Mar 092021
 
 March 9, 2021  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  40 Responses »


Keith Haring Untitled 1983

 

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)
Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)
Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)
Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)
CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)
US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)
Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)
Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)
Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)
UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)
The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)
The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)
The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

 

 

People say the Burger King International Women’s Day campaign “backfired”. But I’m thinking: look at all the free publicity they’re getting.

 

 

 

Burger King gets a lot more attention than the president.

 

 

 

Where’s the huge nationwide campaign to prevent this?

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)

Nearly 8 in 10 people who were hospitalized for coronavirus were either overweight or obese, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Monday, which also found a higher body mass index is associated with serious coronavirus outcomes, such as hospitalization, being placed on a ventilator and even death. The study found obese patients with BMIs higher than 30 made up about half of all coronavirus hospital admissions between March and December of 2020. Overweight patients, or people with BMIs higher than 25 but lower than 30, accounted for 28.3% of hospitalized coronavirus patients during the same time frame.

Researchers also found an association between BMI and patients requiring admission to an intensive care unit, invasive mechanical ventilation and death, especially in people aged 65 and older. According to the CDC, obesity may contribute to serious coronavirus illness because excess weight impairs lung function and may also disrupt the body’s immune system. The CDC study looked at 71,491 coronavirus patients who tested positive for the virus during emergency room or inpatient visits at 238 American hospitals that tracked patients’ height and weight. 42.4%. That’s how much of the U.S. population is considered obese based on BMI, according to a 2018 CDC study, the most recent of its kind.

Black and Hispanic Americans, whose communities have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, are also more likely to live with obesity. Nearly 40% of Black adults reported having a BMI of higher than 30, followed by Hispanics (33.8%) and Whites (29.9%), according to CDC data from 2017-2019. Last week, the World Obesity Federation released a study based on Johns Hopkins University data that found “a dramatic correlation” between obesity rates and international death rates. Countries like the U.S. and U.K, where more than half of the population is classified as either overweight or obese, see more deaths per capita. Meanwhile, Vietnam, the country with the world’s lowest coronavirus death rate, has an adult obesity rate of only 18.3%, the second-lowest globally.

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Because bankers are experts on diseases.

Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)

Dr. Fauci and other health experts are warning about the prospect of a “4th wave” of COVID infections as mutated strains of the virus comprise a growing share of new COVID infections in the US, even as the JNJ one-shot vaccine promises to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Worries about spreading mutant strains are being amplified by research showing that B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK, also known as the “Kent” strain, after where it was first isolated and identified) might be on the cusp of becoming the most prevalent strain in the US. According to research cited in a note published Monday by a team of researchers at BofA, Florida is on the cusp of seeing the UK variant become the “dominant” strain in the state.


And although hospitalizations, new cases and deaths have slowed in the Sunshine State, researchers are concerned that the variants are slowing the ebb of the pandemic in the state – and could possibly supercharge it. Cases and hospitalizations are still slowing in the state, just not as quickly as they were in January. The team of analysts at BofA said these trends have raised concerns about Florida becoming a bellwether state for the spread of the new variants, which many fear could surge as states from Texas to Connecticut move to loosen at least some (or in Texas’s case, practically all) virus-related restrictions. The fact that the state’s positivity ratio has declined since the start of the year suggests that the virus truly is receding (in other words, the lower case numbers aren’t due to solely to a pullback in testing).

Perhaps counterintuitively, the analysts at BofA are worried that the UK variant might not be as dominant in Florida as they believe. They also gamed out two additional scenarios that they said would lead to a greater outlook. “We see three possible explanations for Florida’s continued improvement. First, the spread of the new variant might not be as far along as estimated. So the old variant might still be contracting off a much larger base, while the new variant is growing off a small base. This would not be good news as it would suggest an imminent increase in cases as the new variant continues to spread.


Second, vaccines might be more effective at containing the virus than we thought, by making both vaccinated people and their close contacts less vulnerable. This would be good news because the cumulative effect of vaccines should increase quickly as the roll-out gains momentum. The third explanation, which is least likely in our view, is that the B.1.1.7 variant is significantly less contagious than widely estimated. This would probably be the best news of all.”

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Lovely.

Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)

A new outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at the Cottonwoods Care Centre in the Interior Health region where staff and residents had already received vaccines, B.C’s provincial health officer announced Monday. In a live news conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said being vaccinated doesn’t mean transmission will be stopped and that precautions must remain in place for seniors and care homes. “You can have transmission even when people are fully vaccinated,” she said. “The illness seems to be milder and doesn’t transmit as much [and we] won’t see rapid explosive outbreaks.”


Two staff members and 10 residents have tested positive at the Cottonwoods long-term care facility in Kelowna which has 221 publicly-funded beds. Henry said that all staff and residents at the home were offered immunizations and that there was very high uptake of the vaccine. She said some of the cases were among people who had received two doses of the vaccine. “This serves to remind us that while we are confident is very effective and prevents severe illness and death it doesn’t necessarily mean that all transmission will be stopped.” Henry added the province will give new guidance by the end of month that will allow for increased visits at long-term care centres.

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The CDC is on a roll: fresh from reporting that facemasks prevent 1.32% of infections, ignores outbreaks like the one in BC, and also ignores the WHO stating we have no idea if vaccines reduce transmission.

But let us, in turn, NOT ignore how dangerous it is to discriminate against people who are simply not infected.

Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday. The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.

“With more and more people vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. During a press briefing Monday, she called the guidance a “first step” toward restoring normalcy in how people come together. She said more activities would be ok’d for vaccinated individuals once caseloads and deaths decline, more Americans are vaccinated, and as more science emerges on the ability of those who have been vaccinated to get and spread the virus. The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people still wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

The CDC guidance did not speak to people who may have gained some level of immunity from being infected, and recovering from, the coronavirus. Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 31 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.

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“..the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference..”

CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)

On Friday afternoon, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (still called the CDC, even though they added a ‘P’) released a heretical report about mask-wearing and COVID-19. The report, authored by at least a dozen medical doctors, PhD researchers, and, bizarrely, a handful of attorneys, examined how mask mandates across the US affected COVID cases and death rates. You’d think with all of the media propaganda about mask effectiveness… and all the virtue signaling, with politicians and reporters appearing on live TV wearing masks… that the data would prove incontrovertibly and overwhelmingly that masks have saved the world. But that’s not what the report says. According to the CDC’s analysis, between March 1 and December 31 last year, statewide mask mandates were in effect in 2,313 of the 3,142 counties in the United States.

And, looking at the county-by-county data, the CDC concludes that mask mandates were associated with an average 1.32% decrease in the growth rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths during the first 100 days after the mask policy was implemented. Wait, what? Only 1.32%? You read that correctly, they didn’t misplace the decimal: according to the federal government agency that is responsible for managing the COVID-1984 pandemic, the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference. And bear in mind, it’s entirely possible that the real figure is even lower than that, given all the questionable COVID statistics. For example, the CDC reports that influenza cases in the United States have dropped to almost zero in the 2020-2021 flu season, down from 56 MILLION the previous year.

It’s amazing they expect anyone to take this data seriously. Are we honestly supposed to believe that the flu has been eradicated? Or is it possible, that, maybe just maybe, at least some influenza cases have been misdiagnosed as COVID? If that’s the case, then the real impact of masks on COVID growth rates is potentially much lower than 1.32%. Even the CDC seems to understand this, because at the end of its report, they inspidly conclude by stating that mask mandates “have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19. . .” Really? “Potential”? That’s HERESY! And an obvious contradiction to WHO guidance. It makes we wonder whether Google and Facebook are gearing up to censor this report, given they have self-appointed themselves as the Ministry of Truth.

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Why does the Kremlin bother to deny this?

US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)

The United States has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services that it says are seeking to undermine Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, a State Department spokeswoman said on Sunday. The outlets “spread many types of disinformation, including about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as international organizations, military conflicts, protests, and any divisive issue that they can exploit,” the spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first reported on the identification of the alleged campaign on Sunday. A Kremlin spokesman denied the U.S. claim Russia was spreading false information about vaccines to the WSJ.


[..] Russia approved its Sputnik V vaccine in August, before a large-scale trial had begun, saying it was the first country to do so for a Covid-19 shot. Peer-reviewed trials months later proved it was almost 92% effective in fighting the virus. Pfizer, headquartered in New York, and Germany’s BioNTech, produced the first vaccine that was authorized in the United States, which regulators approved in December. The second, made by Moderna, headquartered in Massachusetts, was authorized later that month. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center, set up to counter propaganda and disinformation campaigns, identified the three outlets, the spokeswoman said.

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Well, obviously.

Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)

By accusing Moscow of spreading disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, US propagandists that spread the original ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy are doing it again, stoking fear and hatred and projecting amid a pandemic. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed State Department official to claim that Russia is using four websites “linked to” intelligence agencies to “inject false narratives” about Western vaccines against Covid-19 that “can be amplified” by other media. Asked about this on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is “monitoring” and “taking steps to address” these efforts. Meanwhile, the WSJ report was being, well, amplified on Twitter by prolific influencers declaring the alleged Russian behavior to be a “crime against humanity.”

Thing is, all of this amounts to a disinformation and influence operation itself – by the very methodology the people involved are using. The WSJ source is someone from the Global Engagement Center, set up in 2016 as a propaganda shop against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, which was later expanded to advancing “fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests” and countering “Russian disinformation.” The claim that the four websites were Russian spy cutouts was “a result of a joint interagency conclusion,” the Journal cited an unnamed State Department spokesman as saying. In other words, just like the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that made Russiagate official.

The WSJ article also previews a “report” – published Monday – by the Alliance For Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund NGO notorious for their ‘Hamilton68 dashboard’ that promoted and amplified Russiagate by seeing ‘Kremlin bots and trolls’ everywhere. Now we’re getting somewhere! Except the report itself ends up being full of qualifications, weasel-words and hair-splitting parsing of how certain headlines in the media are “coded,” in an effort to, well, promote a narrative. ASD analyzed tweets – of course they did – from Russian, Chinese and Iranian media and concluded that “there were few instances of any studied country promoting verifiably false information about vaccines” but that reports about certain Western vaccines “were often sensationalized while downplaying or completely omitting key contextual information.”

Keep in mind that demanding “context” is a favorite trick of so-called fact-checkers to argue that something is false even when factually true. As ASD itself admits, Russia, China and Iran sought to persuade their own public that their vaccines were “safer, more effective, and more affordable than certain vaccines produced in the West.” Except, that’s what clinical trial results published in reputable Western medical journals such as Lancet literally say when it comes to Sputnik V. Doesn’t matter, it’s now “disinformation” to point out facts that the Russian vaccine costs less than the mRNA vaccines made in the West, or doesn’t require their expensive cold storage.

Read more …

It’s like a CIA operation.

Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)

As reported by New Delhi-based World Is One News (WION), Pfizer is demanding countries put up sovereign assets as collateral for expected vaccine injury lawsuits resulting from its COVID-19 inoculation. In other words, it wants governments to guarantee the company will be compensated for any expenses resulting from injury lawsuits against it. WION reports that Argentina and Brazil have rejected Pfizer’s demands. Initially, the company demanded indemnification legislation to be enacted, such as that which it enjoys in the U.S. Argentina proposed legislation that would restrict Pfizer’s financial responsibility for injuries to those resulting from negligence or malice. Pfizer rejected the proposal. It also rejected a rewritten proposal that included a clearer definition of negligence.

Pfizer then demanded the Argentinian government put up sovereign assets — including its bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings — as collateral. Argentina refused. A similar situation occurred in Brazil. Pfizer demanded Brazil: • “Waive sovereignty of its assets abroad in favor of Pfizer” • Not apply its domestic laws to the company • Not penalize Pfizer for vaccine delivery delays • Exempt Pfizer from all civil liability for side effects. Brazil rejected Pfizer’s demands, calling them “abusive.” As noted by WION, Pfizer developed its vaccine with the help of government funding, and now it — a private company — is demanding governments hand over sovereign assets to ensure the company won’t lose a dime if its product injures people, even if those injuries are the result of negligent company practices, fraud or malice.

[..] In the U.S., vaccine makers already enjoy full indemnity against injuries occurring from this or any other pandemic vaccine under the PREP Act. If you’re injured, you’d have to file a compensation claim with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP),6 which is funded by U.S. taxpayers via Congressional appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). While similar to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), which applies to nonpandemic vaccines, the CICP is even less generous when it comes to compensation. For example, while the NVICP pays some of the costs associated with any given claim, the CICP does not. This means you’ll also be responsible for attorney fees and expert witness fees.

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Well, the rich got rid of him anyway.

Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has cancelled all sentences against the country’s former leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, restoring his political rights to run again for office ahead of next year’s election.
Supreme Court judge Edson Fachin ruled on Monday that the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, which had convicted Lula of money laundering and corruption, actually had no jurisdiction over the cases. The judge annulled all sentences handed to the 75-year-old in relation to ‘Operation Lava Jato’ (Car Wash) – a major anti-graft investigation in which three ex-presidents and numerous officials were indicted. Monday’s ruling means that Lula’s political rights have been restored, making him eligible to run against Brazil’s current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, in the presidential election in 2022.


The country’s so-called ‘Clean Record Act’ bars those with convictions from holding public office, a measure which already cost the veteran politician a spot in the 2018 presidential race. The judge’s decision was procedural and didn’t focus on the validity of the earlier cases against Lula. A lower court will now have to decide if he should be retried on those charges. Brazil’s Prosecutor General, Augusto Aras, has already announced that he intends to appeal the Supreme Court ruling. Lula served as Brazil’s president between 2003 and 2011, a period of rapid economic growth for the country which saw millions getting out of poverty through social welfare programs.

Read more …

Lithium.

UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)

On 10 November 2019, after the head of the army called for his resignation, Bolivia’s socialist president, Evo Morales, stepped down. It followed weeks of protests after the release of a report by the Organisation of American States (OAS) alleging irregularities in the election Morales had won the previous month. Persecution from the new regime forced Morales to flee the country and an “interim president”, Jeanine Áñez, was installed. Widely condemned as a coup, resulting protests were met with lethal force. Days after taking power, on 14 November, the Áñez regime forced through Decree 4078 which gave immunity to the military for any actions taken in “the defence of society and maintenance of public order”. The following day, on 15 November, Bolivian military forces shot and killed eight protesters in the city of Sacaba.

On 21 November, regime forces killed another 10 protesters in the neighbourhood of Senkata just outside the capital La Paz. Despite the deadly violence, which was condemned by human rights groups, the British embassy in La Paz moved quickly to support Bolivia’s new regime, Declassified can reveal from documents we have obtained. We have seen a project list for a Foreign Office programme in Bolivia called “Frontline Diplomatic Enabling Activity”, which the UK government describes as a “small pot of money that [embassies] receive and have authority over to spend on projects supporting [embassy] activity”. Bolivia has the world’s second-largest reserves of lithium, a metal that is used to make batteries and which has become increasingly important due to the burgeoning electric car industry.

The UK government has stated that lithium battery technology is a priority for its “industrial strategy”. In June 2019, it announced it was investing £23-million in “electric car battery development”. The government has further noted: “It’s estimated that South America holds 54% of the world’s lithium resources, which are increasingly in demand to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and energy diversification programmes.” It added: “The UK aims to have a thriving, sustainable battery industry, which would translate to a £2.7 billion opportunity … and our bilateral partnerships are essential to ensure this.”

In February 2019, Evo Morales’ government had chosen a Chinese consortium to be its strategic partner on a new $2.3-billion lithium project which would focus on production from the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salars (salt flats under which the lithium is deposited). But after the coup, the regime’s new minister for mining cast doubt on whether the deal would be honoured by the new government.

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“Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.”

The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)

I entered Martin Gurri’s world on August 1, 2015. Though I hadn’t read The Revolt of the Public, at the time a little-known book by the former CIA analyst of open news sources, I hit a disorienting moment of a type he’d described in his opening chapter. There are times, he wrote, “when tomorrow no longer resembles yesterday… the compass cracks, by which we navigate existence. We are lost at sea.” Gurri’s book is about how popular uprisings are triggered by collapses of faith in traditional hierarchies of power. I felt such a collapse that day in Waterloo, Iowa, covering the Republican presidential primary. The first debate was five days away and the man expected to occupy center stage, Donald Trump, held a seemingly inexplicable six-point lead.

Two weeks before, on July 18th, Trump lashed out against former Republican nominee John McCain. Even McCain’s critics considered his physical and mental scars from years as a Vietnam war prisoner to be unassailable proofs of his patriotic gravitas, but the service-evading Trump was having none of it. “I don’t like losers,” he said, adding, “He’s only a war hero because he was captured.” It was the universal belief among colleagues in campaign journalism that this was an unsurvivable gaffe, a “Dean scream” moment. We expected him to apologize and wash out. Instead, he called McCain a “dummy” and kept a firm grasp on the lead.

A different candidate, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, was in Waterloo. Two years before, Time all but dubbed Christie the favorite for 2016 with a silhouette cover portrait, over the nastily shallow (but publicity-generating) double-entendre headline, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Christie was every Washington consultant’s idea of a “crossover” superstar. I’d describe the concept in Rolling Stone as someone “mean enough for the right-wing, but also knows a gay person or once read a French novel.” Christie parked himself in the middle of Waterloo’s annual “Irish fest” street fair, waiting for an Iowan to ask for a souvenir campaign handshake. He had his hand out and thumb stuck upwards, like an Iguanodon. Nobody came. Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.

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“Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer..”

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)

One-time $1,400 handouts and even regular $300 unemployment subsidies won’t pay the mortgages or feed families very long, and every day there are fewer families bringing in anything close to that mythical $150,000. For many, it’s more like… nothing. The one-time bailouts of recklessly insolvent city and state governments and pension funds will only postpone their collapse. The varying guaranteed basic income schemes, enhanced child credits, advances on tax refunds, and other gimmicks would turn the former working class into sub-lumpenproles with nothing to occupy them but crime and vice. In fact, we already have a sizable underclass demonstrating exactly what you’ll get from enlarging the social group dependent on government support.

The only other question for now is when do the different population groups in this land explode in violence? The group loosely bundled as “Red” is angry enough with the ongoing insults of Wokery, failed rule-of-law, and abridgments of basic constitutional rights. The states where they dominate are likely to resist any more fiats by the federal government, like the imminent attempt to confiscate firearms. The “Blue” auxiliary armies are beyond their creators’ control. Antifa will be ready to rock-and-roll in the streets with good weather because so many young people have absolutely no prospects to thrive in the collapsing economy, and the streets have become their social space, with so little money for lattes and beers. And BLM need look no further than the Derrick Chauvin trial in Minnesota, starting today, for an excuse to resume its characteristic activities.

Does anyone seriously believe that the husk of Joe Biden will remain in office more than another few weeks? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have the mental mojo to work an authentic press conference, and surely not the customary address to a joint session of Congress. Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer. Pay close attention to events unspooling. Get ready for trouble. It’s coming every which way, from money to public order to rollicking spring weather.

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This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here..”

The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)

To censor is an act of deprivation, a taking away. To enforce an intolerant orthodoxy is an act of imposition. The two cannot be understood separately from one another.

[..] It is time, then, to sit up and look squarely at the grave threats with which a creeping, apple-pie authoritarianism now faces us. Censorship and its sibling, official propaganda, have lately come to imperil our civil liberties, our civil rights — especially our right to express ourselves freely— and altogether our right to knowledge, our right to understand the world we live in and the events that shape it, and at last our right to shape those events. Compared to these, the supposed threats of the Jan. 6 protests on Capitol Hill and the running, no-evidence business of the Russians having intruded into hundreds of corporate and government computer systems are nothing. Numerous are the voices raised in opposition to this menacing, corrosive drift in America. But too few grasp the gravity of our shared predicament.

Complacency — complacency induced by propaganda, indeed — is another of our urgent problems. One can read in any history book about suppression and repression and the incessant repetition of officially approved perspectives to the exclusion of all dissenting views. But the past is another country in the American mind, ever distant. Such circumstances are supposed to befall others but never Americans. We customarily identify grim polities of this kind and blighted pubic space with the Soviets, or the Latin American dictators, or the too-numerous-to-name despotic regimes that fill history texts. This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here,” as Sinclair Lewis titled the anti-fascist novel he published — note the date — in 1935.

It has not happened here — let us not succumb to language inflation — but we are now on notice that it can. Overcoming exceptionalism, even among those who purport to reject its ideology, is where the project must begin. When we are sitting up, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to get up. If we are to defend our rights as just enumerated, it is up to each of us to act. And taking part in a patently broken electoral system — this is my personal view —can no longer be considered acting: It amounts to acquiescing. “Aux armes, citoyens!” is a thought I leave to other sorts of columnists. My salutation is simpler: “Arise!” will do. We had better wake up, this is to say, if we are to avert a very dark age and reinvent the country and its institutions—which, forget about reform or restoration, is what must be considered the imperative now.

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Why she left the NYT.

The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

I was born in 1984, which puts me among the last generation born into America before the phrase “cancel culture” existed. That world I was born into was liberal. I don’t mean that in the partisan sense, but in the classical and therefore the most capacious sense of that word. It was a liberal consensus shared by liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. The consensus view relied on a few foundational truths that seemed as obvious as the blue of the sky: the belief that everyone is created in the image of God; the belief that everyone is equal because of it; the presumption of innocence; a revulsion to mob justice; a commitment to pluralism and free speech, and to liberty of thought and of faith.

As I’ve observed elsewhere, this worldview recognized that there were whole realms of human life located outside the province of politics, like friendships, art, music, family and love. It was possible for Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be the best of friends, because, as Scalia once said, some things are more important than votes. Most importantly, this worldview insisted that what bound us together was not blood or soil, but a commitment to a shared set of ideas. Even with all of its failings, the thing that makes America exceptional is that it is a departure from the notion, still prevalent in so many other places, that biology, birthplace, class, rank, gender, race are destiny. Our second founding fathers, abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, were living testimonies to that truth.

