witch trials in the 17th century, when those women were stripped naked and paraded around the city and everyone spat at them, that’s a bit what they are doing with Assange.

Read more …

 

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Apr 182021
 
 April 18, 2021  Posted by at 8:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Green Wheat Field With Cypress 1889

 

Viral Sequence Suggests Coronavirus Jumped Between Hotel Rooms (G.)
The Blood-Clot Problem Is Multiplying (Atl.)
UK Church Leaders Warn Against ‘Dangerous’ Vaccine Passport Plans (G.)
Denying the Demonic (Edward Curtin)
Ukrainian Envoy: NATO or Nuclear Weapons (Antiwar)
US Laments ‘Unwanted Escalation’ & Warns It Reserves Right To Retaliate (RT)
Czech Govt Expels 18 Russian Diplomats Over 2014 Blast (Y!)
Macron Urges ‘Clear Red Lines’ With Russia Amid Buildup Near Ukraine (Y!)
Russia, Ukraine Expel Diplomats As Tensions Soar (Y!)
CNN Viewership Down By Half Since Biden Took Office (ZH)
Biden Describes Border Surge As ‘Crisis’ For First Time (JTN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Florida: No lockdowns or masks
• Texas: Ended lockdowns, restrictions and mask mandates on 10th March 2021
• California: Full lockdown and mask mandate

 

 

What type of ventilation do they have?

Viral Sequence Suggests Coronavirus Jumped Between Hotel Rooms (G.)

Covid-19 appears to have jumped between neighbouring rooms in hotel quarantine in Sydney after seven cases of people arriving from different countries were revealed to have the same viral sequence. NSW Health said today that it had been notified on Friday that the returned travellers had the same viral sequence. The cases may have to be reclassified as locally acquired. The seven cases came from two family groups who arrived from different countries on different days. They stayed in adjacent rooms on the 12th floor of the Adina Apartments Hotel at Sydney’s Town Hall.


Staff who worked on the floor when the original case was believed to have been infectious – between 8 and 11 April – are self-isolating. NSW Health said all security staff who worked on the 12th floor at the time had had at least one vaccination. Other people in quarantine on the 12th floor at the time have all been retested and returned negative results.

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It’s certainly growing. Interesting: the producers have all received immunity. But how about the governments that push these things onto their people?

The Blood-Clot Problem Is Multiplying (Atl.)

For weeks, Americans looked on as other countries grappled with case reports of rare, sometimes fatal blood abnormalities among those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. That vaccine has not yet been authorized by the FDA, so restrictions on its use throughout Europe did not get that much attention in the United States. But Americans experienced a rude awakening this week when public-health officials called for a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after a few cases of the same, unusual blood-clotting syndrome turned up among the millions of people in the country who have received it.

The world is now engaged in a vaccination program unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes, and with it, unprecedented scrutiny of ultra-rare but dangerous side effects. An estimated 852 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across 154 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. Last week, the European Medicines Agency, which regulates medicines in the European Union, concluded that the unusual clotting events were indeed a side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine; by that point, more than 220 cases of dangerous blood abnormalities had been identified. Only half a dozen cases have been documented so far among Americans vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and a causal link has not yet been established. But the latest news suggests that the scope of this problem might be changing.

Whether the blood issues are ultimately linked to only one vaccine, or two vaccines, or more, it’s absolutely crucial to remember the unrelenting death toll from the coronavirus itself—and the fact that COVID-19 can set off its own chaos in the circulatory system, with blood clots showing up in “almost every organ.” That effect of the disease is just one of many reasons the European Medicines Agency has emphasized that the “overall benefits of the [AstraZeneca] vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.” The same is true of Johnson & Johnson’s. These vaccines are saving countless lives across multiple continents.

But it’s also crucial to determine the biological cause of any vaccine-related blood conditions. This global immunization project presents a lot of firsts: the first authorized use of mRNA vaccines like the ones from Pfizer and Moderna; the first worldwide use of adenovirus vectors for vaccines like AstraZeneca’s, Johnson & Johnson’s, and Sputnik V; and the first attempt to immunize against a coronavirus. Which, if any, of these new frontiers might be linked to serious side effects? Which, if any, of the other vaccines could be drawn into this story, too? How can a tiny but disturbing risk be mitigated as we fight our way out of this pandemic? And what might be the implications for vaccine design in the years to come?

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Amen:

“For the church of Jesus Christ to shut out those deemed by the state to be social undesirables would be anathema to us and a denial of the truth of the gospel.”

UK Church Leaders Warn Against ‘Dangerous’ Vaccine Passport Plans (G.)

Hundreds of UK church leaders have told the prime minister that plans to use vaccine passports for entry into venues is “one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics” with the “potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it”. An open letter to Boris Johnson signed by more than 1,250 clergy from different Christian denominations across the UK says the “introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent”. It says people may have valid reasons for being unable or unwilling to be vaccinated against Covid, “including, for some Christians, serious issues of conscience related to the ethics of vaccine manufacture or testing”.

Covid status certificates would be “divisive, discriminatory, and destructive”, it adds. “We risk creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life. There is also a legitimate fear that this scheme would be the thin end of the wedge. “This scheme has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it and to create a surveillance state in which the government uses technology to control certain aspects of citizens’ lives. As such, this constitutes one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics.” The letter says there is no logical sense in terms of protecting others in introducing Covid status certificates as a requirement for entry for venues, which could include churches.

“If the vaccines are highly effective in preventing significant disease, as seems to be the evidence from trial results to date, then those who have been vaccinated have already received protection; there is no benefit to them of other people being vaccinated,” it says. Describing the proposal as “illiberal and dangerous”, the signatories say: “As Christian leaders we … envisage no circumstances in which we could close our doors to those who do not have a vaccine passport, negative test certificate, or any other ‘proof of health’. For the church of Jesus Christ to shut out those deemed by the state to be social undesirables would be anathema to us and a denial of the truth of the gospel.”

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“The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for these inoculations only under the proviso that they may make an infection less severe. Yet millions have obediently taken a shot that doesn’t do what they think it does.”

Denying the Demonic (Edward Curtin)

In March of last year as the coronavirus panic was starting, I wrote a somewhat flippant article saying that the obsession with buying and hoarding toilet paper was the people’s vaccine. My point was simple: excrement and death have long been associated in cultural history and in the Western imagination with the evil devil, Satan, the Lord of the underworld, the Trickster, the Grand Master who rules the pit of smelly death, the place below where bodies go. The psychoanalytic literature is full of examples of death anxiety revealed in anal dreams of shit-filled overflowing toilets and people pissing in their pants. Ernest Becker put it simply in The Denial of Death: “No mistake – the turd is mankind’s real threat because it reminds people of death.”

The theological literature is also full of warnings about the devil’s wiles. So too the Western classics from Aeschylus to Melville. The demonic has an ancient pedigree and has various names. Rational people tend to dismiss all this as superstitious nonsense. This is hubris. The Furies always exact their revenge when their existence is denied. For they are part of ourselves, not alien beings, as the tragedy of human history has shown us time and again. Since excremental visions and the fear of death haunt humans – the skull at the banquet as William James put it – the perfect symbol of protection is toilet paper that will keep you safe and clean and free of any reminder of the fear of death running through a panicked world. It’s a magic trick of course, an unconscious way of thinking you are protecting yourself; a form of self-hypnosis.

One year later, magical thinking has taken a different form and my earlier flippancy has turned darker. You can’t hoard today’s toilet paper but you can get them: RNA inoculations, misnamed vaccines. People are lined up for them now as they are being told incessantly to “get your shot.” They are worse than toilet paper. At least toilet paper serves a practical function. Real vaccines, as the word’s etymology – Latin, vaccinus, from cows, the cowpox virus vaccine first used by British physician Edward Jenner in 1800 to prevent smallpox – involve the use of a small amount of a virus. The RNA inoculations are not vaccines. To say they are is bullshit and has nothing to do with cows. To call them vaccines is linguistic mind control.

These experimental inoculations do not prevent the vaccinated from getting infected with the “virus” nor do they prevent transmission of the alleged virus. When they were approved recently by the FDA that was made clear. The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for these inoculations only under the proviso that they may make an infection less severe. Yet millions have obediently taken a shot that doesn’t do what they think it does. What does that tell us? Hundreds of millions of people have taken an injection that allows a bio-reactive “gene-therapy” molecule to be injected into their bodies because of fear, ignorance, and a refusal to consider that the people who are promoting this are evil and have ulterior motives. Not that they mean well, but that they are evil and have evil intentions. Does this sound too extreme? Radically evil? Come on!

So what drives the refusal to consider that demonic forces are at work with the corona crisis? Why do the same people who get vaccinated believe that a PCR test that can’t, according to its inventor Kary Mullis, test for this so-called virus, believe in the fake numbers of positive “cases”? Do these people even know if the virus has ever been isolated? Such credulity is an act of faith, not science or confirmed fact. Is it just the fear of death that drives such thinking? Or is it something deeper than ignorance and propaganda that drives this incredulous belief?

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The Ukraine government really is this crazy.

Ukrainian Envoy: NATO or Nuclear Weapons (Antiwar)

Today Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seconded a statement by Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili that “it is time for concrete proposals for Ukraine and Georgia to obtain a NATO MAP and a plan to join the EU.” The two countries have been paired as partners for future NATO membership, with both being promised membership in the global military bloc at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania in 2008. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, seconded Zelensky’s demand that NATO admit Ukraine as a full member, stating that only that move would prevent a Russian invasion: “The only possibility for this [to prevent alleged invasion plans] is for Ukraine to finally become a NATO member.”

He also claimed that had his country been in NATO in 2014 the secession of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea would not have occurred; neither would the now seven-year was in the Donbass. He neglected to state whether the U.S.-engineered uprising and overthrow of an internationally-recognized government would also have occurred. Most likely not, as the populations of NATO nations are not allowed to elect, or if elect, keep any government Washington and Brussels view with disapprobation. The envoy then made this provocative statement: “Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance such as NATO and are doing our part to make this Europe stronger, or we have the only option – to arm by ourselves, and maybe think about nuclear status again. How else can we guarantee our defense?”

He also claimed there were 90,000 Russian military personnel deployed to the Donbass border and to Crimea; in his words, “We are dealing with the largest troop movement in Russia since the Second World War.” Which is arrant nonsense. When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 a third of total Soviet nuclear weapons were in Ukraine; with 1,700 warheads in the country it had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world after the U.S. and Russia. In 1994 Ukraine joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon nation. It’s that decision the above-cited ambassador suggested be reversed. In fairness, this isn’t the first time the question of Ukraine developing its own nuclear weapons capacity has been broached.

Over the past twenty years NATO-trained military leaders have raised the issue. But never before, and never during a crisis remotely comparable to the present one, has the issue been phrased so brutally: either place Ukraine under NATO Article 5 mutual military assistance status – and NATO acknowledges itself a nuclear alliance – or Ukraine will reassert itself as a nuclear power. The shelling of the Donbass will be mild in comparison to what an armed conflict between a nuclear Ukraine and nuclear Russia would portend.

Russia does the exact same thing the US does and it’s labeled escalation.

US Laments ‘Unwanted Escalation’ & Warns It Reserves Right To Retaliate (RT)

As Russia blacklisted eight current and former American officials and sent ten diplomats packing in retaliation for US sanctions, the State Department has lamented the “escalatory” response and said that Washington might respond. “Our recent actions were proportionate and appropriate to Russia’s harmful activities. Today’s announcement by the Russian government was escalatory and regrettable,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement on Friday evening. “It is not in our interest to get into an escalatory cycle, but we reserve the right to respond to any Russian retaliation against the United States.” Foggy Bottom was responding to the announcement that Moscow will expel 10 US diplomats, restricting the number of short-term visas for State Department staff to 10 per year, and ban the US embassy from hiring citizens of Russia and third countries as administrative staff.

The “open ground” memorandum of 1992, allowing US diplomats to move freely around Russia, has also been “declared invalid due to systematic violations” by Americans, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. There are also plans to “halt the activities… of American foundations and NGOs controlled by the Department of State and other US government agencies” since the US “shows no intention of scaling back its systematic subversive efforts.” These measures were a response to President Joe Biden’s executive orders sanctioning 30 Russian individuals and entities for allegedly interfering in the 2020 US presidential election and alleged involvement in the SolarWinds hack – both of which Russia has vehemently denied. Biden also expelled 10 Russian diplomats and banned US companies from trading in Russian sovereign debt.

Russia also chose to respond to Biden’s March 2 decision to sanction several Russian officials accused – with no evidence provided – of involvement in the alleged “poisoning” of opposition blogger Alexey Navalny. On Friday, Moscow banned eight current and former US officials from entering Russia. The ban applies to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons Michael Carvajal, and President Joe Biden’s domestic policy adviser Susan Rice. Former national security adviser John Bolton made the Russian blacklist as well. As did James Woolsey, who ran the CIA between 1993 and 1995 – and recently authored a book ‘Operation Dragon: Inside the Kremlin’s Secret War on America’, which accused the Soviet Union of assassinating US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963.

The unusual step to publicize the response was taken “in view of the unprecedented complications in Russia-US relations provoked by Washington,” the Foreign Ministry said. US sanctions and messages from Washington “show that Washington is not willing to listen and does not appreciate the restraint that we have displayed despite the tensions that have been purposefully fueled” by Washington since the Obama administration, said the Foreign Ministry. [..] Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Friday that Russia could have inflicted “painful measures” on US businesses, but chose not to do so – at this time.

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Some things are just too insane:

“Czech police said on Saturday they were looking for two men with Russian passports that had also been used by the suspects in the 2018 poisoning attempt on Sergei Skripal in Britain..”

Mark Ames: “If I understand this right, apparently GRU thought it’d be smart to use the same 2 spies to carry out 2 separate deadly operations in NATOland—2014 bombing in Czech Rep, 2018 Skripal poisoning—using exact same aliases & fake passports in both operations.”

Czech Govt Expels 18 Russian Diplomats Over 2014 Blast (Y!)

The Czech government said Saturday it would expel 18 Russian diplomats identified by local intelligence as secret agents of the Russian SVR and GRU services that are suspected of involvement in a 2014 explosion. Czech police also said later they were seeking two Russians in connection with the blast, which killed two people, with passports used by the suspects in the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in 2018. “Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy must leave our republic within 48 hours,” Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek told reporters. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Czech authorities had “clear evidence” linking GRU officers from unit 29155 to the blast in a military ammunition warehouse near the eastern Czech village of Vrbetice.

He added that he had received the information on Friday, without explaining why the investigation had taken so long. “The explosion led to huge material damage and posed a serious threat to the lives of many local people, but above all it killed two citizens,” Babis said. The blast occurred on October 16, 2014 at a warehouse with 58 tonnes of ammunition. It was followed months later by another big blast at a nearby warehouse with 98 tonnes of ammunition. The Czech organised crime squad (NCOZ) said it was looking for two men using Russian passports in relation to the explosions. The passports bear the names of Alexander Petrov, born in 1979, and Ruslan Boshirov, born in 1978, and their holders are also wanted in Britain in connection with Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury.

Russia denied involvement in the poisoning but some 300 diplomats were sent home in subsequent tit-for-tat expulsions. “The two men were present on Czech territory in… October 2014” when the Vrbetice blast occurred, the NCOZ said, adding that the two men also used Tajik and Moldovan identities. Babis said the expulsion of 18 diplomats had the full support of President Milos Zeman, a veteran leftwinger who has fostered close ties with both Moscow and Beijing. Zeman has repeatedly spoken out against his country’s Security Information Service (BIS), which has accused Russian intelligence services of orchestrating recent cyberattacks on the Czech foreign ministry and other targets.

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You said what? Ha ha ha!

“I do prefer constructive dialogue, but to have a constructive and efficient dialogue, you need credibility.”

Macron Urges ‘Clear Red Lines’ With Russia Amid Buildup Near Ukraine (Y!)

French President Emmanuel Macron said the international community has to “define clear red lines with Russia,” in an interview extract released Saturday, adding that countries must be ready to impose sanctions in case of “unacceptable behavior.” His remarks, made during an interview with the US network CBS, came amid high tensions over a major military buildup by Russian forces along the border with Ukraine. Macron said the world needed to make it clear to Moscow that while it preferred “open and frank dialogue,” it will not shy from imposing sanctions after any “unacceptable behavior.” “Indeed, we have to sanction. This is what we did after (Russia annexed Crimea in 2014) or after a series of crises which happen. And I think we have to define clear red lines with Russia. This is the only way to be credible.”


He added: “I think that sanctions are not sufficient in itself, in themselves, but sanctions are part of the package. I do prefer constructive dialogue, but to have a constructive and efficient dialogue, you need credibility.” Russia is believed to have deployed tens of thousands of soldiers near its border with Ukraine and in Crimea. Clashes along the border, which had nearly ceased after a cease-fire reached last summer, have recently resumed. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions against Moscow and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats over a massive series of cyber attacks against US targets, as well as over Russian interference in American elections. In addition, eight people linked to the “occupation” of Crimea were sanctioned.

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Ukraine tries to resemble an actual country.

Russia, Ukraine Expel Diplomats As Tensions Soar (Y!)

Russia on Saturday said it would expel a Ukrainian diplomat, prompting an immediate pledge of retaliation from Kiev, further escalating tensions over Moscow’s troop build-up on Ukraine’s eastern flank. The detention of a Ukrainian consul in the second city Saint Petersburg comes at a time of global concern of a repeat of Moscow’s 2014 aggression, when Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea and backed separatists in Ukraine’s east. Moscow claimed the Ukrainian diplomat had been caught “red-handed” trying to obtain sensitive information. In response, the Ukrainian foreign ministry protested “the illegal” detention of its diplomat and said Kiev would expel a senior Russian diplomat. Kiev has been battling Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 and clashes intensified early this year, effectively shredding a ceasefire agreed last July.


Around 30 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the year, compared to 50 last year. Most of them were victims of sniper fire. Russia has detained a number of Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of spying in recent years but the arrest of a diplomat is rare. “A Ukrainian diplomat, a consul of Ukraine’s Consulate General in Saint Petersburg, Alexander Sosonyuk, has been detained by Russia’s FSB,” the security service said in a statement, using the Russian language spelling of his name. He was held on Friday, the security service said. Kiev said the diplomat had spent several hours in detention. The Russian foreign ministry said Saturday it had summoned Ukraine’s charge d’affaires Vasyl Pokotylo and told him that the Ukrainian diplomat had 72 hours to leave the country “beginning April 19”.

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Clown News Network.

CNN Viewership Down By Half Since Biden Took Office (ZH)

While CNN may no longer be torturing people in airports, voluntary viewership has fallen over 50% in multiple categories since President Biden took office, according to Fox News. Who knew that their best move during the 2020 election would have been to help Trump win, instead of helping Biden. In the first three weeks of 2021, the network averaged 2.2 million viewers – only to plummet to just one million viewers – a decline of 54%. Among the key advertising demographic of adults age 25-54, ratings are down 60%. From December 28 through Inauguration day, viewership went from 617,000 viewers in that demographic to just 244,000 since Biden took office.

“CNN’s liberal primetime hosts Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon haven’t been able to keep their audiences under the new administration, either. CNN averaged 3.1 million viewers from 8-11 p.m. from Dec. 28 through Inauguration Day but only 1.4 million since for a whopping 55-percent decline. Over the same time period, CNN’s primetime lineup lost 63 percent of its viewers among the crucial demo.” -Fox News. CNN also fared worse than liberal competitor MSNBC, which lost ‘only’ 34% of its total-day viewers, and 30% of primetime viewers under Biden. Fox News points out, of course, that their viewership has remained mostly flat – as declines remained in the single digits.


When asked if he was worried about the ratings disaster, CNN host Don Lemon told the New York Times’ podcaster “Sway”: “No. I’m not worried about it … Trump was a horrible person. And he was terrible for the country. And it is better for all — for the world that he is no longer the President of the United States,” adding “So if that means that cable news ratings go down? Aww. So I’m not really that concerned about it. I would prefer that my ratings go down and Trump not be in office than my ratings be sky-high and him be there. That’s the honest truth.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1382529326839697409

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“..liberal Democrats complained.”

Biden Describes Border Surge As ‘Crisis’ For First Time (JTN)

President Biden on Saturday called the historic border surge a “crisis” for the first time, even as he pushed ahead with plans to increase the caps for refugees admitted into the United States. ”We’re going to increase the number [of refugees],” he said at a news conference. “The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.” His comments came one day after the Biden administration had to do a flip-flop, first announcing it was freezing refugee caps at the same 15,000 level that President Trump had created and then retreating a few hours later when liberal Democrats complained.


Biden had said in February he planned to raise the cap to 125,000, next year while his administration had suggested the number might increase to 62,000 for this year. The original announcement Friday was met with outrage by far-left Democrats, who then applauded the reversal. “This is a testament to the power that people’s movements, community advocates, & progressive coalitions have built,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

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Calvin introduced non-fungible tokens many years ago:

 

 

 

Maher COVID

 

 

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Apr 172021
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)
And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)
De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)
How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)
Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)
Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)
Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)
Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)
Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)
US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)
Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)
Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)
Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)
The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

 

 

 

 


A sailboat shielded by clouds, Chios Island, Greece. @avgoustidisermis

 

 

“..the architects of the biosecurity state..”

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)

The controversy erupted on Twitter even as the 32,000-foot-high plume of smoke from Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano was still rising in the sky. The firestorm on American social media platforms over reports that only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to evacuate the eastern Caribbean island sheds light on the architects of the biosecurity state who have descended on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to explore the limits of mandatory public health protocols in the midst of a natural disaster now projected to “last months.” Global organizations, NGOs, and members of the scientific community are coordinating emergency response efforts in Saint Vincent. Power outages, no clean water, and continued volcanic eruptions have rendered parts of the island virtually uninhabitable, plunging Vincentians who have managed to escape into a condition of quasi-statelessness where notions of human rights and civil liberties become malleable.

“Refugees are in a position of complete vulnerability,” says Dr. Diego Garcia Ricci, from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, speaking to MintPress. The constitutional law professor and data privacy expert addressed some of the issues surrounding the plight of refugees as biometric data like retinal scans, fingerprinting and even gender, become a pillar of identity documentation and incipient travel requirements in the wake of the pandemic. “While biometrics can be useful for identification purposes, mistakes do happen,” Garcia Ricci warns. Most at risk from these mistakes, abuse and racial profiling arising out of biometric digital identity systems are those whose need for the ‘state’ is made indispensable by virtue of being rendered stateless. Free agents with no agency are prime targets for global entities like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which claims to speak for close to 80 million forcibly displaced people.

Vincentians who are unable or refuse to leave the island are likely to be reclassified as “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, another kind of refugee as defined by the UNHCR. Such classifications are part of a vast structure of laws and guidelines enshrined in the archives of supranational state entities like the European Commission and the United Nations, based on the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which establishes international rules governing the treatment and rights of refugees, whose numbers have nearly doubled since 2012, ballooning from 45.2 million “displaced” to 79.5 million as of the last count.

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“In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.”

And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)

I suspected the data would be forthcoming showing this given the VAERS reports and now we have it:

I Using an electro nic health records network we estimated the absolute incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in the two weeks following COVID-19 diagnosis (N=513,284), or influenza (N=172,742), or receipt of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines (N=489,871).


The incidence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) was also assessed in these groups, as well as the baseline CVT incidence over a two-week period. The incidence of CVT after COVID-19 diagnosis was 39.0 per million people (95% CI, 25.2–60.2). This was higher than the CVT incidence after influenza (0.0 per million people, 95% CI 0.0 – 22.2, adjusted RR=6.73, P=.003) or after receiving BNT162b2 or RNA-1273 vaccine (4.1 per million people, 95% CI 1.1 – 14.9, adjusted RR=6.36, P<.001).

