Oct 022021
 
 October 2, 2021  Posted by at 7:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


M. C. Escher The Tower of Babel 1928

 

Molnupiravir: Coding For Catastrophe (Nature)
Molnupiravir Faces Execution Obstacles (CTA)
The Vaccine Death Report (Zelenko et al)
You CAN’T Use ‘Cases’ (Denninger)
In a Dark Wood (Kunstler)
Hospitals Should Hire, Not Fire, Nurses with Natural Immunity (Kulldorff)
72% Of Black NYC Residents Are Banned From Entering Restaurants (Fed.)
Fauci Confronted About CDC Claims About “Breakthrough” Infections (ZH)
Myocarditis in VAERS Linked To Covid-19 Injectable Biological Products (SD)
Fully Vaccinated Harvard Business School Shuts Down After Covid Outbreak (TE)
Newsom Makes Vaccines Mandatory For All School Children In California (PM)
Supreme Court Rejects NYC Teachers’ Request To Stop Vaccine Mandate (JTN)
The Looming Energy Crisis: People Are Going To Die This Winter (Blain)
The US Found A ‘Lawful’ Way To Disappear Assange (Cook)

 

 

Pierre Kory:

Merck’s news today is great since patients will have early Rx but also sad given the high cost and lives lost compared to IVM.

Molnupiravir=47% reduction in hospitalization/death while IVM=88% reduction.

 

 

Delta?

 

 

Palast

 

 

Published: 13 September 2021

Molnupiravir: Coding For Catastrophe (Nature)

Molnupiravir, a wide-spectrum antiviral that is currently in phase 2/3 clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19, is proposed to inhibit viral replication by a mechanism known as ‘lethal mutagenesis’. Two recently published studies reveal the biochemical and structural bases of how molnupiravir disrupts the fidelity of SARS-CoV-2 genome replication and prevents viral propagation by fostering error accumulation in a process referred to as ‘error catastrophe’. Despite the reprieve from COVID-19 granted by vaccination programs, SARS-CoV-2 continues to ravage many communities worldwide. Vaccine shortages, public hesitancy and the emergence of new virus variants have hindered public health efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2 is likely to become endemic1, leading to the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants and reinforcing the need to develop antiviral therapeutic agents. Molnupiravir (MK-4482, EIDD-2801) is a candidate antiviral that inhibits viral propagation through lethal mutagenesis by introducing errors in the viral genome. The biochemical and structural basis of how molnupiravir induces lethal mutagenesis has remained largely unexplored. Recently, Götte and colleagues reported biochemical results exploring the antiviral activity of molnupiravir and provided a compelling model to explain the mutagenic patterns observed in coronaviruses exposed to molnupiravir in cell culture2. In this issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Cramer and colleagues further our understanding of this process by providing biochemical and structural data that reveal how molnupiravir introduces transition mutations into the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Together, the two studies offer complementary and comprehensive views of the mechanism of lethal mutagenesis and provide a platform for rational drug design.

Read more …

January 2021. “..molnupiravir could be metabolised into a precursor of DNA ..”

Molnupiravir Faces Execution Obstacles (CTA)

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics/Merck’s Phase IIa molnupiravir is attractive for outpatient and recently hospitalised Covid-19 patients due to its mechanism and oral administration, experts said. However, many trial success blind spots persist, limiting efficacy judgment, they added. Encouraging preclinical data is yet to translate into humans, and there is potential for lingering severe side effects due to molnupiravir’s mutagenic mechanism, experts noted. While targeting Covid-19 patients in the earlier part of the disease spectrum is logical, the trial designs may blur molnupiravir’s clinical value, they said. In July 2020, Miami, Florida-based Ridgeback and Merck announced they had partnered to advance molnupiravir in Covid-19.

[..]Comparing molnupiravir and Veklury may be inappropriate as they are intended for different patients, Brown added. Veklury is FDA approved in hospitalised patients, although it has a wider emergency use authorisation. Even if molnupiravir is only as potent as Veklury, its oral formulation will boost its clinical value, as it could be used by more people, Shafer said. As much as 80% of all Covid-19 cases are either asymptomatic or mild, with only 20% of patients sick enough to be hospitalised, added Dr Yvonne Maldonado, professor, infectious diseases in pediatrics and health research and policy, Stanford University, California, and a Phase II Avigan trial investigator in asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 patients. Another oral Covid-19 therapy under investigation is Fujifilm Toyama Chemical’s Avigan (favirpiravir), which is also an oral mutagen, Shafer said, but added Avigan’s preclinical and clinical data in Covid-19 are underwhelming so far.

Due to limited data with highly active viral mutagens like molnupiravir, there is concern its mechanism would negatively impact the host, leading to side effects, Swanstrom said. When considering widespread deployment, toxicity is a major issue, said Dr Saye Khoo, professor, pharmacology and therapeutics, University of Liverpool, UK. How it is utilised will depend on its overall toxicity data, added Khoo, who is studying molnupiravir in a Phase I/II basket trial investigating various Covid-19 treatments.

Side effect concerns have been raised about whether molnupiravir could be metabolised into a precursor of DNA, Swanstrom said, explaining it could enter the host cell nucleus, leading to oncogenesis. Mitochondrial toxicity with such a mechanism has been raised in previous investigations in hepatitis B and HIV, added an investigator in a Covid-19 trial recruiting outpatients and recently hospitalised patients. In the 20-day Phase I molnupiravir trial recruiting healthy volunteers, 93.3% of adverse events were mild, with one patient discontinuing due to rash (Painter, W., et al., Medrxiv. 14 December. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.10.20235747).

Molnupiravir is only used in the short term, twice-daily for five days, as opposed to chronic use, Shafer added. Polymerase inhibitor side effects have improved over the years, and while mutagen side effects were a concern in early development in HIV, they have eased in available hepatitis treatments, Brown added. However, due to the need for longer-term safety data, molnupiravir may be limited to patients at high risk of developing severe disease, Swanstrom said.

Read more …

“..the British Office for National Statistics inadvertently revealed that 30,305 people have died within 21 days of having the injection, during the first 6 months of 2021.”

The Vaccine Death Report (Zelenko et al)

In The Netherlands, one of the smallest nations in the European Union, an extraparliamentary research commitee set up a platform for citizens to report vaccine adverse events. This is no initiative from the government and has received no attention whatsoever in the media. The vast majority of the Dutch population is therefore unaware of its existence. Yet, dispite its narrow scope of influence, this private initiative has already received reports of 1,600 deaths and 1,200 health damages, often permanently disabling the people. 3 What if the entire vaccinated population knew about this platform and filed a report? And what if this was also available in the other E.U. countries, that are much larger than The Netherlands?