This old consensus — every single aspect of it — has been run over by the new illiberal orthodoxy. Because this ideology cloaks itself in the language of progress, many understandably fall for its self-branding. Don’t. It promises revolutionary justice, but it threatens to drag us back into the mean of history, in which we are pitted against one another according to tribe. The primary mode of this ideological movement is not building or renewing or reforming, but tearing down. Persuasion is replaced with public shaming. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Mercy is replaced with vengeance. Pluralism with conformity; debate with de-platforming; facts with feelings; ideas with identity.

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WS Merwin

 

 

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Feb 262021
 


Jean-Francois Millet The flight into Egypt 1864

 

Ivermectin Could Cut Covid Deaths By Up To 75% (DM)
CDC Reports Shocking Data About Asymptomatic Spread (Fed.)
Report Says Spirulina Algae Could Reduce Covid Mortality Rate (JPost)
Latin American Govts ‘Held To Ransom’ By Pfizer During Vaccine Talks (RT)
US Bombs Facilities In Syria Used By Iran-Backed Militia (AP)
Russia Is ‘Existential Threat’ To West That NATO Must Neutralize (RT)
Senate Parliamentarian: Minimum Wage Can’t Be In Covid Relief Bill (CNN)
Secret Memo Shows How Harris Must Now Advance Minimum Wage Hike (DP)
In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files |(Maté)
The Great Reset Is Here (Rickards)
Boeing 777 Makes Emergency Landing In Moscow Due To Engine Trouble (ZH)
700+ Children In Detention at US Border, Spike In Unaccompanied Crossings (RT)
Atlantic Ocean Circulation At Weakest In A Millennium (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need more testing! Only 100s of millions of people have taken it! Who knows if it’s safe?

Ivermectin Could Cut Covid Deaths By Up To 75% (DM)

A cheap and safe drug widely used against parasites cuts Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths by about 75 per cent, a study shows. More than 30 trials across the world found that ivermectin causes ‘repeated, consistent, large magnitude improvements in clinical outcomes’ at all stages of the disease. The peer-reviewed study, to be published in the US journal Frontiers of Pharmacology, says the evidence is so strong that the drug – used to treat head lice and scabies – should become a standard therapy everywhere, so hastening the global recovery.

Study co-author Professor Paul Marik, director of emergency and pulmonary care at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in the US, said: ‘The data is overwhelming – we are in a pandemic, and this is an incredibly effective way to combat it. If we use ivermectin widely, our societies can open up.’ Other medications have been touted as effective treatments for combating coronavirus, only for trials to dash hopes – notably with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug. An earlier study by Professor Andrew Hill of Liverpool University also concluded that ivermectin cuts death rates by around three-quarters. He recommended there should be larger trials before it was approved by UK regulators. A new trial of ivermectin as a Covid treatment is due to start shortly at Oxford University.

Dr Tess Lawrie, director of the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy in Bath, convened an online summit of international experts last weekend to discuss the new data. It included evidence that widespread use of ivermectin in parts of India and South America has led to a big reduction in infections and deaths. Yesterday Dr Lawrie submitted a 97-page report to the World Health Organisation, urging it immediately to recommend ivermectin to treat Covid. The drug, taken in tablet form or as drops, is licensed in Britain only as a treatment for parasitic worms, head lice and scabies. It has been used by hundreds of millions of patients over the past 30 years, mainly in developing countries, and at around £50 per patient – less in some countries – is far cheaper than other new Covid treatments, such as the rheumatism drug tocilizumab, which costs £1,000 per patient.

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”If the contagiousness of people without symptoms is not what drives the spread of SARS-COV-2, then no COVID restriction on public life besides staying home when you are clearly sick could be justified..”

CDC Reports Shocking Data About Asymptomatic Spread (Fed.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control slipped in a shocking piece of evidence in a recent report on low in-school COVID-19 transmission that severely undercuts the rationale for most COVID restrictions, including lockdowns. The Jan. 29 report’s conclusion seems to fit the pro-mask narrative, of course: “Schools might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts [such as masking and not allowing student cohorts to mix] in place.” In the 17 rural Wisconsin schools surveyed, only seven cases were linked to in-school transmission out of 4,876 pupils, and no staff members were infected at school during the study period.

While the report spends ample time explaining the mitigation strategies employed in the schools and the high reported mask compliance (92%) among students, the authors later discuss something you probably have not seen in any of the mainstream media’s coverage of this report . “Children might be more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 than are adults…This apparent lack of transmission [in schools] is consistent with recent research (5), which found an asymptomatic attack rate of only 0.7% within households and a lower rate of transmission from children than from adults. However, this study was unable to rule out asymptomatic transmission within the school setting because surveillance testing was not conducted”

The “recent research” the study authors cite is a meta-analysis of 54 household COVID-19 transmission studies that observed 77,758 participants, which was posted as a pre-print this summer and published in December. The text of the analysis is even more consequential than the CDC’s reference makes it seem: “Estimated mean household secondary attack rate from symptomatic index cases (18.0%; 95% CI, 14.2%-22.1%) was significantly higher than from asymptomatic or presymptomatic index cases (0.7%; 95% CI, 0%-4.9%; P<.001), although there were few studies in the latter group. These findings are consistent with other household studies, reporting asymptomatic index cases as having limited role in household transmission”.

The 0.7 percent figure includes not just people who never show symptoms of COVID-19, but people who haven’t yet shown symptoms—two groups that have been alleged to be major factors driving the spread of the virus. This is a major data point often underplayed or even challenged in much media coverage of the virus. The key, if not central, rationale for non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masking, distancing, and staying at home is allegedly significant transmission from people who don’t show symptoms. If the contagiousness of people without symptoms is not what drives the spread of SARS-COV-2, then no COVID restriction on public life besides staying home when you are clearly sick could be justified, considering the obvious negative consequences of these restrictions.

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Anti-inflammatory.

Report Says Spirulina Algae Could Reduce Covid Mortality Rate (JPost)

A team of scientists from Israel and Iceland have published research showing that an extract of spirulina algae has the potential to reduce the chances of COVID-19 patients developing a serious case of the disease. The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Biotechnology, found that an extract of photosynthetically manipulated Spirulina is 70% effective in inhibiting the release of the cytokine TNF-a, a small signaling protein used by the immune system. The research was conducted in a MIGAL laboratory in northern Israel with algae grown and cultivated by the Israeli company VAXA, which is located in Iceland. VAXA received funding from the European Union to explore and develop natural treatments for coronavirus. Iceland’s MATIS Research Institute also participated in the study.


In a small percentage of patients, infection with the coronavirus causes the immune system to release an excessive number of TNF-a cytokines, resulting in what is known as a cytokine storm. The storm causes acute respiratory distress syndrome and damage to other organs, the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients. “If you control or are able to mitigate the excessive release of TNF-a, you can eventually reduce mortality,” said Asaf Tzachor, a researcher from the IDC Herzliya School of Sustainability and the lead author of the study. During cultivation, growth conditions were adjusted to control the algae’s metabolomic profile and bioactive molecules. The result is what Tzachor refers to as “enhanced” algae.

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Anyone surprised?

Latin American Govts ‘Held To Ransom’ By Pfizer During Vaccine Talks (RT)

A number of Latin American countries have reportedly experienced extremely aggressive negotiating tactics by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which has demanded full immunity from any civil claims and state assets as a guarantee. The questionable negotiating tactics by the pharmaceutical giant have been highlighted in a fresh report by the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ). Officials from Argentina, as well as from another unspecified Latin American country, talked to the outlet, describing Pfizer’s approach to negotiations as “high-level bullying” that made the governments feel like they were being “held to ransom.” Argentina was among the first countries to begin negotiations with the company.

The talks started last June, yet ultimately flopped as Pfizer’s demands became less and less reasonable, an official told the BIJ. The pharmaceutical giant assertively demanded additional clauses that would make it immune against any civil claims citizens might file over side effects from receiving the Pfizer jab. While a new bill regulating the vaccination process was adopted in October, the company was still unhappy with its wording, as it did not grant full immunity to pharmaceutical companies but rather allowed a change of jurisdiction established in advance in the contract. Pfizer ultimately requested a “new law” from the government, then-Health Minister Gonzalez Garcia said in December, describing the demands as “somewhat unacceptable.”

“Argentina could compensate for the vaccine’s adverse effects, but not if Pfizer makes a mistake,” the official, cited by BIJ, said. “For example, what would happen if Pfizer unintentionally interrupted the vaccine’s cold … and a citizen wants to sue them? It would not be fair for Argentina to pay for a Pfizer error.” The company then urged Argentina to take out international insurance to pay for potential future cases against the manufacturer, and ultimately demanded that it put up unspecified sovereign assets as collateral in December. “We offered to pay for millions of doses in advance, we accepted this international insurance, but the last request was unusual: Pfizer demanded that the sovereign assets of Argentina also be part of the legal support,” the official said.

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Who are in reality Iraqi troops fighting ISIS?

US Bombs Facilities In Syria Used By Iran-Backed Militia (AP)

The United States launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the strikes were in retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. The airstrike was the first known military action undertaken by the Biden administration, which in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as Mideast threats persist. “This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures , including consultation with coalition partners,” the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, said in announcing the strikes.

“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in eastern Syria and Iraq.” Biden administration officials condemned the Feb. 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out. Officials have noted that in the past, Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups have been responsible for numerous rocket attacks that targeted U.S. personnel or facilities in Iraq. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, had said Tuesday that Iraq is in charge of investigating the Feb. 15 attack.

“Right now, we’re not able to give you a certain attribution as to who was behind these attacks, what groups, and I’m not going to get into the tactical details of every bit of weaponry used here,” Kirby said. “Let’s let the investigations complete and conclude, and then when we have more to say, we will.”

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Syria, Iran, Russia.

Russia Is ‘Existential Threat’ To West That NATO Must Neutralize (RT)

The Cold War ended decades ago, but Moscow is still working to maintain its Soviet-era influence over Eastern Europe, one of Washington’s top generals has claimed, warning that the US must take on Russia to deliver world peace. In a speech published by the Pentagon’s press service on Wednesday, the head of the country’s European Command, Air Force General Tod D. Wolters, claimed that, when it comes to projecting American force abroad, “everything we do is about generating peace.” However, he caveated, “we compete to win … and if deterrence fails, we’re prepared to respond to aggression, primarily through NATO.”

Wolters is also the US-led bloc’s supreme allied commander on the continent, and recent weeks have seen its members stage drills and engage in a series of stand-offs with Russian sailors in the Black Sea. “Beyond exercises,” he added, “we conduct operations and other activities to compete, deter and prepare to respond to aggression,” including maintaining a presence in the disputed region. The general insisted that the West is locked in a struggle for dominance with Moscow, and it has to come out on top. “We’re in an era of global power competition. Winning in this era is ensuring that global power competition does not become a global power war,” he argued. “Despite widespread international condemnation and continued economic sanctions, Russia engages in destabilizing and malign activities across the globe, with many of those activities happening close to home,” he said.

The US Department of Defense has since added a caveat to the transcript to make it clear he meant to refer to shadowy Russian schemes in Europe, rather than, say, an American presidential election. In that context, Wolters claimed, “Russia remains an enduring existential threat to the United States and our European allies,” he said. “Russia… and China – having declared itself a near-Arctic power – continued to militarize the region and seek to establish economic footholds to gain influence over regional governance,” he suggested. This, Wolters said, underlined the need to “maintain a credible Arctic deterrence and ensure vital sea lines of communication remain open by securing the Greenland, Iceland and United Kingdom gap.”

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They’re hiding behind a guy who only gives advice?

Senate Parliamentarian: Minimum Wage Can’t Be In Covid Relief Bill (CNN)

The Senate parliamentarian has ruled against including the increase in the minimum wage in the Covid relief bill. While Democrats had pushed for the increase to be included — and leadership expressed its disappointment in the ruling Thursday evening — its removal may actually make it easier to pass the bill, senior Democratic sources believe, because it’ll avoid a messy fight over whether to strip it out of the bill and whether to compromise. “President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process.”


For now, far from being a defeat, the ruling is viewed as clearing the way for the bill’s passage in the Senate, a Biden administration official told CNN. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday evening the provision will remain in the House bill on which the chamber is voting Friday. However, the parliamentarian ruled that the increase to $15 per hour did not meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward in the Senate’s reconciliation process. That means that the House will pass its bill, the Senate will have to strip the minimum wage provision out, and then eventually the House will have to pass that bill again at the end of the process.

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Well, they can’t. Kamala can do it. And she won’t.

Secret Memo Shows How Harris Must Now Advance Minimum Wage Hike (DP)

On Thursday, a key Senate official advised Democratic lawmakers that the chamber’s rules do not allow them to include a minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s first COVID-19 relief legislation. The ruling from the parliamentarian means that Vice President Kamala Harris could decide the fate of one of the Democratic Party’s most significant campaign promises — but it remains unclear what she will end up doing. As the presiding officer of the Senate, Harris — who has long touted her support for a $15 minimum wage — can now use the power her predecessors have used to ignore the advisory opinion and fulfill Biden’s campaign promise to boost the wage. A confidential memo obtained by The Daily Poster now circulating on Capitol Hill spells out exactly how that could be accomplished.

However, White House chief of staff Ron Klain this week declared that Harris will refuse to use that power — a decision that would effectively put the Biden-Harris administration in the position of potentially killing the prospect of minimum wage legislation for the foreseeable future. Immediately after the parliamentarian’s ruling, the White House issued a statement reiterating Klain’s comment, declaring that “Biden respects the parliamentarian’s decision.” Some congressional Democrats have already been arguing that the Biden administration’s refusal to overrule the parliamentarian would be immoral and a political disaster for their party. “It’s been 12 years since we’ve raised the minimum wage, and if we’re going to make those promises, we have to be able to deliver on them,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday on MSNBC.

“Because, I’ll tell you what, in two years… when people vote in the midterms, you’re not gonna be able to say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, we couldn’t raise the minimum wage because the parliamentarian ruled that we couldn’t do it.’ That’s not gonna fly.” The maddening process conversation surrounding a $15 minimum wage increase is the result of Democrats refusing to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which means Republicans can block most legislation unless Democrats find 60 votes. As such, Democrats are working to pass the COVID bill using the convoluted budget reconciliation process. The process will allow for a simple majority vote on the final legislation, but it also allows Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to recommend tossing certain provisions if she decides they violate the so-called Byrd Rule, which is designed to prohibit extraneous matters outside of federal spending issues to be added to budget legislation.

The minimum wage, however, has budget implications, according to the Congressional Budget Office — which is why proponents had hoped MacDonough would advise that it is in order, especially since the nonpartisan parliamentarian has previously ruled that other less significant budget-related issues were in order. MacDonough, however, refused to do so on Thursday evening. The development is not catastrophic for the $15 minimum wage provision — if Harris simply uses her power to ignore the opinion and clear the path for the measure she has long insisted she supports. The problem is that the White House is signaling she will do the opposite.

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We will never know.

In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files |(Maté)

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration. Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials “continuously impeded” their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, he said.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work. “I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,” Patel [said]. Although a Department of Justice inspector general’s report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin’s orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.

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“Once the cattle (that’s us) have been herded into the digital slaughterhouse, we will be told to “use it or lose it” when it comes to our own money. In other words, either we spend the money, or the government will take it away.”

The Great Reset Is Here (Rickards)

In 1999, the euro replaced the individual currencies of Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and other major economies in Europe. Today, the number of countries that have joined the euro is up to 19, and more countries are awaiting admission. The euro is the second largest reserve currency asset after the U.S. dollar. The creation of the euro can be thought of as a stepping stone from national currencies to a single world currency. Now, the euro (along with the Chinese yuan) is moving quickly to become a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). A CBDC combines a traditional currency with the blockchain technology of a cryptocurrency. It’s an important move in the direction of eliminating cash and forcing users into a 100% digital system using credit cards, debit cards, and smartphone apps.

Why are China and Europe so focused on eliminating cash? I’ve said all along that you cannot put negative interest rates on consumers until you eliminate cash. Otherwise, savers would just withdraw cash from the banks and stuff it in mattresses to avoid the negative rates. Implicitly, the European Central Bank (ECB) seems to agree. One of the ECB Board members says that negative rates (really confiscation) will be applied as a “penalty” against “hoarding” cash. In plain English, that means they will create digital money, force you to spend it, and if you don’t spend it, they will take it away as a “negative rate.” Now all of the pieces of the global elite plan are converging. The IMF SDR issuance will reliquify global central banks that cannot print dollars. Then CBDCs will be used to eliminate cash.

Once the cattle (that’s us) have been herded into the digital slaughterhouse, we will be told to “use it or lose it” when it comes to our own money. In other words, either we spend the money, or the government will take it away. Of course, the spending can be channeled into politically correct causes by excluding unpopular vendors such as gun dealers or conservative social media platforms from the payment system. This represents total domination of human behavior through world money + digital currencies + confiscation. This is not speculation anymore; it’s happening in front of our eyes. The Great Reset is coming fast. The future is here.

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“designed by clowns…supervised by monkeys”

Boeing 777 Makes Emergency Landing In Moscow Due To Engine Trouble (ZH)

It really has not been a good year for Boeing. Or a good decade for that matter. Just days after a Boeing-777 became the latest symbol of all that is wrong with the once almighty aircraft maker, when the plane’s right engine exploded (with debris striking houses below it in a scene right out of Breaking Bad) and only a miracle prevented a tragedy, moments ago another Boeing-777 made an emergency landing in Russia’s Sheremetyevo airport outside of Moscow, Interfax reports, adding that the plane crew requested the landing after one of left engine control channels failed The news service doesn’t name the airline operator; but said that the plane was flying from Hong Kong to Madrid. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

The latest mishap followed even more bad news for the aerospace giant, which earlier on Thursday agreed to pay $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration over the planemaker’s failure to comply with a 2015 safety agreement including quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty. As Reuters reported, Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so. The inspections and retrofits could take up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars, though it depends on the number of planes and defects involved.

The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which Boeing pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases. “The FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. But the biggest challenge facing Boeing is whether or not it can find passengers for its 737 MAX now that the infamous deadly airplane which was reportedly “designed by clowns…supervised by monkeys” is set to fly again. While the plane may indeed have gotten a green light from the FAA, a far bigger question is whether Boeing has by now lost the trust of the public for good.

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The “left wing” press will bury it.

700+ Children In Detention at US Border, Spike In Unaccompanied Crossings (RT)

Hundreds of unaccompanied minors have been held at the US border waiting to be processed, Axios reported. Almost a third of them have been lingering in detention for more than two days, as the backlog piles up. Around 700 minors who crossed into the US on their own were kept in Border Patrol Custody as of Sunday, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing an internal Customs and Border Protection document. By that time, around 200 children had already been held up for over 48 hours, and in the case of nine child migrants, for over 72 hours, which exceeds the maximum limit under the Flores Settlement Agreement, which stipulates that CBP cannot hold children for more than three days. Per the same agreement, asylum-seeking children transferred to ICE detention centers cannot spend more than 20 days there, after which they must be released.


The processing system is under increasing strain due to an influx of child migrants. In January, CBP encountered 5,707 child migrants at the southwest border, almost a thousand more than in December (4,855). President Biden, who was promising a U-turn from the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, has recently come under fire for reopening a child detention facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas. The Biden administration was quick to defend the move as a temporary fix in the times of pandemic, arguing that the infamous Trump facility was reopened since the Office of Refugee Resettlement cannot house as many asylum seekers as before due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

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If you say things like “..could reduce by about 34% to 45% by the end of this century..”, people will think: I won’t be alive by then, so would should I care?

Atlantic Ocean Circulation At Weakest In A Millennium (G.)

The Atlantic Ocean circulation that underpins the Gulf Stream, the weather system that brings warm and mild weather to Europe, is at its weakest in more than a millennium, and climate breakdown is the probable cause, according to new data. Further weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could result in more storms battering the UK, more intense winters and an increase in damaging heatwaves and droughts across Europe. Scientists predict that the AMOC will weaken further if global heating continues, and could reduce by about 34% to 45% by the end of this century, which could bring us close to a “tipping point” at which the system could become irrevocably unstable. A weakened Gulf Stream would also raise sea levels on the Atlantic coast of the US, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who co-authored the study published on Thursday in Nature Geoscience, told the Guardian that a weakening AMOC would increase the number and severity of storms hitting Britain, and bring more heatwaves to Europe. He said the circulation had already slowed by about 15%, and the impacts were being seen. “In 20 to 30 years it is likely to weaken further, and that will inevitably influence our weather, so we would see an increase in storms and heatwaves in Europe, and sea level rises on the east coast of the US,” he said. Rahmstorf and scientists from Maynooth University in Ireland and University College London in the UK concluded that the current weakening had not been seen over at least the last 1,000 years, after studying sediments, Greenland ice cores and other proxy data that revealed past weather patterns over that time.