Wait a second…. you said the vaccines are more dangerous yet the data says that Covid-19 is ten times as dangerous as the vaccine for the same condition. So how can the title of this article be correct? Simple: For every reported infection somewhere around ten are not reported. Either they’re completely asymptomatic (about 30%) or mild enough that the person in question does not identify it as potentially Covid-19 and thus does not get tested. Yet both of the latter confer immunity just as does a symptomatic case. Further, you’re not guaranteed to get the disease. You are guaranteed to take the risk if you get the shot. Therefore we must adjust for the risk of contracting the disease which is not certain; you may have already had it and not know it and, in addition, you may have cross-reactive immunity.

Therefore the shot is close to or even more-dangerous than the disease. The baseline for approval of any therapy is that it must be much less dangerous than the disease itself. When it comes to vaccines the usual expectation is that it should 100x or more safer to get the shot than the disease, simply on the basis that you are not guaranteed to get the disease irrespective of how bad it is. If the disease is particularly lethal either generally or to you then a risk that is material for the vaccine is acceptable. What’s even worse is that this risk is basically identically in both mRNA and viral-vector (e.g. J&J) formulations; they both cause the same result in the same percentage of recipients, yet the FDA is still allowing the mRNA vaccines to be administered!

Covid-19, in non-morbid (young, but not exclusively so) people, only kills about 1/50,000 times — so if the shot gets you 1/250,000 times it’s a bad risk since a huge percentage of infections are not medically known as they are clinically significant and you are not guaranteed to be infected at all since you may have already had it and not known it or be resistant due to a previous infection with some other coronavirus and thus not at risk of developing clinical disease. These shots are not approvable on the math for other than materially-morbid individuals. In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.

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“When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum..”

Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)

Standing behind the desk in his office in Tallahassee, DeSantis leafed through a folder of praise he’s received from around the nation and across the globe. Hanging on the walls around the relatively small space was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the uniform the governor wore as the captain of the Yale baseball team. When asked why he chose Lincoln, DeSantis said the president is the best example of a leader who had to make difficult decisions in a time of crisis. When asked why some of the leaders today have continued with lockdowns even with ample evidence of their ineffectiveness, the governor theorized that the people involved have committed too much to the narrative and have made it impossible to change course.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for. And a lot of these people muffed it,” he said. “When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.” Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said. Two weeks after the interview, an undercover video recorded by Project Veritas showed a technical director at CNN talking about the boost the network received due to its pandemic coverage. “It’s fear. Fear really drives numbers,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in.” The fear-mongering worked, DeSantis said, pointing to CDC statistics showing that 4 out of 10 American adults delayed or avoided getting urgent or routine medical treatment in June 2020. The agency’s report said that the pattern may have contributed to the excess deaths reported during that period, due to preventable illnesses and injuries going untreated.

Emergency room doctors had reported that fewer people were coming in with cardiac-related chest pains while more were coming in with late-stage appendicitis, something that is usually caught much earlier. The pandemic has also led to a sharp decrease in cancer screenings and detections. “When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum,” DeSantis said.

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“..the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down.”

De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)

Unless the world wants to see loved ones “burned alive in a nuclear holocaust,” politicians should cut out the “macho” act and begin to deescalate. That’s according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Thursday, Gabbard said the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down. “Such a war would come at a cost beyond anything we can really imagine,” she told Carlson. “This is something that will directly impact…every single one of your viewers.” “It is a war in which there are no winners,” she added.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when two pro-Russia breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. While a peace deal was agreed upon later that year, both sides regularly report ceasefire violations. Much of the region is now split into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. According to Kiev, both of the unrecognized states are controlled by Russia, which the Kremlin denies. Moscow says both Donetsk and Lugansk are part of Ukraine. Fears of a full-scale war have been growing in recent weeks. Media reports have revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian frontier. This came after news of increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region by Kiev’s forces, and revelations that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of troops in the area.

Kiev is supported by the US, which has provided money, equipment and expertise. However, Washington has not given Ukraine the status of a full ally. According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the “thousands of nuclear weapons” Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that “hundreds of millions” could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

Tulsi Gabbard
https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1383022106779267076

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Uhhh, no. Putin is not eager to meet with Biden, Lavrov et al have made that plenty clear: such ameeting would only be used to make Putin look bad, or worse. And no, it’s not saber-rattling when you respond to 10s of 1000s gathering on your border.

How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)

[..] given Biden’s recent offer to sit down with Putin for a bilateral summit this summer, which is still on the table, it appears Ukraine’s leadership has been effectively sidelined. As one FT piece underscored this week, Putin’s troop build-up has succeeded in pressuring the Biden administration for a coveted summit to decide the future of Ukraine. “The summit format will also please the Kremlin by effectively cutting Kyiv out of any negotiations, and allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers deciding the future fate of the conflict,” FT observed. Here’s more from FT… “If Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border in the past few weeks was driven primarily by a desire to get the west’s attention, he did not have to wait too long for his reward.

Hours after his defense minister on Tuesday admitted Russia had mobilised two armies and three paratroop divisions to positions close to the conflict-wracked frontier, US President Joe Biden phoned the Kremlin with an offer of a bilateral summit: a long sought-after prize for Putin who craves a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table. …Those 50,000 extra soldiers, scores of tanks and other heavy weaponry spooked Kyiv and other European powers, and sparked a hurried response from Nato and the US amid fears over a potential outbreak of fighting between the two countries.” This wasn’t a stand-alone assessment, given also this week BBC came to a similar conclusion.

The BBC commentary underscored that the Russian troop build-up was never ultimately about some kind of hyped “invasion” of Ukraine – as Kiev officials have been shouting – but instead about bringing massive leverage to bear in forcing Biden’s hand. To the chagrin of the West’s Russia hawks, the BBC essentially pointed to a major diplomatic victory and ‘checkmate’ of sorts for the Russian side… The build-up has been impossible to ignore: thousands of Russian troops deployed towards Ukraine; US warships reportedly heading for the Black Sea and Russia’s foreign ministry warning them off “for their own good”. As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia’s Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate”.

Russia has refused: the defense ministry this week insisted its moves were in response to “threatening” Nato exercises in Europe. Then Mr Putin got a phone-call from the White House. And then, noted the BBC, Biden suggested a near-future face-to-face summit with Putin, which gives Russia the edge given it was the US side that first proposed it: “In Putin’s game of brinkmanship, Biden blinked first,” argues journalist Konstantin Eggert, after Joe Biden made his first call to the Kremlin and proposed meeting Mr Putin “in the coming months”. It’s just weeks after the US president agreed with an interviewer that Russia’s leader was “a killer”. President Biden’s new move is now a new topic of debate – disaster prevention or a mistaken concession – but in the run-up to a summit, the risk of major military action by Russia certainly fades.

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Well, the US stated again that it doesn’t recognize the present status of Crimea, maybe that’s enough to make it justified.

Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)

Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be “unjustified”, NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow “to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation”. Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months. Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. The move has triggered concerns in the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s “ongoing militarisation of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine’s independence, and undermine the stability of the broader region,” a spokeswoman for NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Blocking the Black Sea would “be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia,” she added. NATO called on Russia to “de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments”. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that Russia was justifying plans to block the Black Sea until October on the grounds that it is preparing military exercises.

“Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea, particularly near the Kerch Strait,” he told reporters. “It’s just the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” he added, reaffirming Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. “We call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region, and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and occupied Ukraine.”

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“Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan..”

Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)

Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.

On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”

Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.” The Times further reported that the United States maintains a constellation of air bases in the Persian Gulf region as well as in Jordan, and a major air headquarters in Qatar, which could provide a launching pad for long-range bomber or armed drone missions into Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a disabled combat veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war, stated that a genuine peace process in Afghanistan is “dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan.” Further, Hoh said that, “Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

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Clickbait.

Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

Read more …

“Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill..”

Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)

As Democrats seized on a now-debunked New York Times report that the Kremlin placed bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan – blaming President Trump for deliberately downplaying the aggression to appease ‘Lord Putin’ (as the story goes) – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) punched right, peddling the fabricated bounties story to any and all who would listen, according to The Federalist. Fast forward ten months later, and the Daily Beast reports that a senior administration finally admitted: “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier. “Low to moderate confidence” is another way of saying “unproven and potentially false, “in part because it relies on detainee reporting,” which is often unreliable.


Yet, Cheney pounced in an effort to undermine then-President Trump, while using the fake news to also lobby for a prolonged military presence in the region as the Trump administration was pulling troops out of Afghanistan. More via The Federalist: “Two days later, Politico, in an article titled, “Cheney takes on Trump,” wrote, “in her latest rebuke of Trump, Cheney openly questioned whether the president was aware of reports that the Russians offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops and demanded the administration take a more aggressive posture toward the Kremlin. Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill as she continued an inner-party crusade against the president in an election year from her position as House conference chair.”

Read more …

The rest is behind a Substack paywall.

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly. With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week. On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic. He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.” But two months later, on February 17, 2002, he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.”

Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.” He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.” By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

Want to know how seven in ten Americans during the war came to believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow behind 9/11? In part, because people like O’Reilly regularly said things like, “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing,” and “I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped [9/11] happen.” O’Reilly eventually got around to putting his “spotlight” on anyone who didn’t publicly back the invasion effort. He even took on Pope John Paul II, saying, “And then the pope sits in Rome and says, gee, this is terrible, but does not throw his moral authority behind removing this dictator.”

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The media has more incentive.

US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)

[..] there was nothing new about the suite of anti-Russia charges promulgated Thursday by the US federal government, and parroted as usual with maximum credulity across the US media ecosystem. The charges were again predicated on the idea that Russian “interference” and/or “influence” is an extremely foreboding test for the survival of US Democracy. Taking bold action, the Treasury Department levied sanctions against a bunch more Russians for their claimed nefarious behavior in carrying out this interference/influence — a fulfillment of Joe Biden’s oft-stated campaign pledge that under his watch, Russia would finally “pay a price” for allegedly engaging in such activities. Donald Trump, it was thought, had been appallingly lax in his resolve to confront this threat; now, a new sheriff is in town.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s prudent to assume that Janet Yellen is suddenly in possession of a foolproof methodology for attributing the provenance of “cyber operations” to specific foreign individuals and nation-states, it’s worth emphasizing what exactly is being alleged in the statement. The Treasury Department document reads: “Outlets operated by Russian Intelligence Services focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate US political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information.” Noting that these same characteristics could be just as easily applied to US corporate media outlets is so blindingly self-evident as to almost be redundant. Were there not “outlets” during the 2020 election that were “focused” on “denigrating” Donald Trump? Or for that matter, Joe Biden?

Do “divisive issues” not tend to be “focused on” by these same outlets as a basic precept of their core business model? Controversy = clicks/views, which equals revenue. Everyone knows this. Yet when scary Russian outlets are said to employ this same logic in their own content-production enterprises, it magically becomes dangerous enough to justify all manner of punitive government and corporate action. Including but not limited to: censorship purges, tighter regulation of online speech, and, as Biden announced Thursday, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats. “Disseminating false and misleading information”? The entire US media just got caught “disseminating” a fake story about Russians putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. If you’re truly concerned about the dissemination of “false and misleading information” having deleterious effects on the health of US political culture, your first target should be CNN.

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“..the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia..”

Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.


Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

Read more …

Glenn Greenwald: In this interview with @thedailybeast, this statement from Hunter Biden about his emails and laptop is a complete lie. No intelligence agency, let alone all of them, concluded it was a Russian operation, but you wouldn’t know that from the DB article:

Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)

Jong-Fast asks Biden when he realized that the former president and his son were fixated on him. “That was right around when I started to get sober and clean… It was only then did I realize the level of their obsession because long enough to look up from whatever drink or drug I was just pursuing at the moment. And it seemed like that every word out of the president’s mouth was some kind of demeaning or just horrible insult towards me,” he answers. “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?” Jong-Fast replies. “As a person in recovery, one of the things that I have truly tried to come to grips with is that the world actually does not revolve around me,” Biden says. “I mean, usually it doesn’t. But on this, I feel that it does,” Jong-Fast says.

“I don’t think that they thought that they would necessarily convince anyone not to vote for my dad because I’m an addict. I think there’s far, far too many people—I mean, everyone I know knows someone that they love—that suffer from addiction,” Biden says. “I think that they thought that they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign… But it had the exact opposite effect… They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a family, at least this family.” Jong-Fast also asks Biden about the leaked emails that caused such a stir at the end of the campaign. He claims he had no idea what she’s talking about. The email from an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, thanking Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father and spend some time with him”?

“I truly don’t know the origin of a lot of this stuff,” Biden replies. The email titled “expectations,” which involved details for how much he might get paid by China’s largest private energy company? “I literally don’t know what you’re even referring to. Is it from me?” Biden answers. “You know, I mean, there is a intelligence report from, from all of our intelligence agencies that has come to the conclusion that this was a Russian operation.”

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“This is a good time to be old. ”

Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)

Money will become more and more digitized, according to Jim Rogers, investor, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, but the question is whether or not non-government issued digital currencies will prevail. “If cryptocurrencies become successful, most governments will outlaw it, because they don’t want to lose their monopoly, every government in the world is working on computer money now, including the U.S. The Chinese are there already. I can’t imagine that the governments are going to say ok, this is our crypto money, or you can use their crypto money, that’s not the way governments work, historically,” Rogers told Michelle Makori, editor-in-chief of Kitco News.

Read more …

“Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.”

The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

In the late 1990s China experienced a massive bad debt crisis – there are estimates that more than half of its state-owned enterprises( SOEs) were insolvent in the mid-1990s – with the non-performing loans within the balance sheets of China’s four major banks thought to be between a quarter and a third of their total assets. The government reacted to the emergence of that destabilising mountain of bad debts by recapitalising the state-owned banks; carving out their non-performing loans and handing them over to four new asset management companies to manage them out of the system over time. Huarong was one of those asset managers, established to acquire and then manage the bad loans made by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Huarong predicament and the context of the swelling tide of SOE-related defaults highlight not just dangerously and system-threatening excessive leverage and poor allocation of capital within the heart of China’s economy but significant, indeed egregious, governance failures. Now the company set up to manage bad debts is itself apparently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy due to its own non-performing loans and will either be restructured or fail. While it is not a bank it is a substantial financial institution, with about $340 billion of assets and net assets of about $32 billion. Embarrassingly for the Chinese authorities, although it listed In Hong Kong in 2015, it is a state-controlled enterprise. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority of its shares.

The company got itself into trouble, it seems, by expanding beyond its charter as a manager of banks’ bad debts into quasi banking activities itself; lending to property developers, setting up securities trading businesses and essentially playing in the shadows of the system that the tightly-regulated banks have been forbidden to enter.It was able to do so because its former chairman, Lai Xiaomin, was by his own admission subjected to absolutely no oversight and was able to treat Huarong as his own plaything. When he was arrested in 2018 he admitted taking more than $350 million of “bribes” over the previous decade and was found to have about $50 million of cash stashed in an apartment he called “The Supermarket.” Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.

Read more …

 

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Mandarinfish

 

 

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Apr 162021
 


Dirk de Herder Amstel Bridge, Amsterdam 1946

 

Biden Declares Russia Threat ‘National Emergency’ (Fox)
Kremlin Pledges To Respond In Kind To Any ‘Illegal’ New US Sanctions (R.)
The West’s Sole Prerogative Is Russia Has No Right To Self-Defense (Kovalik)
US Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops (DB)
Update: Master List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)
SecDef Austin Hints at Continued US Military Involvement in Afghanistan (AW)
The Role of Reserve Currencies (Michael Pettis)
The Middle Class Has Finally Been Suckered into the Casino (CHS)
Arts Venue Closures Likely After Long Delay in Federal Grant Program (Dayen)
E-Euro Starts To Take Shape (Dolan)
Twitter Suspends Project Veritas’ James O’keefe After Undercover Scoops (RT)
China’s Economy Grows By A Record 18.3% In Q1; It’s Not Enough (ZH)
Just 3% of World’s Ecosystems Remain Intact (G.)

 

 

Another one of those days where there’s just too much news. So I split it up in this Debt Rattle and this Covid Rattle published before.

Note: I could have called this a Russia Rattle, the US provocations vs Moscow reign supreme. In that vein, it is remarkable (if anything still is at all) that at the exact same moment the “Russian bounties on American soldiers’ lives” narrative is fully debunked, it still serves as the main driver behind the new sanctions on Russia. Facts are just inconvenient details by now, it’s the story that counts.

 

 

Biden court packing

 

 

OPCW

 

 

“Putin So Upset Over Biden’s Killer Comments He Moved 28,222 Russian Troops To Ukraine Border..”

The only thing the Russia sanctions have accomplished is they made Russia stronger, self-sufficient.

Biden Declares Russia Threat ‘National Emergency’ (Fox)

President Biden on Thursday signed an executive order declaring a “national emergency” over the threat from Russia, as his administration slapped new sanctions on the country. The U.S. Department of State said it is expelling 10 officials from Russia’s bilateral mission. “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The White House also released a letter to Congress stating that the president has issued “an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

The letter said that Russia had aimed to “undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections,” engaged in “malicious cyber-enabled activities,” targeted journalists and dissenters outside of its borders, and violated international law. This, Biden said in the letter, constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” Blinken’s statement went into more detail, citing not only the SolarWinds hack that compromised many agencies in the federal government but also the poisoning of top Putin political rival Alexei Navalny. “We remain concerned about Navalny’s health and treatment in prison, and call for his unconditional release,” Blinken said.


Navalny is currently in the custody of the Russian government and reported not to be well. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki previously said that “[t]he Russian government is responsible for his health and well-being.” Blinken also emphasized Thursday, however, “the United States will also seek opportunities for cooperation with Russia, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with U.S. interests.” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Russian state-run media organization TASS, said “[w]e condemn any pursuit of sanctions, we consider them illegal. In any case, the principle of reciprocity in this matter is valid; reciprocity in a way that best serves our interests.”

Read more …

Putin called for the summit first, just not one in person. That Biden did it, is also just a narrative. He calls Putin a killer and declares more sanctions, and only then says: let’s talk. Not going to happen now.

Kremlin Pledges To Respond In Kind To Any ‘Illegal’ New US Sanctions (R.)

The Kremlin said on Thursday it would respond in kind to any new “illegal” new U.S. sanctions on Russia and warned any new measures would reduce the chances of a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin taking place. People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that the United States may announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged interference in U.S. elections and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities. The Kremlin has denied U.S. allegations that Russia tried to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election or that it was behind a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would wait to see what happened on the sanctions front before commenting in detail. But he said the Kremlin’s stance on sanctions and its response to them remained unchanged. “We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area,” said Peskov. “Reciprocity so that our own interests are ensured in the best possible way.” Russia did not want relations with Washington to be a case of “one step forward and two steps back,” he added. Biden, in a phone call on Tuesday, proposed a summit with Putin to tackle a raft of disputes and told Moscow to reduce tensions over Ukraine triggered by a Russian military build-up.


The Kremlin has so far responded coolly to the summit idea making clear it will be contingent upon U.S. behavior towards Russia. Peskov said on Thursday that any new U.S. sanctions would not increase the chances of such a summit taking place, but said it would be up to the two presidents to decide on the matter. Putin’s participation in a Biden-backed climate summit remained under discussion, Peskov said. He said the situation around Ukraine remained tense with NATO and U.S. forces still deployed close to Russia’s own borders. It was therefore premature, he said, to talk about de-escalation, despite reports that the United States had canceled the deployment of two of its warships to the Black Sea.

Read more …

“I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life; if another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide…”

The West’s Sole Prerogative Is Russia Has No Right To Self-Defense (Kovalik)

As tensions increase between Moscow and NATO over a buildup of troops near the Donbass, actually initiated by Ukraine, the West’s apparent position is that Russia has no right to self-defense. That’s been the case for decades. Having grown up in middle America during the waning years of the Cold War, I possessed a not-so-healthy fear of an imminent Soviet invasion or attack. Bob Dylan would capture this type of fear and hysteria in his 1964 song ‘With God on Our Side’, which he ripped off from the Clancy Brothers and Dominic Behan. Dylan’s updated version of ‘The Patriot Game’ declared: “I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life; if another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide…”

It is quite incredible to me that, nearly 60 years later, with the USSR itself having fallen in the meantime, these words still ring true in the West today. However, the truth is, as I came to find out later in life, it is the Russians who have had much more to fear from us than we have from them. And it is this understanding and indeed empathy for Russia which motivates me now to wish my country would stop its aggressive moves towards that country before it is too late; before we find ourselves involved in another great war in Europe. From the point of view of Russia, it is they who have been under constant threat from the West, certainly from the time of the Napoleonic Wars to the present. It is France which invaded Russia in 1812, with the result being the loss of about 200,000 Russian lives.

The Russians were able to survive and emerge victorious only by burning down three quarters of Moscow to the ground, leaving the French stranded and unable to supply themselves. In 1941, Soviet Russia, abandoned by the UK and the US to its own fate, was invaded by Nazi Germany and laid siege to. Ultimately, the Soviets were able to turn Germany back in the great battle of Stalingrad, but the USSR would lose nearly 27 million lives by the end of the war. While 80 to 90 percent of the German casualties were suffered on the Eastern Front at the hands of the Soviets and Communist Partisans, Russia’s incredible sacrifice in WWII has largely been forgotten and even denied in the West, with the US and the UK now taking credit for the Allied victory.

While Ernest Hemingway remarked – quite rightly – that “Every human being who loves freedom owes to the Red Army more than he will be able to pay in a lifetime,” these words, and the sentiment behind them, have been forgotten in a haze of collective amnesia. Incredibly, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not even invited to the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz on Holocaust Memorial Day – this despite the fact that it was the a Russian regiment from Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) which liberated the captives of the death camp.

Read more …

It served its purpose. And the MSM was all too happy to go along.

US Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops (DB)

It was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops. But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said. “This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully. Significantly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanctions on Thursday. But those sanctions, targeting Russia’s sovereign debt market, are prompted only by Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyber espionage. (In contrast, Biden administration officials said that their assessment attributing the breach of technology company SolarWinds to hackers from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was “high confidence.”)


“We have noted our conclusion of the review that we conducted on the bounties issue and we have conveyed through diplomatic, intelligence, and military channels strong, direct messages on this issue, but we are not specifically tying the actions we are taking today to that matter,” a senior administration official told reporters in reference to the bounty claims. According to the officials on Thursday’s call, the reporting about the alleged “bounties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that someone told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jailers what they thought was necessary to get out of a cage. Specifically, the official cited “information and evidence of connections to criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government” as sources for the intelligence community’s assessment.

Russian bounties Trump

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Taibbi’s list from last month has been updated with “Bountygate”.

Update: Master List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)

Updated 4/15/21 “Bountygate.” In July of 2020, according to “officials briefed on the matter,” the New York Times reported, and the Washington Post “confirmed,” that “a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.” It’s impossible to overstate how head over heels the politicians and press alike went with this story. It became instantly election-year fodder, with Kamala Harris saying of Trump, “He let Putin get away with placing bounties on the heads of our troops.” Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth instantly called for hearings into the matter, making the inevitable Russiagate tie-in. “First, Donald Trump encouraged Russia to interfere in our democracy, and they did,” she said. “Now, Russia is secretly paying militants to kill U.S. troops. Trump has known for months but apparently done nothing to stop them.”

The story had a dual impact politically, dealing a blow to Trump throughout the summer of a general election, while also seeming to present a reason not to withdraw from Afghanistan two weeks before Congress voted on the re-authorization of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) justifying the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. In hindsight, it’s incredible to see how easy it is for military or intelligence officials to impact budgetary or policy matters: just leak a hot story before a key vote. The Daily Beast was one of many news outlets to go full click-farm, with banner headlines like, “Russian ‘Bounties’ Mess is all of Trump’s Scandals Rolled into One” and “Russian Bounties Led to U.S. Troops’ Deaths, Intelligence Officials Believe,” with graphics announcing “BOMBSHELL,” “HOSTILE POWER” and “SHOCK VALUE!”