UK: Shortly before the national vaccination campaign started, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) published the following request: ‘The MHRA urgently seeks an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software tool to process the expected high volume of Covid-19 vaccine Adverse Drug Reaction (ADRs) and ensure that no details from the ADRs’ reaction text are missed.’ The British government published a report of the first series of adverse events, including blindness, strokes, miscarriages, heart failure, paralysis, auto immune disease, and more. Shortly after the first wave of immunization over 100,000 adverse events were reported, including 1260 cases of loss of eyesight (including total blindness). The first part of the report praises the vaccines to be the best way to protect people from COVID-19, and then continues to show the incredible destruction these vaccines are causing. The hypocrisy is mindboggling. Also in the United Kingdom the number of miscarriages increased by 366% in only six weeks, for vaccinated mothers.

Furthermore the British Office for National Statistics inadvertently revealed that 30,305 people have died within 21 days of having the injection, during the first 6 months of 2021. And a British scientist with 35 years of experience did an in depth analysis of the British Yellow Card reporting system and found it to be unreliable. ‘We can conclude that the Yellow Card reporting scheme can provide some limited information that may be useful for alerting the UK public to possible adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. However, the initial conception of the scheme as a purely descriptive rather than as an experimental undertaking means that it cannot address the real issues that are of crucial importance to the UK public. These issues are whether there are causal relationships between vaccination with the PF and AZ vaccines and serious adverse effects such as death, and if so, what are the size of these effects.’

Read more …

3 more months of PCR in the US. And what then?

You CAN’T Use ‘Cases’ (Denninger)

Not one lab has ever returned Ct numbers to the tested person. Not even in Florida, where DeSantis issued an Executive Order requiring it. Was there ever any enforcement of that? No. Why did we know this was entirely bogus? Simple: On the CDC’s own math the fall surge — which turned into the Winter Disaster — was epidemiologically impossible. Specifically, look at their mean ratio of infections to case counts and you see the problem; at 6x enough people had the virus for there be no surge. But there was. By the summer this was even more beclowned as on that same data everyone had been infected. But…. there was a surge. Do remember the admitted truth on PCR: A Ct test of 35 or more almost never results in culturable virus.


It breaks down something like this:
Ct<20 = Nearly always you can culture virus.
Ct25 = 50 – 70% of the time you can culture virus.
Ct30 = ~25-30% of the time you can culture virus.
Ct35 = ~4-8% of the time you can culture virus.
Ct40 = Statistically never can you culture virus.

Why is this important? Many people have claimed that viral debris from your infection still means you had it, thus, positive is positive. Nope. This is the worst sort of fraud. At very high Ct numbers the debris could be from contamination at the lab, or between samples. But it could also be from your prior, non-Covid-19 immunity and anyone who is even slightly competent in understanding the immune system knows it. The virus enters through the nose and mouth. The upper respiratory tract is where it first gets into cells — if it gets into cells. Your body has a bevvy of defensive mechanisms to prevent that from happening. Remember that unlike bacteria a virus cannot replicate outside of a living cell. The mucosa in your mouth and nose is not alive. The cells under it are, but it is not.

So if a virus lands in your nose but never gets through the mucosa it will register positive on a PCR test — because it is positive — if the Ct is cranked up high enough. Technically you “got” the virus (you “caught” it) but you were never infected. It is certainly true that some of the people who are “positive” with high Ct numbers are infected and you got them “early”; they will go on to have clinical disease and, if you test them again you will get another positive in a day or two with a much lower Ct. But nobody does that. In addition exactly zero health departments have validated their claimed “infected” counts by coming back to those people with a $5 antibody test two weeks later and looking for IgA, IgM and/or IgG antibodies. IgA may be present and both IgM and likely a weak read of IgG will be present if the person was actually infected at that time. If only IgG is present that infection was not Covid-19; they previously were infected and you lied; their body beat off the incipient infection without impact.

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“..large numbers of health care workers getting kicked out of their jobs will only make it more difficult to care for patients..”

In a Dark Wood (Kunstler)

In upstate New York, WNYT-TV reported yesterday that 200 employees of Albany Med, a large, regional teaching hospital, are placed on seven day’s unpaid leave prior to getting fired for refusing the vaccine. Andrew Cuomo’s replacement, new Governor Kathy Hochul, has blocked unemployment benefits for fired nurses and technicians if they persist in evading the vax. Doctors are included in the mix, too. Of course, large numbers of health care workers getting kicked out of their jobs will only make it more difficult to care for patients — with Covid or any other health problem — so how does this policy help anyone? (Unless you consider that, with fewer staff on-duty, fewer Covid in-patients will be subjected to the medical malpractice of being placed on ventilators and treated with the killer drug Remdesivir.)


Not only has effective early treatment with other drugs been banned from the official medical standards-of-practice across the USA, but mere talk about it has been banned, notably by Google’s YouTube app. This coercion of health care workers is going on all over the country, of course, not just in New York state. These nurses and techs have been working around Covid patients for going on two years, and many of them have gotten the disease, with symptoms or without, conferring natural immunity. So, what is the point of forcing the vaxes on them? It is also a fact that vaccinated people are susceptible to catching the disease, and that, in any case, the vaccinated carry heavier viral loads than the un-vaxed, making them more efficient spreaders. It is also a fact that mass vaccination in the midst of a pandemic promotes the mutation of new variant viruses that increasingly are not affected by the vaccines.

Read more …

“By instituting vaccine mandates, university hospitals are now also questioning the existence of natural immunity after Covid disease. This is astonishing.”

Hospitals Should Hire, Not Fire, Nurses with Natural Immunity (Kulldorff)

Among many surprising developments during this pandemic, the most stunning has been the questioning of naturally acquired immunity after a person has had the Covid disease. We have understood natural immunity since at least the Athenian Plague in 430 BC. Here is Thucydides: ‘Yet it was with those who had recovered from the disease that the sick and the dying found most compassion. These knew what it was from experience and had no fear for themselves; for the same man was never attacked twice—never at least fatally.’ – Thucydides We have lived with endemic coronaviruses for at least a hundred years, for which we have long-lasting natural immunity. As expected, we also have natural immunity after Covid-19 disease, as there have been exceedingly few reinfections with serious illness or death, despite a widely circulating virus.