The AMOC has only been measured directly since 2004. The AMOC is one of the world’s biggest ocean circulation systems, carrying warm surface water from the Gulf of Mexico towards the north Atlantic, where it cools and becomes saltier until it sinks north of Iceland, which in turn pulls more warm water from the Caribbean. This circulation is accompanied by winds that also help to bring mild and wet weather to Ireland, the UK and other parts of western Europe. Scientists have long predicted a weakening of the AMOC as a result of global heating, and have raised concerns that it could collapse altogether. The new study found that any such point was likely to be decades away, but that continued high greenhouse gas emissions would bring it closer.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

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“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

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Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

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People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

Read more …

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

Read more …

Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

Read more …

Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

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“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

Read more …

Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

Read more …

The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

Read more …

By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

Read more …

Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

Read more …

The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 132021
 
 January 13, 2021  Posted by at 10:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


Alfred Wertheimer Elvis entering the Warwick 1956

 

The Ireland Event (Ben Hunt)
Japan To Suspend Entry Of All Foreigners (NHK)
China Sees Growing COVID-19 Threat As More Cities Locked Down (R.)
Ron Paul Criticized Social Media Censorship Before Being Blocked (Turley)
How Silicon Valley Monopolistic Force Destroyed Parler (Greenwald)
Pence Responds To Pelosi, Won’t Invoke 25th Amendment (Mike Pence)
Trump’s Last Chance to Declassify Secrets of the Russia Collusion Dud (Maté)
Israel Isn’t A Democracy, It’s An ‘Apartheid Regime’ – Rights Group (CNN)
Upbeat Xi Says “Time And Situation On China’s Side” (ZH)
Food Hampers In Wales As English Mum Posts Picture Of £30 Package (WO)
Top Scientists: ‘Ghastly Future Of Mass Extinction’, Climate Disruption (G.)

 

 

“There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right: It is the ideal American who is all wrong.”
– G.K. Chesterton

 

 

 

 

“..a 30x spike in Covid cases in Ireland over the span of two weeks in late December..”

The Ireland Event (Ben Hunt)

And when I say “insane infection numbers” I mean a 30x spike in Covid cases in Ireland over the span of two weeks in late December, where the R number – the basic reproductive rate of the disease – went from something around 1.2 to something around 3. Where you suddenly went from a few hundred new Covid cases every day to more than six thousand cases every day. All in a country the size of Alabama (which, btw, currently has about 4 thousand cases every day). [..] I believe there is a non-trivial chance that the United States will experience a rolling series of “Ireland events” over the next 30-45 days, where the Covid effective reproductive number (Re not R0) reaches a value between 2.4 and 3.0 in states and regions where a) the more infectious UK-variant (or similar) Covid strain has been introduced, and b) Covid fatigue has led to deterioration in social distancing behaviors.

A single Ireland event is a disaster. A series of Ireland events on the scale of the United States is catastrophic. If this were to occur, I’d expect to see a doubling of new Covid cases/day from current levels in the aggregate (today’s 7-day average is 240k/day), peaking somewhere around 500,000 new daily cases before draconian economic shutdowns (more severe than anything we’ve seen to date) would occur in every impacted major metro area. Hospital systems across the country would be placed under enormous additional strain, leading to meaningfully higher case fatality ratios (CFRs) as medical care was rationed. Most critically, this new infection rate would far outpace our current vaccine distribution capacity and policy. Assuming that vaccines are preferentially administered to the elderly, aggregate infection fatality ratios (IFRs) should decrease, but the overall burden of severe outcomes (death, long-term health consequences) would shift to younger demographics.

Current US government policy rejects the possibility of an Ireland event, largely because of what I believe is a politically-motivated analysis by the CDC that models more than 100 million Americans already possessing Covid antibodies, prior to any vaccination effort. Using data from flu monitoring programs in prior years, the CDC models project that 70 MILLION Americans have already gotten sick with symptomatic Covid, but decided to just write it off as a bad cold and never got tested. I am not making this up. Add in another 10 million or so Americans who the CDC models as having already had asymptomatic Covid, add in the 23 million Americans who we know have had Covid, and voila! – per the CDC, one-third of the American population is already effectively immunized against getting Covid in the future. And obviously enough, if >30% of Americans are already effectively immunized against Covid because they’ve already gotten sick, then it’s very difficult to hit the Re numbers of 2.4 – 3.0 that Ireland is currently experiencing.

I think this model is wrong, and I think the CDC knows that it’s wrong. I think it’s wrong because the 2021 behavior of someone who thinks they might have Covid is very different from the 2015 behavior of someone who thought they might have had the flu, but the CDC assumes it is the same in their models. You don’t ignore Covid. You don’t just brush it off. I’d say that no one just brushes off Covid symptoms the way they might have brushed off flu symptoms in the past, but of course that’s not true. I’m sure there are millions of Americans who have, in fact, had symptomatic Covid and ignored it, particularly in spring and early summer when our national testing capability was pathetic. But 70 MILLION Americans? Twenty percent of ALL Americans? More than three times the number of known Covid cases? C’mon, man.

I think the CDC knows this model is wrong because if it were true – if they actually thought that one-third of Americans were already effectively immunized by having Covid antibodies – this would be an ENORMOUS factor in determining vaccination policy. Otherwise, you are going to be wasting one-third of your precious supply of vaccines on people who don’t need it. I think the CDC knows this model is wrong because if it were true, how do you make sense of Covid hospitalization rates?

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Soon to come in a country near you.

Japan To Suspend Entry Of All Foreigners (NHK)

The Japanese government plans to suspend the entry of all foreigners as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world. Japan halted all new arrivals of non-nationals last month after new strains of the coronavirus that are believed to be highly transmissible were confirmed in the UK and elsewhere. But it continued to allow entry by businesspeople from 10 Asian countries and Taiwan. The government plans to suspend the entry of travelers, regardless of whether a coronavirus variant has been detected in their country, as part of its tighter entry restrictions following the declaration of a state of emergency.


No foreigners will be allowed to enter Japan, except for special reasons, such as a relative’s funeral or childbirth. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said last week he plans to ban travel to and from countries and territories where a new strain of the coronavirus has been confirmed. But members of his party and others described the measure as confusing.

Read more …

China’s nervous.

China Sees Growing COVID-19 Threat As More Cities Locked Down (R.)

China has recorded the biggest daily jump in COVID cases in more than five months, despite four cities in lockdown, increased testing and other measures aimed at preventing another wave of infections in the world’s second biggest economy. Most of the new patients were reported near the capital Beijing, but a province in northeast China also saw a rise in new cases, official data showed on Wednesday, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people under home quarantine. The National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 115 new confirmed cases were reported in the mainland compared with 55 a day earlier. This was the highest daily increase since July 30.

The commission said 107 of the new cases were local infections. Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing, accounted for 90 of the cases, while northeastern Heilongjiang province reported 16 new cases. [..] Hebei has put three cities – Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang – into lockdown as part of the efforts to keep the virus from spreading further, while Beijing city authorities have stepped up screening and prevention measures to prevent another cluster from developing there. Heilongjiang province on Wednesday declared a COVID-19 emergency. The city of Suihua, which borders the provincial capital Harbin, put its 5.2 million people under lockdown.

Most of the cases in Heilongjiang have been found in Wangkui county, under Suihua’s jurisdiction, which had already been put into a lockdown earlier this week. Tieli, a city of about 300,000 people that borders Suihua, said on Wednesday it will not allow any people or vehicles to leave for three days as part of new COVID-19 prevention measurs.

Read more …

An 85-year old apostle for peace. Boy, you guys screwed up.

Ron Paul Criticized Social Media Censorship Before Being Blocked (Turley)

We have been discussing the chilling crackdown on free speech that has been building for years in the United States. This effort has accelerated in the aftermath of the Capitol riot including the shutdown sites like Parler. Now former Texas congressman Ron Paul, 85, has been blocked from using his Facebook page for unspecified violations of “community standards.” Paul’s last posting was linked to an article on the “shocking” increase of censorship on social media. Facebook then proceeded to block him under the same undefined “community standards” policy. Paul, a libertarian leader and former presidential candidate, has been an outspoken critics of foreign wars and an advocate for civil liberties for decades. He wrote: “With no explanation other than ‘repeatedly going against our community standards,’ @Facebook has blocked me from managing my page. Never have we received notice of violating community standards in the past and nowhere is the offending post identified.”

His son is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted, “Facebook now considers advocating for liberty to be sedition. Where will it end?” Even before the riot, Democrats were calling for blacklists and retaliation against anyone deemed to be “complicit” with the Trump Administration. We have been discussing the rising threats against Trump supporters, lawyers, and officials in recent weeks from Democratic members are calling for blacklists to the Lincoln Project leading a a national effort to harass and abuse any lawyers representing the Republican party or President Trump. Others are calling for banning those “complicit” from college campuses while still others are demanding a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to “hold Trump and his enablers accountable for the crimes they have committed.” Daily Beast editor-at-large Rick Wilson has added his own call for “humiliation,” “incarceration” and even ritualistic suicides for Trump supporters in an unhinged, vulgar column.

After the riots, the big tech companies moved to ban and block sites and individuals, including Parler which is the primary alternative to Twitter. Also, a top Forbes editor Randall Lane warned any company that they will be investigated if they hire any former Trump officials. The riots are being used as a license to rollback on free speech and retaliate against conservatives. In the meantime, the silence of academics and many in the media is deafening. Many of those who have spoken for years about the dark period of McCarthyism and blacklisting are either supporting this censorship or remaining silent in the face of it. Now that conservatives are the targets, speech controls and blacklists appear understandable or even commendable. The move against Paul, a long champion of free speech, shows how raw and comprehensive this crackdown has become. It shows how the threat to free speech has changed. It is like having a state media without state control. These companies are moving in unison but not necessarily with direct collusion.

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“..exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country…”

How Silicon Valley Monopolistic Force Destroyed Parler (Greenwald)

Critics of Silicon Valley censorship for years heard the same refrain: tech platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are private corporations and can host or ban whoever they want. If you don’t like what they are doing, the solution is not to complain or to regulate them. Instead, go create your own social media platform that operates the way you think it should. The founders of Parler heard that suggestion and tried. In August, 2018, they created a social media platform similar to Twitter but which promised far greater privacy protections, including a refusal to aggregate user data in order to monetize them to advertisers or algorithmically evaluate their interests in order to promote content or products to them. They also promised far greater free speech rights, rejecting the increasingly repressive content policing of Silicon Valley giants.

Over the last year, Parler encountered immense success. Millions of people who objected to increasing repression of speech on the largest platforms or who had themselves been banned signed up for the new social media company. As Silicon Valley censorship radically escalated over the past several months — banning pre-election reporting by The New York Post about the Biden family, denouncing and deleting multiple posts from the U.S. President and then terminating his access altogether, mass-removal of right-wing accounts — so many people migrated to Parler that it was catapulted to the number one spot on the list of most-downloaded apps on the Apple Play Store, the sole and exclusive means which iPhone users have to download apps. “Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.

It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules. But today, if you want to download, sign up for, or use Parler, you will be unable to do so. That is because three Silicon Valley monopolies — Amazon, Google and Apple — abruptly united to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country.

If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor.

Tucker Greenwald
https://twitter.com/i/status/1349174579105656833

Read more …

They smell blood, this won’t stop them.

Pence Responds To Pelosi, Won’t Invoke 25th Amendment (Mike Pence)

Dear Madam Speaker:

Every American was shocked and saddened by the attack on our Nation’s Capitol last week, and I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people’s business on the very same day. It was a moment that demonstrated to the American people the unity that is still possible in Congress when it is needed most. But now, with just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment. I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution. Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.

As you know full well, the 25th Amendment was designed to address Presidential incapacity or disability. Just a few months ago, when you introduced legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, you said, “[a] President’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts.” You said then that we must be “[v]ery respectful of not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like, but based on a medical decision.” Madam Speaker, you were right. Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent.

After the horrific events of this last week, our Administration’s energy is directed to ensuring an orderly transition. The Bible says that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to heal, … and a time to build up.” That time is now. In the midst of a global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6th, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal. I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment. Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. I pledge to you that I will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God.

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Last chance for lots of things.

Trump’s Last Chance to Declassify Secrets of the Russia Collusion Dud (Maté)

President Trump’s last days in office offer a final opportunity to declassify critical information on the Russia investigation that engulfed his lone term. Already voluminous public records – including investigative reports from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Congress and the Justice Department’s inspector general – have established that Trump and his associates were targeted with a baseless Russian collusion allegation. The fraudulent claim originated with the Hillary Clinton campaign, was fueled by a torrent of false or deceptive intelligence leaks, and was improperly investigated by the FBI, potentially to the point of being criminal. Despite these disclosures, key questions remain about the origins and the spread of the conspiracy theory.


And with a Biden administration set to take office and Democrats taking control of both chambers of Congress, there are no guarantees that the ongoing probe of Special Counsel John Durham will fill in the remaining gaps. Both the CIA and FBI have been slow to produce much material that Trump reportedly wants declassified. They argue that disclosure would reveal sources and methods vital to national security. Such claims arouse skepticism because they have been used in the past to cover up malfeasance – as the public learned when deceptive FISA warrant applications used to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were finally released.

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What’s striking here is that it’s CNN covering it.

Israel Isn’t A Democracy, It’s An ‘Apartheid Regime’ – Rights Group (CNN)

Israel is no longer a democracy but an “apartheid regime” devoted to cementing the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, the country’s best-known human rights group said in a report published Tuesday. B’Tselem, which until now has confined its work to scrutiny of human rights issues in the Palestinian territories, has now also decided to look at what it calls Israel’s “regime” between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean. “More than 14 million people, roughly half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule,” B’Tselem said in a new analysis titled: “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid.”


The human rights group says that the traditional view of Israel as a democracy operating side-by-side with a temporary Israeli occupation in the territories “imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects … has grown divorced from reality.” “Most importantly, the distinction obfuscates the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians,” B’Tselem said in its controversial analysis. Years of injustice against Palestinians, culminating in laws that have entrenched discrimination, mean that “the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met,” B’Tselem said. The allegation that Israel is an “apartheid state” has often been dismissed by rightwing Israelis and their support groups as anti-Semitic. But this argument will be harder to make now that Israel has been labelled this way by such a well-respected Israeli institution, albeit one that enjoys only minority support in its home country.

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“..build and maintain a “super-sized domestic market” to boost consumption…”

Upbeat Xi Says “Time And Situation On China’s Side” (ZH)

While the political gridlock and alarmist headlines out of Capitol Hill as well as a dramatic Democratic move to impeach look to define Trump’s final week in office, Bloomberg notes that China’s President Xi Jinping is sounding “unusually upbeat”. According to the publication he issued an unusually upbeat assessment about China’s future, noting that “time and the situation” were on the country’s side in a new year marked by domestic turmoil in the U.S. The purpose of the speech before a top-level meeting of government officials in Beijing on Monday was to lay out the Communist Party vision over the next three decades, which included the presence of the Politburo Standing Committee, Beijing’s highest decision-making body.

“The world is in a turbulent time that is unprecedented in the past century,” Xi said, striking a tone which many pundits observed stood in contrast to recent more dire sounding warnings. “But time and momentum are on our side. This is where we show our conviction and resilience, as well as our determination and confidence.” And further according to the Monday remarks in the closed-door meeting: “At the same time, we must see clearly that, for now and until this upcoming period of time, while our country is at an important period of strategic opportunity for development, there will always be changes to our opportunities and challenges,” Xi was quoted as saying. “The extensiveness of these opportunities and challenges is unprecedented but, all in all, the opportunities we face outweigh our challenges,” he added, calling for unity, diligence and flexibility to achieve the party’s goals.

The cautious optimism continued, as South China Morning Post writes, while he made vague or remote references to both the pandemic and political turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the United States: In his speech, Xi also again emphasised Beijing’s new “dual circulation” economic strategy first announced in May amid global challenges brought by the pandemic and China’s slowing growth. “Only by being self-reliant and developing the domestic market and smoothing out internal circulation can we achieve vibrant growth and development, regardless of the hostility in the outside world,” Xi said. Elsewhere in the speech he continued urged that self-reliance would in part come through rapid technological innovation in order to build and maintain a “super-sized domestic market” to boost consumption.

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Scum.

Food Hampers In Wales As English Mum Posts Picture Of £30 Package (WO)

An investigation has been launched in England after images shared online showed “woefully inadequate” free school meal parcels sent to families. One mum criticised the free school meals scheme after she claimed she was sent just a few pounds worth of food to feed her children for 10 days. It was claimed the image of a £30 parcel contained just over £5 worth of food. Posting the image on Twitter, user Roadside Mum said: “2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes. “Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad. “Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.”


Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford tweeted another picture and wrote: “3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough. “Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. “Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better.” England children’s Minister Vicky Ford said she would be “urgently” look into the matter. England’s Department for Education wrote on Twitter: “We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed. “Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food.” Chartwells, the company which the mum in England said provided the parcel, said it will investigate.


The hamper received in Caerphilly (left) compared to the hamper received by a mum in England

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Paul Ehrlich. Long time no see.

Top Scientists: ‘Ghastly Future Of Mass Extinction’, Climate Disruption (G.)

The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises. The 17 experts, including Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, and scientists from Mexico, Australia and the US, say the planet is in a much worse state than most people – even scientists – understood. “The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts,” they write in a report in Frontiers in Conservation Science which references more than 150 studies detailing the world’s major environmental challenges.


The delay between destruction of the natural world and the impacts of these actions means people do not recognise how vast the problem is, the paper argues. “[The] mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation.” The report warns that climate-induced mass migrations, more pandemics and conflicts over resources will be inevitable unless urgent action is taken. “Ours is not a call to surrender – we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future,” it adds. Dealing with the enormity of the problem requires far-reaching changes to global capitalism, education and equality, the paper says. These include abolishing the idea of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing environmental externalities, stopping the use of fossil fuels, reining in corporate lobbying, and empowering women, the researchers argue.

Read more …

 

 

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The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
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Dec 272020
 


Winslow Homer Spanish Girl with Fan 1885

 

Developers of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Tied to UK Eugenics Movement (Webb)
The Breakthrough Medicines That Could Change The Course Of Covid (G.)
Japan Halts All Foreign Arrivals Over UK COVID Variant (AP)
Britain First To Infect Healthy Volunteers With Covid19 For Research (NYP)
Scientists Call For UK Lockdown After Rapid Spread Of Covid19 Variant (G.)
Two Pandemic Assistance Programs Expire, Leaving 12 Million Without Benefits (ZH)
RussiaGate 2.0, Right on Schedule (Luongo)
This Brexit Deal Is Emphatically Nothing To Celebrate (Lis)
Glenn Greenwald: Coverage Of Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Media Misconduct’ (Hill)

 

 

 

 

Whitney Webb. Long read.

Developers of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Tied to UK Eugenics Movement (Webb)

For much of 2020, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was treated as an early front-runner, though its lead would later be marred by scandals related to its clinical trials, including the death of participants, sudden trial pauses, the use of a problematic “placebo” with its own host of side effects and the “unintentional” mis-dosing of some participants that skewed its self-reported efficacy rate. The significant issues that emerged during trials have provoked little concern from the vaccine’s two lead developers, despite critical attention from even mainstream media of its complications. The lead developer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Adrian Hill, told NBC on December 9th that the experimental vaccine should be approved and distributed to the public before the conclusion of the safety trials, saying,”to wait for the end of the trial would be the middle of next year. That’s too late, this vaccine is effective, available at large scale and easily deployed.”

Sarah Gilbert, the other lead researcher on the vaccine, seemed to believe that pre-mature safety approval was likely, telling the BBC on December 13 that the chances of rolling out the vaccine by the end of the year are “pretty high.” Now, the UK is expected to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shortly after Christmas, with India also set to approve the vaccine next week. While the controversies surrounding the vaccine’s trials did ultimately undermine its previous frontrunner status, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine remains heavily promoted as the vaccine of choice for the developing world, as it is cheaper and has much less complicated storage requirement than its main competitors, Pfizer and Moderna.

Earlier this month, Dr. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, told CNBC that “The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is the vaccine right now that is going to be able to immunize the planet more effectively, more rapidly than any other vaccine we have” in large part because it is a “vaccine that can get to lower middle-income countries.” CNBC also quoted Andrew Baum, global head of health care for Citi Group, as saying that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “is really the only vaccine that is going to suppress or even eradicate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the many millions of individuals in the developing world.”

In addition to longstanding claims that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be the vaccine of choice for the developing world, this vaccine candidate has also been treated by several outlets in the mainstream and even independent media as “good for people, bad for profits” due to the partnership’s “explicit intention of supplying [the vaccine] around the world on a not-for-profit basis, meaning that the poorest nations on the planet will not have to worry about being shut out of a cure due to lack of funds.” However, investigation into the vaccine’s developers and the realities of their “no-profit pledge” reveals a very different story than that which has been spun for most of the year by corporate press releases, experts and academics tied to the vaccine and the mainstream press.

For instance, mainstream media has had little, if anything, to say about the role of the vaccine developers’ private company – Vaccitech – in the Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership, a company whose main investors include former top Deutsche Bank executives, Silicon Valley behemoth Google and the UK government. All of them stand to profit from the vaccine alongside the vaccine’s two developers, Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert, who retain an estimated 10% stake in the company. Another overlooked point is the plan to dramatically alter the current sales model for the vaccine following the initial wave of its administration, which would see profits soar, especially if the now obvious push to make COVID-19 vaccination an annual affair for the foreseeable future is made reality.

Yet, arguably most troubling of all is the direct link of the vaccine’s lead developers to the Wellcome Trust and, in the case of Adrian Hill, the Galton Institute, two groups with longstanding ties to the UK Eugenics movement. The latter organization, named for the “father of eugenics” Francis Galton, is the re-named UK Eugenics Society, a group notorious for its promotion of racist pseudoscience and efforts to “improve racial stock” by reducing the population of those deemed inferior for over a century.

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Is this a Guardian infomercial? Meant to cast doubt on HCQ and azithromycin, and promote dexamethasone?

The Breakthrough Medicines That Could Change The Course Of Covid (G.)