The Washington Post’s official “fact checker” column gave Trump its dreaded “four Pinocchios” rating for saying, “that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.” In fact, many people did say it was fake news, including Colin Powell, who went on MSNBC to describe the coverage of the story as “hysterical,” adding, “What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting.” Two months after the story came out, an on-the-record military official was less certain:

Roughly seven months after that, on April 15, 2021, a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call that the U.S. now assessed with “low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019.” The Beast, one of the chief propagators of the original fairy tale, ran a new story over the graphic, TURNAROUND. “U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops,” the headline read, adding, without irony, that “there were reasons to doubt the story at the time.” [..] Does this mean the Russians don’t meddle? Of course not. But we have to learn to separate real stories about foreign intelligence operations with posturing used to target domestic actors while suppressing criticism of domestic politicians. It’s only happened about a hundred times in the last five years — maybe it’s time to start asking for proof in these episodes?

Russian bounties

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We are so surprised.

SecDef Austin Hints at Continued US Military Involvement in Afghanistan (AW)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday said the US would continue to support the Afghan government’s military after President Biden withdraws troops from the country and hinted at a possible “counterterrorism” force in the region that could strike targets in Afghanistan. “We will look to continue funding key capabilities such as the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing, and we will seek to continue paying salaries for Afghan Security Forces,” Austin said at a NATO press conference in Brussels. “We will also work closely with them and with our allies to maintain counterterrorism capabilities in the region,” he added. “I think you’ll understand why I won’t get into specific details about where our counterterrorist assets may be positioned,” Austin said when asked where counterterrorism troops could be deployed in the region.


“In terms of our ability to acquire targets and engage them in places where we are not … We have the reach and the ability to in fact do that,” he said, suggesting the US wants to maintain the capability to bomb Afghanistan. The New York Times reported on Thursday on how the US is planning to continue fighting in Afghanistan “from afar.” The report reads: “The Pentagon, American spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist base.” Unnamed US officials speaking to the Times floated neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as possible locations to reposition forces from Afghanistan.

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Great Twitter thread from Pettis. The entire narrative about the e-yuan being a huge threat to the USD makes very little sense. Nobody wants the e-yuan for the same reason they don’t want the yuan. China has total control.

The Role of Reserve Currencies (Michael Pettis)

Apologies in advance for this very long thread, but as regular readers know, I worry greatly about common misunderstandings of the role of reserve currencies. The author seems to assume that what makes a currency a dominant reserve currency is its low frictional trading costs, which is why, he believes, digital currencies, with China in the lead, will dominate international trade. But while a low frictional trading cost is a necessary condition, it is not nearly sufficient. A quick glance at the role of the US dollar over the past 100 years, the period during which it achieved dominant status, makes this clear: when the world was short of savings relative to its investment needs, during the first fifty years of that period (a period characterized by the global need to rebuild economically from 2 world wars) the US was a permanent net provider of savings to the world.

In the next five decades, however, when the global economy was substantially rebuilt and needed to export excess savings, the US automatically became a permanent net absorber of foreign savings. Of course during this time the US shifted from permanent trade surpluses, when the world needed the US to supply it with food, capital goods and consumer goods, to permanent trade deficits, when the world urgently some place in which to dump excess production of consumer goods. This was no mere coincidence. To me it suggests three things. First, that reserve currency status is a function of a lot more than low-cost trading. In fact given that the cost is already so low, and seems to be in permanent decline anyway, I suspect it doesn’t even matter much any more.


What seems to matter a lot more is the willingness of the reserve-currency country to run large imbalances in response not to its own needs but rather to the needs of the rest of the world. As an excellent CFR resource shows, the US typically absorbs 40-50% of global imbalances, and the Anglophone economies — with similar financial markets all of whom, like the US, punch way above their weights as international reserve currencies — collectively absorb 65-75% of global imbalances. Given that China’s currency (and that of other surplus countries, like Japan) punches so far below it’s weight, it is surprising that anyone would argue that there is no relationship between the international status of a currency and its willingness and ability to absorb global imbalances.

Second, the reason these countries are “willing” to accept major reserve-currency status has more to do with ideology than with economic rationality, driven by, and reinforcing, the disproportionate power of the financial sector on domestic decision-making. Like the UK in the 1920s, they are perhaps too willing to sacrifice the needs of the producer side of their economies in order to maintain the overwhelming power of the financial side. The result, as Matthew Klein and I show in our book, is that these reserve-currency countries have constantly to choose between allowing unemployment to rise or allowing debt to rise. They have mostly chosen the latter.

And third, while China has been promising for nearly two decades that its currency will achieve dominant reserve status within five years or so, in fact the RMB is probably the least important of the top ten currencies given China’s status as the second largest economy and largest trader in the world, and by relevant standards its role has barely improved in the past decade and may even have declined. Why? Because for all over-excited talk about achieving major international status, Beijing has always refused to take the economic steps needed to increase its role in absorbing global imbalances. On the contrary, when Covid-19 created a demand shock in a world already suffering from excess savings and insufficient demand, Beijing had an incredible opportunity to boost the role of the RMB by boosting net domestic demand. Instead it implemented a muscular supply-side response that actually worsened its contribution to global demand imbalances.


In the end I do expect the international status of the US dollar eventually to decline, but not because of the rise of the yen (which, we were told in the 1980s and 1990s, was virtually assured) or of the RMB. Either it will decline because the US decides that it is no longer willing to absorb the huge and rising economic cost of dominant reserve-currency status to its producing sectors and its balance sheet in exchange for the declining geopolitical benefits and to maintain the status and dominance of of its financial sector (which may be the same thing), or it will decline when the cost of maintaining the power of the dollar helps sufficiently undermine the US economy, which has always been the real source of American power. The experience of the UK in the 1920s provides an accelerated vision of how that can happen.

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The middle class got suckered in the moment banks and central banks, Fannie and Freddie, started pumping up housing prices and manipulating mortgage rates. And yeah, now they’re suckered into stocks, because rates are negative, and savings worse than worthless.

The Middle Class Has Finally Been Suckered into the Casino (CHS)

For 12 long years, savers have been eviscerated while gamblers have been ceaselessly backstopped and bailed out by the Fed. In the Fed’s rigged casino, it’s not only rational to make high-risk bets, it’s rational to borrow as much money as you can to increase your stake and leverage your bets–because the Fed has our backs and so every wager on markets lofting higher will pay off. It’s crazy not to max out credit and leverage because the Fed has guaranteed every punter will be a winner. I explained the feedback loop this creates–the more the Fed guarantees markets will never be allowed to decline, the greater the incentives to borrow and leverage ever riskier bets in the Fed’s casino[..]

The middle class has finally surrendered the last of its rational risk-aversion and gone all-in on bets in the Fed’s rigged casino. Big players don’t use margin accounts in brokerages; they have immense lines of credit and tools to leverage their bets. It’s the so-called retail traders who use margin, and so the unprecedented highs in margin debt are evidence that the middle class has gone all-in on bets markets will only loft higher forever. Record inflows into equities adds more evidence that the middle class has been suckered into the Fed’s rigged casino. Why lose money every day in savings and money market accounts when newbie punters are raking in $250,000 a month playing options on Gamestop?

Alas, the majority of this “wealth” is phantom, as revealed by the chart of tangible (real) / intangible (financial) assets. The Fed’s casino prints trillions of dollars and gives them to the biggest gamblers for free, and so the artificial semblance of free money for everyone who gambles is compelling. Unfortunately, the Fed’s casino is only rigged to benefit the Fed’s cronies. Everyone else is suckered in to lose whatever they have. The Fed’s cronies have been impatiently waiting for the suckers to surrender their rational risk aversion and flood into the rigged casino to share in the Fed’s limitless wealth machine: the more you risk, the more you win!

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This could have been in today’s Covid Rattle, I know.

Arts Venue Closures Likely After Long Delay in Federal Grant Program (Dayen)

A critical $16.25 billion grant program to sustain thousands of small creative venues that haven’t been able to open since the pandemic began has yet to deliver a cent of relief four months after passage, due to delays and faulty technology at the Small Business Administration (SBA). A website constructed to take grant applications closed last week after only four hours online, because of constant crashes and an inability to intake documents. It has not been restored and there’s no timetable for its return. The program, based on the landmark Save Our Stages legislation put into last December’s COVID relief bill, was the largest investment in the arts in U.S. history. But the byzantine application process (often requiring over 100 pages of documents) and stubborn lack of payout has music clubs, small museums and movie theaters, and other venues either closing or looking to sell out to larger firms.

“Understandably, landlords can’t last forever,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director with the National Independent Venues Association, a lead driver of Save Our Stages. “Eviction notices are coming. People are like, ‘we can’t do this anymore.’” The situation reinforces the importance of policy implementation, the primary responsibility of the executive branch. SBA has been notorious for decades for failing in its mission to support small businesses, and the changeover in administrations to President Biden has not ameliorated this. A critical Inspector General report released a week ago noted that the grants management office where the program is being run from has only one designated official managing the process; the rest of the staff is on “temporary detail.”


SBA Spokesperson Andrea Roebker, said that the program, known as Shuttered Venues Operating Grants (SVOG), has been “built from the ground up,” and that the agency “is committed to delivering this much-needed relief to these venues, many of which have been closed for extended periods of time.” But in the meantime, venue operators must wait agonizingly, living on borrowed time, borrowed money, and the fear of collapse.

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So far, all the e-currencies look like feeble attemps at suppressing bitcoin. The problem: central banks want full control.

E-Euro Starts To Take Shape (Dolan)

The promised digital euro started to take shape this week and signals from Frankfurt may offer some relief to nervy commercial banks worried about being sidelined by the latest disrupter. With the “hands off” pandemic accelerating the demise of physical cash, and private-sector crypto and stablecoins threatening to invade the space, the pledge last year of a digital euro within five years came before the European Central Bank knew what exactly it would be or how it would function. As nearly every central bank working on digital legal tender suggesting a different model or system, the debate over design has ranged widely over the past 6 months – from digital tokens to a direct central bank accounts or something in between.

But responses from the ECB’s public consultation, released this week, have gone some way to narrowing the options discussed – with the feedback showing a preference for privacy, though not anonymity, and a role for the existing banking system. Although this was just one survey, and the ECB laced it with caveats about how unrepresentative the sample was of euro zone citizens, it may give some clues to the direction of travel. Respondents’ heavy stress on privacy and security appears to be coupled with a preference for the digital euro to exist offline, like a token held in smartphones or digital wallets. What’s more, they seem to want it to exist alongside rather than instead of physical cash and to operate in conjunction with the existing banking system.


That addresses one of the biggest financial stability concerns plaguing plans for digital currencies, already being trialled by the People’s Bank of China and which the U.S. Federal Reserve has called a “high priority project”. Many fear that if a digital currency is effectively a open-ended deposit account directly with the central bank, then its inherent guarantee will see deposits flee commercial banks, especially in a crisis, and undermine the retail banking system. To counter that, ECB board member Fabio Panetta has proposed limiting deposits to households only, and to a maximum of 3,000 euros – effectively penalising holdings in excess of that, and accounts held by companies or investors, with deeply negative interest rates.

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“Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me. The complaint will be filed Monday.”

How much different would Project Veritas’ situation be if it were sympathetic to the Dems?

Twitter Suspends Project Veritas’ James O’keefe After Undercover Scoops (RT)

Twitter has banned Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe for alleged violation of its policies on “platform manipulation and spam,” silencing his account amid a series of undercover scoops on CNN’s propagandist tactics. The social media giant told O’Keefe on Thursday that his account is permanently suspended and will not be reinstated, citing an allegation that he used fake or multiple accounts to manipulate conversations on the platform. Twitter said in a statement to The Hill and other media outlets that “you can’t artificially amplify or disrupt conversations through the use of multiple accounts.” The shutdown came after O’Keefe posted three straight days of scoops in which CNN technical director Charlie Chester is shown on video, talking to an undercover reporter.


Chester, who reportedly thought he was talking to a Tinder date, told the reporter about CNN’s propagandist efforts to oust President Donald Trump, its fearmongering about Covid-19 to boost ratings and its efforts to make Black Lives Matter look good. O’Keefe’s suspension from Twitter will likely come as good news to CNN, which hasn’t responded to the latest round of Project Veritas stories about the network and has lobbied for competing news outlets to be censored for reporting “misinformation.” O’Keefe issued a statement on Thursday, vowing to sue Twitter for defamation and denying that he operated fake accounts. “This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” he said. “Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me. The complaint will be filed Monday.” He invited supporters to follow him on Telegram.

Veritas
https://twitter.com/i/status/1382848287506583552

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“Guo Shuqing, China’s top banking regulator, said in March that the country was exposed to “bubbles” in international markets and its own real estate sector.”

China’s Economy Grows By A Record 18.3% In Q1; It’s Not Enough (ZH)

China’s economy grew by a record 18.3% in the first three months of 2021, its fastest annual growth rate in history reflecting the weak comparison to the lockdown period in early 2020. However, in keeping with the recent theme of China’s slowing credit impulse, the GDP print wasn’t nearly enough and disappointed markets which were expecting an 18.5% number.

The Chinese slowdown was even more visible in the quarter-on-quarter growth which slowed to just 0.6% from 2.6% in the previous three months – the second lowest quarterly growth rate since the financial crisis with the sole exception of the covid crash quarter a year ago, while the picture in the monthly data dump was mixed at best.

China’s expansion was supported by household consumption, which had previously lagged behind the wider recovery but is expected to play a greater role in driving growth this year. Retail sales beat expectations to add 34.2% in March, rebounding from a period of lockdowns a year earlier. Industrial production also boosted growth, with the metric adding 24.5% in the first quarter and alongside booming exports has helped prop up growth over the past year, it did, however, miss expectations in March and only rose 14.1% year-on-year. The Chinese recovery from the pandemic also helped it dominate global trade, with exports rising every month since June last year. In March, exports added 30% in dollar terms compared with the same month a year earlier.


In light of China’s recent aggressive deleveraging which has pushed China’s CSI300 just shy of dipping below the 200DMA, focus has shifted to the prospect of rate rises, with signs of overheating across parts of the economy despite persistently low consumer price inflation. The government is trying to curb leverage across its property sector, as well as rein in record rates of steel production following a construction boom. Several high-ranking officials have warned about the risks of high asset prices in recent months. Guo Shuqing, China’s top banking regulator, said in March that the country was exposed to “bubbles” in international markets and its own real estate sector.

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Setting your own home on fire after using it as a garbage dump and toilet bowl. Smartest species ever.

Despite 100s of years of science and warnings, we still appear unable to understand our planet is not infinite.

Just 3% of World’s Ecosystems Remain Intact (G.)

Just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat, a study suggests. These fragments of wilderness undamaged by human activities are mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Invasive alien species including cats, foxes, rabbits, goats and camels have had a major impact on native species in Australia, with the study finding no intact areas left. The researchers suggest reintroducing a small number of important species to some damaged areas, such as elephants or wolves – a move that could restore up to 20% of the world’s land to ecological intactness.

Previous analyses have identified wilderness areas based largely on satellite images and estimated that 20-40% of the Earth’s surface is little affected by humans. However, the scientists behind the new study argue that forests, savannah and tundra can appear intact from above but that, on the ground, vital species are missing. Elephants, for example, spread seeds and create important clearings in forests, while wolves can control populations of deer and elk. The new assessment combines maps of human damage to habitat with maps showing where animals have disappeared from their original ranges or are too few in number to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Some scientists said the new analysis underestimates the intact areas, because the ranges of animals centuries ago are poorly known and the new maps do not take account of the impacts of the climate crisis, which is changing the ranges of species.


It is widely accepted that the world is in a biodiversity crisis, with many wildlife populations – from lions to insects – plunging, mainly due to the destruction of habitat for farming and building. Some scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is beginning, with serious consequences for the food, and clean water and air that humanity depends upon. “Much of what we consider as intact habitat is missing species that have been hunted [and poached] by people, or lost because of invasive species or disease,” said Dr Andrew Plumptre, the lead author of the study, from the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat in Cambridge, UK. “It’s fairly scary, because it shows how unique places like the Serengeti are, which actually have functioning and fully intact ecosystems. “We’re in the UN decade of ecosystem restoration now, but it is focusing on degraded habitat,” he said. “Let’s also think about restoring species so that we can try and build up these areas where we’ve got ecologically intact ecosystems.”

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Apr 142021
 


Edgar Degas Leaving the paddock1866
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest art theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Nearly A Quarter Of Registered Covid Deaths Are Not Caused By The Virus (DM)
More Brands Are Putting Money And Clout Behind Covid-19 Vaccine Ads (F.)
Big Pharma Uses Big Tobacco’s Strategy To Defeat Ivermectin (DR)
How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines (TNR)
Russia Accuses US, NATO Of Moving Troops To Its Border (AA)
Biden Urges Russia To De-Escalate Ukraine Tensions In Call With Putin (G.)
Russia Warns US Warships To Stay Far Away From Crimea “For Their Own Good” (ZH)
Biden To Withdraw US Troops From Afghanistan By September 11 (G.)
Joe Biden Is Proceeding With Donald Trump’s Biggest Arms Deal (HuffPo)
The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times (RCI)
CNN Staffer Admits Network’s Focus Was To ‘Get Trump Out Of Office’ (Fox)
Crackdown On Cryptocurrencies May Be Coming, Warns Kraken CEO (RT)
Republican Antitrust Bill Would Block All Big Tech Acquisitions (TC)
Mexico’s War on Obesity Sends Junk-Food & Sugary-Drink Giants Scrambling (WS)
Airborne Plastic Pollution ‘Spiralling Around The Globe’ (G.)

 

 

 

 

The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective.
– Noam Chomsky

 

 

We will never ever know the real numbers.

But 50% of under 25s having antibodies doesn’t seem to point to lockdowns as the main “success” factor.

Nearly A Quarter Of Registered Covid Deaths Are Not Caused By The Virus (DM)

Nearly a quarter of registered Covid-19 deaths are now people who are not being killed by the virus, new official figures show as Boris Johnson comes under renewed pressure from Tory backbenchers to end the third lockdown sooner than planned. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths which are registered are now people who have died ‘with’ the disease rather than ‘from’ an infection. This means that the person who has died will have tested positive for Covid-19 at some point, but that the disease was not recorded as the victim’s primary cause of death on their death certificate. Even though just 23 deaths were announced yesterday, the Prime Minister is continuing to resist calls from his own party to lift all coronavirus curbs ahead of schedule as he warned that cases will rise in the coming weeks as people meet with friends and family in pubs and parks.

Outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail reopened on Monday under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Thousands of people rushed to high streets to splurge their cash on drinks, haircuts and clothes as economists predict a mini-boom fuelled by pent-up demand. However, in his downcast interview with Sky News, Mr Johnson even appeared to dismiss the efficacy of the vaccines his government has been busily rolling out this winter, as he claimed the shutdown – not jabs – had reduced the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. ‘It is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and in infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme,’ he said.

‘People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing. So yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.’ Conservative backbenchers led by Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Research Group of Tory MPs, have mounted a campaign to get the country opened up sooner than planned.

Boris
https://twitter.com/i/status/1381922550154981377

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A giant PR campaign for Pfizer, that’s all it is, paid for by the state.

More Brands Are Putting Money And Clout Behind Covid-19 Vaccine Ads (F.)

As the Covid-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, well known companies ranging from tech giants to beer brands are rolling out public service announcements to encourage people to get their shot. This past week, The Boston Beer Company debuted a new Sam Adams campaign promoting the vaccine featuring the brand’s “Cousin From Boston” character. The ad—created by the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners—shows the “Cousin” getting vaccinated by a real healthcare worker at Fenway Park’s mega site. But right before getting his jab, he passes out from his fear of needles and dreams of the day he can once again meet up with friends at a bar. (Sam Adams is also offering $7 toward a celebratory beer to the first 10,000 people to share proof of vaccination with the hashtag #ShotForSam on social media.)

According to GS&P cofounder Jeff Goodby—the legendary creative behind the iconic “Got Milk” campaign and countless Super Bowl ads—humor is a good way to reach younger audiences, especially after a year as emotionally draining as 2020. “You know what humor did for me is it puts this in perspective,’ Goodby says. “It’s just an inoculation. We’ve had a million of them in our lifetime, and this one is actually for the good of the community around you as well as for yourself and I think we tried to get that across. And it leads to a certain liberation and togetherness. And beer of course, is central to togetherness. One of the great things about getting inoculated is you can drink beer with people.” While Sam Adams went with humor, it wasn’t without first testing the ad to make sure it would be well-received, despite the serious nature of the topic, says Boston Beer Company CMO Lesya Lysyj.

Before introducing the “Cousin” last year, Sam Adams had been taking a more serious tone, even before the pandemic began. “We felt like it was important to show him showing it since he’s so relatable,” Lysyj says. “And if that guy can do it, anybody can do it . . . We did feel like you could put yourself in the shoes of this guy.” Sam Adams isn’t alone in its messaging. In fact The Ad Council—a nonprofit with a long history of collaborating with marketers to create PSAs for a variety of causes—has raised more than $50 million to fund Covid-19 PSAs and other related initiatives with a goal of appealing to a wide audience. To promote mask-wearing, it teamed up with Warner Media and the CDC in February for “Mask Up America,” a PSA featuring characters—from Harry Potter to the Joker to hobbits from Lord of the Rings—all wearing face masks in iconic scenes.

And in March, it released a vaccine PSA featuring former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush. Heidi Arthur, the Ad Council’s chief campaign officer, says the Covid-19 vaccine effort is the most complicated initiative undertaken by the organization, which also led polio vaccine efforts in the 1950s. “The amount of change can happen so quickly as the medical community learns more about the efficacy of vaccines and making sure that all of our messages and the content we’re creating is really where the science is because it can get very confusing for people with the flip of a switch,” she says.

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It’s about your money, not your health.

Big Pharma Uses Big Tobacco’s Strategy To Defeat Ivermectin (DR)

The Marlboro Man, as Dr. Mukherjee wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies, was the most successful smoking icon by 1955. Dr. Mukherjee describes how the Tobacco Industry fought back by twisting science against the public, first by arguing that an association does not prove cause and effect, and later by offering to perform the studies. The tobacco scientists argued that lung cancer was caused by genetics: if you were born with cancer genes, you developed cancer, and if you weren’t, you didn’t get it. Cigarettes might be associated with cancer, but they argued that more studies were needed if one were to actually “prove a causal link” between cigarettes and cancer. The actual cause of lung cancer, the tobacco scientists concluded, was faulty genetics and not cigarettes.

To assist with these studies, the generous Big Tobacco even offered to fund the research by founding the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. The TIRC is described further in The Emperor of All Maladies, a book I strongly recommend everyone read. The author writes how this ingenious strategy kept the tobacco companies in business and record-breaking profits for the next 50 years despite causing many millions of lung cancer deaths. Blurring or confusing the facts as a tactic proved remarkably effective. But by far, the craftiest ruse was for the Tobacco Industry to pretend to embrace the research and set up their own studies. Because by controlling the study design, they could control the outcome. The same strategy is now used against the public in this pandemic.

Their first victim was Hydroxychloroquine, which proved easy to discredit given that Donald Trump sounded unhinged in his praise for the drug. Later studies seemed to reinforce the belief that HCQ was ineffective; however when academic misconduct was found, it threatened to expose the effort. Big Pharma successfully distanced itself when the fraudulent articles were retracted and blamed on lone scientists acting by themselves. Dr. Tess Lawrie is a highly-respected and independent research consultant to the World Health Organization and NHS. Her work is routinely relied upon in the formation of International Practice Guidelines. She has found HCQ to have an effect against the coronavirus. Most tellingly, when Dr. Tess Lawrie performed her independent review of the data on Ivermectin, she removed the Fonseca study, which purported to show no benefit against COVID with Ivermectin use.