For most viruses, natural immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity, and that is also true for Covid. In the best study to date, the vaccinated were around 27 times more likely to have symptomatic disease than those with natural immunity, with an estimated range between 13 and 57. With no Covid deaths in either group, both natural and vaccine immunity protect well against death. During the last decade, I have worked closely with hospital epidemiologists. While the role of physicians is to treat patients and make them well, the task of the hospital epidemiologist is to ensure that patients do not get sick while in the hospital, such as catching a deadly virus from another patient or a caretaker. For that purpose, hospitals employ a variety of measures, from frequent hand washing to full infection control regalia when caring for an Ebola patient.

Vaccinations are a key component of these control efforts. For example, two weeks before spleen surgery, patients are given the pneumococcal vaccine to minimize postoperative infections, and most clinical staff are immunized against influenza every year. Infection control measures are especially critical for older frail hospital patients with a weakened immune system. They can become infected and die from a virus that most people would easily survive. A key rationale for immunizing nurses and physicians against influenza is to ensure that they do not infect such patients. How can hospitals best protect their patients from Covid disease? It is an enormously important question, also relevant for nursing homes. There are some obvious standard solutions, such as separating Covid patients from other patients, minimizing staff rotation, and providing generous sick leave for staff with Covid-like symptoms.

Another goal should be to employ staff with the strongest possible immunity against Covid, as they are less likely to catch it and spread it to their patients. This means that hospitals and nursing homes should actively seek to hire staff that have natural immunity from prior Covid disease and use such staff for their most vulnerable patients. Hence, we are now seeing a fierce competition where hospitals and nursing homes are desperately trying to hire people with natural immunity. Well, actually, not. Instead, hospitals are firing nurses and other staff with superior natural immunity while retaining those with weaker vaccine-induced immunity. By doing so, they are betraying their patients, increasing their risk for hospital-acquired infections.

By pushing vaccine mandates, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is questioning the existence of natural immunity after Covid disease. In doing so, he is following the lead of CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who questioned natural immunity in a 2020 Memorandum published by The Lancet. By instituting vaccine mandates, university hospitals are now also questioning the existence of natural immunity after Covid disease. This is astonishing.

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“Most of the time, the changes they made hurt blacks more than whites, but that’s beside the point; in liberalism, it’s the effort that counts.”

72% Of Black NYC Residents Are Banned From Entering Restaurants (Fed.)

Democrats’ summer of Black Lives Matter is over. Front-line nurses’ year in the sun has passed. Gone are the COVID cries to evict no one ever for any reason at all. Disparate impact? Never heard of her. It’s 2021 now; we’ve advanced. These aren’t simple proclamations. Go and read a newspaper from September 2020, and then glance at one from this past month. The political debates are nearly unrecognizable, it’s almost impossible to believe that the same people were often making both policies. New York City is a leader in world liberalism. For years — and especially since May 2020 — its politicians have mangled their schools, their parks, their police force, and their courts, all in the name of fighting racism. Most of the time, the changes they made hurt blacks more than whites, but that’s beside the point; in liberalism, it’s the effort that counts.

New York City is also a leader of the world’s COVID cult. New Gov. Kathy Hochul says that if you want to serve God, you must receive the sacrament of vaccination. Mayor Bill de Blasio has decreed that all restaurants must see proof of vaccination before service. There’s the snag: Today in New York City, roughly 72 percent of black residents aged 18-44 have not taken the novel vaccine, meaning now roughly 72 percent of black residents aged 18-44 are banned — banned — from entering dining establishments. Statewide, 53 percent of black residents aren’t vaccinated, compared to only 44 percent of white residents who have declined the shots; yet this week, the state’s governor announced she would use the powers of this unending emergency to fire and replace as many as 72,000 health workers for refusing the vaccine.

In New York City, health-care workers were lauded as both heroes and COVID experts just weeks ago. Most of those workers are women, a plurality are black, and now, thousands of them might be out of jobs. The hospital system never collapsed due to COVID, but it might collapse due to Hochul’s measures to fight it. New York City is not alone in reversing course: Down south in Florida earlier this month, one apartment owner promised to evict any tenants who decline the vaccine. It’s unsafe to be near the unclean, he said. So black mother Jasmine Erby and her two children were given the boot. “There was no loophole, no working with me, no extensions and I literally had to walk away,” Irby told Fox News. “It was either get the shot or get out.”

Read more …

“.. the CDC doesn’t even track the breakthrough infections so how do we know that they’re only a small portion and that they’re relatively mild?”

Fauci Confronted About CDC Claims About “Breakthrough” Infections (ZH)

Finally, Eisen Hit Dr. Fauci with a surprise hard ball: She cited “data” collected within her own family, whereby three vaccinated people got COVID and immediately passed it on to two unvaccinated children. Eisen then suggested that the CDC might be “too casual” about breakthough infections, and also questioned “How can the CDC keep saying COVID “breakthrough” infections are rare if they have no data?” To this, Dr. Fauci replied that the CDC is scrambling to change this, and even hinted that more data on the true rate of breakthrough infections would likely soon arrive. “Three vaccinated people got Covid in my house two unvaccinated children got it…are you too casual about the limitations of the vaccine? It seems to me these breakthroughs are happening and they’re happening regularly. You can get it and transmit it and the government hasn’t been warning about that,” Eisen said.

“Oh yes we have and let me get you the facts. If you are an unvaccinated person you have 11x the likelihood of hospitalization…if you look at the people who have died from COVID-19, overwhelmingly they have been unvaccinated,” Dr Fauci Fauci adds that “over 90%” who have been unvaccinated – but of course that vast majority of deaths occurred before the vaccine rollout even started, making this statement slightly misleading. As for determining how many unvaccinated have died since the program began, it’s not exactly clear since this data wasn’t being tracked. Though deaths and hospitalizations have fallen since vaccination rates have risen, but there’s still many questions about whether the young and health actually benefit. Fortunately, CNBC released this clip.

As for the CDC tracking breakthrough infections, Eisen also pressed Dr. Fauci about the fact that “the CDC says on its website that infections occur among…unvaccinated…but the CDC doesn’t even track the breakthrough infections so how do we know that they’re only a small portion and that they’re relatively mild?” Dr. Fauci had nothing really to say to this except to admit she was of course correct while offering a flimsy excuse about the CDC working on it. “Well in the past the CDC has not tracked real or asymptomatic infections, but there are studies being done that would give the kind of data you’re talking about.” “And with the booster program we’re rolling out, we hope to see an improved effect. Israeli data have shown that when you give an at risk person a booster shot, they’re chances of being hospitalizations drop.”