It remains one of the most dramatically successful outcomes in the battle against Covid-19. A cheap treatment for inflammation was found to save lives of seriously ill patients while a trio of much-touted therapies were shown to have no effect. It is now estimated that the discovery of the effectiveness of the drug dexamethasone has saved around 650,000 lives across the world, according to Professor Martin Landray, a founder of the Recovery programme – the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drugs trial – which revealed the medicine’s anti-Covid properties last summer. “In the UK alone, dexamethasone has already prevented more than 12,000 deaths,” he told the Observer.

The breakthrough demonstrates the power of large-scale randomised trials in pinpointing effective medicines and will be followed, in the next few weeks, with results from another handful of promising treatments being studied as part of the Recovery programme. These medicines, which could be crucial in the fight to contain Covid-19 next year, are: convalescent plasma, taken from recovering Covid patients; monoclonal antibodies, made by Regeneron, that were used to treat Donald Trump; two anti-inflammatory drugs, tocilizumab and colchicine; and aspirin. All are undergoing trials carried out by thousands of doctors and nurses on tens of thousands of patients in hospitals across Britain. First results are expected in January or early February.

Recovery was set up by Landray and Peter Horby at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The two Oxford scientists realised doctors would soon be looking for treatments once cases started pouring into hospitals but would need a clinical trial to find which were effective. It took them nine days from drafting their first protocol to the enrolling of their first patient, a process that normally takes nine months. One in 10 patients hospitalised with Covid have since entered the trial. And such numbers have been crucial to success, added Landray. Comparing 100 people who get a drug with 100 who do not can produce highly variable results. However, by randomising thousands of patients to get contrasting treatments, robust answers are produced.

“You find out which actually work,” said Landray. “In addition, we can discover which patients will benefit most. Will it be the old or the young or the immuno-compromised? You can only find that out if you have a trial with thousands of people in it.” So far, Recovery – short for Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy – has pronounced on four medicines: azithromycin, an antibiotic; the drug combination lopinavir-ritonavir; hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria and rheumatic diseases; and dexamethasone. Only the last saved lives or aided recovery. A hit rate of only one in four might seem poor value. However, the extraordinary numbers of lives saved thanks to dexamethasone demonstrates the value of the Recovery programme, the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drug trial.

The programme also ensured time and money have not been wasted on medicines that were found not to help patients. And that will become an increasingly important issue, Landray said. “When we started Recovery we looked at cheap, widely available but promising drugs, and found one of them – dexamethasone – worked. But the medicines we’re looking at now will cost hundreds of pounds per treatment, so we need to be really sure they work before we deploy them on wide scale,” Landray said.

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The world keeps getting smaller.

Japan Halts All Foreign Arrivals Over UK COVID Variant (AP)

Japan is barring entry of all nonresident foreign nationals as a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain. The Foreign Ministry says the entry ban will start Monday and last through Jan. 31. Last week, Japan banned nonresident foreigners coming from Britain and South Africa after confirming the new variant in seven people over the last two days — five from Britain who tested positive at airports and two others in Tokyo. Japan is also suspending the exemption of a 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and resident foreigners in a short-track program that began in November.


The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival. Japan is struggling with surging cases since November. It has confirmed a total of 217,312 cases including 3,213 deaths, up 3,700 from the previous 24-hour period. Tokyo alone reported 949 cases, setting a new record, despite calls by experts and government officials for people to spend a “quiet” holiday season.

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“..an experimental nasal vaccine..”

Britain First To Infect Healthy Volunteers With Covid19 For Research (NYP)

The world’s first COVID-19 human challenge is about to start. Britain will infect 2,500 healthy volunteers with coronavirus to study how the infection behaves in the body — specifically the amount it takes before a person develops Covid-19, the Sun reported. The government has budgeted $45 million for the research, which is being conducted by Imperial College, the National Health Service’s Royal Free Hospital and pharmaceutical company hVIVO, a pioneer in viral human challenge models. Human challenge studies aren’t used often because of the ethical questions raised about infecting healthy people.


The Brits, ages 18 to 30, will get a dose of an experimental nasal vaccine, then be infected. The project gets underway in January; scientists expect the first results in May. Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, 18, of Stoke-on-Trent, raised his hand because he wants to help “bring the world out of the pandemic sooner.. “I can’t let this opportunity to do something, to really do something, pass me by when I’m at such low risk.” Fraser-Urquhart and his fellow volunteers will be paid about $5,300 for their three-week stay at the hospital’s specialist diseases clinic, where they will be monitored around the clock, the Mail Online reported. Later, researchers will use the human challenge model to find out how vaccines work to prevent coronavirus.

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January will be dark and bleak in many places.

Scientists Call For UK Lockdown After Rapid Spread Of Covid19 Variant (G.)

Cases of the new variant Covid-19 virus were confirmed in several European countries on Saturday, including Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All were linked to people who had arrived from the UK. Meanwhile, Japan has announced it is banning all new entries of foreign nationals from Monday following the discovery of the variant in travellers from the UK. The news came at the same time as a further six million people in east and south-east England had tier 4 conditions, England’s strictest Covid level, imposed on them on Boxing Day. Lockdowns were also introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Around 24 million people in England, more than 40% of the population, are now living in tier 4, as pressure mounts for the whole country to be put in this category.

Scientists from the Independent Sage group have urged that all regions of England be placed in tier 4, meaning that non-essential shops, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues must close. Devolved nations were advised to bring forward their own national lockdowns. Tier 4 should include enhanced travel restrictions, the group said, while arguing that an emergency plan be introduced to enable safe education in January and February. This idea is supported by teaching unions, who have demanded that the government keeps schools closed as evidence has grown that the new virus variant is proving to be particularly infectious among children.

This point was backed by Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia. “If this new variant is behind the increase in this age group, then that is a big worry,” he said. France announced this weekend that it has discovered its first case of the new variant – a French citizen who arrived in Tours after travelling from London a week ago, according to health officials. In Madrid, Spanish officials said three cases of the new variant recently discovered in the country involved relatives of a man who had arrived from the UK on Christmas Eve, while the fourth case also involved a traveller from the UK. None of the patients was reported to be seriously ill.

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Blame it on Trump. But never on Pelosi and Schumer. Let alone Biden.

Two Pandemic Assistance Programs Expire, Leaving 12 Million Without Benefits (ZH)

With Congressional leaders feigning productivity for two months on a renewed stimulus – only for President Trump to veto their 11th hour porkfest and demand they increase direct stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person – a series of assistance programs are set to lapse into the new year. Two of them, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, will expire Saturday night, leaving around 12 million Americans without the assistance. As we noted in November, this would roughly translate into an income shortfall of $39BN in 1Q if these workers are unable to find work or alternative income support. BofA calculates that based on its work on fiscal multipliers, income loss of $39BN would translate into a 1.2% hit to growth on an annualized basis in 1Q 2021.

One of the two programs expiring Saturday, the PUA, provided unemployment benefits to around 7.3 million gig workers and others not eligible for traditional unemployment, according to the Century Foundation. The expiring programs come after lawmakers cobbled a $900 billion pandemic stimulus package to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, which President Trump vetoed over the sheer amount of pork and $600 direct checks, which he deemed to small. House Democrats will vote on a standalone bill Monday for $2,000 checks, while Congressional Republicans are expected to flatly reject it. Meanwhile, several additional programs are set to expire on December 31.

Additionally, the concurrent expiration of eviction moratorium, mortgage forbearance programs, and suspension of student loan payments could all be headwinds early next year, creating further obstacles. Unless Trump reverses course and signs the package on Tuesday, the government will shut down – sans another short-term bill to keep it limp things along into 2021.

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“..whoever it was behind this attack the one group who was definitely NOT behind it was the Russians.”

RussiaGate 2.0, Right on Schedule (Luongo)

Without offering any evidence or specifics, Pompeo said Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the cyberattack during an appearance on the conservative talk radio Mark Levin Show. “I can’t say much more, as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of US government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well,” Pompeo explained. Notice how there is no evidence given, just the typical intelligence agency, “believe me” line, which is your first clue that whoever it was behind this attack the one group who was definitely NOT behind it was the Russians.

This week’s cyber attack on the U.S. government was perfectly timed with the Electoral College submitting its votes to the Congress and Joe Biden claiming he’s president-elect. The reason why the release of this ‘attack’ on our government was perfectly timed is because it is a distraction from the growing unrest over the Democrats’ having stolen the election and cowering the courts into irrelevance. This is classic CIA-level misdirection from what was more likely a Chinese or, dare I say it, homegrown operation for the very purpose of blaming the Russians to tamp down the anger and confuse the MAGA crowd. And it resurrects the ghost of RussiaGate for the libs by putting Trump in a Catch-22.

If he doesn’t respond to this it keeps alive the smoldering embers of the TDS crowd watching Rachel Maddow that Trump really does have deep, covert ties to Russia. If he does react, what possible reaction could he take to escalate the tensions with Russia that are already one step below open warfare? Oh, and he has to respond to this while also fighting an uphill battle against the courts and his own bureaucracy to invoke his executive order involving outside interference into the election. [..] Provoking the exact reaction you’d expect from the BlueChecked Sneetches among the Twitterati. RussiaGate was an embarrassment that should have died years ago but it persists precisely because Trump refuses to formally concede and continues to give his people the opportunity to fight the Swamp.

The only way Putin and the Russians were behind this attack on the U.S. government was as a 5-d chess move where Trump invited them to do it on his behalf to ‘prove’ external interference in the election and allow Trump to cross the Rubicon, invoke the Insurrection Act and his 2018 EO on election interference. Yeah, by the way, John Le Carre died this week, life ain’t a movie and Trump isn’t that savvy a player. Ye gods, I wish he was. That we are in this mess proves he isn’t. This pronouncement by Pompeo was just good ol’ fashioned swamp double talk who continues his job of maintaining continuity of U.S. foreign policy on behalf of the Neoconservatives whose raison d’etre is the destruction of Russia to the exclusion of nearly every other consideration of any other human on the planet.

Don’t be confused by this nonsense. Whoever was behind this attack wasn’t the Russians. The motive for this operation lies squarely with China, The Davos Crowd, the Democrats and our own intelligence agencies trying to move the Overton Window away from the real problem, a stolen election. Outing Solarwinds and tying it directly to Dominion Voting Systems is your smoking gun.

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“The certainty of no tariffs, yes—but also of trade barriers, red tape and reduced future prosperity.”

This Brexit Deal Is Emphatically Nothing To Celebrate (Lis)

And so the long wait is finally over. Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, at the precise moment businesses were shutting up shop for a four-day national holiday, Boris Johnson took to a podium in Downing Street to herald a trade deal with the European Union. This was a good deal, he said. It allowed us to take back control of our money, borders, laws and fisheries. It provided certainty for businesses. Of course, the Prime Minister was wrong on almost all counts. This was the thinnest deal available within the ruinous red lines he had laid out, and preferable only to no deal at all. We already had control of everything he claimed to have won back—even fisheries, whose viability depends on exporting British catches into the EU. On only one point was he correct: his deal does indeed provide certainty. The certainty of no tariffs, yes—but also of trade barriers, red tape and reduced future prosperity.

The alternate press conferences in London and Brussels amply demonstrated who had made the concessions. This was an inevitable consequence of differential power, wealth and size, and the UK fell short. While both sides seem to have budged on fish, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised the EU’s success in ensuring the far more important level playing field for competition. The UK would lose key rights such as financial passporting. It would no longer enjoy automatic access to the EU’s invaluable security databases. Fundamentally it was a question of how power is exercised. Sovereignty in the 21st century, she said, meant “pulling each other up, instead of trying to get back to your feet alone.”

While von der Leyen combined detailed information with sensitivity in tone, Johnson took to bluster. He dismissed the media question about security, asserting, without evidence, that everything would work out. He preposterously declared that the deal would eliminate non-tariff barriers, when the truth is our departure from the single market and customs union necessitate the greatest introduction of new bureaucracy and commercial obstacles in recent history. And he batted away the ending of UK access to the Erasmus scheme, which has offered new horizons to thousands of students across the continent. The new “Turing scheme,” he insisted bombastically, would be better and wider reaching.

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“.. they’re just manipulating this messaging to sanction certain events that they find politically palatable while demanding everybody stay home for the things that they don’t value .”

Glenn Greenwald: Coverage Of Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Media Misconduct’ (Hill)

Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, said the media’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic was the “worst event of media misconduct.” Speaking on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Greenwald said that the media’s coverage of the pandemic was initially geared toward forcing people to stay home, and shaming those who went outside for acting irresponsibly. Greenwald then added that the media shifted its tone around its coverage after the protests against police brutality over the summer following the police killing of George Floyd in May.


“Suddenly, it all turned to ‘What these people are doing is noble,’” he said. “And not only do you no longer have the obligation to stay at home, you now have the obligation to go and march against racism on the grounds that racism is the worst public [threat] than the coronavirus pandemic.” Greenwald noted that despite its coverage of the protests, the media continued to shame people who went to church or gathered for outdoor protests for different causes. “What it really made it seem like was there’s no trust or confidence due to public health authorities or media narratives surrounding this pandemic,” he said. “That they’re just manipulating this messaging to sanction certain events that they find politically palatable while demanding everybody stay home for the things that they don’t value .”

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

“Cherish those that seek the truth but beware of those that find it.”
– Voltaire

 

 

 

 

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Dec 212020
 


Edward Hopper House tops 1921

 

$600 Is Not Enough, And It Won’t Get Easier (Sirota)
Hospital CEOs Have Gotten Rich Cutting Staff And Supplies (IC)
Coronavirus New Variant (Conv.)
Covid Chaos Disrupts Kent Ports As France Bans UK Freight (G.)
Saudi Arabia Shuts Down Int’l Air, See & Land Travel Over New Covid Strain
US Deep State Preempts Reset in Relations With Russia (SCF)
‘No Question’ Russia Behind Latest Hacking Scare – Adam Schiff (RT)
Trump Campaign Take Election Battle To SCOTUS Over Pennsylvania Rulings (RT)
Flynn: Foreign Intelligence Agencies Were Monitoring US Election (ET)
Japan Record $1 Trillion Budget Highlights COVID Challenge To Growth, Debt (R.)
For NY Times, No News Is Fit To Print About Rep. Swalwell And A Spy (Hill)

 

 

 

 

A bipartisan effort. Meanwhile, none of this ever made it:

“Back in March, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton proposed giving low- and middle-income Americans between $1,000 and $4,000 of aid per month. More recently, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley joined with Sen. Bernie Sanders to push for $1,200 checks. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump reportedly told allies he wanted at least $1,200 and up to $2,000..”

$600 Is Not Enough, And It Won’t Get Easier (Sirota)

Congressional leaders announced an agreement on a new $900 billion stimulus bill that will deliver a boost in unemployment benefits and provide $600 checks to some families. Democratic leaders are depicting this as a big win and are promising that these kinds of emergency spending bills will become “much easier” in a new Congress under Joe Biden. Both of those arguments are ridiculous. Here’s the truth: Democrats had a rare opportunity to win on a wildly popular proposal for much bigger survival checks, but they chose to lose. Here’s some more truth: one-time means-tested checks of $600 is not a big victory, and not even the bare minimum that should be considered acceptable during an economic meltdown that has been punctuated by mass starvation and intensifying poverty.

Though the legislative language of the final package has not yet been released, it appears the meager checks come in a bill that will give new tax benefits to corporate executives to write off their meals and provide other tax breaks to businesses that used the Paycheck Protection Program — which will be a windfall for the wealthy. Will the bill change the law to similarly exempt emergency unemployment benefits from tax levies? We don’t yet know, but there’s no indication it will. According to a bill summary circulating on Capitol Hill, the legislation provides a mere $286 billion for the survival checks and unemployment benefits, and an additional $51 billion for food aid and rental assistance. That’s not nothing, but it’s obviously inadequate. For comparison, only three years ago, Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that enriched the wealthiest one percent of households.

Much of the blame for this debacle certainly goes to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who seems absolutely determined to starve the country. But much of it also goes to Democratic leaders who had one of the easiest political opportunities to forge a bipartisan coalition or a much bigger lifeline to Americans — and then decided to squander it. Let’s remember: Back in March, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton proposed giving low- and middle-income Americans between $1,000 and $4,000 of aid per month. More recently, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley joined with Sen. Bernie Sanders to push for $1,200 checks. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump reportedly told allies he wanted at least $1,200 and up to $2,000 — and he made a general demand for more money public in a Fox News interview last week.

“Right now, I want to see checks – for more money than they’re talking about – going to people,” he said. “I’m pushing it very hard, and to be honest with you, if the Democrats really wanted to do the deal, they’d do the deal.” He tweeted on Sunday that Congress should give people “more money in direct payments.” You can try to argue that the words of a handful of maverick Republicans and Trump cannot be fully trusted — maybe that’s true, but it’s moot. The point here is that there was a huge opportunity for Democrats to triangulate a group of Republican senators and a Republican president against McConnell — and Democrats refused to do it.

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer followed Sen. Joe Manchin, Mark Warner and other Democratic corporatists into budget negotiations that kept producing smaller and smaller stimulus proposals, and now they are trying to portray a meager $600 one-time payment as some sort of enormous victory.

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When you read about overwhelmed health care systems in US, UK, etc, don’t forget this part.

Hospital CEOs Have Gotten Rich Cutting Staff And Supplies (IC)

In 2006, Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx had healthier patients, just enough nursing staff to take care of them, and a CEO who was earning $2 million a year, a senior nurse and union leader told The Intercept. Fifteen years later, its patients are sicker than ever before, its staffing levels are inadequate, and, as of 2018, its new CEO is earning $13 million per year. The nonprofit hospital, like hundreds of others across the nation, has been cutting costs, progressively going leaner on staffing and supplies over the years. This accelerated approach has meant that the pandemic has hit the hospital, especially health care workers, doubly hard. The nurse, Karine Raymond, has provided care at the facility for 27 years. In the second wave of Covid-19, as in the first, she and her colleagues are taking care of double the patients that they typically do.

“It’s untenable and unmanageable and left us feeling very concerned that perhaps we might have done better if circumstances were different,” said Raymond. “[Our CEO] makes $13 million. How many nurses would his salary pay for? I do have a problem with seeing the suffering of the community I’m supposed to serve while others are collecting funds that have been provided by state and federal governments just because they can.” Nurses were overworked before, but since March, many nurses have left the industry entirely, retiring early or seeking other work. While personal protective equipment supplies are more abundant now than in the spring, nurses are more burnt out than ever — just as hospitals are getting ready for another wave of Covid-19 patients.

The executives who typically make the decisions at the United States’s hospitals, whether for-profit or ostensibly nonprofit, are uniquely unprepared for the coming deluge, experts say. A decadeslong failure to recruit and retain health care workers like nurses, technicians, and nurse’s aides has made U.S. hospitals less able to manage the scope of a pandemic, and makes it much more likely that hospitals will break down, as they did in the spring in Wuhan, Italy, and New York City.

“Even before the pandemic hit us so hard hospitals were using a policy called ‘Lean,’ which is just-in-time staffing and supplies,” said Linda Aiken, a professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania who has long studied the relationship between nurse staffing and patient care. The concept of lean hospitals was developed by management consultant Mark Graban in 2009, but business practices imported from manufacturing based on lean staffing began to be introduced in health care starting in the early ’90s. “All of our research shows those policies were a failure well before Covid and now they are a disaster during this national emergency,” said Aiken.

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“..there was no evidence to date that this variant alters disease severity, either in terms of mortality or the seriousness of the cases of COVID-19 for those infected.”

Coronavirus New Variant (Conv.)

The new UK variant, known as VUI–202012/01 or lineage B.1.1.7, was first identified in the county of Kent on September 20. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, first announced the existence of the variant on December 14; it was subsequently confirmed by Public Health England and the UK’s COVID-19 sequencing consortium. The variant carries 14 defining mutations including seven in the spike protein, the protein that mediates entry of the virus into human cells. This is a relatively large number of changes compared to the many variants we have in circulation globally. To date, genetic profiles – or genomes – of this variant have been largely sequenced and shared from the UK but include some in Denmark and two cases in Australia.


There have also been reports of a case in the Netherlands. These countries all have very large genome sequencing efforts and it is very possible that these observations do not reflect the true distribution of this variant of the virus, which could exist undetected elsewhere. We will know more as more genomes are generated and shared. Thanks to the efforts of data sharing, genomic surveillance and COVID-19 test results in the UK, it seems that this variant is now starting to dominate over existing versions of the virus and that it may be responsible for an increasing proportion of cases in parts of the country, particular in regions where we also have rapidly expanding case numbers.

It is always very difficult to disentangle cause and effect in these cases. For example increases in the appearance of certain mutations can be due to viral lineages carrying them rising in frequency just because they happen to be the ones present in an area where transmission is high, for example due to human activities or choice of interventions. Though this is still a possibility, there are clearly enough concerning observations so far for this variant to warrant very careful characterisation, surveillance and interventions to curb transmission. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, stated clearly that there was no evidence to date that this variant alters disease severity, either in terms of mortality or the seriousness of the cases of COVID-19 for those infected. Work is underway to confirm this.


Where did the variant come from? Right now, we don’t know. To date, scientists have not identified any closely related viruses to support the theory that the variant had been introduced from abroad. The patterns of mutations observed are more supportive of an extended period of adaptive evolution most likely in the UK based on current data. Similar patterns of mutation to these have been observed in the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in chronically infected patients with weaker immune systems. The current hypothesis is that such a scenario of chronic infection, in a single patient, may have played a role in the origin of this variant. This will continue to be investigated.

Anaphylaxis

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10 days before Brexit. Perfect timing.

Covid Chaos Disrupts Kent Ports As France Bans UK Freight (G.)