Dr. Lawrie explained, “They (The Fonseca Group) didn’t find that much of a difference between Ivermectin and the control arm. But the control arm received HCQ. So basically, there’s a comparison between two fairly active treatments.” Dr. Lawrie explained that there were many reasons to consider HCQ active against the virus. Thus, two patient groups were compared in Fonseca, both of which received effective drugs against COVID-19, and this was not considered a valid controlled trial of Ivermectin. Therefore the study was eliminated from the meta-analysis.

Read more …

Stay away from Bill.

How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines (TNR)

In April [2020], Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world’s scientific response to the pandemic. Gates’s Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates’s long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won’t present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates’s reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader.


How he’s developed and wielded this influence over two decades is one of the more consequential and underappreciated shapers of the failed global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Entering year two, this response has been defined by a zero-sum vaccination battle that has left much of the world on the losing side. Gates’s marquee Covid-19 initiative started relatively small. Two days before the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced something called the Therapeutics Accelerator, a joint initiative with Mastercard and the charity group the Wellcome Trust to identify and develop potential treatments for the novel coronavirus. Doubling as a social branding exercise for a giant of global finance, the Accelerator reflected Gates’s familiar formula of corporate philanthropy, which he has applied to everything from malaria to malnutrition.

In retrospect, it was a strong indicator that Gates’s dedication to monopoly medicine would survive the pandemic, even before he and his foundation’s officers began to say so publicly. This was confirmed when a bigger version of the Accelerator was unveiled the following month at the WHO. The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, or ACT-Accelerator, was Gates’s bid to organize the development and distribution of everything from therapeutics to testing. The biggest and most consequential arm, COVAX, proposed to subsidize vaccine deals with poor countries through donations by, and sales to, richer ones. The goal was always limited: It aimed to provide vaccines for up to 20 percent of the population in low-to-middle-income countries. After that, governments would largely have to compete on the global market like everyone else. It was a partial demand-side solution to what the movement coalescing around a call for a “people’s vaccine” warned would be a dual crisis of supply and access, with intellectual property at the center of both.

Read more …

“Over 40,000 people and 15,000 units of military equipment and weapons will be deployed on Russia’s western border in the near future..”

“In the spring of this year, the joint armed forces of NATO began the largest exercise in the last 30 years, Defender Europe 2021..”

Russia Accuses US, NATO Of Moving Troops To Its Border (AA)

The US is moving its troops to Russia’s borders, a top Russian official said on Tuesday. Over 40,000 people and 15,000 units of military equipment and weapons will be deployed on Russia’s western border in the near future, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said in a video conference with other military chiefs in the northern city of Severodvinsk. “In Poland and the Baltic states, US forces are being reinforced … the intensity of aerial reconnaissance has been doubled compared to last year, and the intensity of naval reconnaissance has increased by one-and-a-half times,” he said.


The minister accused the US and its allies of carrying out active military activities “with a clear anti-Russian orientation,” including up to 40 major military training events in Europe every year. “In the spring of this year, the joint armed forces of NATO began the largest exercise in the last 30 years, Defender Europe 2021,” he said. According to Shoygu, Russia redeployed two army and three airborne units to its western border “to counter the threat.”

Read more …

This is propaganda theater. It’s very obviously NATO that’s escalating tensions.

Biden Urges Russia To De-Escalate Ukraine Tensions In Call With Putin (G.)

In a phone call with Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden has called on Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine and proposed a summit between the two leaders amid growing concern over a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border. The president emphasized the United States’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup, the White House said. “President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with US interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” Biden expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup in the Crimea region of Ukraine and on Ukraine’s border, the White House said in a statement.


It said Biden also made clear that the United States will act “firmly” to defend its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. Biden also proposed holding a summit with Putin in a third country in coming months. The phone call came hours after Nato’s secretary general called on Russia to halt its military buildup around Ukraine, describing it as “unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning”. Flanked by Ukraine’s foreign minister at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Nato’s Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had moved thousands of combat troops to Ukraine’s borders in “the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014”.

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“The trend in the behavior of the Ukrainian side creates the risk of a resumption of full-scale military action.”

Russia Warns US Warships To Stay Far Away From Crimea “For Their Own Good” (ZH)

At a moment the United States appears poised to send its warships near Ukraine as a strong ‘deterrent message’ against Russian forces built up near the east Ukrainian border, Russia on Tuesday warned that US vessels better stay away from Crimea “for their own good”. A Kremlin statement further called the new US deployment into the Black Sea a serious “provocation” which serves no other purpose but to test Russia’s “strength” and “nerves”. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov issued the Tuesday warning as follows: “There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength, playing on our nerves. They will not succeed.”

“We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good,” he added. It was late last week that Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed that it’s granted permission for US warships to use the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to enter the Black Sea. The Pentagon has downplayed the deployment by keeping mostly mum about it, only saying that it’s “routine” for US warships to patrol the Black Sea. The Kremlin has warned that it’s Kiev’s own actions and initial troop build-up in and near Donbass that is risking “broader war” in the region. Days ago Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “The trend in the behavior of the Ukrainian side creates the risk of a resumption of full-scale military action.”

Russia’s newest warning that US ships better not come near Crimea likely also have in mind Joe Biden’s first words addressing the long-simmering Ukraine crisis issued early in his presidency. He said in a February 26 statement that the US “will never” recognize Russia’s claims over Crimea: The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts. We will continue to work to hold Russia accountable for its abuses and aggression in Ukraine.

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Trump wanted to do it but got obstructed by the Pentagon. So Biden can get all the glory. On 9/11, no less. Oh boy.

“The president has judged that a conditions based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

No, seriously, that’s not about Trump, it’s about Biden. Don’t try to make this up at home, they have professionals to do it for you.

Biden To Withdraw US Troops From Afghanistan By September 11 (G.)

Joe Biden will withdraw all the remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, a senior administration official has confirmed. The president is expected to make a formal announcement on Wednesday. There are currently about 2,500 US troops in the country, serving alongside 7,000 other foreign troops as part of a Nato coalition. Most, if not all, Nato allies are likely to withdraw in coordination with the US. “We will remain in lockstep with them as we undergo this operation. We went in together, adjusted together and now we will prepare to leave together,” a US official said. The drawdown of US troops will begin by 1 May, the withdrawal deadline the Trump administration agreed with the Taliban last year, and will be completed by the 9/11 anniversary.

“We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack,” a senior administration official said. “We believe we achieved that objective some years ago. We judge the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level that we can address it, without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban.” The only remaining US military presence after September 11 this year will be security for the US embassy, a task normally carried out by marines. The Biden administration has said it will negotiate with the Afghan government over the precise security arrangements for the diplomatic mission in Kabul.

About 800,000 US soldiers and other military personnel have served at least once in Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001, launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks. More than 2,300 have been killed, and 20,000 wounded. The US military orthodoxy until recently has been that any withdrawal from Afghanistan would have to be “conditions based”, meaning it was dependent on the security situation and the threat posed by the Taliban to the democratic and social gains of the past 20 years. The senior US official briefing reporters on the decision said: “The president has judged that a conditions based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

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“$23.4 billion in sophisticated weaponry”, but only after commitments to human rights.

Joe Biden Is Proceeding With Donald Trump’s Biggest Arms Deal (HuffPo)

President Joe Biden is advancing controversial Trump-era plans to transfer $23.4 billion in sophisticated weaponry to the United Arab Emirates, a State Department spokesperson told HuffPost on Tuesday – despite concerns from influential lawmakers and progressive activists, as well as the Biden administration’s promise to review the package. The news came amid an ongoing lawsuit by a nonprofit group called the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs, which echoed criticism of the deal as potentially destabilizing for the Middle East. “While we will not comment on ongoing litigation, we can confirm that that the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery,” the spokesperson said.

Last December, nearly all Senate Democrats voted to try and block the sale, citing President Donald Trump’s rushed attempt to push it through and the UAE’s alarming violations of human rights at home and around the region. Biden put the deal – which would give the UAE the F-35 fighter jet, armed drones and associated bombs and missiles — under review shortly after becoming president. The administration has since been vague about that process. The transfers are incredibly complex and will take years to complete, so it was clear that they were not occurring yet. In January, an official told the Wall Street Journal that the UAE sales “were not frozen while they are being examined” – in contrast to Trump-era arms deals for Saudi Arabia, a UAE ally which has also faced growing criticism in Washington.

Still, many observers believed there was an effective pause on the deal and that at some point the administration would offer a public explanation of how it would handle the agreement. Democratic lawmakers and activists, who opposed to the deal because of the UAE’s aggressive activities across the Middle East, wanted to ensure the Biden administration was serious about the review, to the extent of possibly shrinking the package to pressure the Emiratis to respect human rights standards. U.S. officials will continue raising rights and geopolitical concerns with the Emiratis, the State Department spokesperson told HuffPost. “The estimated delivery dates on these sales, if implemented, are scheduled for after 2025 or later. Thus, we anticipate a robust and sustained dialogue with the UAE to [ensure] any defense transfers meet our mutual strategic objectives to build a stronger, interoperable, and more capable security partnership,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Read more …

“..what of the Times’s cautions over decades that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting?”

The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times (RCI)

To pass a law limiting the use of absentee ballots, as Georgia recently did, is no longer to choose a side in a legitimate debate over how to balance ballot integrity and ease of voting. Instead, to express concern about the risk of election fraud is seen as being engaged in a different sort of fraud — an illegitimate effort to disenfranchise the poor and minorities. The New York Times has aggressively insisted the last several months that worries over absentee and mail-in ballots, in particular, are dishonest violations of voting rights. Times staff opinion editor Spencer Bokat-Lindell wrote late in October that “[t]he effort to discredit and discourage mail-in voting” was the “culmination of a decades-long disinformation campaign by the Republican Party and others to suppress votes, especially those cast by Black and Latino Americans.”

Spencer Bokat-Lindell: Times opinion editor: Efforts to discredit mail voting are aimed at suppressing votes, “especially those cast by Black and Latino Americans.” Then what of the Times’s cautions over decades that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting? But what of the Times itself, which for over two decades has warned readers that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting? As recently as September, Times reporters Stephanie Saul and Reid Epstein quoted Richard Hasen, who teaches election law at the University of California, Irvine, saying that “[e]lection fraud in the United States is very rare, but the most common type of such fraud in the United States involves absentee ballots.”

In 2018 operatives working for the Republican candidate for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District seat, falsified absentee ballots. Times reporters Alan Blinder and Michael Wines told readers that the state’s long history of election fraud was “under a spotlight.” They quoted lawyer Bill Gilkeson saying that “absentee ballots” were “where the fraud really happens.” In 2019 Blinder wrote, “The Ninth District controversy ranks among the highest-profile examples of modern election fraud,” one that “underscores how absentee ballots remain susceptible to abuse.”

Read more …

What comes below fake news on the scale?

CNN Staffer Admits Network’s Focus Was To ‘Get Trump Out Of Office’ (Fox)

A staffer for CNN spoke candidly to an undercover journalist about the political motivations the network had during the 2020 presidential election, boasting the left-leaning outlet helped defeat former President Donald Trump and even calling his own employer “propaganda.” In the first installment of what’s billed as a three-part #ExposeCNN campaign from the right-wing guerilla news outlet Project Veritas, network technical director Charles Chester shed light on how the network wanted to remove its nemesis from the White House and help now-President Biden. “Look at what we did, we got Trump out,” Chester said in a celebratory tone. “I am 100% going to say it. And I 100% believe it that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out.”

While similar videos are sometimes deceptively edited and taken out of context, many comments made by Chester throughout the video are longer clips that feature him speaking in clear, complete sentences. In a series of sitdowns with an undercover journalist over the past month, Chester — who bragged he was “one step down” from a director — claimed CNN was “creating a story” that questioned Trump’s health that “we didn’t know anything about,” calling it “propaganda” to help remove Trump from office. “Trump was, I don’t know, like shaking his hand or whatever… we brought in like so many medical people to like all tell a story that, like, it was all speculation that he was like neurologically damaged, that he was losing it, he’s unfit to, you know, whatever,” Chester said. “We were creating a story that we didn’t know anything about.”

While Chester claimed CNN wanted to help remove Trump from office, he also said the network wanted to promote the health and fitness of Biden. “We would always show shots of him jogging… him in his aviator shades and like you paint him as a young geriatric,” Chester said of Biden, before dismissing concerns that he wouldn’t make it a full term because he’s a fan of Vice President Kamala Harris. “I think we got him through this term,” Chester said “He’s not going to f—–g die, but I’m OK with that. [Harris] probably could be like a b—-h in like a board meeting and you’d hate her as a boss, but she’s f—–g real and better than what we got regardless.”

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“It would certainly send a message that the government sees this as a superior alternative to their own currency.”

Crackdown On Cryptocurrencies May Be Coming, Warns Kraken CEO (RT)

Governments around the world could start clamping down on the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to Jesse Powell, the chief executive of the Kraken exchange. “I think there could be some crackdown,” the CEO told CNBC, adding that regulatory uncertainty around crypto isn’t going away anytime soon. Powell’s words follow a recent anti-money laundering rule proposed by the US government that would require people who hold their cryptocurrencies in a private digital wallet to undergo identity checks if they make transactions of $3,000 or more. “Something like that could really hurt crypto and kind of kill the original use case, which was to just make financial services accessible to everyone,” Powell said.


He expressed hopes that “the US and international regulators don’t take too much of a narrow view on this,” noting that “Some other countries, China especially, are taking crypto very seriously and taking a very long-term view.” The chief executive said he feels the US is more “shortsighted” than other nations and is “susceptible” to the pressures of incumbent legacy businesses – in other words, the banks – that “stand to lose from crypto becoming a big deal.” “I also think it might be too late,” Powell added. “Maybe the genie’s out of the bottle and just trying to ban it at this point would make it more attractive. It would certainly send a message that the government sees this as a superior alternative to their own currency.

Read more …

The CIA will stop it. Big Tech=Big Intel.

Republican Antitrust Bill Would Block All Big Tech Acquisitions (TC)

There are about to be a lot of antitrust bills taking aim at Big Tech, and here’s one more. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) rolled out a new bill this week that would take some severe measures to rein in Big Tech’s power, blocking mergers and acquisitions outright. The “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act” would ban any acquisitions by companies with a market cap of more than $100 billion, including vertical mergers. The bill also proposes changes that would dramatically heighten the financial pain for companies caught engaging in anti-competitive behavior, forcing any company that loses an antirust suit to forfeit profits made through those business practices.

At its core, Hawley’s legislation would snip some of the red tape around antitrust enforcement by amending the Sherman Act, which made monopolies illegal, and the Clayton Act, which expanded the scope of illegal anti-competitive behavior. The idea is to make it easier for the FTC and other regulators to deem a company’s behavior anti-competitive — a key criticism of the outdated antitrust rules that haven’t kept pace with the realities of the tech industry. The bill isn’t likely to get too far in a Democratic Senate, but it’s not insignificant. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, proposed legislation earlier this year that would also create barriers for dominant companies with a habit of scooping up their competitors. Klobuchar’s own ideas for curtailing Big Tech’s power similarly focus on reforming the antitrust laws that have shaped U.S. business for more than a century.

The Republican bill may have some overlap with Democratic proposals, but it still hits some familiar notes from the Trump era of hyperpartisan Big Tech criticism. Hawley slams “woke mega-corporations” in Silicon Valley for exercising too much power over the information and products that Americans consume. While Democrats naturally don’t share that critique, Hawley’s bill makes it clear that antitrust reform targeting Big Tech is one policy area where both political parties could align on the ends, even if they don’t see eye to eye on the why.

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“In Mexico City, the local government has proposed a law that would ban the sale, delivery and distribution of packaged foods with a high caloric and energy content and sugary drinks to children..”

Mexico’s War on Obesity Sends Junk-Food & Sugary-Drink Giants Scrambling (WS)

Since Mexico’s government has passed one of the strictest food labeling laws on the planet in October last year, all soft drinks cans and bottles, bags of chips and other processed food packages must bear black octagonal labels warning of “EXCESS SUGAR”, “EXCESS CALORIES”, “EXCESS SODIUM” or “EXCESS TRANS FATS” — all in big bold letters that are impossible to miss. Many states have also introduced legislation making it much more difficult for retailers to sell junk food and sugary drinks to children. Evidence from other countries suggests that warning labels can be effective. Chile started requiring them in 2016. It also limited cartoon food packaging, prevented schools from selling unhealthy foods, restricted TV adverts, and banned promotional toys.

Over the next two years, sugary drink sales in Chile plunged by 23%. According to one study, the labels reduced the likelihood of people choosing sugary breakfast cereals by 11% and sugary juices by almost 24%. A nightmare for the companies affected. The prospect of something similar transpiring in Mexico, a country almost seven times larger than Chile and that consumes more processed food than any other country in Latin America, unnerved global food and beverage companies. The United States, EU, Canada and Switzerland, home to some of the world’s biggest food companies, tried to derail the new legislation. But to no avail. The arrival of Covid-19, which has proven to be particularly lethal to people with three comorbidities — obesity, diabetes, and hypertension — has strengthened the government’s case and resolve.

Over a dozen of Mexico’s 36 state governments have banned or are in the process of banning the sales of soft drinks and junk food to children. In Mexico City, the local government has proposed a law that would ban the sale, delivery and distribution of packaged foods with a high caloric and energy content and sugary drinks to children. The law will also ban the presence of soft drink vending machines in schools. Mexico’s Senate also recently passed a law that will compel educational authorities to prohibit the sale of foods with low nutritional value and high caloric content in the vicinity of school facilities while promoting the establishment of healthy food outlets. There are also moves afoot to restrict the advertising of foods high in fat, salt, sugar and saturated fats on children’s television channels.

These moves have raised concerns that the government is overstepping its bounds. The business lobby group Coparmex said that banning the sale of junk food and sugary drinks to minors represents a frontal attack on commercial freedom and freedom of choice. It will also have serious economic consequences for businesses in the retail sector. But those consequences are dwarfed by the economic and health impact of widespread obesity. This is particularly true in the time of Covid when the risk of death from the virus is about 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight, according to a report released in March by the World Obesity Federation.

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Either our bodies find a way to incorporate plastics, or we’re doomed.

Airborne Plastic Pollution ‘Spiralling Around The Globe’ (G.)

Microplastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, according to a study of airborne plastic particles. The researchers said human pollution has led to a global plastic cycle, akin to natural processes such as the carbon cycle, with plastic moving through the atmosphere, oceans and land. The result is the “plastification” of the planet, said one scientist. The analysis calls plastic pollution one of the most pressing environmental issues of the 21st century. It indicates that the billions of tonnes of plastic discarded into the oceans and land and being broken down into tiny pieces are being thrown back into the air by road traffic and winds over seas and farmland. People are already known to breathe, drink and eat microplastics and the other research suggests levels of pollution will continue to rise rapidly.

The scientists said this “raises questions on the impact of accumulating plastics in the atmosphere on human health. The inhalation of particles can be irritating to lung tissue and lead to serious diseases.” Prof Natalie Mahowald, at Cornell University in the US and part of the research team, said: “What we’re seeing right now is the accumulation of mismanaged plastics just going up. Some people think it’s going to increase by tenfold [per decade]. “But maybe we could solve this before it becomes a huge problem, if we manage our plastics better, before they accumulate in the environment and swirl around everywhere.” She said clearing up ocean plastic could help reduce the amount that gets thrown back up into the atmosphere, and that more biodegradable plastics could be part of the solution.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined airborne microplastics, which have been far less studied than plastic in oceans and rivers. The team had more than 300 samples of airborne microplastics from 11 sites across the western US, the best dataset available globally. These were the basis for atmospheric modelling that estimated the contribution from different sources, the first such study to do so. Virtually none of the airborne microplastics came directly from plastic being discarded in cities and towns, the scientists found, but were the result of road traffic and winds across oceans and farmland whipping up plastic particles already in the environment. “We thought population centres would be a much better source, obviously, but it just didn’t work out that way,” Mahowald said. “Resuspension [of microplastics] makes the most sense with this set of data.”

[..] Microplastic pollution has been detected across the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. The revelation in December of small plastic particles in human placentas was described by scientists as “a matter of great concern”.

Read more …

 

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

 

 

 

 

Mick Jagger’s take on Covid. Easy Sleazy. With Dave Grohl.

 

 

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

 

Apr 092021
 
 April 9, 2021  Posted by at 8:52 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


James McNeill Whistler Nocturne Blue and Gold Southampton Water 1872

 

European Rights Court Backs Mandatory Pre-school Jabs (BBC)
Obligatory Jabs ‘Necessary In Democratic Society’ (RTL)
B.1.1.7. Now Dominant Strain In US (JTN)
Global Spread And Infection Fatality Rates Of Covid-19 (Ioannidis)
Men Make More Covid-19 Antibodies And Keep Them For Longer (RT)
War on Cash: The Next Phase (Jim Rickards)
No Way US Could Enforce Global Minimum Corporate Tax on Rest of the World (Sp.)
Ukraine’s NATO Fantasy Is A Suicide Pill In Disguise (RT)
A Full-Scale War In Donbass Will Mean The ‘End Of Ukraine’ (RT)
Russia’s Hermitage Receives Official Complaint Over Naked Sculptures (RT)
Fermilab Results Prove Something Strange Is Happening to Reality (IE)
Bitcoiners Should Stand Up For My Brother, Julian Assange (Gabriel Shipton)

 

 

It appears that the vaccinated are at high risk of dying.

 

 

 

 

 

This is not about COVID vaccines. But the timing is very curious, because of course the court knows it will be presented as being about them.

While the “vaccines” are elementary different. Those for measles etc. have been properly tested and approved, those for Covid have definitely not.

European Rights Court Backs Mandatory Pre-school Jabs (BBC)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has backed the Czech Republic in its requirement for mandatory pre-school vaccinations. The case was brought by families who were fined or whose children were refused entry to pre-schools because they had not been vaccinated. In a landmark ruling, the court found that while the Czech policy interfered with the right to a private life, there was a need to protect public health. All the cases pre-date the pandemic. However, the issue of routine childhood vaccinations has come under increasing scrutiny due to the spread of Covid-19. This is the first ruling from the ECHR on compulsory vaccination against childhood diseases. The judges backed the Czech legislation by 16 to 1.

“The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court said, adding: “The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity.” Under the Czech rules, parents are legally obliged to vaccinate their children against a number of childhood diseases unless this is not possible for health reasons. However, the jabs cannot be forcibly given and unvaccinated children cannot be excluded on this basis once they reach primary school age. In one of the five cases involving pre-school exclusions, a family refused to allow their daughter to received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.

The child joined the school in 2006 but her place was withdrawn two years later when the family doctor informed the headteacher that the child had not received the vaccination. A Czech court later backed the school’s decision on the grounds that allowing the child to continue to go to the pre-school could endanger others.Other parents had been refused pre-school places, while one father was fined for failing to fully vaccinate his children.

Read more …

A bit more on that court decision. And remember from The One Year Emergency, Feb 4::

1. Vaccination, like any medical action, requires citizen consent. Consent is not regarded as valid if it is not fully informed, nor “if it is the result of deceit, fraud or threat, or conflicts with the demands of decency” (Medical Code of Ethics, Greek law 3418/2005). Failing this, the consent is waived and the person/body who has exerted the pressure or extortion to vaccinate is subject to penal sanctions and/or civil damages in the event of harm.

2. Vaccination is not a prerequisite for the exercise of any other institutional requirement, such as education or otherwise recognized basic right such as the right to employment and free movement. Correspondingly, no private company has the legal authority to impose restrictions violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Discrimination and Stigmatization are forbidden (Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO). Moreover, imposition of a medical action in any manner constitutes torture and is illegal.

Obligatory Jabs ‘Necessary In Democratic Society’ (RTL)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday ruled that obligatory vaccinations can be seen as necessary in democratic societies, in a landmark judgement after a complaint brought by Czech families over compulsory jabs for children. “The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court said in its judgement, saying that the Czech health policy was consistent with the “best interests” of children. “The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity,” it added. As a result, the court ruled there had been no violation of Article 8 on the right to respect for private life of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the first time that the ECHR has delivered a judgement about compulsory vaccination against childhood diseases.