The interview with a question from CNBC host Wilfred Frost about the risks of any future variants, to which Dr. Fauci responded with the typical fear-mongering. “I’ll give an answer that’s totally consistent with what I’ve said before, is the likelihood of seeing something worse…is completely in our own control…if we allow the virus to freely circulate, particularly among unvaccinated people, you give the virus a greater possibility of producing a variant that could create some trouble for our vaccines.” But overall, the interview makes clear: the media is starting to get curious about the growing reports of breakthrough infections of public officials like Brett Kavanaugh (whose diagnosis was announced today) to family members and friends. Whatever it is, the 90%+ rate they insist on seems increasingly like a stretch.

Read more …

JessicaRosePhD, MSc, BSc1; Peter A.McCulloughMD, MPH1

Myocarditis in VAERS Linked To Covid-19 Injectable Biological Products (SD)

Following the global rollout and administration of the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech BNT162b2 and Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccines on December 17, 2020, in the United States, and of the Janssen Ad26.COV2.S product on April 1st, 2021, in an unprecedented manner, hundreds of thousands of individuals have reported adverse events (AEs) using the Vaccine Adverse Events Reports System (VAERS). We used VAERS data to examine cardiac AEs, primarily myocarditis, reported following injection of the first or second dose of the COVID-19 injectable products. Myocarditis rates reported in VAERS were significantly higher in youths between the ages of 13 to 23 (p<0.0001) with 80% occurring in males.

Within 8 weeks of the public offering of COVID-19 products to the 12-15-year-old age group, we found 19 times the expected number of myocarditis cases in the vaccination volunteers over background myocarditis rates for this age group. In addition, a 5-fold increase in myocarditis rate was observed subsequent to dose 2 as opposed to dose 1 in 15-year-old males. A total of 67% of all cases occurred with BNT162b2. Of the total myocarditis AE reports, 6 individuals died (1.1%) and of these, 2 were under 20 years of age – 1 was 13. These findings suggest a markedly higher risk for myocarditis subsequent to COVID-19 injectable product use than for other known vaccines, and this is well above known background rates for myocarditis.

COVID-19 injectable products are novel and have a genetic, pathogenic mechanism of action causing uncontrolled expression of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein within human cells. When you combine this fact with the temporal relationship of AE occurrence and reporting, biological plausibility of cause and effect, and the fact that these data are internally and externally consistent with emerging sources of clinical data, it supports a conclusion that the COVID-19 biological products are deterministic for the myocarditis cases observed after injection.

Read more …

At least now we know where The Science does not live.

Fully Vaccinated Harvard Business School Shuts Down After Covid Outbreak (TE)

Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston, Massachusetts has just experienced a large coronavirus outbreak despite more than 90 percent of students and staff being fully vaccinated. The school, which has a population of more than 1700 students, had a significant Covid-19 outbreak after cases started rising in September. This news comes as 95 percent of students and 96 percent of staff at the school being reported as fully vaccinated, yet this did not appear to stop Covid from making its way through those on campus. Two-thirds of all cases recorded in September came from students. A statement from the HBS said that Covid-19 cases among MBA students surged by 20 per cent in just three days.

Dean Srikant Datar of HBS said: “Our positivity rate is 12 times that of the rest of Harvard. These distressing figures are so high that they have attracted the scrutiny of local public health officials.” To avoid further scrutiny from the public and to preserve Harvard’s image, Datar and several of the university’s administrators have announced that teaching will be conducted online for almost all students until the end of October. This change affects almost all first-year and some second-year courses. This is one of the first instances of a major university halting in-person teaching due to Covid-19 outbreaks. The university made its decision after receiving advice from public health officials employed by the city and state.

HBS also announced that it will be increasing the number of Covid tests it forces upon students to three per week. Previously, the university’s requirement was for fully vaccinated students to get tested once per week and unvaccinated students to get tested twice per week. Mark Cautela, spokesman and head of communication for HBS, said in a statement that Harvard is also requesting students to avoid participating in social gatherings with anybody outside of their households and instead socialise with friends online.

Read more …

The Science has died.

Newsom Makes Vaccines Mandatory For All School Children In California (PM)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that all California school children will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as soon as the FDA approval process is complete. “CA will require our kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine to come to school,” Newsom announced on Twitter. “This will go into effect following full FDA approval.” “Our schools already require vaccines for measles, mumps and more. Why? Because vaccines work.” “This is about keeping our kids safe & healthy,” the governor said. This is the first vaccine mandate for K-12 school children in the US. Currently, the FDA allows for children 12 years old and up to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines which have been approved for use in the US. Teachers and staff will not be required to be vaccinated. Children are at substantially lower risk to COVID than any other demographic. While there have been concerns noted about the risks of vaccines for young people, the FDA has moved ahead with approvals, and is likely to approve lower doses for the under 11 age group.

Read more …

Headline is a little misleading. Sotomayor, on her own, decided the Court will not take up the case. There was no vote. Pass the hot potato?

You would think with all these mandates flying around, they should rule on the legality.

Supreme Court Rejects NYC Teachers’ Request To Stop Vaccine Mandate (JTN)

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to block New York City’s vaccine mandate for public schools following a petition brought by a group of teachers. According to The Hill, the group of New York City teachers asked for an emergency injunction on Thursday, following a lower court’s ruling that permitted the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate to take effect this coming Monday. The group argued that many teachers would lose their jobs if the Supreme Court didn’t intervene. Justice Sonia Sotomayor—who is responsible for emergency matters originating from New York—denied the request without comment.


According to USA Today, teachers had until 5 p.m. on Friday to provide proof of at least one shot of the vaccine. Failure to do so could result in suspension without pay or potential termination on Monday, Oct. 4. This marks the second time the court has refused to take up a vaccine mandate case. The first one was from a group of students who sued Indiana University over its vaccine requirements. Justice Amy Coney Barret rejected the student’s petition and declined their request for emergency relief. More lawsuits from teachers are expected [..]

Read more …

Nordstream 2.

The Looming Energy Crisis: People Are Going To Die This Winter (Blain)

For many months myself and many of the investors I work with have become increasingly concerned at the growing instability and insecurity of energy markets. The 4 times spike in Gas prices this year has been a shocking wake-up call, highlighting energy insecurity in Europe and particularly the UK. Gas prices will remain elevated for months to come. The consequences are going to be brutal – and fatal for some. Energy – whether derived from fossil fuels, nuclear or renewables – is a commodity and the critical thing about commodities is: “You can’t print commodities like you can print money. The rules are not the same,” says my good friend and head of commodities at Shard, Ashley Boolell. Commodities are volatile and dangerous. Oil has doubled in recent months. But the thing about Gold, Silver, Palladium and copper prices is; no matter how volatile they are, they are simply investment opportunities or traps, and are unlikely to kill us.