Miles of lorry queues and travel chaos were expected across Kent on Monday morning after France announced a 48-hour ban on passengers and freight entering from the UK. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, is to chair a Cobra meeting on Monday that will address “the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK”, a number 10 spokesperson said, amid expected significant disruption at ports in the south-east. The European Union is to hold a similar crisis meeting today to coordinate its response to concerns about a fast-spreading new strain of Covid-19 after countries across the continent banned UK flight arrivals.

The UK transport secretary, Grant Shapps, warned of “significant disruption” following the snap travel ban that came into force on Sunday night. As a result of the announcement from Paris, Kent police implemented Operation Stack, where lorries will queue between junctions eight and 11 of the M20, southbound, to avoid gridlock on the county’s roads. A No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister will chair a Cobra meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation regarding international travel, in particular the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK.”


The Department for Transport (DfT) said Manston Airport in Kent was being prepared to accommodate up to 4,000 lorries as another measure to ease the congestion. However due to the expected level of disruption, DfT also advised hauliers to avoid travel to Kent ports until further notice. “Following the French government’s announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48hrs, we’re asking the public & particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or other routes to France,” Shapps tweeted. “My department is urgently working with Highways England and Kent Council on contingency measures to minimise traffic disruption in the area.”

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Just as you thought the world couldn’t get any smaller.

Saudi Arabia Shuts Down Int’l Air, See & Land Travel Over New Covid Strain

Riyadh has sealed its borders for all passenger travel for at least a week, suspending international flights as well as entry to sea and land ports over a mutant Covid-19 variant that was first discovered in the UK. With a growing number of European countries locking out travel from the UK, Saudi Arabia has pulled all the stops in its effort to curb the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus, imposing a sweeping ban on all commercial travel, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday, citing an ”official source” with the country’s Interior Ministry.


The ban will see all international flights, save for “exceptional cases,” be suspended for a period of one week, that may be extended for yet another week. Land and sea ports will be closed for international arrivals as well. The measures were taken in “precaution” and until the nature of the strain, which is said to be highly contagious, “becomes clear,” the agency reported. A rapidly growing list of countries that have banned travel from the UK, citing concerns about the new virus, after British PM Boris Johnson announced strict Tier-4 lockdowns for parts of the country, including London, the Southeast and, Peterborough in the east of the UK.

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A bipartisan effort that happens every four years.

US Deep State Preempts Reset in Relations With Russia (SCF)

The flurry of U.S. media claims this week about alleged Russian cyber-attacks on government departments came just as Joe Biden was officially declared President-elect. As usual, there is no evidence to back up the sensational claims, but the objective seems to be to ensure that the incoming Biden administration maintains, or adopts a more, hostile policy towards Russia. The timing of all this is hardly coincidence. On Monday this week, the Electoral College in the United States cast its votes to confirm Biden’s election to the White House. The Democrat contender had already won the popular vote by a decisive margin against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump. Almost six weeks of controversy since the November 3 election day – due to Trump’s tenuous claims of voter fraud – were laid to rest this week when the Electoral College confirmed Biden as president-elect.

He is due to be inaugurated as the 46th occupant of the White House on January 20. Out of respect for the American electoral process being consummated, Russian President Vladimir Putin had waited until this week to make any comment. However, after the Electoral College executed its duties, Putin promptly telegrammed congratulations to Biden on his victory. The Russian leader expressed the hope that Russia and the United States would begin to normalize relations for the sake of global security. Ominously, the auspicious occasion was immediately marred by a U.S. media frenzy alleging a massive cyber-assault on the heart of American government and industries. Russia was predictably blamed as the offender.

The Kremlin dismissed the claims as yet another anti-Russia fabrication. For the past four years, the U.S. media have regularly peddled sensational claims of Russian malfeasance, from alleged interference in elections, to alleged assassination programs against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, among many other such tall stories. Never has any verifiable evidence been presented to back up these lurid allegations. The cyber domain is a particular favorite for such anti-Russia claims, most likely because these stories are handily told without any real evidence. All that is required is for anonymous cyber security agents to be quoted. The abstract and arcane cyber world also lends itself to mystery for most people. In short, it is amenable to false claims because of its elusive technical nature.

Now, it is feasible that some kind of malign cyber event did indeed happen in the U.S. government departments, agencies, infrastructure and private sector as reported this week. Though, what is very much in doubt is the question of who actually carried it out. The U.S. media and anonymous officials are fingering Russia. But where is the proof of Russia’s culpability? The FBI and Department of Homeland Security briefed members of Congress about the cyber-attacks. Senators emerged from the briefings fulminating against Russia. The second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, told media that “it was virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States”.= What is going on here is a classic case of “gas-lighting” whereby people are being manipulated to believe in something utterly false; for an ulterior agenda.

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No question and no evidence.

‘No Question’ Russia Behind Latest Hacking Scare – Adam Schiff (RT)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in blaming Russia for a recent massive cyber attack. He also slammed President Donald Trump for the inconvenient suggestion China could have been the culprit. “Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any question that it was Russia,” Schiff, who is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC on Sunday, commenting on the hack. The hacking operation in question targeted the SolarWinds Orion Platform, a network monitoring tool used by US government agencies and numerous corporations. There has been no evidence presented that Russia was behind the hack, but Pompeo alleged otherwise in a recent interview.

The president broke with his secretary of state on Saturday and called out “fake news media” for their anonymous reports pinning the hack on Russia. He also suggested China may have been behind the hack, tying it to his ongoing allegations of voter fraud in key swing states during November’s election. Schiff, one of the president’s most vocal critics in the House and a supporter of evidence-free claims Russia colluded to influence the 2016 presidential election, called Trump’s tweets “uniformly destructive and deceitful and injurious” to the country’s “national security.” In a previous tweet, Schiff called the president’s China accusation “another scandalous betrayal of our national security.”


[..] When Trump assumed his post in January 2017, the stage had already been set for the worsening of relations with Moscow, which included dozens of Russian diplomats getting expelled by the Obama administration over the allegations of meddling in US affairs and over “hacking” of the election. As Trump’s term progressed, overshadowed by the failed ‘Russiagate’ investigation, initial hopes of a detente with Moscow have all but faded.

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Rinse and repeat.

Trump Campaign Take Election Battle To SCOTUS Over Pennsylvania Rulings (RT)

President Donald Trump’s legal team filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court on Sunday, requesting multiple rulings out of Pennsylvania be overturned in their latest attempt to overturn election results over alleged voter fraud. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani announced the last ditch effort in a public statement, claiming a trio of Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases “illegally changed Pennsylvania’s mail balloting law immediately before and after the 2020 presidential election.” The appeal follows numerous legal battles in key swing states like Pennsylvania and Georgia. Trump and his team have alleged massive voter fraud in these and other states led to Joe Biden’s victory, which was certified by the Electoral College earlier this month.

Pennsylvania’s changing of the law, Giuliani claims, was “in violation of Article II of the U.S. Constitution.” These decisions “eviscerated the Pennsylvania’s Legislature’s protection against mail ballot fraud,” the release continues. The actual rulings include “prohibiting election officials” from checking signatures on mail-in ballots “during canvassing on Election Day” and “eliminating the right of campaign’s to challenge mail ballots during canvassing for forged signatures and other irregularities.” The legal team also claims the “right of campaigns to observe the canvassing of mail ballots” only meant observers were allowed to be “in the room,” but could not properly verify information because they were too far away.


“Statutory requirements that voters properly sign, address, and date mail ballots” were also not enforced thanks to the state’s Supreme Court, they contend. Trump’s legal team is seeking for electors committed to Joe Biden be “vacated” and the Pennsylvania General Assembly be allowed to select replacements. With Congress set to meet on January 6 to certify the votes of the Electoral College, the campaign is seeking an “expedited” process and a response from the Supreme Court within days.

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Let’s see the goodies.

Flynn: Foreign Intelligence Agencies Were Monitoring US Election (ET)

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn said he was provided information that foreign intelligence agencies were monitoring the U.S. election on Nov. 3 and are willing to provide evidence to President Donald Trump. “We have evidence now of foreign countries … were watching the attacks on our election system, our election process, on the 3rd of November,” Flynn told Fox Business on Friday. “So we now have that evidence and we received that today,” he said. He didn’t elaborate on what foreign intelligence agencies were involved, how he obtained that information, or the nature of the alleged attacks on the election system.

But the foreign governments “are willing to provide that directly to the president,” Flynn remarked. “There are foreign partners and allies that are willing to help us,” he said. [..] Flynn had been making reference to the SolarWinds cyberattack that impacted a considerable portion of federal government agencies. It is not clear if Flynn’s previous remarks about foreign countries monitoring the Nov. 3 election was linked to the SolarWinds hack. “I would say is SolarWinds is an entry point into the rest of our entire U.S. critical infrastructure,” Flynn added. “So everything that touches the United States government, if you enter through this SolarWinds attack that we perceive you basically have keys to the vault.”


Earlier in the week, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency warned that the hack presents a risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities” as well as the private sector.” These hackers compromised agencies, critical infrastructure programs, and private sector organizations starting in March 2020 or possibly before that, according to the agency. “You’re able to rummage around and do [expletive] near anything. So it’s a very, very serious attack … We’ve known about it for about six months as I understand it,” Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, added to Fox’s Lou Dobbs. “So when we talk about our election security, Lou, I think this is all part of it because there’s a relationship between these SolarWinds attacks which has basically penetrated our entire infrastructure as well as our election securities.”

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Growth?

Japan Record $1 Trillion Budget Highlights COVID Challenge To Growth, Debt (R.)

Japan’s cabinet approved on Monday a record $1.03 trillion budget draft for the next fiscal year starting in April 2021, the Ministry of Finance said, as the coronavirus and stimulus spending puts pressure on already dire public finances. The 106.6 trillion yen ($1.03 trillion) annual budget also got a boost from record military and welfare outlays. It marked a 4% rise from this year’s initial level, rising for nine years in a row, with new debt making up more than a third of revenue. From Europe to America, policymakers globally have unleashed a torrent of monetary and fiscal stimulus to prevent a deep and prolonged recession as the pandemic shut international borders and sent many out of work.

In Japan, fiscal reform has been shelved as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga prioritized efforts to contain the pandemic and boost growth, despite public debt at more than twice the size of Japan’s $5 trillion economy. “How to balance the coronavirus response with fiscal reform has hardly been debated in Japan,” said Izuru Kato, chief economist at Totan Research. “Ultralow interest rates under the Bank of Japan’s prolonged monetary easing may have caused fiscal discipline to be paralyzed.” The spending plan, which was in line with a Reuters report out last week, must be approved by parliament early next year.


It will be rolled out along with a third extra budget for this fiscal year as a combined 15-month budget aimed for seamless spending to ease the virus pain and back Suga’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality and digital transformation. “We had to strike a right balance between the needs to prevent the spread of infections, revive the economy and achieve fiscal reform,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting. “That was the most difficult task in compiling this budget.”

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I guess there are still people who read the New York Times. Why?

For NY Times, No News Is Fit To Print About Rep. Swalwell And A Spy (Hill)

If you’re a New York Times subscriber who also watches the broadcast network evening news and considers that your news diet, there’s a very good chance you haven’t heard about Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and his ties to an accused Chinese spy a few years ago. To review why this is absolutely worthy of coverage, Swalwell’s interaction with the alleged spy known as Fang Fang included, according to Axios, Fang placing an intern in Swalwell’s office and helping to fundraise for his 2014 reelection campaign. In 2015, the FBI provided Swalwell a “defensive briefing” to warn him of the threat she appeared to pose. So, the first obvious question is this: Given how easily Swalwell was duped, why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shortly thereafter place him on the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees the CIA and therefore has access to the highest level of sensitive, classified information?

The New York Times doesn’t seem to care about getting an answer to that question. Of the biases we see in major media, the sin of omission is one that seems to occur only when the protagonist of a major story has a (D) next to his or her name. So, when the New York Times, which has a whopping 7 million subscribers and is considered the country’s most influential publication, doesn’t see the Swalwell story as a story at all, it tells you just as much about its moral compass as it does its editorial decisions. Swalwell isn’t just a random lawmaker. He’s arguably the most ubiquitous D.C. figure on cable news – and particularly CNN and MSNBC – this side of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in conducting hundreds of interviews over the past four years, primarily to charge without evidence that President Trump is an agent of Russia.

The 40-year-old also somehow sits on the House Intelligence Committee, meaning he has access to the nation’s top classified information. The Swalwell/Chinese spy story was broken 10 days ago by Axios, which isn’t exactly a bastion of right-wing sentiment. No matter: Swalwell decided to allege that Axios had colluded with Trump in terms of how the story came to light. “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him. The timing feels like that should be looked at,” Swalwell claimed on Dec. 9. Yep — Eric Swalwell, who ran for president for about five minutes in 2019, is such a threat to an outgoing president that a decision was made to work with Axios (which worked on the story for more than a year) to run with a Trump leak.

This is the same lawmaker who told MSNBC that Trump “is working on behalf of the Russians” and used his position on the Intel Committee to imply that he had evidence to back up such information. That evidence has yet to be presented, because it doesn’t exist. So, an obvious question is whether Swalwell should remain on the Intelligence Committee given the Chinese connection and the reckless statements about a sitting president working with a hostile nation. More than a dozen GOP House members are urging Speaker Pelosi to oust Swalwell from the committee; Pelosi has responded by saying she doesn’t have “any concerns” about the congressman.

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Dec 182020
 


Egon Schiele Meadow, Church and Houses 1912

 

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)
“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)
How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)
WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)
Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)
They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)
Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)
Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)
Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)
Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)
Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)
Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)
Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Awfully close to thought police. “Spreading lies about vaccines” here means “questioning vaccines”.

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)

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

Examples of posts that may be removed include false claims “that suggest immunisations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations”, and claims “that Covid-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary”. Tweets that do not reach the level of potential harm will not be removed, but may receive a label linking through to authoritative public health information, the company said. Examples of that sort of claim include unsubstantiated rumours, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines. The labelling will have a similar visual appearance to the company’s notorious labels about the US election, regularly placed on tweets from Donald Trump in which he falsely claimed victory in the US election.

Twitter said it would enforce the policy “using a combination of technology and human review”. Confusingly, the company has no way for users to report Covid misinformation, or misinformation about vaccines, despite the content being banned on the site. Instead, Twitter says users who think a particular tweet breaks the company’s rules on the topic should report it for any other offence – such as “threatening harm” – and use the text box to add that it is banned misinformation. The move comes two weeks after Facebook tightened its own policy about Covid vaccines. The larger social network will remove claims that rise to the level of imminent physical harm, as well as claims that have been debunked by public health experts, even if they do not reach that level. Chinese network TikTok has also strengthened its policies on vaccine misinformation, announcing on Tuesday that it has policies in place that prohibit misinformation “that could cause harm to an individual’s health or broader public safety”.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine.

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“until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.”

“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)

As tens of thousands of doses of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine make their way across the country, some health workers – first on the list to receive the two-stage jab – are leery of the emerging treatment which mainstream pundits warned would take a ‘miracle’ to produce before the end of the year. And while public concerns over the vaccine have eased compared to polling conducted before the November election, a not-insignificant number of health workers are unwilling to take the shot. Perhaps they’re concerned about taking the fastest vaccine developed in Western history, developed to treat a mysterious new virus which primarily kills the elderly (though can have lasting effects on people of all ages save for children).

As Bloomberg notes, the initial vaccines have few serious side effects (aside from a handful of serious allergic reactions), though nobody knows what long-term effects it has, if any. For example, nobody can possibly know what it does to a gestating fetus for nine months, or whether it affects fertility – yet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women take the vaccine. “At one Chicago hospital where the city’s first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on Tuesday, 40% of the staff said in a survey earlier this month that they would not take it. Sherrie Burch, 56, a ward clerk at Loretto, is baffled by how quickly the Covid-19 vaccine was developed, given how long medical developments typically take. And that makes her nervous.

“It just happened too fast for me,” Burch said, adding that her children, grandchildren and 76-year-old mother aren’t planning to get it either. “It’s the fear of the unknown.” Burch wants more details about the vaccine’s research and longer-term side effects. She plans to wait at least a couple of months to see how co-workers respond to the shot. Until then, she’ll keep masking, distancing and hand washing. Some nurses, respiratory therapists and technicians at Loretto also are opting out, said Nikhila Juvvadi, the hospital’s chief clinical officer who was the first person to administer the vaccine in Chicago. At a staff town-hall meeting on Wednesday, she explained the science of how the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine works.” -Bloomberg

In Maine, 40% of staff and 30% of residents at the state’s larger nursing homes won’t take the jab, according to an “informal discussion” conducted by the Maine Health Care Association. “Without official polling, it’s hard to know how accurate a picture this paints, and we fully expect these percentages to increase with greater education and awareness,” said the organization’s director of communications, Nadine Grosso. “Ultimately, we know that vaccination is key to safely reopening our long term care facilities.” And if these are all the people who will admit to refusing the vaccine, how many lied and said they will?

Still, some remain unpersuaded. Jonathan Damato, 41, a New York City paramedic for 21 years, is not an anti-vaxxer. He gets an annual flu shot, and he trusts the life-saving potential of vaccines against measles, mumps, polio. His station does about 50 or 60 Covid ambulance runs a week — people presenting high fevers and shortness of breath. “I know the virus is real,” said Damato, who has a 4-year-old son with health issues. But “until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.” -Bloomberg In short, nobody wants to be a guinea pig.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine. Part 2

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More reports coming out on this theme. Good. Don’t know that missed education is the big thing here, though. Missed social life might be bigger.

How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)

Data accumulated globally has shown that infections did not surge when schools reopened, and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said as much in late November when he called on schools to reopen. While many private schools have reopened completely or partially, some of the nation’s largest school districts are still closed. In Washington, D.C., the city’s teachers union rejected an agreement with the public school system to reopen campuses in November. In Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego and multiple other cities, districts put off their plans to reopen in mid-November and gave no set date for reopening.

Eileen, a Latin teacher at a Christian Classical school in Maryland, has been able to teach in her regular classroom since Sept. 3, when her school reopened with health and sanitation protocols implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread. Eileen’s 15-year-old daughter, who is a sophomore at a public school, has been learning virtually for 14 weeks. She goes to school with her mother once a week just to “be part of normal life,” Eileen tells the Caller. In an essay Eileen’s daughter wrote about her virtual learning experience, she describes the despondency and defeat students and teachers feel. In some classes, students mute their audio feature to hide the fact that they’re playing video games instead of paying attention.

Teachers have difficulty holding students accountable, making flouting the rules easier. Eileen’s daughter, an aspiring writer and accomplished student, also faces her own waning motivation. “Every minute I sit at my desk I am being erased. It started with one of my dimensions. Then my voice was replaced by the chat, my face with a logo, and my life with progress checks,” Eileen’s daughter writes. “Virtual school is not real school. They are not giving us an education. They are teaching us how to not get caught using google translate. They are teaching us which websites will do your algebra homework for you. And if the Board of Education doesn’t take my education seriously, then why should I?”

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“We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure.”

“all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet..”

WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)

The World Health Organization released a guidance memo on December 14th, warning that high cycle thresholds on PCR tests will result in false positives. While this information is accurate, it has also been available for months, so we must ask: why are they reporting it now? Is it to make it appear the vaccine works? The “gold standard” Sars-Cov-2 tests are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR works by taking nucleotides – tiny fragments of DNA or RNA – and replicating them until they become something large enough to identify. The replication is done in cycles, with each cycle doubling the amount of genetic material. The number of cycles it takes to produce something identifiable is known as the “cycle threshold” or “CT value”. The higher the CT value, the less likely you are to be detecting anything significant.

This new WHO memo states that using a high CT value to test for the presence of Sars-Cov-2 will result in false-positive results. To quote their own words [our emphasis]: “Users of RT-PCR reagents should read the IFU carefully to determine if manual adjustment of the PCR positivity threshold is necessary to account for any background noise which may lead to a specimen with a high cycle threshold (Ct) value result being interpreted as a positive result.” They go on to explain [again, our emphasis]: “The design principle of RT-PCR means that for patients with high levels of circulating virus (viral load), relatively few cycles will be needed to detect virus and so the Ct value will be low. Conversely, when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain.”

Of course, none of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention. That PCR tests were easily manipulated and potentially highly inaccurate has been one of the oft-repeated battle cries of those of us opposing the “pandemic” narrative, and the policies it’s being used to sell. Many articles have been written about it, by many experts in the field, medical journalists and other researchers. It’s been commonly available knowledge, for months now, that any test using a CT value over 35 is potentially meaningless. Dr Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR process, was clear that it wasn’t meant as a diagnostic tool, saying: “..with PCR, if you do it well, you can find almost anything in anybody.” And, commenting on cycle thresholds, once said: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single-copy gene, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE guidelines for PCR use state: Cq values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” This has all been public knowledge since the beginning of the lockdown. The Australian government’s own website admitted the tests were flawed, and a court in Portugal ruled they were not fit for purpose. Even Dr Anthony Fauci has publicly admitted that a cycle threshold over 35 is going to be detecting “dead nucleotides”, not a living virus. Despite all this, it is known that many labs around the world have been using PCR tests with CT values over 35, even into the low 40s. So why has the WHO finally decided to say this is wrong? What reason could they have for finally choosing to recognise this simple reality?

The answer to that is potentially shockingly cynical: We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure. So, after everyone has been vaccinated, all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet, and we’ll have confirmation that our miracle vaccine works.

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“Joe Biden defends his son — who is under federal investigation, was kicked out of the Navy for cocaine, and was sued by a stripper for paternity — as “the smartest man I know.”

“It’s used to get to me. I think it’s kind of foul play, but, look, it is what it is. And he’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity.”

And boy, whatever happened to Stephen Colbert?

Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)

President-elect Joe Biden says he is “not concerned” about a federal investigation into his son, Hunter, and accused his opponents of weaponizing the probe for political points. Biden said that Hunter, who has been involved in a string of high-profile personal and business controversies in recent years, as “the smartest man I know.” Hunter Biden announced last Wednesday that he is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware over his “tax affairs.” A source familiar with the investigation told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the investigation began in 2018, before Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign.


The Associated Press reported that prosecutors subpoenaed Biden for his records with more than two dozen businesses, including companies in China and Ukraine. (RELATED: Joe Biden Says He Is ‘Confident’ His Son Did Nothing Wrong) Biden, who was interviewed by CBS’s Stephen Colbert, accused his political opponents of “foul play” by seizing on the investigation. “We have great confidence in our son. I am not concerned about any accusations made against him. It’s used to get to me,” Biden said in the interview, which he conducted with his wife Jill Biden at his side. “I think it’s kind of foul play,” said Biden, adding, “look, it is what it is.” “He’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity. And as long as he’s good, we’re good.”

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“The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part.”

They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)

There are many issues facing us today both personally and globally. But they all boil down to one thing: those who have captured power through either electoral desperation or corporacratic subterfuge simply will not take no for an answer. We must look beyond the issue to the principle, and learn to say no in a forcefully peaceful and organised manner. It does seem eternally odd, does it not, that the US judicial system seems happy to throw out Republican affidavits giving evidence of electoral fraud, but at the same time the US has a media set that suffixes every report on what President Trump says about it with “although he has no evidence to support his claims”….and the world anglosphere falls lamely into line.

It is truly Pythonic, with just a dash of Catch22: “We’re not going to review these affidavits because they’re worthless,” said the Ostriches, “so will you stop saying you were cheated, because you haven’t got any evidence – we know this, because we don’t need to look at it”. My view is simple: it is entirely possible that Trump is lying his fat head off. But the common sense rejoinder to that pov is: 1) Why press ahead so vigorously with a case if (privately) you know it to be BS? And 2) If you the State know it to be BS, why not investigate every affidavit thoroughly and enumerate their lack of worth instance by instance? In short, we have a plaintiff behaving like a guy who’s done his homework, and the State dismissing everything out of hand for fear of finding magic bullets flying backwards, and Presidential Heads exploding in the wrong direction.

Show not tell: it’s an old adage, but still universally applicable. The ‘Tell’ approach: “Laugh at me because believe me, I’m funny….boy, am I funny”. The ‘Show’ approach: Tell a very funny joke with timing and élan. The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part. When it doesn’t convince, smear the doubters as ill-educated, delusional and deviant.

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“After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.”

Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)

After three recounts, Georgia certified the 2020 presidential election. But on Thursday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a statewide move to match signatures to their absentee ballots in all 159 counties in the state. The announcement comes just weeks before two Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate. Raffensperger announced that the signature matching will be done in partnership with the University of Georgia. The study will review a random sample of signatures for mail-in ballots that were cast in the presidential election. “We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable and effective,” Raffensperger said.


“Despite endless lawsuits and wild allegations from Washington, D.C., pundits, we have seen no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud, though we are investigating all credible reports. Nonetheless, we look forward to working with the University of Georgia on this signature match review to further instill confidence in Georgia’s voting systems,” he also said. Earlier this week, Georgia officials announced an audit of signatures for mail-in ballots in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta. The Trump campaign claimed that Cobb County did not properly conduct signature match in June,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state. “After the countywide audit, we will look at the entire state. We will look at the entire election to make sure signature match was executed properly.” After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.

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The Durham probe comes to mind. Where is it?

Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)

Barr’s most significant achievement during his tenure was perhaps his role in the final stages of the Mueller investigation, leading to his joint conclusion with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein that evidence compiled by Robert Mueller failed to establish that the president had obstructed justice. But a series of curious missteps then followed. The investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Huber disappeared entirely, although a portion of that investigation may have been folded into U.S. Attorney John Durham’s still ongoing investigation. Durham was appointed as special counsel by Barr, but reports indicate that Durham’s investigative scope has been narrowed, and the investigation’s long-promised results remain delayed.

Trump found himself impeached by the House in December 2019, despite evidence within the DOJ that might have prevented the politically driven result. Indeed, it now appears that Trump may have been impeached for making inquiries into the very crimes for which Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, is now formally under investigation. Said differently, Trump may have effectively been impeached for being right about Biden. To date, only one person has been formally charged from the multi-year probe into the FBI’s handling of their investigation of the Trump campaign. Although two FISA warrants on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were deemed as invalid—and thus illegal—there have been no prosecutions or convictions of high-level individuals involved in the surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign.

Barr remained concerned, perhaps rightly, about exhibiting any overt signs of interference in the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, while he studiously avoided disclosing any evidence regarding the Hunter Biden investigation, so did the mainstream media. The impact of the general public’s lack of knowledge on this matter may have been material to the election outcome. Barr also made what might generously be termed a material strategic error by speaking with The Associated Press in the weeks following the election. Barr’s comments that the DOJ had yet to uncover fraud on a level sufficient to affect the outcome of the election reverberated throughout the nation and caused material damage to the case being made by the president’s lawyers. Why Barr would choose to speak to the media, let alone the AP, at this critical juncture in post-election events remains unknown.

Barr, no political novice, has more than enough political acumen to comprehend the manner in which his comments would be interpreted and relayed to a nation in post-election turmoil. That he apparently held the belief there was no material evidence of election fraud strikes many who have been wading through court evidence for weeks as curious. Durham’s efforts may yet produce tangible results, but nearly four years of investigation has surely been long enough to bring forth something material. With each passing month, the lack of tangible results has allowed for unspoken discrediting of the president’s claims. And with the possibility of a politically motivated Biden administration, concerns over potential interference in Durham’s results—special counsel status notwithstanding—are valid.

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In case you didn’t notice: the neocons won. So Russiagate is alive and kicking.

Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)

President Donald Trump is taking heat from members of Congress in both parties in recent days for his continued silence on a massive cybersecurity breach linked to Russia, even as the president’s own officials say the U.S. is highly vulnerable to further attacks. Through a weakness in software from SolarWinds Orion, an IT firm that services numerous U.S. government agencies, hackers – that U.S. officials say are tied to Russia – were reportedly able to infiltrate the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the National Institutes of Health and various other departments. Democrats have been vocal about the breach and critical of the president’s actions, with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noting the president fired Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) head Chris Krebs for debunking his election fraud conspiracy theories just one month before the attack occurred.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) called Trump’s silence “unacceptable,” adding, “For 4 years, Congress has been urging him to take Russian threats seriously,” while Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) suggested the silence is because Trump has “cozied up to” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most prolific Republican detractors, compared the breach to “Russian bombers… repeatedly flying over our entire country,” and slammed the “inexcusable silence and inaction from the White House.” Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) was critical of Trump’s silence as well, alleging a “leadership vacuum” in the administration and telling Forbes that Trump’s reticence to weigh in is because doing so “could highlight his firings” of cybersecurity, defense and intelligence officials in recent weeks.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and outgoing Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) both took aim at Trump for his threat to veto a defense bill that includes cyber protections and would create a National Cyber Security Director, with Hurd adding, “We need to find the inaugural director ASAP because he/she is going to have a full plate on day one.” “No statement, no tweet, nothing from [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)] on Russia hack of Federal agencies,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell (D-Fla.), echoing Democrats who have alleged not just Trump, but many Republicans in Congress have shied away from weighing in on the hack. “As Chair of Senate Intelligence his silence=complicity,” she added. “CISA has determined that this threat poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

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Is this even illegal?

Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)

Facebook Inc and Alphabet’s Google, the two biggest players in online advertising, used a series of deals to consolidate their market power illegally, Texas and nine other states alleged in a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday. Google and Facebook compete heavily in internet ad sales, together capturing over half of the market globally. The two players agreed in a publicized deal in 2018 to start giving Facebook’s advertiser clients the option to place ads within Google’s network of publishing partners, the complaint alleged. Executives at the highest level of the companies signed off on the deal, according to the complaint. For example, a sneaker blog that uses software from Google to sell ads could end up generating revenue from a footwear retailer that bought ads on Facebook.

Google reached similar partnerships with other advertising companies as part of an effort to maintain market share that was internally codenamed Project Jedi, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. But what Google did not announce publicly is that it gave Facebook preferential treatment, the complaint alleged. Facebook agreed to back down from supporting competing software, which publishers had developed to dent Google’s market power, the complaint said. “Facebook decided to dangle the threat of competition in Google’s face and then cut a deal to manipulate the auction,” it said, citing internal communications. In exchange, the states said, Facebook received various benefits, including access to Google data and policy exceptions that enabled its clients to unfairly get more ads placed than clients of other Google partners could.

[..] The complaint also alleged that Google and Facebook engaged in fixing prices of ads and have continued to cooperate, though the section was heavily redacted and left it unclear just how and when the companies allegedly used their “market allocation agreement.” However, it said that “given the scope and extensive nature of cooperation between the two companies, Google and Facebook were highly aware that their agreement could trigger antitrust violations. The two companies discussed, negotiated, and memorialized how they would cooperate with one another.”

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The Pentagon needs enemies.

Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)

In the decade since her historic transfer of secret military and diplomatic materials to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning has consistently and across party lines been condemned as a traitor. Less common, and absent entirely from the government’s efforts to imprison her, are allegations that her leak was an act of terrorism. But anti-terrorism training materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon is teaching defense workers exactly that. Both civilian contractors and enlisted personnel are commonly required to complete JS-US007, a Pentagon course designed to “increase your awareness of terrorism and to improve your ability to apply personal protective measures,” according to Joint Knowledge Online, a Department of Defense education portal. JS-US007 covers a variety of grimly serious topics, from detecting roadside bombs to surviving active shooter scenarios and skyjackings.

The training also covers so-called insider threat attacks, acts of terroristic violence in which members of a group strike the group itself, like the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 individuals on the base, wounding 30 more. The Department of Homeland Security defines insider threat terrorism as “an unlawful use of force and violence by employees or others closely associated with organizations, against those organizations to promote a political or social objective.” Other definitions may differ on technicalities, but like other acts of terrorism, the unifying theme is the violence of the acts.

But unclassified JS-US007 materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon’s anti-terrorism trainees are learning a far broader definition of terrorism, one that includes the entirely nonviolent acts of Manning. On a slide listing “Examples of attacks by individuals thought to be loyal to the US,” Manning’s “2010 leaking of over 500,000 documents concerning operations in Iraq and Afghanistan” is listed first, followed by three examples of murder: the “2009 active shooter attack at Fort Hood,” the “2003 active shooter attack at Camp Pennsylvania,” and the “2001 anthrax attacks against Government facilities” that closely followed the attacks of September 11. Another slide in the presentation lists Manning’s alleged “anti-American statements” as a “pre-attack indicator.”

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“..down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018..”

Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)

The big four banks are out. And other companies are out. But Big Tech is in, as big as ever, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, after pooh-poohing share buybacks for years, is now the second largest share buyback queen. In the third quarter 2020, companies in the S&P 500 Index bought back $101.8 billion of their own shares, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices this morning. While this still sounds like a lot of share buybacks, it’s down 42% from Q3 last year, and down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018 following the corporate tax cuts:

Since the beginning of 2012, the S&P 500 companies have bought back nearly $5 trillion of their own shares. How much is $5 trillion? It’s nearly one-quarter of US 12-month GDP in current dollars. It’s about equal to the amount by which the US government debt has exploded over the past 12 months. These $5 trillion could have been invested in expansion projects in the US, and in labor, and in training, or God forbid, in reducing the debt that Corporate America has loaded up on in a historic manner.

[..] Corporate debt levels have been showing up in the Fed’s Financial Stability Reports. The corporate “debt overhang,” as the Fed calls it, frazzled Fed researchers in 2019 and it is now again cropping up in Fed research papers, including by the New York Fed a few days ago. “We find that the economic costs of corporate debt booms rise when inefficient debt restructuring and liquidation impede the resolution of corporate financial distress and make it more likely that corporate zombies creep along,” summarize the researchers at the New York Fed. It was another research paper duly ignored by Fed Chair Powell.


Last year, the four big banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup – occupied the #2, #3, #4, and #7 spots on the Top 20 list of our share buyback queens. Now they’re gone from the list, having been told by regulators to stop share buybacks to preserve capital to absorb the coming losses from the Crisis. Big Tech and, ironically, Warren Buffett dominate the list. Apple retains its top spot with $17.6 billion in share buybacks in Q3, bringing the 12-month total to $76 billion.

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I don’t normally include 4-month old articles in Debt Rattles, but this could just as well be from today.

Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

Facebook confirmed today that to prevent the spread of coronavirus and promote a safe space to virtue-signal, masks will be required on all profile pictures going forward. If you log in to Facebook you will be prompted to change your profile picture to one where you are wearing a mask. If you don’t have a mask, Facebook offers digital mask filters to give the appearance that you’re wearing one. Those who refuse the mask will be asked to delete their accounts.


“This is an issue of public safety,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “We were seeing people just commenting on things and posting memes and stuff while their face was clearly visible. The CDC currently says that masks are good, and therefore, you must wear a mask.” An assistant then whispered in Zuckerberg’s ear. “Oh, uh, this just in: the CDC now says that masks are bad. So we’ll take this all back.” But, before he could reverse the mask order, the CDC issued another update saying that masks were good again. “Anyway, yes, a mask for everyone. It’s a small thing to do to make everyone feel safe.”

Read more …

 

 

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UK MPs ask for a meeting with Assange.

 

 

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Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1965

 

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)
The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)
DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)
MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)
Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)
American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)
The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)
Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)
The Politics of Restraint (RCW)
DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)
“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

 

 

Scott Adams

 

 

The damage these people are doing to their country is no longer measurable.

If it was the Russians, Biden could simply deny this is true. He hasn’t.

“Former intel officials sharing their “belief” that factual, embarrassing info about a Democrat candidate — which that candidate does not even deny — is all Russia’s fault has all the classic earmarks of a Russiagate disinformation operation.”


“They say they “want to emphasize…that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement” but that are “just…deeply suspicious” that Russia played a “significant role in this case.”

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.” Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”

The former Trump administration officials who signed the letter include Russ Travers, who served as National Counterterrorism Center acting director; Glenn Gerstell, the former NSA general counsel; Rick Ledgett, the former deputy NSA director; Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer; and Cynthia Strand, who served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for global issues. Former CIA directors or acting directors Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell also signed the letter, along with more than three dozen other intelligence veterans. Several of the former officials on the list have endorsed Biden. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Monday that the information on Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” though the FBI is reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation into whether Russia was involved.

[..] “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter reads. But, it continues, “there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.” “Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the Intelligence Community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here but also to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump,” the letter reads.

Trump calls media criminal for not reporting on Joe Biden

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Excellent takedown.

The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)

An inhabitant of Twitterland named “Willow Inski” took to the keyboard on Oct. 11, asking why anyone still accepts official accounts of the crucial theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in the spring of 2016.

Excellently observed, Willow. And at just the right moment. At this point we are amid a frenzy of what Hannah Arendt called “defactualization” in a 1971 essay she titled “Lying in Politics.” Facts are fragile, Arendt astutely observed, because they can so easily be manipulated to produce a desired image. “It is this fragility,” she wrote, “that makes deception so very easy up to a point, and so tempting.”The latest example of this phenom concerns the emails of Hunter Biden, candidate Joe’s errant son, which persuasively incriminate both in very profitable influence-peddling schemes when Papa was Barack Obama’s veep. Nobody denies the facts as published last week in The New York Post, not even Biden père et fils, but the facts are once again mutilated with assertions that it is another case of the Rrrrrrussians spreading disinformation.

This is what we get after four years of the Russia collusion b.s., otherwise known as Russiagate. Anything goes if implicating Russia solves a political problem for the Democrats and keeps the war machine going for the Pentagon and the national security state. It defers the moment — at some point it will come — when the press is exposed for its radically stupid overinvestment in the Russiagate nonsense. The price America has already begun to pay is very high. Willow’s expression of perplexity comes after an especially lively season of revelations as regards what must count as the largest disinformation op in U.S. history. It is now six months since the Russiagate hoax — and I am fine with President Donald Trump’s term for it — began its final crash into a pile of piffle.

While it remains to be seen whether more evidence of political chicanery is coming, what evidence we already have is more than sufficient to identify Russiagate as the probable criminal fraud it was from the start. I am refreshed that Willow Inski, who describes herself as an “attorney, wife, mother, proud American,” sees through this extravagant ruse. And yet, as she notes, a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are “still taking at face value” all the misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies our newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have purveyed incessantly for the past four years.

Why is a very large question. All possible answers are disturbing. But here is another big one we get to before that: When we consider together all its many consequences, has Russiagate destroyed what remained of American democracy before illiberal liberals, spooks, law enforcement, and the press colluded to erect the dreadful edifice? Your columnist’s answer rests on the most scrupulously precise definition of Russiagate one can manage: What we have witnessed these past four years is an attempted palace coup against a sitting president. Cold comfort it is that the gang that couldn’t shoot straight bungled the job. It has also created a Democratic default position: When wrongdoing by Democrats is credibly exposed, automatically blame Russia. Among much else, that has led to unnecessary tension with a nuclear power. This damage will long stay with us.

[..] In 1787, when he was our new nation’s minister in Paris, Jefferson wrote home to a friend that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” We are stuck with a government without newspapers now, given the ties our press has consolidated its ties with political and bureaucratic power in the course of imposing the Russiagate ruse upon us. They only look like newspapers now.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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Ratcliffe calls Schiff a liar.

DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)

Recently, we discussed how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff stated publicly that the recently disclosed laptop information from Hunter Biden was clearly part of a Russian intelligence operation. This morning, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, stated categorically that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. What is most notable is that Ratcliffe has stated that Schiff and his Committee were given that conclusion by the intelligence community. The incident has raised lingering criticism of Schiff who previously told the public that he had clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after that allegation was rejected in repeated investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Schiff never produced the incriminating evidence and later it was shown that the widely cited Steele dossier was based on a source who was considered to be a Russian agent. There is ample reason to suspicious about the timing of this disclosure. However, I have written that this serious concern is separate from the question of whether the emails are fabricated. The Biden campaign has not given the most obvious responses to such a scandal. It is important to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were actually hacked by Russian intelligence but the underlying emails were true. Schiff now finds himself, again, in the position of supporting a claim of evidence of Russian collusion. He will have to show that this laptop discovery was engineered by Russian intelligence. If the owner is speaking the truth, the computer was dropped off in April 2019 with the intent to be used in the 2020 campaign.

Ratcliffe stated in an interview that “it’s funny that some of the people that complained the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing intelligence and unfortunately in this case, it is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who as you pointed out on Friday said that the intelligence community believes that Hunter Biden’s laptop and e-mails on it are part of some Russian disinformation campaign. Let me be clear, the intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports and we shared no intelligence with chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It’s simply not true.”

Ratcliffe accused Schiff of politicizing intelligence and stated “Don’t drag the intelligence community into this. Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign and I think it’s clear the American people know that.” Schiff should explain the basis for his conclusion that this is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Someone is clearly misrepresenting the intelligence and the public should know the basis for these irreconcilable statements.

Trump dumb bastards

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Streisand.

MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)

Twitter’s crackdown on a controversial New York Post story that “purported to show new emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration,” “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility and triggered the so-called “Streisand Effect,” amplifying the Post’s claims, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-profile media intelligence firm. “When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday.

“But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.” In fact, Twitter’s efforts triggered a massive spike in interest in the story. “According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ‘nearly doubled’ after Twitter started suppressing it,” MIT noted. The incident was a real-time example of what Zignal Lab’s calls the “Streisand Effect” — a “social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet,” according to Wikipedia. The name comes from singer Barbra Streisand’s efforts, in 2003, to suppress a photo of her Malibu, California, residence over security concerns.

According to Zignal Labs, the effect was immediate and significant. “Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship,” MIT noted Monday. “The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform,” they added.

Dobbs, Powell, Fitton, Solomon

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How you get your information.

Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)

Allegations of corruption against ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have apparently been “debunked” and are merely a “conspiracy theory” according to Wikipedia, where editors are battling over the terms.
Hunter Biden was the subject of an explosive report last week as the New York Post published emails alleging that he involved his father in dodgy business dealings in Ukraine and China. While the story is still unfolding, the Wikipedia page for Hunter Biden simply states that “he and his father have been the subjects of debunked right-wing conspiracy theories pushed by [President] Donald Trump and his allies.” The curious framing was highlighted by conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter on Tuesday.

Eight sources are listed for this one sentence, intending to support the view that any accusations of corruption against the Democratic presidential candidate and his son have already been proven false. In recent days, Wikipedia editors have been engaged in regular spats about the inclusion of the word “debunked.” The eighth source was added on Sunday by a frequent contributor to Biden’s son’s page, whose username is ‘Soibangla’. A regular editor of American political topics on Wikipedia, Soibangla was previously found tweaking pedophile sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s page, specifically to note that there is “no evidence” that he and former President Bill Clinton were “friends” – despite the ex-commander-in-chief traveling on the disgraced financier’s plane 26 times, according to flight logs.

Curiously, the same Soibangla is one of the top authors on a new Wikipedia page titled, ‘Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory’. The page was created on October 15, the day after the Post published Hunter’s alleged email history. The article calls the controversy “a series of false allegations” and references an almost identical list of eight sources to back it up. A war over Hunter Biden’s page has been raging since December 2019, when the word ‘debunked’ was initially added in reference to the scandal involving the former VP’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who said he was investigating the Burisma gas company where Hunter sat on the board.