Experts say it could have implications for any policy of compulsory vaccinations against Covid-19 in the pandemic. This judgement “reinforces the possibility of a compulsory vaccination under conditions of the current Covid-19 epidemic,” Nicolas Hervieu, a legal expert specialising in the ECHR, told AFP. In the Czech Republic, there is a general legal duty to vaccinate children against nine diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and measles. The case had been filed to the ECHR by Czech parents who were fined for failure to comply with this vaccination duty or whose children were denied admission to nursery school for the same reason. The need for a large level of herd immunity to quell the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted debate about the need for possible compulsory vaccinations in the face of scepticism among some populations worldwide about immunisation.

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“..60 times more contagious than the current strain and 67 percent more deadly..”

And these are merely the first variants.

B.1.1.7. Now Dominant Strain In US (JTN)

A highly infectious variant of COVID-19 is now the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant, B.1.1.7, began surging in the United Kingdom in December has since spread through Europe and to the United States, the federal agency said Wednesday. “Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” agency Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the White House briefing.


Studies found the virus is 60 times more contagious than the current strain and 67 percent more deadly, according to the New York Times. In March, experts warned the variant would be the dominant strain by the end of the month. Now early into April, the CDC confirmed the hypothesis, according to CNN. Medical company Helix found that 58.9 percent of all new tests of COVID-19 were the new B.1.1.7 strain. Trends from Felix show that California and Florida have the two highest rates in the U.S. with 533 and 445 cases, respectively.

Read more …

“..average global IFR of ~0.15% and ~1.5-2.0 billion infections by February 2021..”

Global Spread And Infection Fatality Rates Of Covid-19 (Ioannidis)

Background – Estimates of community spread and infection fatality rate (IFR) of COVID 19 have varied across studies. Efforts to synthesize the evidence reach seemingly discrepant conclusions.

Methods – Systematic evaluations of seroprevalence studies that had no restrictions based on country and which estimated either total number of people infected and/or aggregate IFRs were identified. Information was extracted and compared on eligibility criteria, searches, amount of evidence included, corrections/adjustments of seroprevalence and death counts, quantitative syntheses and handling of heterogeneity, main estimates, and global representativeness.

Results – Six systematic evaluations were eligible. Each combined data from 10-338 studies (9-50 countries), because of different eligibility criteria. Two evaluations had some overt flaws in data, violations of stated eligibility criteria, and biased eligibility criteria (e.g. excluding studies with few deaths) that consistently inflated IFR estimates. Perusal of quantitative synthesis methods also exhibited several challenges and biases. Global representativeness was low with 78-100% of the evidence coming from Europe or the Americas; the two most problematic evaluations considered only 1 study from other continents. Allowing for these caveats, 4 evaluations largely agreed in their main final estimates for global spread of the pandemic and the other two evaluations would also agree after correcting overt flaws and biases.

Conclusions – All systematic evaluations of seroprevalence data converge that SARS CoV 2 infection is widely spread globally. Acknowledging residual uncertainties, the available evidence suggests average global IFR of ~0.15% and ~1.5-2.0 billion infections by February 2021 with substantial differences in IFR and in infection spread across continents, countries, and locations.

Read more …

“..coronavirus antibody levels were three times higher in men than women, despite no difference in symptoms reported, implying no difference in severity of past infection.”

Men Make More Covid-19 Antibodies And Keep Them For Longer (RT)

A Welsh study has found that men can create up to three times the number of coronavirus antibodies as women and tend to retain them for a longer period of time, complicating possible future Covid-19 immunity considerably. Researchers tested 739 asymptomatic staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University in July 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic and again three months later. Antibody production forms the foundation of immunity, and yet it remains unclear what quantity of coronavirus antibodies are produced across the population, how long they last and whether they provide adequate protection against reinfection, frustrating public policy initiatives and medical research alike.

Some 3.65% of the participants were found to have Covid-19 antibodies, slightly below the national average of between 4% and 6% at that time, and all participants reported feeling well and hadn’t been diagnosed with Covid-19. Participants reported only sporadic instances of some of the milder symptoms at various points in the previous three months. The researchers found no statistically significant difference between male or female participants who had antibodies at the initial point in the study, though men over the age of 40 did tend to have higher antibody prevalence than any other demographic. Among those who tested positive for Covid-19, however, coronavirus antibody levels were three times higher in men than women, despite no difference in symptoms reported, implying no difference in severity of past infection.

In the follow-up study three months later, among those previously found to have coronavirus antibodies, 21.7% no longer tested positive, suggesting that coronavirus antibodies are lost after six months. Some 80% of those who lost their antibodies entirely were women and tended to be, on average, ten years older than the women who managed to retain their antibody protection, suggesting some altered immune response related to the menopause.

Read more …

“..governments enjoy a monopoly on money creation, and they’re not about to surrender that monopoly to digital currencies like Bitcoin.”

War on Cash: The Next Phase (Jim Rickards)

With so much news about an economic reopening, a border crisis, massive government spending and exploding deficits, it’s easy to overlook the ongoing war on cash. That’s a mistake because it has serious implications not only for your money, but for your privacy and personal freedom, as you’ll see today. Cash prevents central banks from imposing negative interest rates because if they did, people would withdraw their cash from the banking system. If they stuff their cash in a mattress, they don’t earn anything on it; that’s true. But at least they’re not losing anything on it. Once all money is digital, you won’t have the option of withdrawing your cash and avoiding negative rates. You will be trapped in a digital pen with no way out. What about moving your money into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?

Let’s first understand that governments enjoy a monopoly on money creation, and they’re not about to surrender that monopoly to digital currencies like Bitcoin. Libertarian supporters of cryptos celebrate their decentralized nature and lack of government control. Yet, their belief in the sustainability of powerful systems outside government control is naïve. Blockchain does not exist in the ether (despite the name of one cryptocurrency), and it does not reside on Mars. Blockchain depends on critical infrastructure, including servers, telecommunications networks, the banking system, and the power grid, all of which are subject to government control. But governments know they cannot stop the technology platforms on which cryptocurrencies are based. The technology has come too far to turn back now.

So central governments don’t want to kill the distributed ledger technology behind cryptos. They’ve been patiently watching the technology develop and grow — so they could ultimately control it. Anyone who controls the money controls political power, the economy, and people’s lives. Enter the central bank digital currency, known as CBDC…

Read more …

Steve Keen.

No Way US Could Enforce Global Minimum Corporate Tax on Rest of the World (Sp.)

Although Janet Yellen’s plan to impose a global minimum corporate tax rate sounds like a good idea, it’s unlikely that she’ll succeed in getting a uniform law across the planet, says Steve Keen, honorary professor of economics at University College of London. On 5 April, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen advocated a global minimum corporate tax rate in order to stop multinational corporations from seeking tax havens as President Joe Biden plans to impose a 21 percent minimum tax on US companies’ foreign income, and raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent to fund his bold infrastructure and climate plan. The treasury secretary revealed that US administration officials are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax plan. Yellen’s remarks come ahead of the semiannual meetings of the IMF and World Bank set for this week.

“There’s good reason to impose uniform taxes around the world to stop companies doing tax evasion, which throws the burden of taxation on the working class and the middle class. So that’s in its own right. That is to be applauded,” says Steve Keen, honorary professor of economics at University College of London and author of “Debunking Economics.” If implemented, the plan could help address the system in which the wealthy “basically evade tax and leave it to the lower classes to pay for the state,” he suggests. “So something like this, which stopped corporations also using tax advantages to go offshore, maybe bring some corporations back onshore because it makes more sense to be as close as you can to a larger market that might well help boost America’s competitiveness with the rest of the world,” Keen presumes.

Obviously, the global minimum tax idea will be opposed by multinational corporations, according to the professor: “They’ll be outraged to begin with,” he says. “But they’ve always been champions of creative accounting.” [..] Axios suggests that Yellen’s push for imposing a global minimum tax means that the administration sees “the risks to the American economy if it acts alone in raising corporate rates.” “Competitiveness is about more than how US-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger-and-acquisition bids,” she argues. “It’s about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises.”

Still, Keen remains skeptical over the US administration’s ability to convince global governments to adjust their working tax systems to the US needs. “I don’t think it’s likely to happen at the global level there,” he says. “Americans often think that imposing their rules on the rest of the world is the best thing that can happen to the rest of the world. Most of the time, the rest of the world disagrees. So I think she can try as much as she likes, but there’s no way to enforce something like this.” The best Yellen can hope for is getting countries to reduce the number of tax havens or to penalise corporations that use them, the professor believes.

Read more …

Ukraine and NATO deploy troops and material to Donbass, in response Russia send their own to the border. Then Merkel calls Putin to demand he withdraws them.

Ukraine’s NATO Fantasy Is A Suicide Pill In Disguise (RT)

Ukraine’s President Zelensky hopes that NATO will assist Kiev in forcefully expelling Russia from Crimea and re-taking control of the breakaway Donbass. This dangerous fiction could lead to the destruction of his troubled country. The following are the words and actions that the historians who may one day come to write how mankind blundered its way into a major conflict in 2021 will need to know, to understand its origins and the parts played by the shortcomings and strategic missteps of ill-suited leaders. On March 24, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed into law Decree 117/2021, “On the Strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.”

While the stated primary goal of this decree is the “restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized state border, ensuring the state sovereignty of Ukraine,” the reality is that the issue of restoring Ukrainian “territorial integrity” is merely a vehicle toward “gaining full membership of Ukraine in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” According to Zelensky, there is only one pathway for resolving the ongoing dispute between his nation and Russia over the status of the Crimea and the ongoing fighting in the pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian region of the Donbass. “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass,” Zelensky declared in a recent phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Zelensky called for the immediate implementation of a ‘Membership Action Plan’ delineating Ukraine’s entry path into the NATO alliance. Such a move, Zelensky noted, “will be a real signal for Russia.” Zelensky’s militant directive and blatant appeal for NATO membership did not go unnoticed by Russia. Nor did the deployment by the Ukrainian military of hundreds of armored vehicles and thousands of troops into the region, a fact that has been “under-reported” in the west. [..] The tension between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a series of conversations between Ukrainian officials and their counterparts in the West which have sought to portray the country as the victim of Russian threats of aggression, and to publicly underscore the West’s support for Ukraine.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked this off, calling his Ukrainian counterpart on April 1 to express “unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty” while condemning “Russian aggression” in the country. This was followed the next day by one between Joe Biden and Zelensky, where the US president “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea.”

Read more …

We better hope Ukraine is not made a full NATO member.

A Full-Scale War In Donbass Will Mean The ‘End Of Ukraine’ (RT)

Russia will be forced to protect the residents of Donbass if Ukraine launches full-scale hostilities against the region. That’s according to Dmitry Kozak, President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, who is himself Ukrainian. Speaking on Thursday, Kozak claimed that a ramping-up of the conflict would lead to the end of Ukraine, with the Kremlin forced to stand up for its citizens living in the territory of Donbass. In recent years, Moscow has made it much simpler for those living in Ukraine to get a Russian passport, and many have taken up the offer. “Everything depends on what the scale of fighting will be. If there is, as the president says, a Srebrenica, we will be forced to stand up for ourselves,” he said, referring to Putin’s comment in 2019 that he fears a genocide in Donetsk and Lugansk, if Kiev regains control of Donbass.

The Srebrenica massacre, which took place in 1995, was Europe’s worst atrocity since the end of World War II, and led to the death of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. The Donbass, made up of the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, is located in the east of Ukraine, next to the border with Russia. It has been the location of a civil war since 2014, with separatists now controlling large swathes of territory. Despite Moscow not recognizing the legitimacy of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Kiev accuses the Kremlin of supporting them. In recent days, videos shared on social media have shown a build-up of troops and military equipment on all borders of Donbass, causing an increase in fears that war may be around the corner. Both Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics accuse each other of intensifying shelling.

“I support those assessments that exist within Ukraine that the start of hostilities is the beginning of the end for the country. This is a self-inflicted shot, a shot not in the leg, but in the temple,” Kozak said, noting that Kiev has refused to come to the table to negotiate peace. On Thursday morning, it was revealed by the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he is currently in the Donbass region, visiting troops on the front line, “where a comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire has been systematically violated.” According to Kozak, the visit by Zelensky is unlikely to lead to an escalation, but the Ukrainian leader is “playing with fire.”

On Thursday afternoon, Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Kiev had been purposely exacerbating the situation on the contact line. The Russian leader also said that Ukraine should stick to the peace agreement reached in 2015, and move towards implementing a special status for Donbass.

Read more …

Cancel culture goes global.

Russia’s Hermitage Receives Official Complaint Over Naked Sculptures (RT)

The Hermitage Museum in Russia’s Saint Petersburg has received an official complaint from a government agency suggesting that its nude sculptures may have a bad influence on children and might have to be put in an adult-only room. That’s according to Mikhail Piotrovsky, the museum’s general director, who refused to name which official body asked the institution to round up its naked figures. “I laughed once when someone told us: gather all your nude sculptures into one room and put up an ’18+’ sign so our children are not corrupted,” Piotrivsky said. “But now we have received an official complaint from an official body, so we are responding to it.”


The Hermitage, located in Saint Petersburg, is based in the Winter Palace, the former official residence of the Russian Emperors from 1762 to the revolution, in 1917. It is the second-largest art museum in the world. It has a world-class collection, including not only paintings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, but also a Michelangelo marble sculpture and many Egyptian antiquities. In response to new revelations, controversial United Russia MP and native Petersburger Vitaly Milonov blasted the proposal as idiotic. “This is outright stupidity, it is not even worth talking about,” Milonov said. “If we’re talking about classical works, Michelangelo and many others, they do not fall under the category of ’18+’ in any way.”

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“..the possibility of a new particle or force working behind the scenes..”

Fermilab Results Prove Something Strange Is Happening to Reality (IE)

Scientists just revealed new findings from an experiment called Muon g-2 — designed to give answers to a strange discrepancy between theoretical predictions and real-tests and theoretical expectations from 20 years ago, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab. Following decades of speculation, an experiment showing an inexplicable discrepancy from the Standard Model was raised to a confidence level of 4.2 sigma — which means it has a 1 in 40,000 chance of being a statistical quirk — lending more strength to the worry that some unexplained particle or force may be responsible for the excess wobbling of muons not predicted by theoretical particle physics.

[..] The experiment involves particles called muons — which are much like electrons but 200 times the mass. Both electrons and muons have magnetic fields capable of revealing new and fundamental information about particle physics — and thus the universe itself. For decades, scientists have worked to build a viable theory in particle physics called the Standard Model — capable of explaining several of the forces and interactions that determine the motion and behavior of matter on the tiniest scales. But sometimes, gaps appear between the experimental findings and the Standard Model.

When scientists introduce muons to an external magnetic field, the internal magnet of muons begins to “wobble,” for which the Standard Model accounts. But a 2001 experiment from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) proved that a muon’s magnet wobbles a lot more than theory predicted — which hinted at the possibility of a new particle or force working behind the scenes and creating this unforeseen property.

Read more …

Sunday it will be 2 years since Julian was dragged out of the embassy.

Bitcoiners Should Stand Up For My Brother, Julian Assange (Gabriel Shipton)

WikiLeaks and Bitcoin were both born of the cypherpunk movement. And it was in those embryonic days of the Cypherpunks Mailing List that Julian began his long intellectual interest and curiosity in Bitcoin. Julian participated in discussions and debate that cemented the cypherpunk movements values around freedom, privacy, mastery of technology and codified curiosity. Most of the suspected creators and earliest backers of Bitcoin belonged to or were inspired by this community of thinkers and tinkerers. In 2010, after publishing tranches of material on Bush- and Obama-era wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rules of engagement, Guantanamo Bay detainee files and U.S. diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks was subjected to an extra-legal international banking blockade.

Under intense political pressure, Visa and Mastercard refused to process donations and banks and PayPal closed WikiLeaks’ and Julian’s accounts. It was under these circumstances that Satoshi (whoever they may be) made a plea to WikiLeaks to hold off on accepting this nascent digital currency for donations and thereby forgoing the attention that it could draw. Satoshi feared that Bitcoin would not be able to survive if the protocol faced the same scrutiny and political pressure that WikiLeaks was dealing with. Julian and WikiLeaks heeded Satoshi’s calls. After giving bitcoin six months to strengthen, in June 2011 WikiLeaks became the first large organization to adopt Bitcoin. That alignment saw bitcoin realize part of its founding principal as a financial tool, free from centralized political and institutional control.

Over the last 10 years, WikiLeaks has used its bitcoin donations to fend off attacks and blockades, both illegal and legal, by governments and corporations, to overcome the extra-legal banking blockade and be able to keep its archive online, continue to publish and remain censorship resistant. [..] Bitcoin and WikiLeaks are inherently anti-establishment. Both projects ask us to temper our faith in people and institutions and rely instead on publicly-verifiable information, on the basis that a better-informed population creates a freer and fairer society — it has championed those who share these ideals. “The hornets,” as Satoshi referred to them, have not been able to take down Bitcoin or WikiLeaks. They have, however, used other tools at their disposal. A decade of individual reputational attacks, plots to poison Julian and target his newborn baby, abuse of process in order to restrict his movement and speech.

[..] The U.S. appeal could be heard by the U.K. high court as early as May 2021. Another rejection of the extradition in the high court will be heard loud and clear by the U.S. Department of Justice and will be a rejection of censorship, regulations and the clandestine attacks that Julian has suffered over the last 10 years. Bitcoin and WikiLeaks are the utilities of a free internet. They are necessary for it to develop and thrive in a meaningful way. Both born out of the cypherpunk movement, Bitcoin and WikiLeaks have stayed true to their visions of decentralization and transparency. The power of the cryptocurrency community has grown exponentially. With that power comes a responsibility to defend Bitcoin’s core beliefs in the face of looming institutionalization.

Read more …

 

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Oz vax

 

 

 

 

Calvin Robinson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1379797221785341962

 

 

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Apr 082021
 


James McNeill Whistler Nocturne in Blue and Silver, The Lagoon, Venice 1880

 

Covid Passports Could Be Required For Clothes Shopping (Ind.)
Notre Dame Is The Latest University To Require Students To Get A Vaccine (F.)
Among the Covid Sceptics (G.)
Anti-Vax & Anti-Tax – 2 Huge Trends of 2021 –Gerald Celente (USAW)
Scenes From 2030 (TE Creus)
YouTube Removes Recent DeSantis Public Health Roundtable (JTN)
Inflation: Making the Complex, Simple – Part 1 (RIA)
Peak Woke (Jim Kunstler)
Biden Admin Plots Revenge On Russia For Alleged Hacking, Meddling (ZH)
Veteran Intelligence Officials Urge Biden To Avoid War In Ukraine (ZH)
Russia Unlikely To Send Recalled Ambassador Back To Washington (RT)
Putin Poised To Set Out Vision For Future In Dramatic Speech (RT)
Humans Were Apex Predators For Two Million Years (Phys.org)
Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? (NW)

 

 

 

 

Flip flop idiocy.

Covid Passports Could Be Required For Clothes Shopping (Ind.)

“Covid passports” could be required for customers visiting clothes shops in England after the removal of lockdown restrictions on 21 June, Downing Street has indicated. The idea provoked horror among retailers, with one trade body describing it as neither “appropriate or useful”. A briefing document on Monday confirmed the government is considering the introduction of “Covid-status certification” as lockdown eases, so that individuals wanting to enter premises can prove that they have either been vaccinated, recently tested or gained immunity through previous infection. The report said that ministers believe shoppers should never be required to supply such proof in order to use “essential” retail venues, but did not make clear exactly which shops were exempted.


Boris Johnson said no decision had been made on whether to require certification domestically, but said that it would not come into force during stages two and three of England’s lockdown relaxation, due to begin on 12 April and 17 May. Pressed today on whether shoppers could eventually be asked for their vaccine passport to enter shops like Next or H&M, the prime minister’s official spokesman did not rule it out. Asked whether clothes shops would use Covid status certificates, the spokesman said only: “We have been clear that we will not require them as businesses reopen in stages two and three of the roadmap. “But again the PM was clear that longer term there will some essential services such as essential retail and public transport where they will not be required.”

Read more …

From The One Year Emergency . Feb 4:

“Vaccination is not a prerequisite for the exercise of any other institutional requirement, such as education or otherwise recognized basic right such as the right to employment and free movement. Correspondingly, no private company has the legal authority to impose restrictions violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Discrimination and Stigmatization are forbidden (Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO). Moreover, imposition of a medical action in any manner constitutes torture and is illegal.”

Notre Dame Is The Latest University To Require Students To Get A Vaccine (F.)

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana has joined an increasing number of universities in announcing they will require students and faculty to receive a coronavirus vaccine before stepping on campus this fall. On Wednesday, Notre Dame said all students will be required to be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrolling at the university next year, and will open an on-campus vaccination site Thursday. Boston’s Northeastern University said Tuesday students attending in-person classes on campus in the fall will be required to be fully vaccinated by the first day of the term. On Friday, New York’s Cornell University announced it “intends to require” immunization for all students attending in-person classes in the fall, and asked the university community to register their vaccination status so the administration can determine immunization rates to base reopening plans on.

Fort Lewis College in Colorado said Friday all students enrolled next semester will be required to be vaccinated against coronavirus. Florida’s Nova Southeastern University will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by August 1 in order to resume in-person classes on campus next school year, the university announced Friday. Texas’ St. Edward’s University said March 29 it would require students and faculty over the age of 16 to receive a vaccine before September. Last month, Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first large U.S. college to announce it would require all on-campus students to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus before fall semester classes begin. Oakland University in Detroit is mandating vaccines for students who live on campus, school officials said Monday, but not for the wider university community.

More universities may opt to require vaccines for students, but there could be pushback from critics. The idea of “vaccine passports” that document the holder has been vaccinated have proved controversial with Republicans who say they are an invasion of privacy. On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order to ban vaccine passports from being used in the state by government entities or organizations that receive public funds. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar order Friday to ban them in his state, even by private businesses. It’s still unclear how these executive orders will affect universities wishing to mandate vaccines.

Read more …

Long article that heaps all “sceptics” on one big pile, so they all get tainted by the most extreme amongst them. And then describes some reasonable people who get lured into Telegram groups and deceived. How to build a narrative.

Among the Covid Sceptics (G.)

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Anna, a young woman from Bradford, was waiting for surgery for endometriosis. The surgery was cancelled, leaving her in excruciating pain. She was forced to close her business, a small tattoo studio that she had opened two years earlier, at the age of 24. She could no longer pay for the weekly counselling that had been helping her deal with her troubled childhood. Her partner lost his job. Anna was convinced that if she caught Covid, she would die. “I was in a terrified bubble, having the news on constantly, crying, worrying, panicking,” she told me. For weeks, she waited anxiously for news about support for shuttered businesses. The cash grant, when it finally came, fell far short. Other business expenses – insurance, bills – went on her credit card. She considered suicide.

Feeling abandoned by the government and frustrated by the daily press briefings, Anna and her partner researched the virus online. On Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, they came across theories about the origins of coronavirus that the mainstream media weren’t talking about – that it was engineered in a lab in China, say, or that it had been artificially spliced with HIV. Some of it seemed implausible to Anna, but it was enough to convince her that the media wasn’t telling the full story. “Loads of people were saying ‘even if you die from a heart attack, they’ll put it down as a Covid death’. I was looking into that, and how many people who died had pre-existing health conditions,” she said. “It was to make me feel better, so I wouldn’t be as scared.”

She read dense, seemingly scientific material which claimed that PCR testing – the throat and nasal swabs that are considered the gold standard of Covid tests – leads to enormous numbers of false positives. She read that the World Health Organization had said that Britain is testing at too high a sensitivity. She read about the cost of lockdowns, and Sweden’s more permissive approach. She read about the death rate; 1% didn’t sound that high at all. Looked at another way, 99% survived. By the end of the first lockdown, Anna was no longer afraid. She was angry. “I’d been sat in my house for four months, in absolute agony, no mental health support, no financial support, and it did an absolute number on me,” she said.