Energy is different. It can kill us. That was conclusively demonstrated earlier this year in Texas. A swift series of winter storms crashed the Texan grid when gas infrastructure failed in the cold, renewables weren’t delivering, and the deregulation of its energy system had delinked Texas from both US power Grids – making it difficult to import energy. Over 200 people died as a result of power outages. Fast forward to this winter, and the UK and Europe are in the direct firing line of the coming energy storm. The security of energy supplies has never looked less certain. In the UK, neglected storage means we have the capacity to story 3-4 days of Gas. The recent collapse in sterling has been linked to the panic over Petrol supplies, escalating and cascading supply chain failures impacting industry and growing woes blamed on Brexit. I would add questions about how the UK’s status as a first world economy with zero energy security will line up.

How has this happened? Why? Well… that’s a long tale… But, it will be mightily embarrassing for the Boris Johnson Government if the first UK power outages occur during the COP26 Climate Circus in Glasgow in November. COP26 has driven the Government’s agenda and ambition to be seen as more green, more carbon neutral and more ESG than anyone else. I’ve heard tales of cabinet ministers throwing sweary hissy fits when asked to support policies that don’t immediately square with green policies perceived as vote winners. As I’ve written many times – ESG is well intentioned, but perhaps the most dangerous force in Economics today.

Investment managers rely on people giving them money to manage. That is why every single fund manager on the planet is fixated on polishing their green credentials, demonstrating how they are funding ESG compliant investments, and eschewing anything even vaguely linked to hydrocarbons. It is also why Saudi Arabia is polishing its credentials by improbably launching and successfully selling a Green Bond. The result is a chronic failure of common sense across the investment industry. Fund managers claim to be investing in our futures. If that is true – how do they expect the world can transition seamlessly from dirty hydrocarbons to clean renewables overnight? It takes 20 years to get planning and build a nuclear power station – while wind is proving fickle, unreliable, far less efficient and difficult to maintain.

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“Given the many years, spent under both Obama and Trump, trying to shore up this claim by the most digitally advanced states in the world, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that they came up with nothing.”

The US Found A ‘Lawful’ Way To Disappear Assange (Cook)

The Yahoo report makes clear too that the surveillance operation against Assange and Wikileaks intensified dramatically after Snowden released his confidential documents in 2013 in collaboration with reporter Glenn Greenwald. The Snowden files showed that the US had begun expanding its ambition to use new digital technology to covertly surveil the rest of the world. Now it was increasingly turning that technological prowess inwards to covertly surveil its own population. A transparency organisation like Wikileaks, it quickly became obvious, was a major threat to the US intelligence services’ plans. According to Yahoo’s sources, it was the Obama administration that began surveilling Wikileaks more intensively and threw the net wider to expose its networks.

The CIA was already centrally involved, creating a special “Wikileaks team” that worked closely with other friendly spy agencies – including one can presume the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing states that also comprise Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. (One official, William Evanina, who recently retired as a top US counterintelligence official, notes the key role the Five Eyes group played in Assange’s case.) The goal, Yahoo was told by Evanina, its main named source, was to “tie [Wikileaks] back to hostile state intelligence services”. In other words, the aim was to suggest not that Assange was interested in transparency or acting out of principle but that he wanted to undermine the US on behalf of a hostile foreign power.

Assange’s fate was sealed within the Obama administration in summer 2016 when Wikileaks released a cache of Democratic party emails that cast Obama’s chosen successor, Hillary Clinton, in a damning light and showed that the party had rigged its election procedures to stop her main challenger, Bernie Sanders, from winning. As an aside, the Yahoo report notes that the idea of kidnapping Assange – in violation of Ecuador and the UK’s sovereignty – actually preceded Pompeo’s arrival at the CIA. Despite Yahoo’s focus on Pompeo, it was actually Obama and the Democratic party’s thirst for vengeance that paved the way for Trump’s appointee to have viable options of either prosecuting Assange for espionage or abducting him. Obama’s officials immediately tarred Assange as conspiring with Donald Trump, Clinton’s rival for the presidential election.

He was thereby dragged into an establishment conspiracy theory, Russiagate, that claimed Trump was serving as a puppet of the Kremlin. Given the many years, spent under both Obama and Trump, trying to shore up this claim by the most digitally advanced states in the world, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that they came up with nothing. Evidence of Wikileaks collusion with Russia appears never to have surfaced, even though it became an implicit, driving assumption behind the Russiagate claims. One unusually honest official, Robert Litt, a former general counsel of the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, observed to Yahoo of the claims made by Pompeo that Assange was acting on behalf of the Russians: “Based on the information that I had seen, I thought he was out over his skis on that.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Red Pill

 

 

 

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Aug 252021
 


Salvador Dali The Madonna of Port Lligat 1950

 

Vaccine Effectiveness 15% in the Over-50s, 37% in the Under-50s (DS)
Fauci Dismisses “Freedom”: “The Time Has Come. Enough Is Enough.” (SN)
FDA Pfizer Authorization (Comirnaty): Key Points (Jill Malone)
Pfizer CEO Predicts A Vaccine-Resistant Covid-19 Variant (JTN)
Don’t Use Pfizer’s COVID Vax Off-Label in Kids, Experts Warn (MPT)
A Most Unusual Thing in Australia, Alice (CTH)
New Zealand Won’t ‘Throw In Towel’ On Covid-zero Strategy (G.)
Unvaccinated Removed From Transplant Waiting Lists (JTN)
Ivermectin: Enigmatic Multifaceted ‘Wonder’ Drug Continues To Surprise (Nature)
Supreme Court Orders ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy Reinstated (AP)
Biden’s Approval Rating Down To Lowest Levels Yet (PM)
Largest US Food Distributor Having Trouble Keeping Shelves Stocked (ZH)

 

 

Yesterday I posted this on mandates:

On Twitter, this was doubted, and a Verify thingy added.

But Snopes of all places confirms the first suggestion. After someone went through the trouble to write on Twitter that he used to love reading the Automatic Earth, but now that guy does nothing but spread misinformation on Covid. Who said the interwebs can’t be fun?

 

 

A New York Post tweet:

“Twitter cheers when an unvaxxed conservative dies and uses that fact against the right. When three Broward County, Fla., teachers died on the same day, their deaths were cited to attack Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for refusing to mandate masks in schools. Rarely mentioned in news stories is that the school had not yet opened.”