It kicked off again on September 30, when user ‘Php2000’ removed ‘debunked’, noting that “Sources state [Hunter Biden] was making 50,000 USD a month as a board member in Ukraine gas company. Hardly ‘debunked.’” Just two minutes later, according to the website’s timeline, editor ‘Billmckern’ reverted the change, adding, “it’s been debunked and we have consensus language here.” Php2000 once again deleted the word, explaining that Hunter Biden making a lot of money in Ukraine was a well-documented fact. “What exactly has been debunked?” they asked. “Read the references,” wrote Billmckern a mere four minutes later, once again restoring the controversial phrasing.

Veritas Big Tech

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“..trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday..”

American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought. I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit.

He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him…! The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends….

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday — apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth….

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The pic is on Wisconsin only.

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)

Much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called social-desirability bias. As Cahaly puts it, that’s when a respondent gives you “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.” Cahaly notes that this phenomenon showed up as long ago as the 1980s, in the so-called Bradley effect, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, underperformed his polling in a gubernatorial race. It has been a hallmark of the Trump era and is one reason other pollsters missed the impending victory of Ron DeSantis over Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. “I’ve got to get past what you want to say in public and get to what you really feel,” Cahaly says. “Because what’s in your heart is going to be what’s on that ballot.”

There are a number of methodological differences in how Trafalgar goes about its work. One is the number of questions on its surveys. “I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.” Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”

According to Cahaly, most polls are more than 25 questions. He keeps it between seven and nine, so respondents can answer in a matter of minutes. Then there is how the questions are asked. “We do not like to do all live calls,” Cahaly says. This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.” So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.

“We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.” Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”

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So Joe can read his teleprompter and listen to his wires in peace.

Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)

In yet another transparent effort to support Joe Biden, the presidential debate commission has announced they will mute microphones during the two minute answer sessions as part of a strategy to assist the promotion of disinformation. (Via New York Post) “The Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to mute microphones to allow each candidate the opportunity for uninterrupted remarks during this week’s final forum. The mute button will be featured at the start of each 15-minute segment during opening comments, according to the commission. After that time, both mics will be turned on without a mute option to enable debate.” The Trump campaign responds:

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Feels like wishful thinking.

The Politics of Restraint (RCW)

During this election season, there is much discussion around the increasing polarization of the American electorate. While these conversations can seem overwrought, there is clear data showing an increasing divide on issues like race relations and the economy. However, on foreign policy, the American people are more united. There is an increasingly shared belief across party lines that the United States needs to end its endless wars and adventurism abroad. Based on a bevy of recent polls and research, American voters will likely reward candidates who support foreign policy restraint, while punishing those who advocate for the maintenance of a failed status quo.

For most of the post-9/11 era, the conventional wisdom reinforced by the political pundits and the consultant class was that foreign policy hawkishness was a political strength. Even politicians such as President Barack Obama, who owed part of his political success to opposing the Iraq War, still felt the need to show hawkishness regarding other military conflicts. The perceived political incentives contributed to Obama ignoring the lessons of the Iraq War and initiating the disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011, along with the failed surge of American forces in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. A lack of significant political accountability by Republicans — who only seemed to try to “out-hawk” Obama — in the 2012 election for these failures reinforced the notion that support for primacy abroad was the politically safe position.

That conventional wisdom reigned into the early days of the 2016 election, but was shattered by two candidates, one during each major party’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the presumptive nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an unexpectedly strong challenge. Sanders has been a consistent critic of American foreign policy in the Middle East, while Clinton supported the Iraq War and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. While Sanders did not make foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign in 2016, his record on those issues further strengthened his appeal with the progressive left, which is traditionally wary of military intervention.

More so than Sanders, Donald Trump completely upended the conventional wisdom around what a candidate needed to say on foreign policy to win. During the 2016 Republican primary, Trump frequently and aggressively criticized America’s wars in the Middle East. During a primary debate in South Carolina, Trump excoriated former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, and for his administration’s lies about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Prominent Republican pundits criticized Trump’s remarks and claimed that his comments would hurt his chances in South Carolina, a state heavily populated by military service members and veterans who were thought to be more hawkish.

Yet Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination. During the general election, while by no means portraying himself as a dove, Trump would continue his criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while tying Clinton to America’s broader failures in the Middle East. This messaging likely played a key role in Trump’s 2016 general election victory. According to research conducted by two political scientists following the 2016 election, Trump’s perception as the less interventionist candidate among voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin likely drove his victory in those critical states.

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They’ll win either way.

DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)

DC lobbyists are licking their chops at the prospect of a Biden win in November, as a flood of new regulations means they’ll have their work cut out for them. “There is a huge amount of planning going on in our client base for what this could look like,” according to Holland & Knight LLP lobbyist, Rich Gold. “It’s highly likely the first six months of 2021 are some of the biggest legislative months I will have in my career in terms of things moving.” Gold represents the American Chemistry Council, education technology provider Zovio, Inc., agriculture giant Corteva and several local governments. According to Bloomberg, K Street lobbyists began planning for major changes when polling began to show former Vice President Biden leading President Trump, as well as the possibility that Democrats would regain control of the Senate.

“Not since 2008, when President George W. Bush was leaving the White House, have lobbyists planned for the possibility of so sweeping a change in Washington’s corridors of power,” writes Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Ben Brody. “The presidential race remains tight in key states and the firms remain vigilant for another Trump victory like the one that caught many by surprise in 2016. But they are hedging their bets and increasingly planning around Biden’s polling lead. One firm is developing dossiers on potential appointees, selling them to clients under the maxim “people are policy.” Another has created flow charts outlining possible committee leadership changes on Capitol Hill. And at least one group has established a war room to brainstorm strategies for countering policy proposals. -Bloomberg

One oil lobbyist told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the election would be a “rack-and-stack” exercise when it comes to the multitude of actions the Biden administration could undertake, while a Democratic sweep of the Senate has caused many lobbyists to begin cultivating relationships with moderate Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana, Kyrsten Sinema of Zrizona, and Joe Machin of West Virginia.

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Headline was about hospitals running out of beds, but the numbers cast doubt on that. The headline I gave is from the mayor of Manchester.

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year..” “.. the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.”

“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)

Stalemate seems to remain in negotiations about tougher restrictions for Greater Manchester, as hospitals in the region run low on beds to treat coronavirus patients. [..] data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday. It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity .The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity. The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.


The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.”It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.” A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

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Will they still label her a “socialite” after reading this, or will she get a new label?

Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

A federal appeals court Monday ordered the unsealing of a deposition related to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life — after the defense fought tooth and nail to keep it secret. A three-judge panel from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the brief, two-page ruling after hearing arguments on the matter last week. “We cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the panel wrote. It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The seven-hour, 418-page deposition is from testimony Maxwell gave in April 2016 in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. In the interview, Maxwell made statements about “consensual, and intimate conduct with other adults,” according to court papers. US District Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the litigation over the release of the materials, had ordered the documents unsealed in July, but Maxwell’s lawyers had appealed the decision.

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Ted Cruz

 

 

 

 

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Oct 132020
 


Giotto Legend of St Francis, Exorcism of the Demons at Arezzo c.1297-1299

 

Declassified FBI Spreadsheet Exposes Folly Of Steele Dossier (JTN)
Steele Dossier: Media Reports On FBI Reports Of Media Reports (sundance)
Team Obama Invented The Whole Russiagate Scandal (NYP)
The Truman Show Election: The Public Is Left In The Dark (Turley)
What’s Behind No-Show Joe (Jim Kunstler)
Coup Who? (Hemingway)
Kidnapping Dissent: The Whitmer Plot and the End of Freedom (MPN)
IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries (MPN)
CDC: 85% of COVID19 Patients Report ‘Always’ Or ‘Often’ Wearing A Mask (JS)
Johnson&Johnson Covid19 Vaccine Study Paused Due To Unexplained Illness (STAT)
Economists Are More Like Storytellers Than Scientists (Benack)

 

 

Imagine if the MSM had refused to report on Watergate. That is what is happening now. And this is starting to feel a whole lot worse than that. Not sure “folly” covers it.

Declassified FBI Spreadsheet Exposes Folly Of Steele Dossier (JTN)

An FBI spreadsheet that evaluated the credibility of Christopher Steele’s dossier found almost no corroborating evidence from official intelligence reporting, leaving analysts to grope after flimsy sources like a Democratic operative, a Russian propaganda news site and U.S. news media story leaks that amounted to circular reporting.In one entry, FBI analysts tried to evaluate one of Steele’s most lurid claims — later debunked — that Trump was videotaped committing lewd sex acts with prostitutes at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow. “There is no confirmation that Trump stayed here,” they found. “There is no ‘Presidential Suite’ currently listed.”

[..]Another entry encapsulated much of the FBI’s assessment of Steele’s reporting: It seemed based on Internet rumors that could never be corroborated.”Other than open source speculation, the only reporting that mentions this is the Steele Reporting from 5 July 2016 and 2 August 2016,” the analysts wrote about a claim in the dossier that the Russian spy agency known as the FSB had a “pervasive and sophisticated” operation focused on Trump. Other entries dinged the Steele dossier for sloppiness like misspellings of key names, or for making claims that were debunked by official travel records like passport entry records.

“There doesn’t appear to be any record of Trump visiting Baku or the presidential palace,” one entry read, knocking down a claim the future president visited the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Added another: “There is no record of Trump personally organizing a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) visit to Baku.”Likewise, one of the most famous claims of the now-discredited dossier — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen flew to Prague in summer 2016 to help cover up a Russia-Trump plot — was debunked by analysts. “The CROSSFIRE HURRICANE team has been unable to verify travel by Cohen to the Czech Republic in August 2016,” analysts wrote.

With little formal intelligence reporting to back anything Steele had offered the FBI, analysts often turned to suspect sources, such as biased actors connected to the Democratic National Committee or leaked news media stories that could be traced back to Steele and his boss, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. “On September 23, 2016 Yahoo News published an article claiming Carter Page was under investigation by the FBI and US intelligence due to his ties with Russia,” analysts wrote, citing that source as the only piece of evidence corroborating former Trump adviser Carter Page’s alleged meeting with a senior Russian official. The FBI later determined the meetings never happened.

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They are hoping to bury it all after the election.

FBI agents getting paid by the press for leaks.

Steele Dossier: Media Reports On FBI Reports Of Media Reports (sundance)

CBS News Catherine Herridge has obtained a 94-page spread sheet showing dates of media reports, dates of Steele reports on the same material, and the FBI effort to verify or validate the circular process. In essence this is evidence of the process we initially shared almost three years ago; only now we know the names. Former SSCI staffer Dan Jones, former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, and Simpson’s crew at Fusion-GPS, pitched and planted phony Trump-Russia evidence with the media and simultaneously gave those fake points to Chris Steele to supplement the dossier. Using the same method of Ezra Klein’s “JournOList” replication, Dan Jones and Fusion-GPS paid the journalists to run the stories.

Steele then used the same information from Jones and Fusion in his Dossier and cited the planted media reports; as evidence to substantiate. The Dossier is then provided to the FBI. The journalists then provide *indulgences* to the FBI as part of the collaboration. The FBI, specifically Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and public information office Mike Kortan, then leak the outcomes of the FBI Dossier investigative processes to the same media that have reported on the originating material. It is all a big circle of planting and laundering the same originating false material; aka a “wrap up smear.” Michael Isikoff highlighted the level of how enmeshed media is with the Fusion team in February 2018 when he admitted his reporting was being used by the DOJ and FBI to advance the political objectives of the intelligence community.

Additionally, FBI investigator Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page were shown in their text messages to be leaking stories from the Clinton Investigation, the Trump investigation and the Mueller investigation to journalists at Politico, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was busted by the Inspector General leaking stories to the media and then lying about it to INSD and IG investigators. FBI Director James Comey admitted to leaking stories to the New York Times, and even hired his friend Andrew Richman (off-the-books), gave him access to FBI and NSA databases, and then leaked information to Richman along with another friend Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare blog.

Lest we forget, the IG report on how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation revealed that dozens of FBI officials were actually taking bribes from the media for information: IG REPORT – “We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. Attached to this report as Attachments E and F are two link charts that reflect the volume of communications that we identified between FBI employees and media representatives in April/May and October 2016. We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review.”

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” In notes also released last week, Brennan describes telling Obama about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 28 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”

Team Obama Invented The Whole Russiagate Scandal (NYP)

In mid-2016, the FBI got word that Russian intelligence believed Hillary Clinton’s campaign was planning to frame Donald Trump as colluding with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hack her computers. Yet somehow, the crack agents never connected the dots when handed the Steele “dossier” commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign that claimed Trump was colluding with Putin. Instead, the Justice Department used that dossier as a pretext to spy on at least Trump aide Carter Page as it investigated the clearly spurious charges. Justice also distorted the facts about Page’s past relations with the CIA to suggest he had a history of working with Russian agents when his actual record involved turning them in. Meanwhile, it buried the fact that Steele’s main source was himself a suspected Russian agent.

Nor did it connect the dots to another “Russiagate” lead, the third-hand rumors passed along by a Clinton-allied diplomat that supposedly implicated another Trump aide, George Papadopoulos. The news of the 2016 intel comes from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s gradual release of Russiagate records — which show that the true scandal was the investigation itself. Maybe the Russian analysis was mistaken. But the info should have prompted far greater skepticism on all the Clinton-connected “dirt” on Trump, none of which ever panned out, despite years of investigation. From Justice to the CIA, the Obama administration politicized a host of nonpartisan institutions to stain the Trump campaign and then sabotage the Trump administration. And, with selective leaks to major media, the plotters managed to convince much of the country.


The info was credible on its face: US intelligence “obtained insight” into the Russian analysis using highly classified methods (which are redacted in the now-public documents). The Russians had determined that Clinton wanted to blame Trump for the hacking of Democratic National Committee e-mails to distract from the growing scandal over her use of a non-secure home-brew server for official business as secretary of state. The US intel community found it was authentic Russian analysis, though it couldn’t judge the veracity of the claim. And President Barack Obama was briefed on it, per his CIA director, John Brennan. In notes also released last week, Brennan describes telling Obama about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 28 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”

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“All of this recent evidence happens to tie in to other earlier facts, from the Clinton campaign lying about funding the dossier to Steele misrepresenting his sources and his conclusions.”

The Truman Show Election: The Public Is Left In The Dark (Turley)

As news emerged that United States Attorney John Durham uncovered some serious and possibly criminal conduct in the Russia investigation, Democrats demanded that he not release his report before the election. Indeed, the federal rules tell prosecutors to avoid timing “investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting an election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.” However, major cases often do affect elections, and they are not sealed in amber until the votes are counted. The investigation by Durham is focused on conduct in the election four years ago. His subjects of scrutiny are not candidates on this ballot but rather federal officials involved in the investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign in 2016.

This proved to be unfounded. Ultimately, there was no evidence of collusion, let alone anyone who committed crimes related to collusion. Indeed, disclosed evidence shows the FBI was told early on that the allegations were not only dubious but possibly disinformation from Russia. In recent weeks, we learned that the primary source used by Christopher Steele in his now infamous dossier was believed to be an agent of Russia. Recent declassified material also showed that in 2016, then CIA director John Brennan had briefed President Obama on an alleged plan by Hillary Clinton to tie then candidate Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” The handwritten notes from Brennen would seem extremely serious on their face. Indeed, the allegation was sufficiently serious to brief the president.


It reflected intelligence reports given to the FBI and then director James Comey. When asked last week about the report, Comey simply said it did not “ring a bell.” What rings his bell is precisely what the investigation by Durham could reveal. All of this recent evidence happens to tie in to other earlier facts, from the Clinton campaign lying about funding the dossier to Steele misrepresenting his sources and his conclusions. There are arguments for delaying the release of the report by Durham this close to the election. But there is a lack of assurances that we would ever know the findings after the election. If Democrats control both chambers of Congress, it is unlikely they will have hearings on the report. Democrats on the intelligence committees have said they want the investigations into 2016 to end so we can all “look ahead rather than back.” If Biden becomes the next president, the Justice Department could shut down or curtail the investigation, or even classify its final report as privileged.

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“Criminal liability may even extend into the news media itself — though they may only be named as unindicted co-conspirators.”

What’s Behind No-Show Joe (Jim Kunstler)

Something even stranger and more sinister than the Covid-19 virus is creeping across the USA: Joe Biden’s Flying Dutchman campaign which, like the ghost-ship of legend, plies the vasty electoral seas with a skeleton crew and no hope of ever landing. Late last week, the candidate blew into Yuma, AZ, for a rare, joint appearance with veep pardner Kamala Harris and, guess what, absolutely no civilians (i.e. voters) showed up at the event, though the local TV news had publicized it. Weird, a little bit? Face it: we’re living in the days of fantastic high-tech information mischief. Virtually all of the traditional news media, plus the powerful new social media, plus the news media of foreign lands, and scores of other embeds in the federal bureaucracy, are behind the story that Ol’ White Joe and his understudy, Ms. Harris, are way ahead in the polls.

Do you ask yourself, as I must, whether this is all a gigantic psy-op? And why would it be? All right, I know that many readers are cross-eyed to the point of nausea over the Barr-Durham investigation, especially the failure to deliver indictments before the election. The complete absence of leaks from that outfit has been crazy-making itself for many. But I take that as a sign of the profound seriousness of the investigation. Durham’s crew is methodically making a case for the worst and largest seditious conspiracy in US history. It requires the most extreme care. They are not going to blow it by allowing any suspicion that it is being used as a campaign ploy on behalf of Mr. Trump.

Sometime after the election and before the 20th of January, a great big hammer is going to come down on the people who organized the RussiaGate op and many of its spinoffs. As the late Tom Petty observed, the waiting is the hardest part, and not only for those in the Counter-resistance who have already connected the felonious dots based on publicly available documents, but also for the targets of the Barr-Durham RussiaGate probe, the Resistance itself — the long log of Obama Admin officials, Clinton campaign minions, and even senators who worked to prevent Donald Trump’s election by foul means and then tried to disable and overthrow him when it didn’t work, in order to cover up their criminal culpability.

You understand that the targets of Barr and Durham are almost all lawyers, Democratic Party-connected lawyers, that is. And so, what they are doing in the shadows of Joe Biden’s ghost campaign is attempting to mount a last-ditch lawyers’ assault on their antagonists, who have regained control of a rogue Justice Department. Thus: Lawfare. If RussiaGate was the most dastardly crime of government against itself ever in US history, then the final result will be the most awful roundup and prosecution of disgraced former officials ever seen in the history of the world’s great nations. Criminal liability may even extend into the news media itself — though they may only be named as unindicted co-conspirators.

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“Should you remain silent, you will be complicit in a coup d’état.”

Coup Who? (Hemingway)

In August, two retired military officers published a piece in Defense One which literally encouraged America’s top military leadership to have the 82nd airborne to descend on Washington in the event of a disputed election and escort President Trump out of office. “In the Constitutional crisis described above, your duty is to give unambiguous orders directing U.S. military forces to support the Constitutional transfer of power,” they write. “Should you remain silent, you will be complicit in a coup d’état.” In other words, the military must prevent a coup by staging one of their own. Thankfully, the Pentagon publicly condemned John Nagl’s and Paul Yingling’s musings.

In some regards it is unremarkable in a nation with millions of military veterans that two of them would have some kind of Clockwork Orange-style MSNBC viewing party and put crayon to paper long enough to come up with this violent fantasia. However, the problem isn’t so much that Nagl and Yingling gamed out this scenario – every election that I can remember for the last 30 years has featured fringe voices expressing concern that the current occupant will refuse to leave. The real problem is that, for once, a respectable media outlet went ahead and published it. If anything, the Defense One op-ed was just the most explicit example of the anti-Trump coup pornography that’s become a staple of mainstream media.


And when the media is not baselessly fretting Trump will refuse to leave office, they’re outrageously and falsely characterizing Trump and his administration in ways that justify his violent removal. The Washington Post recently ran an “analysis” in the business section, quoting a bunch of academics warning that Trump was leading America into autocracy. The article ended with this kicker quote from a Swedish political scientist, Staffan I. Lindberg at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg: “‘if Trump wins this election in November, democracy is gone’ in the United States, [Lindberg] says. He gives it about two years. ‘It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late.’”

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“..all of the individuals charged in the plot had been under intense scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation months prior to the scheme being hatched..”

Kidnapping Dissent: The Whitmer Plot and the End of Freedom (MPN)

Stoked for decades by an extremist capitalist oligarchy which has slowly and methodically disabled the levers of democracy to achieve its interests, the latent racial tensions that haunt America’s collective psyche are being exploited in ways never before possible with the advent of online disinformation mashups, like QAnon, Antifa, BLM and others along the spectrum of modern-day social media constructs. As we near the 2020 presidential election, the skeletons in America’s closet are being dressed in the latest fashion and paraded before a terrified citizenry, whose health and peace of mind is under siege as a result of the pandemic crisis while simultaneously bombarded with apocalyptic scenarios of societal collapse and civil war, like the alleged conspiracy to kidnap and murder Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer as part of a larger plan to storm the Michigan State Capitol with hundreds of armed men.

But, considering the fact that all of the individuals charged in the plot had been under intense scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation months prior to the scheme being hatched, it is not surprising that suspicions of entrapment by the FBI have begun to swirl around the high profile case, which was filed before the U.S. District Court of Western Michigan last Tuesday.

[..] Prior to the 2018 midterm victory that put her in the governor’s mansion, Whitmer had served in the Michigan state Senate from 2006 until 2014. More recently, she had assumed the role of interim Ingham County prosecutor in 2016 after the serving prosecutor had to resign over a lurid sex scandal. Whitmer beat Republican Bill Schuette to take the governorship and after just one year in office, she came into the national spotlight for the first time when she was selected to deliver the Democrats’ response to the Trump’s last State of the Union address in February, which also coincided with the start of the FBI’s investigation into her would-be kidnappers.