Read more …

Gerald Celente is a big fan of TAE. Whenever he doesn’t get his daily Debt Rattle, he protests. The video is worth it. Very much. Sounds doesn’t quite seem to sync, but hey…

Anti-Vax & Anti-Tax – 2 Huge Trends of 2021 –Gerald Celente (USAW)

Gerald Celente, a renowned trends researcher and publisher of “The Trends Journal,” is back to talk about two of the biggest trends taking shape for 2021. One revolves around Covid-19 (CV-19) and the experimental so-called vaccine, otherwise known as the “jab.” The other is a rebounding economy destined to crash. First, the CV-19 jab, as Celente explains, “There are going to be new political movements: anti-tax, anti-vax, anti-immigration and anti-establishment. We are going to see a big anti-vax movement. To make the point on how they are going to be selling this . . . They are selling it now that there is going to be a new strain of CV-19, and you better prepare for it. It’s going to happen every year, and you are going to have to get vaccinated. So, we are going to start seeing a big anti-vax movement.”

The economy in blue states is performing much worse that in Red states, and that is fueling big government to raise big taxes. Celente says, “The streets out here in New York are dead. . . . They are dead. Now, they are raising the taxes. The first thing they did was tolls. The next thing they are going to do is a gas tax, soda tax, sales tax, property tax and school tax. Business is dead. New York City is dead. Brooklyn is dead. Park Slope is a slope alright, a downhill slope. The office occupancy rate in New York City is still at 14%. All the businesses that depend on commuters are gone, and this isn’t coming back.” All the economic news is not bad. Celente is forecasting, “This is the other important thing. There is going to be an economic rebound. It’s going to happen because all of the cheap money they are pumping into the system. We are going to start seeing inflation really skyrocket. They are going to have to raise interest rates.

We had a cover on The Trends Journal, and it showed two big needles. One injection is the vaccine, the other is the money junkies injecting money into the system. They are drug dealers and money junkies. The money junkies need cheap money from the Federal Reserve to keep gambling. They are going to have to raise interest rates. When the equity markets crash, people will be forced to wake up to know how bad it is. . . . It’s artificially propped up, and when the markets crash, the reality will be felt. The reality is already being felt by the hundreds of millions of people around the world whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed. When the markets crash, we are going to be living in hell on earth. . . . We are heading into the Greatest Depression, and you better prepare now. The other biggest trend is there is going to be a ‘vax war.’ There is no question about it.”

Read more …

Dystopia.

Scenes From 2030 (TE Creus)

“Hi, dude!” “Oh. Hi. How are you?” “I’m good. How do you like my shoes?” “Nice. Are those…” “Yeah. The original Nike Lil Nas X Satan’s Shoes, version 2030.” “Wow. But don’t those cost a fortune? How can you afford them, with just the Universal Basic Income?” “Well, duh. I didn’t buy them, dude. I’m just renting them from Amazon Prime, of course. All of my clothes are rented, including the original Calvin Klein underwear.” “Eew… Well, they did say that ‘you’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy’…” “What are you talking about?” “Nothing, just remembering an old joke here. So, what’s new? What are your plans for next week?” “Not sure. Maybe I’ll go to the City Hall Yearly Masked Ball. You want to come? The masks are all N95 compliant, so it’s safe.”

“No, thanks. I thought you were travelling to Italy for the holidays?” “Nah, I can’t board a plane this month. I didn’t get my Moderna monthly booster shots. I wanted to, but the lines were so big, the next appointment available for me is only next month.” “This Covid-29 is really pesky, isn’t it?” “You bet. But I’m sure the vaccine is working. Just give it time. It takes a few years to achieve full immunization, but of course, with the new variants and viruses that appear every month, it’s always a game of catching up. We got to be patient. So, yeah, no travel this month for me.” “Well, you know, you could always travel around your own room.” “What?” “Oh. I just got reminded of an old 18th century novel. ‘Voyage around my room,’ by Xavier de Maistre.”

“What it’s about?” “It’s about a guy who, well, travels around his room.” “18th century? Man, that’s like, old. When was that exactly? I guess that’s when the first lockdowns happened, right? In the first Covid era?” “Yeah, sort of… Anyway, forget it, you just reminded me of that book. But I guess reading is not really your thing.” “Nah. Is there a YouTube version? You are funny, you’re one of those guys who still read, right? You’re really old-fashioned. I bet you don’t even have a microchip in your brain, L.O.L.” “Thankfully not…” “…” “What’s wrong?” “Don’t get close to me.” “What? Why? Who are you calling?” “Who am I calling? Who am I calling? The police, dude. Not having a brain chip is a felony, and it’s my duty as a citizen to report you, sorry. I know you’re a friend and neighbour and all, but, that’s just sick, dude. That’s really fucked-up.”

Read more …

Cancel the doctors.

YouTube Removes Recent DeSantis Public Health Roundtable (JTN)

March public health roundtable event hosted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that featured reputable doctors including former White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas and the authors of The Great Barrington Declaration has been removed from YouTube for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” according to Reclaim the Net. The video garnered over 500,000 views while it was published and covered a group of panelists advising against lockdowns, contact tracing and mask mandates. The doctors – including Drs. Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff – also called the measures harmful and said that schools should reopen for in-person learning.


“We also talk about removing information that is problematic,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN last spring. “We’ve had to update our policy numerous times associated with COVID-19.” While the video was taken down from one channel, the video remains available on NBC 6 South Florida’s page. YouTube’s parent-company, Google, along with Facebook and Twitter have [been] adding misinformation warnings and removed posts that violate company guidelines including some related to coronavirus health-safety measures.

Read more …

“Inflation is a function of money supply but equally critical, the demand for money (velocity).”

Inflation: Making the Complex, Simple – Part 1 (RIA)

We could devote pages to the multitude of factors affecting the supply, demand, and pricing of a Big Mac. The exercise would explain why the Big Mac price rises or falls versus Burger King Whoppers and every other good and service available. Such analysis is critical to McDonalds, but often overemphasized from a macroeconomic perspective. Economists cite increasing oil prices as a driver for inflation and stronger retail sales from time to time. They assume consumers will still buy everything they were consuming, yet pay an extra $20 at the pump each week. In reality, consumers often substitute goods and services based on their budgets and needs. Economists often fail to consider the extra $20 spent at the gas pump is $20 not spent elsewhere.


The price of oil may rise, but the price of oranges may fall as consumers spend less on oranges to compensate. What matters most from a macroeconomic perspective is the aggregate price change for oil, oranges, Big Macs, and every other good and service. To correctly anticipate inflation, we must look beyond the supply and demand for goods and services. The truth lies in the supply and the demand for money. Unfortunately, the supply of money gets the headlines, while its demand is an afterthought. The chart below shows the forthcoming evidence of inflation used by most inflationists.

The following graph captures monetary velocity for an appropriate view of inflation.

Inflation is a function of money supply but equally critical, the demand for money (velocity).

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“The tentacles of Wokery have reached into every last compartment of American life now, more effectively even than the Covid-19 corona virus.”

Peak Woke (Jim Kunstler)

What were the execs of these mighty companies thinking — these knights of the boardroom, these capitalist geniuses, these moral nonpareils — when they cancelled Atlanta’s turn to host the midsummer All-star Game to “protest” Georgia’s passage of a law that requires voter ID? Surely that they were striking a righteous blow against systemic racism. And then, the rest of the world realized — almost immediately — that Major League Baseball requires online ticket buyers to show ID when they pick up their tickets at any stadium… and that Delta Airlines requires passengers to show ID (duh) before being allowed to fly in one of their airplanes… and that various other corporations snookered into this latest hustle such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Calvin Klein support forced labor in the Asian nations that manufacture their products.

They’re Woke, you see. The tentacles of Wokery have reached into every last compartment of American life now, more effectively even than the Covid-19 corona virus. Wokeness emerged on the scene in 2014 when the feckless teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson upon arrest in Ferguson, Missouri, an event that kicked off the Black Lives Matter movement. The moral panic BLM ignited proved to be a spectacularly effective device for repelling the truth of the situation, and many more like it, which was that Michael Brown resisted arrest, fought with, and menaced officer Wilson before getting shot.

The Woke moral panic that proceeded from this effectively suppressed two truths about police relations with Black America: 1) that Blacks committed crimes against life and property at a disproportionately high rate to their percentage in the US population, and 2) that the number of unarmed black people killed by police was statistically minuscule, and in most cases involved people resisting arrest or fighting with police. As the 2016 election approached, the Democratic Party realized it was in its interest to cultivate the Woke moral panic so as to marshal the Black voting bloc so crucial to victory at the polls.

Read more …

Victoria Nuland et al.

Biden Admin Plots Revenge On Russia For Alleged Hacking, Meddling (ZH)

President Joe Biden – whose son Hunter received $3.5 million by the wife of the late Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for reasons unknown – is preparing to retaliate for various Russian misdeeds, including the SolarWinds hack and election interference, according to Bloomberg. Retaliatory options may include sanctions on people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, agencies linked to alleged election meddling, and the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in the US who are currently under diplomatic cover, according to anonymous officials – one of whom said that the US response ‘would likely comprise several elements.’

“The actions will be the outcome of the review President Joe Biden ordered on his first full day in office into four areas: Interference in the U.S. election, reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, the SolarWinds attack and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The administration announced sanctions against Russian officials over Navalny last month but had so far held off on action in the other three areas.” -Bloomberg. Last month, Biden nodded in agreement when asked if he thought Putin was a “killer,” to which Putin said ‘takes one to know one.’ Putin then challenged Biden to a live, televised debate to discuss geopolitical friction, which the US President promptly declined.

According to the report, beyond sanctioning individuals, the Biden administration could expel diplomats or other measures designed to establish ‘effective deterrence against cyber attacks’ such as the SolarWinds exploit which affected several government agencies and private corporations.

Read more …

VIPS. McGovern, Kiriakou, Binney, Ritter etc.

Veteran Intelligence Officials Urge Biden To Avoid War In Ukraine (ZH)

1. It must be made clear to Ukrainian President Zelensky that there will be no military assistance from either the US or NATO if he does not restrain Ukrainian hawks itching to give Russia a bloody nose — hawks who may well expect the West to come to Ukraine’s aid in any conflict with Russia. (There must be no repeat of the fiasco of August 2008, when the Republic of Georgia initiated offensive military operations against South Ossetia in the mistaken belief that the US would come to its assistance if Russia responded militarily.)

2. We recommend that you quickly get back in touch with Zelensky and insist that Kiev halt its current military buildup in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been lining up at the border ready to react if Zelensky’s loose talk of war becomes more than bravado. Washington should also put on hold all military training activity involving US and NATO troops in the region. This would lessen the chance that Ukraine would misinterpret these training missions as a de facto sign of support for Ukrainian military operations to regain control of either the Donbas or Crimea.

3. It is equally imperative that the U.S. engage in high-level diplomatic talks with Russia to reduce tensions in the region and de-escalate the current rush toward military conflict. Untangling the complex web of issues that currently burden U.S.-Russia relations is a formidable task that will not be accomplished overnight. This would be an opportune time to work toward a joint goal of preventing armed hostilities in Ukraine and wider war.

There is opportunity as well as risk in the current friction over Ukraine. This crisis offers your administration the opportunity to elevate the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of the international community. Leading with diplomacy will greatly enhance the stature of America in the world.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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“..without clear sign US ready for bilateral relations..”

Russia Unlikely To Send Recalled Ambassador Back To Washington (RT)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has revealed it has no plans to restore full diplomatic representation in Washington until it sees evidence that the US is interested in building constructive relations between the two countries. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was asked by RIA Novosti on Wednesday whether Ambassador Anatoly Antonov would return to America in the near future, having been recalled in March amid a growing diplomatic row. “This is not a question for the next few days,” he said. “The timings will be determined based on what steps Washington plans to take on the bilateral track,” he continued. “We expect that they are still able to demonstrate a desire to at least relatively stabilize our relationship and that they will do something visible and noticeable in this regard.”


Antonov flew to Moscow for a series of crunch talks with senior officials in the days following US President Joe Biden’s interview with the ABC news network, in which he was asked whether he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer,” and replied, “Mmm hmm, I do.” The American leader also said he had warned the Russian president that the US would potentially take action if it found evidence of Moscow’s interference in the US election. “He will pay a price,” Biden added. His comments came as a joint report by Washington’s spy agencies, including the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security, was declassified and made available to the public. It declared that Russia attempted to influence the 2020 US election with the aim of “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”

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“This will be a message for a new age..” “the most important political and public event.”

Putin Poised To Set Out Vision For Future In Dramatic Speech (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly preparing to give a major address in which he will fire the starting pistol on a “new era” and set out a different vision for the future of his country as the Covid-19 pandemic wanes. The chairwoman of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matvienko, told reporters on Tuesday that the speech would set out answers to a number of challenges facing the world. “This will be a message for a new age,” she said. “But at the same time, as always, current issues will be addressed, focuses will be defined and direct instructions will be given.” Matvienko added that “in the current difficult environment facing the world, which comes with many obstacles for countries including Russia,” the address would become “the most important political and public event.”

Putin is due to speak to the national parliament, encompassing both the Senate and its lower house, the State Duma, on April 21. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed on Monday that the annual message would be delivered in person, amid a relaxing of social distancing rules governing workplaces across the country. “The rest of the details are being worked out,” he added. At a meeting of the World Economic Forum in January, Putin warned that the coronavirus pandemic was driving countries to borrow beyond their means and driving up inequality. Increasing the debt burden, he said, was an outdated way of stimulating growth. “If 20 or 30 years ago the problem could be solved by means of stimulating macro-economic policy, today these mechanisms have reached their limits,” the president said.

“Over the past 30 years, real incomes of people living in most of the developed countries have stagnated while the cost of education and health services has increased. Millions of people, even in rich countries, no longer see the prospect of boosting their incomes,” Putin added.

Read more …

Big game hunters.

Humans Were Apex Predators For Two Million Years (Phys.org)

Only the extinction of larger animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world, and the decline of animal food sources toward the end of the stone age, led humans to gradually increase the vegetable element in their nutrition, until finally they had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals—and became farmers. “So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans were mostly based on comparisons to 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” explains Dr. Ben-Dor. “This comparison is futile, however, because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies could hunt and consume elephants and other large animals—while today’s hunter gatherers do not have access to such bounty. The entire ecosystem has changed, and conditions cannot be compared.

We decided to use other methods to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans: to examine the memory preserved in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics and physical build. Human behavior changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body remembers.” In a process unprecedented in its extent, Dr. Ben-Dor and his colleagues collected about 25 lines of evidence from about 400 scientific papers from different scientific disciplines, dealing with the focal question: Were stone-age humans specialized carnivores or were they generalist omnivores? Most evidence was found in research on current biology, namely genetics, metabolism, physiology and morphology. “One prominent example is the acidity of the human stomach,” says Dr. Ben-Dor. “The acidity in our stomach is high when compared to omnivores and even to other predators. Producing and maintaining strong acidity require large amounts of energy, and its existence is evidence for consuming animal products.

Strong acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat, and prehistoric humans, hunting large animals whose meat sufficed for days or even weeks, often consumed old meat containing large quantities of bacteria, and thus needed to maintain a high level of acidity. Another indication of being predators is the structure of the fat cells in our bodies. In the bodies of omnivores, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, it’s the other way around: we have a much larger number of smaller fat cells. Significant evidence for the evolution of humans as predators has also been found in our genome. For example, geneticists have concluded that “areas of the human genome were closed off to enable a fat-rich diet, while in chimpanzees, areas of the genome were opened to enable a sugar-rich diet.”

Read more …

Whitney Webb: “Anyone who is down to let Silicon Valley “hack” life processes and nature in general can fuck right off.”

Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? (NW)

The Spanish firm Grifols helped set off a kerfuffle last year when it, along with other firms, offered nearly double the going price for blood donations for a COVID-19 treatment trial. Brigham Young University in Idaho had to threaten some enterprising students with suspension to keep them from intentionally trying to contract COVID-19. The trial failed, however, and now the Barcelona-based firm is hoping to extract something far more valuable from the plasma of young volunteers: a set of microscopic molecules that could reverse the process of aging itself. Earlier this year, Grifols closed on a $146 million-deal to buy Alkahest, a company founded by Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who, along with Saul Villeda, revealed in scientific papers published in 2011 and 2014 that the blood from young mice had seemingly miraculous restorative effects on the brains of elderly mice.

The discovery adds to a hot area of inquiry called geroscience that focuses on identifying beneficial elements of blood that dissipate as we age and others that accumulate and cause damage. In the last six years, Alkahest has identified more than 8,000 proteins in the blood that show potential promise as therapies. Its efforts and those of Grifols have resulted in at least six phase 2 trials completed or underway to treat a wide range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Alkahest and a growing number of other geroscience health startups signal a change in thinking about some of the most intractable diseases facing humankind. Rather than focusing solely on the etiology of individual diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis—or, for that matter, COVID-19—geroscientists are trying to understand how these diseases relate to the single largest risk factor of all: human aging.

Their goal is to hack the process of aging itself and, in the process, delay or stave off the onset of many of the diseases most associated with growing old. The idea that aging and illness go hand and hand is, of course, nothing new. What’s new is the newfound confidence of scientists that “aging” can be measured, reverse-engineered and controlled. Until recently, “people working on diseases did not think that aging was modifiable,” says Felipe Sierra, who recently retired as director of the Division of Aging Biology, part of the National Institutes of Health. “That is actually what many medical books say: The main risk factor for cardiovascular disease is aging, but we cannot change aging so let’s talk about cholesterol and obesity. For Alzheimer’s, aging is the main risk factor—but let’s talk about the buildup in the brain of beta-amyloid proteins. Now that is beginning to change.”

Read more …

 

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Mar 212021
 


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) German artist, philosopher, composer, mystic Cosmic Tree

 

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)
Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)
How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)
Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)
FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)
UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)
Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)
How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)
Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)
NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)
The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)
Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

 

 

 

 

Germany Deaths
https://twitter.com/i/status/1373207960420253697

 

 

UK has already said: forget about summer travel abroad.

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)

Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled Covid-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carriers lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings.

The summer outlook also has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere, and a suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries over health fears. Several countries announced resumption of use of the AstraZeneca shot this week after the European Medicines Agency said the benefits clearly outweigh its risks. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes.

But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging more contagious virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40%-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious.

Read more …

Much of this stuff is brutal. Police state material.

Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)

Thousands, and possibly tens-of-thousands of protesters across Europe marched on Saturday against continued government lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions based on questionable science – which have resulted in mass unemployment, destroyed small businesses, stoked widespread depression and mental illness, and cost taxpayers trillions to keep the whole ship from sinking. Protesters in London, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Vienna and elsewhere came out for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom. In central London, thousands of anti-lockdown activists were seen walking through Hyde Park, chanting “stand up, take our freedom back!”


In Germany, police used pepper spray on protesters in the city of Kassel, where 15,000 – 20,000 demonstrators showed up, according to the Daily Mail. Some 1,800 officers were placed on standby in Berlin. “Several thousand people gathered at the main protest site on a square in Kessel’s city centre, packed closely together without wearing face masks, an AFP reporter saw. Scuffles erupted when a group of demonstrators tried to break through a police cordon to join up with other protesters, resulting in shoving and prompting officers to use pepper spray.” -Daily Mail.

Read more …

Fascinating. Orla Hegarty in Ireland focuses on cleaning the air inside buildings to prevent transmission. Chicago, after a massive campaign, in 1918 re-opened in 6 weeks, no vaccine. Lots of pics from that time here.

Where is the focus on clean air these days?

How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)

[Thread] Chicago didn’t have a second wave of Spanish Flu.. so what did they do, & how did the city re-open when there was no vaccine? #Ventilation #COVID19 1/ ..here are the public health measures that Chicago took on the autumn of 1918 ‘open window ventilation in all school rooms.. pupils warmly dressed.. daily check on pupils & absentees in schools.. use of masks.. landlords required to heat homes.. ’ 2/ documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri… ..’isolation & quarantine.. home nursing provided (see my thread on home nursing).. churches required to improve ventilation.. 150 city health officers on full time service’ 3/ ..’closure of dance halls, theatres, restaurants in order to keep schools open .. ventilation of public transport.. public health doctors & nurses’ 4/

& then by late October/early November (just 6 weeks into the outbreak) theatres were allowed to reopen, social functions & public meetings resumed 5/ So what was happening to make this re-opening possible? The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation (1911-18 report) 6/ ..who understood airborne disease & spread in buildings ‘the most important factor in prevention is the air that we breath’ ‘buildings merit earnest study & attention in a program of real & effective work in preventing the spread of disease’ 7/ they had boots on the ground, ‘one man for every 100,000 of population’ & a regime of regulating, inspecting, investigating & enforcing ventilation standards in buildings for public health 8/ ..they had very detailed ventilation standards & buildings were inspected.. including measuring air temperature, humidity, velocity, dust particles &.. CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitoring was used to catch inadequate ventilation 9/

& Chicago had a head start on other cities, having been the first to regulate in 1911, & then having targeted improvements every year in picture-houses, street-cars, restaurants, garages etc .. then in September 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic arrived /10 Chicago had 1,700 street-cars, so ventilation on public transport received a lot of attention.. there were concerns about the cost of improving poor ventilation /11 but The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation prevailed.. 12/ so the Spanish Flu epidemic in Chicago pandemic was fought on the ground with building inspectors.. who measured, targeted & eliminated actual public health risks in actual buildings ‘while the work involved was enormous, the results obtained outweighed the difficulties’ /13

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“Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play.”

Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)

The coronavirus has dominated all of our lives in recent months. Radical paths were taken by politicians in the form of lockdowns to contain the pandemic. But we should recognize that even if the coronavirus is a (major) challenge for us, we always have to keep a holistic view of world events. Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play. It is precisely these other factors that are so often forgotten in the panicky reporting, in the constant, manic tracking of the current infection numbers, that we want to take a look at in our series “The Costs of Coronavirus Lockdowns” in the coming weeks.

Monetary policy is the second primary tool, alongside fiscal policy, used by governments to influence economic activity. When a crisis hits, an economy is stimulated either by the state budget – which arises from the taxpayers – or silently through monetary expansion. By either lowering interest rates, issuing government-backed securities, or even purchasing corporate bonds the central banks increase the money supply in the economy. Ever since the beginning of the crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve has done all of the above. One of the most popular measures of the money supply used by economists is M1. It consists of the most highly liquid assets. In other words, the most easily exchangeable assets are used as payment for goods and services.

As Trading Economics data shows, the Fed has created 39% of all the “dollars” in the economy in 2020. To put it on its head, in 2020 the Fed has created more money than in almost a hundred years of its existence. Monetary policy effectiveness has its boundaries. As good as it might seem at first glance, creating money “out of thin air” doesn’t bring prosperity. It is true, inflation still hasn’t start banging on our doors. But looking no further than the asset prices, we can see that the low inflation rate is masked by the asset price inflation. Even with the sharp drop of the GDP and an unemployment rate that stands more than double the rate before the crisis started, the S&P 500 is more than 10% higher than on the day the pandemic rolled around. This also shows who profits from the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis: those with assets, i.e. those already wealthy anyway.

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We know they did. His aid literally said so.

FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)

The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false numbers to the DOJ on nursing home deaths in New York state. Lawyers for the aides have been contacted by the FBI and his office has been subpoenaed, as first reported in the New York Times. According to the Times, interviews with aides have included questions on the reporting of COVID deaths in the state. The FBI traveled to some aides’ homes and interviewed others over the phone. A lawyer for Cuomo’s office said the original numbers submitted to the FBI months ago are factual.