 

 

You can read anywhere that vaccine effectiveness is down to 60% or so. The Daily Sceptic goes further.

“Calculating the vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection in the over-50s [..] gives a figure of just 15%..”

Vaccine Effectiveness 15% in the Over-50s, 37% in the Under-50s (DS)

Public Health England (PHE) has released a new technical briefing on the variants of concern, number 21, and this allows us to update our estimate of (unadjusted) vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant using the data it provides on confirmed Delta cases. We subtract the figures in briefing 21 from those in briefing 17 to give the figures for the period June 22nd to August 15th. We also use figures for proportions of the population vaccinated by age derived from the PHE Covid surveillance reports. Starting with the over-50s, for the period June 22nd to August 15th, PHE reports 29,282 Delta infections in the double vaccinated and 3,915 in the unvaccinated. PHE figures show that in this period the proportion of the over-50s double vaccinated was stable at 88% and the proportion unvaccinated was 10%.

Calculating the vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection in the over-50s (1-(29,282/88%)/(3,915/10%)) gives a figure of just 15%, down from 17% using data from the briefing two weeks ago. This is very different to the estimate in the recent Oxford University study using ONS survey data, a study which I criticised for numerous implausible findings. With regard to deaths with Covid (within 28 days of a positive test), PHE reports 602 in the double vaccinated and 280 in the unvaccinated in the over-50s in this period. This works out (1-(602/88%)/(280/10%)) at a vaccine effectiveness against death of 76%, down slightly from 77% using data from the previous briefing. This is a 76% reduction in mortality including any reduced risk of infection, not in addition to it. It’s an encouraging figure, albeit lower than earlier studies have suggested.

For the under-50s, for the period June 22nd to August 15th, PHE reports 36,855 Delta infections in the double vaccinated and 125,394 in the unvaccinated. PHE figures show that on June 20th 61% of under-50s were unvaccinated while 18% were double vaccinated. On August 15th those figures were 52% unvaccinated and 35% double vaccinated. Taking the average of these gives 56% unvaccinated and 26% double vaccinated for the period. Using this to calculate the vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection in the under-50s (1-(36,855/26%)/(125,394/56%)) gives a figure of 37%. This is higher than in the over-50s, but still very low and much lower than earlier studies (including the trial) indicated.

For deaths, PHE reports 27 in the double vaccinated and 66 in the unvaccinated in the under-50s in this period. This works out (1-(27/26%)/(66/56%)) at a vaccine effectiveness against death of just 12%. Why this would be so much lower than in the over-50s is unclear, but it’s worth bearing in mind that these are small numbers of deaths which may make the estimate unreliable. These figures are much lower than those commonly quoted and used in modelling, and if they are closer to the truth then they mean the official, self-congratulatory estimates of “100,000 deaths” and “24.4 million infections” prevented by the vaccines are huge overestimates.

Read more …

“..they were just waiting to get what they felt was the real final stamp of approval, which we just got today with the Pfizer product.”

No, you did not. Pfizer was not approved. And people should be told that. Enough is enough, alright, of the lies.

Fauci Dismisses “Freedom”: “The Time Has Come. Enough Is Enough.” (SN)

After the FDA fully approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine, Anthony Fauci immediately issued a decree via his permanent CNN propaganda platform that it is time for nationwide vaccine mandates. Fauci declared that “There was some poll that showed about 30% of people who are not anti-vax, they were just waiting to get what they felt was the real final stamp of approval, which we just got today with the Pfizer product.” He continued, “And those 30% are saying when that occurs, they will feel very, very comfortable about getting vaccinated. So right away, you’re talking about 30%. I hope they come through with what the survey said.”


Fauci added “They’re going to give a lot of incentive and backing for a lot of institutions and organizations and places of employment to mandate, and that could be colleges, university, the military, organizations that employ a lot of people, some of the big corporations are going to say if you want to work for us in person, you’ve got to be there and get vaccinated.” Fauci then dismissed freedom as an after thought, noting “I know I respect people’s freedom, but when you’re talking about a public health crisis that we’ve been going through for well over a year and a half, the time has come. Enough is enough. We’ve just got to get people vaccinated.” “If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant which could complicate things.” Fauci further proclaimed.

Read more …

What Fauci doesn’t say is that the FDA approval is not straightforward, at all. The approval is for BioNTech only, but there are no supplies of that. So the Pfizer shot you’ll get has not been approved.

This is part of a document by Jill Malone, Robert Malone’s wife. Do read the whole pdf, it’s excellent.

FDA Pfizer Authorization (Comirnaty): Key Points (Jill Malone)

FDA Pfizer authorization (Comirnaty): Key points to consider and discuss.
These points are an aggregate of many minds, including Dr. Robert Malone. 23 Aug 2021
General talking points
• Why mandates if herd immunity isn’t possible?
• What happens 8 months after boosters?
• What’s the plan for the next variant?
• Why we’re messing with vaccine injury liability if the vaccines are safe and effective?

There are now TWO LEGALLY distinct (Pfizer vs. BionTech), but otherwise identical products, based on two FDA letters, as well as a press release. The analysis of these FDA products below is preliminary and subject to change.

Letter to Pfizer
https://www.fda.gov/media/150386/download
DOES NOT GIVE FULL APPROVAL
• Extends EUA to allow supply of current Pfizer under EUA because limited supply of BioNTech version.
• “The products are legally distinct with certain differences that do not impact safety or effectiveness. (page 2, Pfizer letter)
o here FDA quietly admits that the licensed Pfizer vaccine and the authorized Pfizer vaccine are identical with regard to safety/efficacy, but they are “legally distinct.” That’s code for one has manufacturer liability, while the other doesn’t. It is also code for “we don’t want to impose a mandate on the EUA product cause it is illegal, but we can probably get away with a mandate on the licensed product.”
o page 12 AA (Conditions with Respect to Use of Licensed Product). This tells you that yes, we licensed the vaccine, but…there is a lot of the old vaccine out there, actually “a significant amount” and this amount will be considered an EUA and will continue to be used.
o Now, why would they do that? Why specify that identical versions of the product will be legally different? Because they need the license to impose the mandates. But they need the EUA to evade liability.
o Along with the license comes liability for the manufacturer. (While all EUA products were given a liability shield.)
o Unfortunately, our federal governments would prefer us to be without recourse if we are injured, rather than have Pfizer defend its product in court. So, the feds want us to THINK the vaccine we are receiving is licensed, which will make people submit because they think it can now be mandated, but instead we are almost certain to receive the EUA vials instead, to save Pfizer’s behind. Yes, a stingy CICP injury program exists, but it has not paid out for a single COVID vaccine injury yet.
• Warning about myocarditis and pericarditis