In August, Whitmer again garnered national attention amid speculation that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was going to choose her as his running mate. By then, the FBI had compiled hours of conversations between the ragtag crew of convicted criminals and U.S. Marines, who in June, allegedly targeted Governor Whitmer as part of a grand plan to storm the Michigan State Capitol with 200 men and take hostages before the upcoming presidential election. The group’s motivation is said to come from Whitmer’s “unilateral” lockdown policies, extending the state’s coronavirus emergency measures beyond the original April 30 cut-off date through executive order.

The move elicited an immediate reaction from conservatives in the state and the very influential Koch-funded Mackinac Center, which filed an injunction against the governor’s executive action in May. After challenges to the governor’s orders were struck down in lower courts, the Republican-majority Michigan Supreme Court last week added fuel to the fire by ruling Whitmer’s executive orders to be unconstitutional and setting off a firestorm of controversy on the same day FBI agents murdered Eric Mark-Matthew Allport in Detroit and just before the FBI decided to submit their affidavit against the Whitmer plotters.

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Never let a good crisis go to waste.

IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries (MPN)

The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world.76 of the 91 loans it has negotiated with 81 nations since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in March have come attached with demands that countries adopt measures such as deep cuts to public services and pensions — measures that will undoubtedly entail privatization, wage freezes or cuts, or the firing of public sector workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters.

The principal cheerleader for neoliberal austerity measures across the globe for decades, the IMF has recently (quietly) begun admitting that these policies have not worked and generally make problems like poverty, uneven development, and inequality even worse. Furthermore, they have also failed even to bring the promised economic growth that was meant to counteract these negative effects. In 2016, it described its own policies as “oversold” and earlier summed up its experiments in Latin America as “all pain, no gain.” Thus, its own reports explicitly state its policies do not work.


“The IMF has sounded the alarm about a massive spike in inequality in the wake of the pandemic. Yet it is steering countries to pay for pandemic spending by making austerity cuts that will fuel poverty and inequality,” Chema Vera, Interim Executive Director of Oxfam International, said today. “These measures could leave millions of people without access to healthcare or income support while they search for work, and could thwart any hope of sustainable recovery. In taking this approach, the IMF is doing an injustice to its own research. Its head needs to start speaking to its hands.”

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Wouldn’t many say that so they look like good citizens?

CDC: 85% of COVID19 Patients Report ‘Always’ Or ‘Often’ Wearing A Mask (JS)

An underreported, recently-published CDC study adds to the pile of evidence that cloth masks or other forms of mandated face coverings only contribute negatives to our COVID-19 problem. The study also displays — despite the constant accusations of widespread misbehavior from public health officials — that Americans are adhering to mask wearing, but mask wearing is not doing us any good. The CDC study, which surveyed symptomatic COVID-19 patients, has found that 70.6% of respondents reported “always” wearing a mask, while an additional 14.4% say they “often” wear a mask. That means a whopping 85% of infected COVID-19 patients reported habitual mask wearing. Only 3.9% of those infected said they “never” wear a face covering.


The study offers insight into the reality that tens of thousands of Americans are acquiring COVID-19 on a daily basis despite overwhelming adherence to mask wearing. Masks simply aren’t working to “slow the spread” or “stop the spread.” The study also dismisses “public health experts’” claims from individuals such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and others that Americans are not following the guidance being disseminated by the CDC and other disease control agencies. Americans are following the CDC guidance. It’s just not working.

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These trials all have problems.

Johnson&Johnson Covid19 Vaccine Study Paused Due To Unexplained Illness (STAT)

The study of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. A document sent to outside researchers running the 60,000-patient clinical trial states that a “pausing rule” has been met, that the online system used to enroll patients in the study has been closed, and that the data and safety monitoring board — an independent committee that watches over the safety of patients in the clinical trial — would be convened. The document was obtained by STAT. Contacted by STAT, J&J confirmed the study pause, saying it was due to “an unexplained illness in a study participant.” The company declined to provide further details.

“We must respect this participant’s privacy. We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information,” the company said in a statement. J&J emphasized that so-called adverse events — illnesses, accidents, and other bad medical outcomes — are an expected part of a clinical study, and also emphasized the difference between a study pause and a clinical hold, which is a formal regulatory action that can last much longer. The vaccine study is not currently under a clinical hold. J&J said that while it normally communicates clinical holds to the public, it does not usually inform the public of study pauses. The data and safety monitoring board, or DSMB, convened late Monday to review the case.


J&J said that in cases like this “it is not always immediately apparent” whether the participant who experienced an adverse event received a study treatment or a placebo. Though clinical trial pauses are not uncommon — and in some cases last only a few days — they are generating outsized attention in the race to test vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Given the size of Johnson & Johnson’s trial, it’s not surprising that study pauses could occur, and another could happen if this one resolves, a source familiar with the study said. “If we do a study of 60,000 people, that is a small village,” the source said. “In a small village there are a lot of medical events that happen.”

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Fairy tales.

Economists Are More Like Storytellers Than Scientists (Benack)

When you listen to an economist, chances are you’ll hear a lot of statistics. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech at the National Association for Business Economics on Oct. 6 is a case in point. In the first two minutes alone he referred to a dizzying range of economic indicators: growth, unemployment rate, personal consumption expenditures inflation, labor force participation, productivity gains, real wage gains and so on. But if you watch the speech, you may notice that he rarely cites the actual numbers. That’s because Powell, and economists generally, tend to be more interested in the direction in which the numbers are going rather than the numbers themselves. Is unemployment high or low? Is the Dow up or down? Is GDP growth trending upward or downward?

In other words, Powell is telling you a story. And although economists have historically wanted their field to be associated with the so-called hard sciences – a conjuring act exemplified by the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences – I’ve come to see it as having a lot more in common with literature, especially novels, than physics or chemistry. As a literary scholar researching economics and its history, I have found that being aware of the similarities between economists and novelists helps us to better evaluate the claims they make. Both are telling stories. Understanding that empowers us to judge the credibility of what they’re saying for ourselves. The notion that economics shares a lot with fiction may seem counterintuitive. That feeling is not incidental.

Ever since the inception of economics in the late 1800s, economists have sought to associate their discipline with the very opposite of fiction: the natural sciences. Unlike economics, which deals with human relationships, the hard sciences study phenomena in the natural world. As such, a claim by a natural scientist reflects a different kind of truth than one by an economist. For example, the law of gravity describes an immutable physical fact; the law of supply and demand describes a relationship between people. What we know as mainstream economics today began with the concept of marginal utility, which posits that individuals make purchases by considering how much happiness they will derive from each additional unit of a good or service.

What attracted many economists to the concept was that it provided a way to make economics more mathematical. The concept of marginal utility allowed economists to turn sensations into quantities. Happiness was imagined as a pile of many little units of pleasure, which some economists actually believed could be physically measured. Francis Y. Edgeworth even conceived of a “psychophysical machine” to do precisely that in his beautifully titled book “Mathematical Psychics.” This is to say that, in the 19th century, the resemblance of economics to the natural sciences fooled even some of its own practitioners.

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Oct 112020
 


Paul Wolff Frankfurt Opera House 1934

 

It’s A 2-Point Race, Not 16 (WE)
Biden Says Voters Don’t Deserve To Know If He Would Pack Supreme Court (JTN)
Beltway Republicans Want Trump to Drop The “Russiagate” Issue (sundance)
Biden Misquotes Trump on Gold Star Families (FactCheck.org)
50 Richest Americans Now Worth More Than Poorest 165 Million (ZH)
Most Voters Believe FBI Should Be Prosecuted For Role In Russia Probe (JTN)
EU Agrees Common ‘Traffic Light’ System For Coronavirus Travel (R.)
New Italy Mandate Requires Face Masks At All Times When Outside (JTN)
Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (Oster)

 

 

 

 

The Plot Against the President

 

 

Pollsters, like much of the press, don’t care about their credibility. They’re political instruments.

It’s A 2-Point Race, Not 16 (WE)

Add John Zogby to the growing number of Democratic pollsters questioning major media surveys showing a double-digit lead by Joe Biden over President Trump. “It’s closer than you think,” according to Zogby, who’s own John Zogby Strategies survey puts Biden’s lead at two points, 49%-47%. In his latest podcast with son and pollster Jeremy Zogby, John Zogby said that polls showing a bigger Biden lead are using a bad model, one that includes far too many Democrats. His model follows the partisan turnout in 2016 that was about 34% Republicans and about 38% Democrats. “We believe that is a more accurate reflection of the turnout model,” he said. But others showing a big Biden lead over-weigh Democrats. “Now some of the polls that have come out, I find troubling,” he said, citing CNN, Fox, and YouGov.

They give an average 15-point advantage to Democrats. CNN had it a 16-point lead. “I’m a Democrat,” he said, but “I just don’t don’t think the sampling is accurate.” While the elder Zogby didn’t cite a reason other pollsters are showing a bigger Biden lead, his son Jeremy did — Biden bias. “To me, it’s only two things. It’s deliberate, or it’s a projection of bias, and I would go with the latter,” he said in their weekly conversation, The Zogby Report. “If you live in an area, and you live in an echo chamber, and most of your friends think a certain way, a lot of times the echo chamber effect is that you tend to project, ‘How could people think such a certain way, clearly, for example, the president is out of mind, and he’s bad for this country, he’s bad for the world, so of course people are going to turn out in droves for Biden.’ I’m afraid that that’s what’s happening, a projection of bias in the data,” he said.

John McLaughlin, of McLaughlin & Associates, recently sent a memo to the president titled “Skewed media polls,” and said the media is trying to rig the election and suppress the GOP vote by making it look like a Biden runaway. In it, he wrote, “The latest skewed media polls must be intentional. It’s clear that NBC, ABC and CNN who have Democrat operatives like Chuck Todd, George Stephanopoulos and other Democrats in their news operations are consistently under-polling Republicans and therefore, reporting biased polls. They continue to poll adults or registered voters that skew away from likely voters. So instead of the 33% Republican turnout which actually happened in 2016, they are reporting polls on only 26%, 25% or even 24% Republicans.

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“You’ll know my position on court-packing the day after the election..” What a curious thing to say. But who attacks him on it? He gets away with it.

“.. the moment he answers that question all headlines will be about his stance.” No, the same press who don’t ask it now will not write about it after.

Biden Says Voters Don’t Deserve To Know If He Would Pack Supreme Court (JTN)

During a trip to Las Vegas, a reporter confronted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on if he would pack the court, in which he replied that voters don’t deserve to know. A KTNV reporter told Biden the number one thing viewers have asked in the past couple days is if he would choose to pack the court. “Well you’ve been asked by the viewers who are probably Republicans who don’t want me continuing to talk about what they’re doing to the court right now,” Biden responded Friday. “Well, sir don’t the voters deserve to know…?” reporter Ross DiMattei asked.


“No they don’t…. I’m not gonna play his game, he’d love me to talk about, and I’ve already said something on court packing, he’d love that to be the discussion instead of what he’s doing now,” Biden said. Last year during the Democratic primary, Biden claimed to oppose packing the court, something some of the other candidates supported. “You’ll know my position on court-packing the day after the election,” Biden said in Phoenix on Thursday, explaining that the moment he answers that question all headlines will be about his stance.

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In whose interest is this?

Beltway Republicans Want Trump to Drop The “Russiagate” Issue (sundance)

While it might seem frustrating to see republicans and conservatives demanding that President Trump stop talking about the greatest act of sedition and usurpation, within our Constitutional Republic in the history of our nation, this espousal by Andrew McCarthy is factually a very wide-spread opinion within the DC beltway:

Take the intents in their best possible light, and the basic premise is that no-one cares about the abuses of power that took place. National Review article by Rich Lowry is here. I have shared by own thoughts on this matter several times; and despite knowing this issue may not/will not drive the 2020 election; in my own contemplation I keep coming back to this central question: How can this be ignored? “… How does the office of a U.S. president; and more importantly the republic itself; survive a coordinated coup effort involving all three branches of government; while simultaneously those in charge of exposing the corruption fear the scale is too damaging for them to reveal?” What are your thoughts?

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Did he say really crazy things? Factcheck says no.

Biden Misquotes Trump on Gold Star Families (FactCheck.org)

Bartiromo, Oct: 8: And you said it was a blessing in disguise. Trump: A blessing in disguise. I’m — I’m glad because I’m the leader. And I can’t be like Biden where I hang out in a basement every day. Sure, he — if I wanted to hang out in a basement, I wouldn’t catch it, but I meet a lot of people and I have to. I’m the president of the country. I can’t hang around in a basement. So, I figured there would be a chance that I would catch it. Sometimes I’d be with — in groups of — for instance Gold Star families. I met with Gold Star families. I didn’t want to cancel that. But they all came in and they all talked about their son and daughter and father.

And, you know, they all came up to me and they tell me a story, Maria. It was really amazing actually, beautiful but sad. And they come up and they tell me a story about my son, sir, was in Iraq or he was in Afghanistan. And sir, he did this and he did that and then he charged in order to save his friends. And yes, sir, he was killed but he saved his friends. He’s so brave, sir. And they tell me these stories and I can’t say, “Back up, stand 10 feet.” I just can’t do it. And I went through like 35 people and everyone had a different story. I could also say don’t tell stories. They’re telling the story of their son who just died or daughter — Bartiromo: Right.

Trump: — or husband who just died in a war or recently died, you know, mostly over the last 10, 12 years but some very recent. And I can’t back up, Maria, and say, “Give me room, I want room. Give me 12 feet, stay 12 feet away when you talk.” They come, they come, within an inch of my face sometimes. They want to hug me and they want to kiss me. And they do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back up. I’m not doing it. But I did say it’s like, you know — it’s obviously dangerous. It’s a dangerous thing I guess if you go by the COVID thing. But I’m thinking — Bartiromo: Yes. Trump: Look, I look at the numbers. I figured that you probably — that probably at some point I’d catch it and I’ll get better. That’s what happened. I’ve caught it.

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Perversity.

50 Richest Americans Now Worth More Than Poorest 165 Million (ZH)

If readers want more evidence that the current economic system is rigged towards the working poor, well, look no further: New Federal Reserve data shows how these monetary wizards exacerbated the wealth gap during the virus pandemic via unprecedented quantitative easing programs. Never before has the Fed unleashed so much monetary stimulus in a given quarter (2Q20) to shield the economy from the virus-induced downturn. The result is a “K-shaped” recovery, disproportionately affecting low-wage service workers and households of color, while billionaires, cent millionaires, and millionaires added record wealth. The Fed’s monetary interventions resulted in surging stock and other asset prices, while those who owned no assets did not participate in the “V” recovery.

Earlier this week, Swiss bank UBS and accounting firm PwC published a new report that showed the wealth of the world’s 2,189 billionaires jumped to a new record high of $10.2 trillion in July, surpassing the $8.9 trillion record at the end of 2017. It was only when the world’s central banks aggressively expanded their balance sheets, beginning in March, that the rich got richer… Bloomberg notes that the Fed data shows the top 1% of Americans are worth $34.2 trillion, while the poorest 50%, around 165 million people, control about $2.08 trillion, or less than 2% of all household wealth. Meanwhile, the 50 wealthiest people in the country are worth almost $2 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, up $339 billion from the start of 2020. Tesla’s Elon Musk is a prime example of a billionaire who saw his wealth rapidly increase this year, up $75.6 billion year-to-date, to $103 billion.


Covid-19 has exacerbated the already worsening inequality issues in the U.S. If it’s monetary or fiscal, the transmission of stimulus has primarily flowed to society’s wealthiest. The rich got richer, and the working-poor got poorer. Tens of millions of working poor households were handed lousy $1,200 checks, with many folks still without jobs, depleted emergency savings, food insecurity issues, and millions at risk of eviction. The wealthiest 1% saw their wealth erupt earlier this year as they own about 50% of all stocks and mutual funds. The top 9% own about a third of stocks, which means the top 10% of Americans own about 88% of stocks.

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The takeaway from this is how few people know they lied to a FISA court.

Most Voters Believe FBI Should Be Prosecuted For Role In Russia Probe (JTN)

A near-majority of voters say FBI agents and leaders should be prosecuted for their role in the Russian collusion conspiracy theory, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Among the voters, 46% said FBI officials should be criminally charged over the scandal, while only half that number — 23% — said they shouldn’t. Thirty percent were unsure. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from October 1-3, 2020.

In a related Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen, just one-third of voters were aware that the FBI lied to a judge to obtain wiretaps against 2016 Trump campaign associates. When asked, 33% of voters said it was “true” that FBI agents lied to a judge to obtain warrants against Trump campaign affiliates. A fifth of all voters — 21% — found the allegation to be “false,” while 46% were unsure. The results indicate that relatively few voters are aware that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith earlier this year admitted to falsifying an email used to obtain a wiretap against 2016 Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

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As if that solves any problems.

EU Agrees Common ‘Traffic Light’ System For Coronavirus Travel (R.)

European Union countries agreed on Friday to a common “traffic light” system to guide them on COVID-19 testing or quarantines on EU tourists and other non-essential travellers during the pandemic.It aims to end a confusing patchwork of restrictions across Europe and to bring back free movement of people, one of the key principles of the EU, within the 27-nation bloc when conditions allow. The system would lead to more “predictability and transparency” when travelling under COVID conditions in the EU, a spokesman for the German EU Council presidency said, calling it an important step forward.

The guidelines, which were backed by a majority of EU governments and will be formally adopted next week, advise that restrictions should be non-discriminatory, proportionate and limited to what is necessary. Under the plan, regions across the European Union will be designated green, orange or red, based on the degree to which the virus is under control, and grey if data is insufficient. The idea is that all countries will grant access to visitors from green zones. The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control will provide weekly updates to assign the colours.

Based on its current assessment, with COVID-19 cases spiking across Europe, few areas would qualify as green – most of eastern Germany, parts of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Cyprus, certain regions of Bulgaria and Greece and one zone in Italy. While individual EU countries are free to determine their own measures, they will be encouraged to be consistent, for example setting the same measures for all red zones. A green status will apply to regions with fewer than 25 infections per 100,000 people in 14 days and where the percentage of positive tests is below 4%. Red means infection rates of 50 or more and positive tests of 4% or higher or infection rates of over 150 even with a low positive test rate.

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“..masks and protective gear..” What other gear does he mean? Look, if people wear just anything on their faces nobody gets protected. That’s just signalling.

I just bought a whole bunch of KN95 masks for the people working at the social kitchen in Athens. They are at risk. And if I can do that, your government can also.

But this is just plain nonsense. The risk of getting infected outside is not zero, but still negligible.

New Italy Mandate Requires Face Masks At All Times When Outside (JTN)

Protesters gathered in Rome on Saturday to show their anger over the country’s mask mandates among other continuous COVID-19 rules as infections across Italy and Europe are on the rise. Demonstrators expressed their frustration over harsh virus mandates that have not stopped since the beginning of the pandemic, including a new order that calls for all Italians to wear face masks while outside or else they could face a fine up to 1,000 euros ($1,200). “From now on, masks and protective gear have to be brought with us when we leave our house and worn. We have to wear them all the time unless we are in a situation of continuous isolation,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.


There were two different anti-mask protests on Saturday in the city, according to AP News. The ‘march for freedom’ event rallied Italians together to show their government disapproval and concerns for the democracy and economy. There have been 350,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Italy and 36,140 deaths. Most of the recent cases in the country are asymptomatic, and are detected through increased testing.

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Smart girl.

Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (Oster)

In early august, the first kids in America went back to school during the pandemic. Many of these openings happened in areas where cases were high or growing: in Georgia, Indiana, Florida. Parents, teachers, and scientists feared what might happen next. The New York Times reported that, in parts of Georgia, a school of 1,000 kids could expect to see 20 or 30 people arrive with COVID-19 during week one. Many assumed that school infections would balloon and spread outward to the broader community, triggering new waves. On social media, people shared pictures of high schools with crowded hallways and no masking as if to say I told you so.

Fear and bad press slowed down or canceled school reopenings elsewhere. Many large urban school districts chose not to open for in-person instruction, even in places with relatively low positivity rates. Chicago, L.A., Houston—all remote, at least so far. It’s now October. We are starting to get an evidence-based picture of how school reopenings and remote learning are going (those photos of hallways don’t count), and the evidence is pointing in one direction. Schools do not, in fact, appear to be a major spreader of COVID-19. Since early last month, I’ve been working with a group of data scientists at the technology company Qualtrics, as well as with school-principal and superintendent associations, to collect data on COVID-19 in schools.

Our data on almost 200,000 kids in 47 states from the last two weeks of September revealed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff. That’s about 1.3 infections over two weeks in a school of 1,000 kids, or 2.2 infections over two weeks in a group of 1,000 staff. Even in high-risk areas of the country, the student rates were well under half a percent. School-based data from other sources show similarly low rates. Texas reported 1,490 cases among students for the week ending on September 27, with 1,080,317 students estimated at school—a rate of about 0.14 percent. The staff rate was lower, about 0.10 percent. These numbers are not zero, which for some people means the numbers are not good enough.

But zero was never a realistic expectation. We know that children can get COVID-19, even if they do tend to have less serious cases. Even if there were no spread in schools, we’d see some cases, because students and teachers can contract the disease off campus. But the numbers are small—smaller than what many had forecasted. Predictions about school openings hurting the broader community seem to have been overblown as well. In places such as Florida, preliminary data haven’t shown big community spikes as a result of school openings. Rates in Georgia have continued to decline over the past month. And although absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I’ve read many stories about outbreaks at universities, and vanishingly few about outbreaks at the K–12 level.

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