“The submission in response to D.O.J.’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false,” lawyer Elkan Abramowitz said. The news comes as Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, told the New Yorker former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is no longer her “hero” because of her reaction to the Cuomo accusations. “These stories are difficult to read,” the former secretary of state said in a March 1 statement, “and the allegations brought forth raise serious questions that the women who have come forward and all New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

Read more …

Lots of lawsuits, but…

UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)

Earlier this week, Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said during an antitrust hearing that “Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have reached monopoly status, and their behavior won’t change until Congress acts, the enforcement agencies do their job, and the courts move quickly to rein in their predatory conduct.” On Friday, sources told FT that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is preparing an antitrust investigation into Facebook within the coming months, which is the latest crackdown on Silicon Valley’s big tech dominance. Similar probes were launched into Apple and Google earlier this year. Sources said CMA “would take a sweeping look at the way Facebook allegedly uses customer data to squash rivals in social media and online advertising.”

CMA’s potential investigation into Facebook comes as the government agency recently announced inquiries into Apple’s App Store fees and Google’s privacy settings. CMA expects to follow European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into Facebook, launched in December. She told lawmakers in Brussels how big tech is increasingly facing more stringent scrutiny around the world. “It’s a sign that the debate on tech dominance has been shifting over the last couple of years,” Vestager said of the US antitrust move. A person close to the CMA said the focus of the upcoming investigation would be on the social media platform’s digital advertising.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, vowed to take on Facebook and other big tech companies with a series of antitrust cases. He’ll be working with lawmakers in Brussels to combat big tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Facebook requested a federal judge earlier this month to dismiss landmark antitrust suits against it, claiming that its “innovative free products deliver value” is helpful to users, adding there’s no evidence whatsoever of anti-competitively. The Federal Trade Commission and almost every state have filed lawsuits against the social media platform for its market power abuse after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

Read more …

Thomas Frank.

Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)

The Republicans didn’t suffer the landslide defeat they deserved last November; the right is still as potent as ever; therefore Trumpist untruth is responsible for the malfunctioning public mind. Under no circumstances was it the result of the Democrats’ own lackluster performance, their refusal to reach out to the alienated millions with some kind of FDR-style vision of social solidarity. Or perhaps this new taste for censorship is an indication of Democratic healthiness. This is a party that has courted professional-managerial elites for decades, and now they have succeeded in winning them over, along with most of the wealthy areas where such people live. Liberals scold and supervise like an offended ruling class because to a certain extent that’s who they are.

More and more, they represent the well-credentialed people who monitor us in the workplace, and more and more do they act like it. What all this censorship talk really is, though, is a declaration of defeat – defeat before the Biden administration has really begun. To give up on free speech is to despair of reason itself. (Misinformation, we read in the New York Times, is impervious to critical thinking.) The people simply cannot be persuaded; something more forceful is in order; they must be guided by we, the enlightened; and the first step in such a program is to shut off America’s many burbling fountains of bad takes.

Let me confess: every time I read one of these stories calling on us to get over free speech or calling on Mark Zuckerberg to press that big red “mute” button on our political opponents, I feel a wave of incredulity sweep over me. Liberals believe in liberty, I tell myself. This can’t really be happening here in the USA. But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right’s class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for – a betrayal that we will spend years living down – may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true.

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“..journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia..”

How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)

[..] The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” [..] the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid.

Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform. Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”

And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials.

[..] The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia.

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“Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet..”

Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)

A federal judge this week said that the Democrat Party is close to controlling the press as he detailed what he described as shocking bias against Republicans. D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman outlined his opposition to the Supreme Court’s key decision in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan, which has since protected many media outlets from lawsuits. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, wrote that the ruling is “a threat to American Democracy” and must be overturned. “The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions. Our court was once concerned about the institutional consolidation of the press leading to a ‘bland and homogenous’ marketplace of ideas. It turns out that ideological consolidation of the press (helped along by economic consolidation) is the far greater threat,” he continued.


“Although the bias against the Republican Party—not just controversial individuals—is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along,” he added.

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Project Veritas hardly ever loses a suit.

NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)

A defamation suit from Project Veritas against the New York Times is moving forward, as a judge has ruled the newspaper posed opinion as fact in their coverage of the conservative news outlet. A New York Supreme Court judge handed Veritas, known for its undercover and whistleblowing videos, a big “win” this week, allowing a defamation suit against the paper and two reporters to proceed forward. In the ruling denying a motion to dismiss the suit, the Times was accused of acting with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” in multiple articles covering a 2020 video report from Veritas on alleged illegal voting practices taking place in Minnesota. It was not the only voter fraud allegation Veritas covered in 2020, with one video expose actually leading to the arrest of a Texas political consultant on charges of election fraud and illegal voting.


In the Minnesota video, multiple people are seen taking part in or discussing ballot harvesting and linking the act to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). The report alleged ballots were being paid for and even filled out for voters to favor certain candidates. One ballot harvester featured in the video, Liban Osman, has since claimed footage of him was heavily edited and that he was offered money to connect the alleged fraud to Omar – an allegation Project Veritas denied. The five Times articles in question called Veritas’ Minnesota videos deceptive, but Justice Charles Wood determined this was not fact, but rather opinion from reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu. “The Articles that are the subject of this action called the Video ‘deceptive,’ but the dictionary definitions of ‘disinformation’ and ‘deceptive’ provided by defendants’ counsel certainly apply to Astor’s and Hsu’s failure to note that they injected their opinions in news articles, as they now claim,” he wrote in his decision.

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“..a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.”

The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)

By some estimates, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans manage to avoid paying about a quarter trillion dollars of owed taxes every single year. Now, new government data show that audits of the super-rich and large corporations have hit a new low, leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments. In response, two progressive Democratic lawmakers have authored legislation cracking down on tax evasion. The new Internal Revenue Service figures compiled by Syracuse University researchers show that in the last eight years, there has been a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.


Source: Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Similarly, there has also been a 55-percent drop in the number of audits of America’s largest corporations. In 2012, almost all corporate giants were audited. In 2020, however, almost two thirds of those corporations were not subjected to audits. Amid this decline in scrutiny of the rich, a letter to the Biden administration from 88 progressive groups pointed out: “Since 2011, audit rates for millionaires, who are disproportionately white, have dropped more than twice as much as for taxpayers claiming the (Earned Income Tax Credit), who are disproportionately people of color. Audit coverage is now the heaviest in many low-income majority-Black counties.” The sharp reduction in audits of the rich contributes to the tax gap between the amount of taxes owed and paid.


In 2012, audits of wealthy individuals and large corporations recovered roughly $29 billion of revenue. Eight years later, the far fewer audits recovered less than $7 billion. IRS referrals for criminal prosecution and Justice Department tax convictions have both hit an all-time low. “At a time when Americans face growing economic inequality and financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS is letting billions of dollars in tax revenue slip through its fingers,” wrote Syracuse researchers. “As public attention focuses on how the country can restore faith in our democratic institutions, one area that should not be overlooked is how the nation can better ensure that our income tax laws are fairly and effectively administered.”

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“The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution../”

Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

What matters more: Rulings from overseas courts, or laws made by politicians back home? That’s the question Russian officials are weighing up, after a string of court orders they say are at odds with the country’s own principles. An international legal battle over the collapsed Yukos oil empire has been raging for more than a decade in courts across the world, most notably in the Netherlands and the US. A record-breaking $57 billion legal bill now hangs in the balance. Former shareholders in the now-defunct company accuse the Russian government, which regards them as oligarchs acting in bad faith, of “appropriating” its assets and causing it to go bankrupt. Appealing initial decisions by a Dutch tribunal in favor of the claimants, the country’s lawyers have said that judges had failed to take into account Russian laws against corruption and fraud.

According to Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko, the case is part of a “legal war” being waged against the country in international courts. “The situation is very difficult and serious,” he said. “Russia must adequately defend itself, and sometimes even attack back.” Quite how the state might strike back became clear in December, when the Constitutional Court, one of its highest judicial bodies, ruled that Moscow should refuse to pay the colossal sum if it loses the latest ongoing appeal over Yukos. The case is being litigated under the terms of the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed up to but never ratified, with foreign courts insisting they still have jurisdiction. The Russian judges claim that entering into the pact and supposedly agreeing to foreign mediation broke a fundamental provision of the country’s constitution.

Specifically, judges said, subjugating national laws to international rulings is against those principles, and therefore, when Boris Yeltsin’s government entered into the treaty in 1994, it did so on an invalid basis. No leader, the court claimed, has the right to trade away the sovereign right of self-determination, or to “challenge the competence” of Russian courts. If the judges in The Hague eventually uphold the decision to hand the multibillion-dollar sum to those who lost cash after the collapse of Yukos, stumping up the funds would therefore be optional, the ruling insists. This decision would effectively cut Moscow free from any obligations to foreign courts under the terms of treaties it might have signed, and acting on it would put the country on a collision course with the West, which could look to take unilateral action to enforce any settlement.

[..] Speaking ahead of a national vote on the constitution last year, President Vladimir Putin set out in no uncertain terms that he views domestic laws as more important than overseas rulings, a position that he shares at times with leaders in the US and China. “I believe that the time has come to make some changes,” he said, “which directly guarantees the priority of the Russian constitution in our legal environment.” “The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution,” Putin added.

[..] Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the country to release jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The anti-corruption activist is serving time in prison after being found guilty of breaching the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud. In a statement, the Strasbourg-based court said “a Chamber of Seven judges of the Court decided… to indicate to the Government of Russia… to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect.” However, the country’s Justice Ministry rejected the calls outright, saying that they were “unenforceable” and unprecedented for a number of reasons. “Firstly, this is a clear and gross interference in the activities of the judiciary of a sovereign state. Secondly, this demand is unreasonable and unlawful, since… it does not include a single rule of law that would allow the court to make such a decision.”

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 192021
 
 March 19, 2021  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Camille Corot Study for “The Destruction of Sodom” 1843

 

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If.. (RT)
Putin Challenges Biden To A Live Public ‘Discussion’ (JTN)
Biden ‘Clearly Doesn’t Want Good Relations’ With Russia – Kremlin (RT)
A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)
Journalists Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter (Greenwald)
US and China Publicly Rebuke Each Other In First Major Talks Of Biden Era (G.)
Covid Spiking In Over A Dozen States—Most With High Vaccination Rates (F.)
Norwegian Scientists Say AstraZeneca DID Cause Blood Clots (RT)
Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Like a Vaccinated Grandma (Oster)
How The US Military Subverted The Afghan Peace Agreement (GZ)
FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law (DO)
Without Trump, Is A “Depression In Television” Coming? (Taibbi)
Building or Unbuilding America? (Nomi Prins)
Growth Of US Homelessness During 2020 Was Devastating – HUD (NPR)

 

 

 

 

My thought exactly. He made the whole thing up. Or rather, someone did it for him.

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If.. (RT)

[..] the likelihood of the Biden-Putin meeting occurring as described by Joe Biden is slim to none. When Biden made his trip to the Kremlin in 2011, he was fronting for the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia. There was no opportunity, or need, for Biden’s faux machismo. The two men did meet, but as part of delegations discussing the possibility for improving relations. Not only would Biden’s insulting verbal flexing have been wildly inappropriate and inconsistent with the larger policy objectives of his visit, but it ran counter to his own feelings, expressed at the time, about Russia. “Russia has the best engineers in the world,” Biden said in a press conference after his meeting with Putin (who was serving as Russia’s prime minister, not president, at the time.) “Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation.”

These are not words one utters after telling a Russian leader in private that he has “no soul.” Biden’s struggle with the truth is well known, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he possibly made up a meeting with Putin. Biden has been caught plagiarizing a speech delivered by former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, lied about his academic record and accomplishments, and manufactured from whole cloth a narrative that has him participating in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Biden’s lies all have one goal in common: to make him out to be that which he is not. So, too, his apparent lie about calling Putin soulless. Biden is desperate to be a ‘tough guy’. But for that reputation to stick vis-à-vis Putin, there had to be a ‘showdown’ moment, where the good guy faced off against the bad guy and called him out.

Since no such event exists, Biden had to make one up. And, like most of his lies, Biden repeats them long enough and often enough that they take on a life of their own, embraced as fact by unquestioning journalists. In his interview with Stephanopoulos, Biden raised the findings of the DNI report, and his conversation with Putin. “He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well and the conversation started off [like this]: I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”

Biden does not know Putin well at all. If he did, he would know that the last thing that would give the Russian leader pause were the fanciful tough-guy posturing of a geriatric president. There is little doubt that the Biden administration will impose additional sanctions against Russia in the days and weeks to come, citing the report as justification. There is also little doubt that these sanctions will have no impact whatsoever on the policies and practices of the Russian government. But that is not the point. Biden is not flexing for the benefit of Putin. His audience is the American people, and part and parcel of a coordinated campaign designed to drive home his mantra that “America is back.”

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Biden’s too busy.

Putin Challenges Biden To A Live Public ‘Discussion’ (JTN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that he and American President Joe Biden engage in a live public “discussion.” The Russian leader’s proposal comes after Biden, when asked earlier this week during an ABC News interview whether he believes Putin is a killer, responded that he does believe that. A U.S. intelligence report indicates that Putin authorized influence operations related to the 2020 U.S. election, and during the interview Biden said that Putin “will pay a price.” Biden said that he told Putin: “If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”

The intelligence report states in part: “We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” “I’ve just thought of this now,” the Russian president told a Russian state television reporter, according to ABC News. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”

Putin suggested that the “discussion” with Biden could be held on Friday or Monday: “I don’t want to put this off for long. I want to go the taiga this weekend to relax a little,” Putin said. “So we could do it tomorrow or Monday. We are ready at any time convenient for the American side.” When asked during Thursday’s press briefing if the idea is one that the administration would consider, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the reporter she would need to “get back to you if that is something we are entertaining,” and noted that Biden will be busy in Georgia on Friday.

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Recalling your ambassador is a serious step.

Biden ‘Clearly Doesn’t Want Good Relations’ With Russia – Kremlin (RT)

The Kremlin has claimed that comments from American President Joe Biden, in which he said he believes his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to be a “killer,” is proof Washington isn’t serious about relations with the country. Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no precedent for the remarks in the history of the two nations. “These are very bad statements by the US president,” he added. “He clearly doesn’t want to establish a relationship with our country, and we will proceed on that basis.” In the TV interview with ABC, which aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked by chief anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Putin was “a killer.” “Mmm hmm, I do,” he replied.

He added that he had warned the Russian leader that the US would take action if it found evidence of Moscow meddling in the country’s 2020 presidential election. “He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I… I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’” A joint report by Washington’s spy agencies, published the day before, alleged that Russia was behind a campaign to “denigrate” Biden’s reputation during the campaign. The Kremlin has blasted the allegations, insisting it had not engaged in political smears against any candidates.

On Wednesday evening, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled to Moscow for talks on the future of ties with Washington. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that consultations were needed “to analyze what to do and where to head in the context of relations with the US.” The remarks have sparked a wave of criticism from Russian officials. The speaker of the country’s parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, added his voice to those claiming the remarks were indicative of a diplomatic rift. The top politician argued that “this is a tantrum that comes from powerlessness. Putin is our president, attacking him is an attack on our country.”

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“We’ve spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle.”

A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released a much-hyped, much-cited new report on “Foreign Threats to the 2020 Elections.” The key conclusion: “We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, [and] undermining public confidence in the electoral process…” The report added Ukrainian legislator Andrey Derkach, described as having “ties” to “Russia’s intelligence services,” and Konstantin Kilimnik, a “Russian influence agent” (whatever that means), used “prominent U.S. persons” and “media conduits” to “launder their narratives” to American audiences.

The “narratives” included “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden” (note they didn’t use the word “false”). They added a small caveat at the end: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” As Glenn Greenwald already pointed out, the “launder their narratives” passage was wolfed down by our intelligence services’ own “media conduits” here at home, and regurgitated as proof that the “Hunter Biden laptop story came from the Kremlin,” even though the report didn’t mention the laptop story at all. Exactly one prominent reporter, Chris Hayes, had the decency to admit this after advancing the claim initially. With regard to the broader assessment: how many times are we going to do this? We’ve spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle.

From the much-ballyhooed “changed RNC platform” story (Robert Mueller found no evidence the changed Republican platform was “undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia”), to the notion that Julian Assange was engaged in a conspiracy with the Russians (Mueller found no evidence for this either), to Michael Cohen’s alleged secret meetings in Prague with Russian conspirators (“not true,” the FBI flatly concluded) to the story that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress (“not accurate,” said Mueller), to wild stories about Paul Manafort meeting Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, to a “bombshell” tale about Trump foreknowledge of Wikileaks releases that blew up in CNN’s face in spectacular fashion, reporters for years chased unsubstantiated claims instead of waiting to see what they were based upon.

The latest report’s chief conclusions are assessments about Derkach and Kilimnik, information that the whole world knew before this report was released. Hell, even Rudy Giuliani, whose meeting with Derkach is supposedly the big scandal here, admitted there was a “50/50 chance” the guy was a Russian spy. Kilimnik meanwhile has now been characterized as having “ties” to Russian intelligence (Mueller), and as a “Russian intelligence officer” (Senate Intelligence Committee), and is now back to being a mere “influence agent.” If he is Russian intelligence, then John McCain’s International Republican Institute (where Kilimnik worked), as well as embassies in Kiev and Moscow (where Kilimnik regularly gave information, according to the New York Times), have a lot of explaining to do.

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“..these career spies and propagandists, led by Obama CIA Director and serial liar John Brennan..”

Journalists Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter (Greenwald)

Journalists with the largest and most influential media outlets disseminated an outright and quite significant lie on Tuesday to hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, on Twitter. While some of them were shamed into acknowledging the falsity of their claim, many refused to, causing it to continue to spread up until this very moment. It is well worth examining how they function because this is how they deceive the public again and again, and it is why public trust in their pronouncements has justifiably plummeted. The lie they told involved claims of Russian involvement in the procurement of Hunter Biden’s laptop. In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, The New York Post obtained that laptop and published a series of articles about the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and elsewhere.

In response, Twitter banned the posting of any links to that reporting and locked The Post out of its Twitter account for close to two weeks, while Facebook, through a long-time Democratic operative, announced that it would algorithmically suppress the reporting. The excuse used by those social media companies for censoring this reporting was the same invoked by media outlets to justify their refusal to report the contents of these documents: namely, that the materials were “Russian disinformation.” That claim of “Russian disinformation” was concocted by a group of several dozen former CIA officials and other operatives of the intelligence community devoted to defeating Trump.

Immediately after The Post published its first story about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine that traded on his influence with his father, these career spies and propagandists, led by Obama CIA Director and serial liar John Brennan, published a letter asserting that the appearance of these Biden documents “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” News outlets uncritically hyped this claim as fact even though these security state operatives themselves admitted: “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails…are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.” Even though this claim came from trained liars who, with uncharacteristic candor, acknowledged that they did not “have evidence” for their claim, media outlets uncritically ratified this assertion.

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Blinken got his ass handed to him.

US and China Publicly Rebuke Each Other In First Major Talks Of Biden Era (G.)

The United States and China have clashed over human rights during their first face-to-face high-level talks since Joe Biden took office, with one senior Chinese official urging the US to address “deep-seated” issues such as racism, and accusing his American counterparts of “condescension”.Any hopes that the meeting, in Anchorage, would reset bilateral ties after years of tensions over trade and cyber security during Donald Trump’s presidency evaporated when US secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan opened their meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and state councillor Wang Yi.

After Blinken referred to rising global concern over Beijing’s human rights record, Yang said: “We hope that United States will do better on human rights. The fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the US itself,” he said in a 15-minute speech that appeared to irritate Blinken. He added that US human rights issues were “deep-seated … they did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter”. In his opening remarks Blinken had said world leaders had voiced “deep satisfaction” that the US was re-engaging with the international community after four years of Trump’s “America First” doctrine. “I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”

Blinken, who added he had heard similar sentiments during his visits this week to Japan and South Korea, said the Biden administration and its allies were united in pushing back against China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad. In response, Yang angrily demanded that the US stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when it was dealing with discontent among its own population. “We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world,” he said. “Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.” “China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the US side,” Yang said, adding that recent developments had plunged relations “into a period of unprecedented difficulty” that “has damaged the interests of our two peoples.”

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Get healthy.

Covid Spiking In Over A Dozen States—Most With High Vaccination Rates (F.)

Coronavirus cases are again spiking in 13 U.S. states, according to an analysis of trends over the past week, including some states among the highest in vaccination rates as health experts warn more contagious variants of Covid-19 will soon dominate the United States. An Axios analysis found Michigan by far leading the way in new cases, with the 7-day rolling average spiking by more than 53%. Michigan is above the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins University, but cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are all on the rise. State health officials have placed the blame on highly contagious new variants now spreading in the state, as health experts caution national vaccination efforts are a race against the contagious strains.

Other states among the highest in vaccination rates, including West Virginia, Maine and Montana are also dealing with case spikes. Only two of the states with rising cases—Mississippi and New Hampshire—are below the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins. Top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have said a variant that originated in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of the month. That strain is believed to be some 56% more contagious and perhaps twice as deadly than the existing dominant strain in the United States. Health experts say the country is continuing to move in the right direction as a whole, with the vaccine effort hopefully ending the pandemic this year.

But what had been a rapid national case decline starting in January has slowed significantly over the past few weeks, with the U.S. continuing to average over 50,000 new cases a day, a plateau level Fauci said “concerns me.” Top health officials and President Joe Biden are also advising against expansive reopening measures that states are putting into effect, including some that have decided to lift mask mandates.

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“The clotting in those patients was triggered by a very specific “strong immune response” likely caused as a result of the AstraZeneca jab..”

Norwegian Scientists Say AstraZeneca DID Cause Blood Clots (RT)

Norwegian scientists have linked the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots – a condition seen in some people that led countries around the world to halt its use. But British and Dutch medics say there’s no evidence for such a link. “The cause of our patients’ condition has now been found,” Pal Andre Holme, the head of a research group at the Oslo University Hospital, told Norway’s VG media outlet. He was referring to the cases of three health workers under the age of 50 who suffered from severe blood clotting after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. One of the medics then died on Monday. The clotting in those patients was triggered by a very specific “strong immune response” likely caused as a result of the AstraZeneca jab, Holme explained.

In collaboration with the University Hospital of North Norway, Holme’s team detected specific antibodies that “activate” platelets and in some cases can lead to blood clots. Asked by VG if the vaccine was the “most likely” cause of this specific immune response, Holme said he believes “there is no other thing” in the history of the three individual patients which would generate such a response. None of the three patients had a history of similar health issues before, he said. I am pretty sure it is these antibodies that are the cause and I see no other reason than that it is the vaccine that triggers them.

The professor still admitted that such side effects are likely to be very rare since “we are talking about very specific antibodies.” Norway halted the use of the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination campaign alongside many other European nations. Some 120,000 Norwegians already received the jabs produced by the British-Swedish company. According to Norwegian media, “very few” serious side effects were reported by those vaccinated to date. [..] Norwegian scientists revealed the results of their analysis just as the British medical regulator, MHRA, said that it found no evidence that could prove the link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting.

“This type of blood clot can occur naturally in people who have not been vaccinated, as well as in those suffering from COVID-19,” the MHRA CEO, Dr. June Raine, said in a statement, adding that her agency’s “thorough and careful review” showed that blood clots in veins of affected persons are occurring just as often as they would “in the absence of vaccination.”

Read more …

But you still want to vaccinate all kids?

Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Like a Vaccinated Grandma (Oster)

Different vaccines yield different results, but all of the vaccines approved by the FDA (Pfizer-BioNTech’s, Moderna’s, and Johnson & Johnson’s) are very effective, which is why the CDC has indicated that vaccinated individuals can interact unmasked with other vaccinated individuals. It hasn’t yet commented on flying, but I’m guessing the CDC will relax its flying advisories for vaccinated individuals in the next few weeks. It will continue to recommend masks, for the sake of protecting the unvaccinated population, because the science on transmission by the vaccinated is still hazy. Now think about your child. The CDC has published some risk assessments by age. For comparison’s sake, I’ll phrase the findings the way I would the results of a vaccine trial:

Being a child aged 5 to 17 is 99.9 percent protective against the risk of death and 98 percent protective against hospitalization. For children 0 to 4, these numbers are 99.9 percent (death) and 96 percent (hospitalization). The central goal of vaccination is preventing serious illness and death. From this standpoint, being a child is a really great vaccine. Your unvaccinated first grader appears to have about as much protection from serious illness as a vaccinated grandmother. Comparisons are more difficult when it comes to the risk of any infection at all. An Israeli study undergoing peer review found that the Pfizer vaccine reduces infection in asymptomatic cases by about 90 percent, and in symptomatic cases by almost 94 percent.

Child case counts haven’t been well documented, in part because asymptomatic infection appears to be so common among kids. However, the available data suggest that children are less likely than adults to contract the coronavirus, but more likely to contract it than a vaccinated grandmother. (Below, I’ll address the latest thinking on variants, and research on the possible long-term effects of less-than-serious infections, which remains murky, and controversial.) This news may feel a little mixed: Yes, kids are protected from serious illness, just like their vaccinated grandparents, but they are not as protected from contracting the virus at all. Here is where the concept of herd immunity comes in to save the summer. If the Israeli Pfizer study is anywhere near right, then case rates will fall once a large share of adults are vaccinated. They are likely to fall a lot as the virus finds fewer and fewer receptive hosts.

Read more …

Must have war.

How The US Military Subverted The Afghan Peace Agreement (GZ)

In an exclusive interview with The Grayzone Col. Douglas Macgregor, a former senior advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense, revealed that President Donald Trump shocked the US military only days after the election last November by signing a presidential order calling for the withdrawal of all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. As Macgregor explained to The Grayzone, the order to withdraw was met with intense pressure from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark M. Milley, which caused the president to capitulate. Trump agreed to withdraw only half of the 5,000 remaining troops in the country. Neither Trump’s order nor the pressure from the JCS Chairman was reported by the national media at the time.


The president’s surrender represented the Pentagon’s latest victory in a year-long campaign to sabotage the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in February 2020. Military and DOD leaders thus extended the disastrous and unpopular 20-year US war in Afghanistan into the administration of President Joseph Biden. The subversion of the peace agreement with the Taliban initiated by the US military leadership in Washington and Afghanistan began almost as soon as Trump’s personal envoy Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated a tentative deal in November 2019. The campaign to undermine presidential authority was actively supported by then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

Read more …

“Critics say that the immunity law removed a key deterrent to corporate malfeasance, and victims and their families were subsequently stripped of their legal rights.”

FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law (DO)

Federal law enforcement officials are scrutinizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial move to help his donor shield nursing home executives from legal consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report. The probe follows a Daily Poster investigative series detailing how one of Cuomo’s biggest donors, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) — a lobby group that represents hospital systems and nursing home operators — said it “drafted and aggressively advocated for” the corporate immunity provision. Cuomo’s administration quietly inserted the measure into his state’s budget as thousands lay dying from COVID-19 in New York nursing homes.

Critics say that the immunity law removed a key deterrent to corporate malfeasance, and victims and their families were subsequently stripped of their legal rights. Cuomo’s original executive order shielding front line health care workers from lawsuits was widely reported, but not the governor’s separate budget language extending immunity to hospital and nursing home corporations’ executives and board members. On Thursday, THE CITY disclosed that federal investigators looking into Cuomo’s handling of nursing home policy are now specifically asking questions about the immunity provision. The New York news outlet reports:

“FBI investigators probing the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic last spring are seeking information about a state budget provision that gave operators legal immunity, THE CITY has learned. In recent weeks, FBI officials have been looking to interview members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff and other state officials about the eleventh-hour addition to the state budget last March, according to three people familiar with the matter. The measure granted nursing homes and hospitals broad legal protections against lawsuits and criminal liability for care provided to residents and patients during the pandemic. FBI officials started to make house calls this month, showing up at people’s residences and leaving business cards, according to the three sources. Investigators’ questions have focused primarily on the nursing home immunity provision and how it “got in the state budget,” said one legislative source, who did not want to be named because of the ongoing probe.”

Read more …

Not coming, but already here.

Without Trump, Is A “Depression In Television” Coming? (Taibbi)

[..] the Democratic Party’s response to Trump — which involved multiple efforts to remove him, premised on the idea that every day he spent in the Oval Office was an existential threat to humanity — allowed stations to turn every day of the Trump years into a baby-down-a-well story (the baby was democracy). Between the Mueller investigation, two impeachments, the Kavanaugh confirmation, multiple border crises, the “Treason in Helsinki” fiasco, and a hundred other tales, every day could be pitched as a drop-everything emergency. Add the partisan rooting angle, and you had ratings gold. Imagine three or four dozen Super Bowls a year, each one played in the middle of a category 5 hurricane, and you come close to grasping the magnitude of the gift that Donald Trump was to MSNBC, Fox, and CNN.

Six or seven years ago, it was common to see CNN or MSNBC fall outside the top 20 rated cable networks, below titans like Disney, USA, TBS, and the History Channel. By 2020, the three top networks on cable — not just news networks, but overall — were Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. The fact that news ate away so much of the market share of the entertainment business in the Trump years raises questions about what exactly we were watching. Jump in your Dr. Who police box and go back to 2014, the last year Trump was not a major political figure. The cable news genre had what Variety described as an “overall down year.” It was a particularly grim time for CNN and MSNBC:

Total Primetime Viewers, 2014 Change
Fox News 1.779 million (even)
MSNBC 600,000 (down 8%)
CNN 528,000 (down 8%)
HLN 337,000 (down 16%)

CNN exemplified the pre-Trump dilemma. In 2011, the network’s average primetime viewership was 689,000. That dropped to 670,000 in 2012, and the year after that, in 2013, it fell all the way to 568,000, a 20-year low. Imagine the pucker factor at Time Warner the next year, when CNN’s entire 8-11 p.m. programming slate dropped 8% off that 20-year dip. 2013 was CNN’s first year under the management of Jeff Zucker, whose career arc leading into the Trump years was a dazzling study in failing upward. He was named head of NBC Entertainment in 2000, and rode the successes of a handful of shows — including, notably, The Apprentice — into a job as CEO of NBC Universal, where he presided over one of the most disastrous tenures of any TV executive in history. Under his leadership, NBC dropped to fourth behind ABC, CBS, and Fox, amid catastrophic decisions like trying to move Jay Leno into primetime.

When Zucker moved to CNN, he trumpeted a new plan to save the news. This is from Politico in 2013: “Zucker has told staff he wants to “broaden the definition of what news is,” meaning more sports, more entertainment, more human interest stories — and, at times, less politics.” That didn’t work out so well in 2014, though to be fair to Zucker, the ratings narrative started reversing at least somewhat before Trump jumped on the scene. But the first giant leap forward for the business as a whole came in 2015, when CNN’s average primetime audience soared to 730,000, a 30% increase, in significant part because it hosted two Republican debates starring Trump.

The news business had never seen anything like the Trump effect. The first Republican debate on Fox drew 25 million viewers and was the most-watched non-sports event in the history of cable, while the second debate drew 23 million and was merely the top show in the history of CNN. Taking note of all this was Trump himself, whose poll numbers were dipping a bit at the end of 2015. Some were predicting his demise. To this, Trump snapped, “I’m not a masochist,” and promised he’d pull out if his numbers worsened. However, he said, if he did, “There’d be a major collapse of television ratings,” adding a poisonous prediction: “It would become a depression in television.”

Read more …

“The cost of what we need but haven’t done to modernize our infrastructure has expanded to $5.6 trillion over the last 20 years ($3 trillion in the last decade alone)”

Building or Unbuilding America? (Nomi Prins)

During the Trump years, the phrase “Infrastructure Week” rang out as a sort of Groundhog Day-style punchline. What began in June 2017 as a failed effort by The Donald’s White House and a Republican Senate to focus on the desperately needed rebuilding of American infrastructure morphed into a meme and a running joke in Washington. Despite the focus in recent years on President Trump’s failure to do anything for the country’s crumbling infrastructure, here’s a sad reality: considered over a longer period of time, Washington’s political failure to fund the repairing, modernizing, or in some cases simply the building of that national infrastructure has proven a remarkably bipartisan “effort.”

After all, the same grand unfulfilled ambitions for infrastructure were part and parcel of the Obama White House from 2009 on and could well typify the Biden years, if Congress doesn’t get its act together (or the filibuster doesn’t go down in flames). The disastrous electric grid power outages that occurred during the recent deep freeze in Texas are but the latest example of the pressing need for infrastructure upgrades and investments of every sort. If nothing is done, more people will suffer, more jobs will be lost, and the economy will face drastic consequences. Since the mid-twentieth century, when most of this country’s modern infrastructure systems were first established, the population has doubled. Not only are American roads, airports, electric grids, waterways, railways and more distinctly outdated, but today’s crucial telecommunications sector hasn’t ever been subjected to a comprehensive broadband strategy.

Worse yet, what’s known as America’s “infrastructure gap” only continues to widen. The cost of what we need but haven’t done to modernize our infrastructure has expanded to $5.6 trillion over the last 20 years ($3 trillion in the last decade alone), according to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Some estimates now even run as high as $7 trillion. In other words, as old infrastructure deteriorates and new infrastructure and technology are needed, the cost of addressing this ongoing problem only escalates. Currently, there is a $1-trillion backlog of (yet unapproved) deferred-maintenance funding floating around Capitol Hill. Without action in the reasonable future, certain kinds of American infrastructure could, like that Texas energy grid, soon be deemed unsafe.

Read more …

Make the right to housing a law.

Growth Of US Homelessness During 2020 Was Devastating – HUD (NPR)

The nation’s homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before. The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic. “And we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a video message accompanying the report. She called the numbers “devastating” and said the nation has a “moral responsibility to end homelessness.” Among the report’s more sobering findings: homelessness among veterans and families did not improve for the first time in many years.


Also, more than 106,000 children were homeless during the once-a-year count, conducted in most communities across the nation. While the majority of homeless children were in shelters or transitional housing, almost 11,000 were living outside. As has been the case for years, a disproportionate share of those experiencing homelessness were Black — about 39% of the total, though African Americans make up about 13% of the nation’s overall population. Twenty-three percent of those who were homeless last year identified as Hispanic or Latino. California was home to the largest number of people experiencing homelessness — 161,548 — according to the 2020 count. A quarter of all homeless individuals in the United States were living in either New York City or Los Angeles. For the first time since the government began doing the annual count, the number of single adults living outside — 209,413 — exceeded the number of individuals living in shelters — 199,478.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 042021
 


J.J. Grandville ‘A Comet’s Journey’, Illustration from ‘Un Autre Monde’ 1844

 

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)
Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)
COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)
Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)
Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)
A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)
When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)
No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)
Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)
Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

 

 

So many articles today, I’ll put up a separate Covid Rattle shortly here: Covid Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

“Tucker every once in a while has a segment that just completely knocks it out of the park.This is one of those times.”
Tucker Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

Excess savings, sure, but only among the rich. Who don’t spend it.

 

 

“..the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018..”

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)

[..] we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades. Fifty trillion dollars has been redistributed from the poorest Americans to the top one percent over the past several decades. That’s right, a new study shows the richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans. To put this in easier to access terms — you know how mad you get when someone takes the last donut? Well, imagine that multiplied by 50 trillion. (Quick reminder: If you make $40,000 a year, it would take you 1.25 Billion years to make $50 trillion.)

The new study reveals, “…that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020.” And to be clear, this money has been stolen from nearly every American. Had income distribution and buying power remained the same as it was from the end of World War II to 1975, ” . . . the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is … enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.”

The richest people in America are pilfering over $1,100 from you personally and everyone you know every single month of every single year. Just imagine what each living soul in America could do with an extra $13,700 per year — how many people that would feed, how much less stressful their lives would be, how many fewer foreclosures there would be, and how many more people would get the healthcare they need. Yet every time the most modest tax increases are proposed on the richest Americans, or every time someone so much as mumbles about putting in a public jungle gym or putting in filters to take the metal chunks out of the water or fixing the holes in our bridges that are bigger than the ones in Maria Bartiromo’s head — every time someone brings up these common sense solutions, the elites of our society (who own the media outlets and the levers of the state and the law enforcement and the courts) start screaming from their wine-soaked ski resort orgy balconies, “That’s wealth redistribution! That’s class war!”

Read more …

Sure they’ll all vote for him again.

Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)

During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples.


The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more “targeted.” In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won’t, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn’t qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion.

Read more …

So the states get what their citizens can’t.

COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)

Joe Biden is giving so much money to states as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that they’re set to receive approximately six times more money than estimated tax revenue shortfalls across the country, according to Bloomberg. While the package carves out nearly $200 billion for state governments, the cumulative tax revenues which have disappeared in the current fiscal year are just $31 billion. “In other words, that money could make up for that loss and be plowed back into states’ economies, such as their own version of relief checks, infrastructure projects and more, depending on the federal guidelines around the aid.”

In short – states, assuming they don’t squander the funds (who are we kidding?), could play a pivotal role in accelerating the recovery – assuming the money actually stimulates jobs and/or ends up in the hands of consumers. The funds would also allow for the unwinding of various budgetary cuts which began last March, and are responsible for the elimination of more than 1.3 million state and local government jobs – which Bloomberg notes is “nearly twice as many as were lost after the last recession.” Republicans, however, argue that some of the stimulus should be cut or shifted to other priorities which could have a more immediate impact than essentially giving states their own giant slush funds.

“If the whole point of this bill is to stimulate economic activity, the federal government has ways of doing that, that may be more efficient than sending checks to state and local governments,” said Moody’s director of public sector research, which estimates that $56 billion is the actual price tag states need to cover shortfalls through 2022 after previously allocated aid is taken into account. Bloomberg also notes that “the financial impact overall has been far smaller than initially feared when Covid last year sent the US economy into the deepest recession since World War II, which left governors nationwide braving for the gravest fiscal crisis of modern times.”

Deficits on that scale were averted after the federal government pushed through stimulus plans in March and again late last year, driving stocks to record highs and promising to increase collections of capital gains taxes. The magnitude of the shortfalls also reflects the unusually uneven nature of the recession: While lower paid service industry employees were thrown out of work, the highest earners who pay far more in state taxes were less affected because they were able to work from home.

Read more …

A lot of information here.

Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)

Freed from his double duty as Connecticut’s chief federal prosecutor, Special Counsel John Durham is zeroing in on the final phase of his far-reaching investigation into whether FBI officials or others committed crimes while conducting the Russia collusion probe, such as misleading federal judges or Congress. All expectations were that Durham would wrap up his probe with final indictments and/or a report last fall after a plea deal was reached with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted he falsified a document submitted to substantiate an application for a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign.

But FBI Director Chris Wray revealed Tuesday that the entire process — including the bureau’s ability to discipline agents involved in the Russia case — was slowed down at Durham’s request because of continuing concerns about potential criminality. “Because we are cooperating fully with Mr. Durham’s investigation, at his request we had slowed that process down to allow his criminal investigation to proceed,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So at the moment, that process is still underway in order to make sure we are being appropriately sensitive to the criminal investigation.” Wray’s comments signaling additional crimes are being investigated are consistent with what former Attorney General William Barr said late last year when he upgraded Durham from a U.S. attorney to a special counsel and expanded his investigative staff.

Interviews with a half dozen sources who have had interactions with Durham’s team say he is focused on whether FBI executives knowingly and unlawfully misled the FISA court and Congress by withholding exculpatory evidence, extending an investigation without justification and creating the illusion there was evidence of Russia collusion when most had been debunked or dismissed. The sources said one former senior FBI official has provided invaluable cooperation and context to what decisions FBI leadership and field agents were making in the probe on such consequential matters as what to tell Congress, the courts and Justice Department lawyers about the flaws, political origins and falsehoods in the Russia collusion narrative.

Most of the evidence that supports those concerns is now in the public domain after a series of declassifications that began last year and ended when former President Donald Trump declassified hundreds of pages of the most sensitive evidence during his last 24 hours in office in January. .

Read more …

May be he should let Biden’s blunders grab the spotlight for a while.

Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)

Former President Donald Trump is telling allies he’s seriously considering a run for president in 2024, but may do so without former Vice President Mike Pence on his ticket, according to Bloomberg, citing ‘people familiar with the discussions.’ On Sunday, Trump all but announced at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he was running again – while privately, according to two of Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, he’s discussed “alternatives to Pence as he takes stock of who he believes stood with him at the end of his term and who didn’t.” Trump’s advisers have discussed identifying a Black or female running mate for his next run, and three of the people familiar with the matter said Pence likely won’t be on the ticket.

That said, given Trump’s history of choosing the ‘best person for the job’ regardless of color or sex, and notwithstanding obvious establishment picks, we imagine that last bit may be a non-starter for Trump. According to the report, Trump is considering South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem – who Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle are hosting a Friday fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, Trump publicly endorsed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s re-election. Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate.Following the 2020 election, Trump was livid after Pence didn’t “do the right thing” and reject Electoral College votes for Joe Biden from several contested states. In response, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”

Pence rejected his boss’s appeals to unilaterally overturn Trump’s re-election defeat when he presided over the congressional count of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The event turned into an insurrection by Trump’s supporters, who invaded the Capitol, disrupted the count and forced the vice president and members of Congress to flee. Five people died in the melee. The two men didn’t speak for days afterward. Pence hasn’t said whether he’d be interested in running with Trump again, according to person familiar with the situation, who believes it’s doubtful Pence would. -Bloomberg. “President Trump hasn’t made any decisions regarding a potential 2024 run, but the buried lede here is that the media can’t stop talking about him,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. According to the report “there’s been no serious consideration of future vice presidential candidates yet,” and if Trump runs, he won’t likely make a formal announcement until summer 2023, according to the anonymous sources.

Read more …

Inflation?!

A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)

Every morning, we take the previous day’s financial news – all of it – and run it through the Narrative Machine to see if any interesting clusters pop out as a topic for us to write about in one of these quick Zeitgeist notes. And when I say clusters, I literally mean clusters – the building blocks of a graphical representation of linguistic connectivity. But when I say clusters, what I really mean is patterns. I really mean changes in the narrative structure. We’re not doing this to learn new facts. We’re not really interested in the specifics of what people are saying. We are very interested, though, in how people are saying it. We’re looking for changes in how we talk about what is important in markets and investing. We’re looking for changes in the water in which we swim.

That water is changing today. It’s changing a lot. Increasingly, the common knowledge of our investment world – what everyone knows that everyone knows – is that inflation is a problem and you should be focused on it. For example, today in a popular financial news media aggregator, RealClearMarkets.com, of the 21 articles highlighted on their frontpage aggregator, 6 of them were about inflation … is it here? is it coming? what does it mean for your portfolio? does Bitcoin fix this? etc. etc. Again, I have zero interest in the specifics or the facts or the message or the sentiment of these selected articles (even though one of them was yesterday’s Epsilon Theory note).


What interests me a lot, though, is the CHOICE made by the editors and algorithms of RealClearMarkets.com to select these articles over all of the other financial news stories available to them. What interests me a lot is the recursive ENGAGEMENT that these articles and their shared linguistic structures trigger in readers, such that they will look for more articles on this topic, which means that more articles on this topic will be written. This is how common knowledge happens. This is how the water in which we swim changes.

Read more …

“Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent..”

When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)

The mutually reinforcing crises aren’t in the future, they’re here now, and Jay Powell’s shuck-and-jive has lost its magical powers to cloak the rot with speculative bubbles. How many more times do we have to watch Jay Powell claim his speculative bubble isn’t a bubble, and that his massive expansion of billionaires’ fortunes will magically create jobs for all those living in the real world he’s created of stagnation, social depression and inequality? In other words, when will this travesty of a mockery of a sham finally implode? When will the Universe tire of the lies, fraud, embezzlement and corruption and bring the whole rotten charade down? When will we tire of the stale tale of reflation, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, phony facades of “recovery”, simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc. and funneling them to financiers, corporations, monopolies, cronies and billionaires. When will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? How many more “saves” does the Ponzi Scheme of central banking possess? Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent and its continued expansion will hide all the systemic rot hollowing out America.

On the other hand, maybe manipulation, lies and artifice can no longer keep the Everything Bubble from popping. The chart I prepared back in 2008 (below) give us a flavor of the confluence of crises that are no longer in the future–they’re here now. Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse. Four long-wave cycles are plotted in the chart:

Read more …

“No one has been charged with a firearms violation.”

No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)

No firearms were recovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 during the riot, and no shots were fired by the demonstrators, an FBI official on Wednesday told Congress.”To my knowledge we have not recovered any [firearms] on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point,” said Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “No one has been charged with a firearms violation.” Sanborn made her comments during a joint oversight hearing in the Senate to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Sanborn, witnesses included the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, and civilian officials from the Pentagon.

During testimony, Sanborn responded to questions from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who asked whether firearms were present or used during the siege. “How many shots were fired that we know of?” Johnson asked. “The only shots fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the one lady,” Sanborn said, referencing Ashli Babbitt, a protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during heightened tension inside the building. Other testimony examined the timeline of when the National Guard was dispatched to help an overwhelmed civilian police force during the siege on the Capitol.

The National Guard was dispatched to the riot more than three hours after Capitol Police made a desperate call for help with a “dire emergency,” a two-star general testified Wednesday before Congress. Major Gen. William Walker, who commands the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the 1:49 p.m. call for help from the guard on Jan. 6 was approved in a message that reached him after 5 p.m. At that point, troops who were waiting on buses sped to the Capitol, and helped to secure a perimeter, Walker said. Walker made his comments during a hearing to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Walker, civilian officials from the Pentagon and the FBI are scheduled to testify.

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“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment…”

Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)

Russia’s Service of Military-Technical Cooperation has noted its “bewilderment” after Washington imposed an export ban on “defense articles and defense services” to the country, despite Russia not receiving any US arms since 1945. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled new sanctions against Moscow after the alleged poisoning and “attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.” “The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” a press statement from Blinken said. As part of the restrictions, Russia has been included in Section 126.1 of the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which essentially means that any requests from Moscow to buy defense-related items would be flatly rejected.

“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment,” the federal service noted. “Arms supplies from the United States to Russia are not carried out and, of course, are not planned.” The government body also noted that the last time any military equipment was delivered to Russia from the US was through the lend-lease program during WWII, which ended on August 21, 1945. Speaking to Moscow daily RBK, Russian International Affairs Council expert Andrey Frolov noted that the new sanctions are likely to be toothless and do not pose any threat to the military-industrial complex, which does not rely on American supplies.

Another expert, Ruslan Pukhov from the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, revealed that restrictions won’t actually prevent any export contracts if the US wants to implement them. In particular, he cited the example of Rosoboronexport, which was removed from the sanctions list to sign a contract to supply the Afghan Army with helicopters, and was put back on the list straight after.

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Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

Every power worth its portion of salt in the Levant these days seems to be doing it. On February 25, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Syria. The premise for the attacks was implausible. “These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” claimed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “and to ongoing threats to those personnel.” More specifically, the strikes were in retaliation for rocket attacks in northern Iraq on the airport of Erbil that left a Filipino contractor working for the US military dead and six others injured, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier. The targets in Syria were facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack left up to 22 people dead.

The Biden administration has resorted to tactics long embraced by US presidents. To be noticed, you need to bomb a country. The measure, more a sign of raging impotence than stark virility, is always larded with jargon and bureaucratic platitudes.“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” explained Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to reporters keeping him company on a flight from California to Washington. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure about the right targets.” He was convinced “that the target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the [February 15] strikes.”

Seven 500-pound bombs were used in the operation, though Stars and Stripes initially reported that “the type of weaponry used” was not disclosed. The Pentagon had been keen to push a larger range of targets, but Biden was being presidential in restraint, approving, as the New York Times puts it, “a less aggressive option”. Kirby insisted the operation had been the sensible outcome of discussions with coalition partners. “The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel.” Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

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