Letter to BioNTech (COMIRNATY): (signed by Mary Malarkey) – MARKET AUTHORIZES BLA (APPROVAL)
https://www.fda.gov/media/151710/download
• For “active immunization to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older.”
• Analysis of […] adverse events reported […] not be sufficient to assess known serious risks of myocarditis and pericarditis and identify an unexpected serious risk of subclinical myocarditis.
• 13 Post marketing studies required
o Pediatric (3 studies) < 6m to <15 y
o Myocarditis and pericarditis (6 studies), with UP TO 5 years follow up
o Pregnancy – teratology (1 study)
o Dose levels, VA, effectiveness in Kaiser system (3 studies)
• The FDA bypassed/disregarded the normal advisory committee and public comment process for this license. See p2 “We did not refer your application to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee because our review of information submitted in your BLA, including the clinical study design and trial results, did not raise concerns or controversial issues that would have benefited from an advisory committee discussion.”

[..] • FDA has licensed the BioNTech vaccine for 16 and up
• All of the authorized vaccine on shelves and in freezers will remain only authorized, until the new product with Cominaty labelling arrives.
• 3d or booster doses and vaccine for 12-15 year olds remains under EUA
• Why not also approve the Pfizer version? Why leave it under EUA?
• When the press says the “Pfizer vaccine is fully approved.” It is not. The vaccine that is likely to be supplied for some time, WILL BE THE Pfizer – EUA vaccine. So any mandates based on full approval are meaningless.

Read more …

“Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it..”

Pfizer CEO Predicts A Vaccine-Resistant Covid-19 Variant (JTN)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that there will likely be a COVID-19 variant that is resistant to the vaccine, but that his company would be able to get a variant-specific shot out in about three months. “Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it,” Bourla said on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom. “They are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine. We haven’t identified any yet but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge.” Pfizer has a process that would take 95 days to develop a variant-specific vaccine from the identification of the variant, Bourla said. In February, Bourla told Fortune that a vaccine-resistant variant was possible.


“Theoretically, it’s a very possible scenario. If you protect a very big part of the population, and if there is a strain that emerges that can use this pool of population to replicate while the current strains cannot, obviously this will overtake the original. So it’s not a certainty, but it is now, I believe, a likely scenario,” he said. The day of Bourla’s interview with Fox News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found COVID-19 vaccines dropped from 91% effectiveness before the Delta variant to 66% effectiveness during the peak of the variant. The study included 4,217 participants who were fully vaccinated, with 65% having received the Pfizer vaccine, 33% Moderna, and 2% Johnson&Johnson.

Read more …

“..For kids under 5, the dose being studied is only 3 mcg. “We can’t have physicians writing for the approved 30 mcg dose to be used in someone under 12..”

Don’t Use Pfizer’s COVID Vax Off-Label in Kids, Experts Warn (MPT)

Pediatric infectious disease experts are warning that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, now fully approved and marketed as Comirnaty, should not be used off-label in children under 12. While full approval gives physicians the legal grounds to administer the vaccine off-label, experts noted that the doses being studied in younger children are much lower than those used in adults. There also have been no data published about use of the vaccine in children under 12. David Kimberlin, MD, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told MedPage Today that the dose authorized for individuals 12 and up is 30 mcg — but the dose being evaluated in kids ages 5 to 11 “is a third of that,” at 10 mcg.


For kids under 5, the dose being studied is only 3 mcg. “We can’t have physicians writing for the approved 30 mcg dose to be used in someone under 12,” Kimberlin said. “It’s a much higher dose than what’s being studied.” The lower dose “was chosen because of immunogenicity and reactogenicity,” he added. “We are going to have to get the word out that we should not be simply taking the Pfizer vaccine approved for adults and putting it in the arms of those under 12.” FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, warned against off-label use of the Pfizer vaccine in younger children during a press briefing Monday, warning that they’re “not just small adults.”

Read more …

Pretty good!

A Most Unusual Thing in Australia, Alice (CTH)

“Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, ‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” So goes the wonderful words of Lewis Carroll from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…. Which is the only appropriate frame of reference for what you are about to discover. You see… …The COVID madness has created a most unusual dynamic for the resident’s down-under and the painfully monitored Australian media who have to be careful not to run afoul of the government COVID compliance watchers. Once a nation creates an alternate reality of itself, in this case a totalitarian reality based on government needing to create an irrational illusion of fear that becomes part of the accepted national identity, how can a media outlet call attention to the outcomes without finding themselves in front of the governmental board of inquisition?


Put another way,… if the pod under your bed malfunctioned, but the pods under all the other beds in the city worked, what happens when you awaken and realize you are not one of them, but you must engage in the world of them while looking for others -like yourself- whose pods hopefully malfunctioned? That is the current challenge for media in Australia trying to report on their reality and yet avoid the ire from the national board of COVID compliance who have successfully brainwashed the audience. One Australian media outlet seems to have found a way. In this report from Sky News Australia, they avoid the censors by reporting on how the world is viewing Australian news, by sharing American news clips of Australian news. It is weird and the perfect example of how bizarre the world has become over COVID. WATCH:

Sky News host Rita Panahi says “to us, a bunch of teenagers being handcuffed in the middle of the night and fined $1,000 each for the crime of meeting at a Sydney beach has become normal,” she said. “But the rest of the world looks in abject horror.” Ms Panahi then shares how people around the world are “marveling” at what’s happening in Australia, noting Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson has taken aim at how Australian police are treating protesters. “There is similar commentary and discussions I’ve seen from the UK,” Ms Panahi said. “Is this how we want to be perceived as a country?” As a rather prescient Lewis Carroll continued to share in his novel of Alice, Through The Looking Glass: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”


So here we are. Cheers !

Read more …

Wonder how many questions are asked on the TV news down there.

New Zealand Won’t ‘Throw In Towel’ On Covid-zero Strategy (G.)

New Zealand’s Covid response minister says the country will not “throw in the towel” with its elimination strategy, as cases continue to rise. New Zealand announced 63 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 210 cases. It is the largest single-day jump since the outbreak began last week, and 12 people are hospitalised with the virus. Some commentators and media overseas have questioned whether the country should continue its elimination strategy, but Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the country would be staying its course. “To New Zealanders at home who are saying, ‘is this still the right strategy’, it’s too soon to throw in the towel,” he said. “We’ve come this far, it would be an absolute waste for us to give up on this now. We still want to drive this particular outbreak of Covid-19 out of our community and get back to a sense of normality.”


“Of course we do want to get to the point where lockdowns aren’t the answer to potential outbreaks within the community, but we’re not there yet, and we’re certainly not willing to give up before we get to that point,” Hipkins said. His comments echoed those of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Monday: “For now, everyone is in agreement: elimination is the strategy. There is no discussion or debate amongst any of us about that, because that is the safest option for us while we vaccinate our people,” she said. Support for the government’s approach to Covid remains sky high in New Zealand. According to polling conducted by The Spinoff and released on Wednesday, just 10% of New Zealanders did not think elimination was the right strategy. Sixty-nine percent still backed the approach, and 21% said they were unsure. An additional poll found 84% of New Zealanders supported the decision to move into lockdown last week.

Read more …

Little dictators. It’s a small step from Hippocrates to hypocrisy.

Unvaccinated Removed From Transplant Waiting Lists (JTN)

The University of Washington Medical Center has reportedly told two patients awaiting organ transplants that they would be placed further down their respective lines over their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Sam Allen, 64, told Seattle radio station KTTH that he was informed in June he was being removed from the transplant waitlist over his refusal to be vaccinated. Allen said he has been on the list for more than two years. According to KTTH, Allen said his heart was damaged during a previous surgery and three leaky heart valves lessened the amount of blood reaching his lungs, making it hard to breathe. The problem first arose over Allen’s refusal to wear a face mask during hospital visits, saying it made his breathing problems even worse.

“The cardiologist called me and we had a discussion and he informed me that, ‘well, you’re going to have to get a vaccination to get a transplant,’ and I said that’s news to me,” Allen told KTTH. A letter Allen received from the hospital shortly after states “Your name has been removed from the waitlist at the University of Washington Medical Center. This was done in follow-up to your recent conversation with providers regarding the hear transplant selection committee’s concerns about compliance with COVID-19 related policies and recommendations.” The letter added that Allen would be reconsidered for reinstatement “should the compliance concerns resolve in the future.”

A second patient, Derek Kovic, told KTTH he is awaiting a third liver transplant due to bile duct failure and was also told by the hospital he would have to receive the vaccine to remain high on the active list. Both Kovic and Allen told news outlets that they are hesitant to get vaccinated because of physical side effects. Kovic told Fox News because of his liver problems that he already suffers from high fevers and other problems people have reported after receiving the vaccine. The University of Washington Medical Center responded to their stories, saying immunity suppression becomes an issue shortly after a transplant.

Read more …

The long background story of ivermectin, before Covid.

From Nature, The Journal of Antibiotics, February 2017.

Ivermectin: Enigmatic Multifaceted ‘Wonder’ Drug Continues To Surprise (Nature)

Over the past decade, the global scientific community have begun to recognize the unmatched value of an extraordinary drug, ivermectin, that originates from a single microbe unearthed from soil in Japan. Work on ivermectin has seen its discoverer, Satoshi Omura , of Tokyo’s prestigious Kitasato Institute, receive the 2014 Gairdner Global Health Award and the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with a collaborating partner in the discovery and development of the drug, William Campbell of Merck & Co. Incorporated. Today, ivermectin is continuing to surprise and excite scientists, offering more and more promise to help improve global public health by treating a diverse range of diseases, with its unexpected potential as an antibacterial, antiviral and anti-cancer agent being particularly extraordinary.

The unique and extraordinary microorganism that produces the avermectins (from which ivermectin is derived) was discovered by Omura in 1973. It was sent to Merck laboratories to be run through a specialized screen for anthelmintics in 1974 and the avermectins were found and named in 1975. The safer and more effective derivative, ivermectin, was subsequently commercialized, entering the veterinary, agricultural and aquaculture markets in 1981. The drug’s potential in human health was confirmed a few years later and it was registered in 1987 and immediately provided free of charge (branded as Mectizan)—‘as much as needed for as long as needed’—with the goal of helping to control Onchocerciasis (also known as River Blindness) among poverty-stricken populations throughout the tropics. Uses of donated ivermectin to tackle other so-called ‘neglected tropical diseases’ soon followed, while commercially available products were introduced for the treatment of other human diseases.

[..] Today, ivermectin remains a relatively unknown drug, although few, if any, other drugs can rival ivermectin for its beneficial impact on human health and welfare. Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic agent, primarily deployed to combat parasitic worms in veterinary and human medicine. This unprecedented compound has mainly been used in humans as an oral medication for treating filarial diseases but is also effective against other worm-related infections and diseases, plus several parasite-induced epidermal parasitic skin diseases, as well as insect infestations. It is approved for human use in several countries, ostensibly to treat Onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis (also known as Elephantiasis), strongyloidiasis and/or scabies and, very recently, to combat head lice. However, health workers are increasingly utilizing it in an unsanctioned manner to treat a diverse range of other diseases

And ivermectin today:

Read more …

The exact same argument that upheld DACA against Trump’s policies. Ironic.

Supreme Court Orders ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy Reinstated (AP)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Biden administration likely violated federal law in trying to end a Trump-era program that forces people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S. With three liberal justices in dissent, the high court refused to block a lower court ruling ordering the administration to reinstate the program informally known as Remain in Mexico. It’s not clear how many people will be affected and how quickly. Under the lower court ruling, the administration must make a “good faith effort” to restart the program. There also is nothing preventing the administration from trying again to end the program, formally called Migrant Protection Protocols.

A federal judge in Texas had previously ordered that the program be reinstated last week. Both he and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused the administration’s request to put the ruling on hold. Justice Samuel Alito ordered a brief delay to allow the full court time to consider the administration’s appeal to keep the ruling on hold while the case continues to make its way through the courts. The 5th Circuit ordered expedited consideration of the administration’s appeal. The court offered little explanation for its action, although it cited its opinion from last year rejecting the Trump administration’s effort to end another immigration program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

In that case, the court held that the decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal law. The administration has “failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious,” the court wrote Tuesday in an unsigned order. The three dissenting justices, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, did not write an opinion expressing their views of the case. In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said it regrets that the high court declined to issue a stay. The department said it would continue to challenge the district court’s order.

Read more …

The Dems have sleepless nights over Kamala stepping up.

Biden’s Approval Rating Down To Lowest Levels Yet (PM)

President Biden is facing severe backlash due to the failed exit from Afghanistan. According to USA Today, Biden’s approval rating has sunk to 41 percent. Up until last week, most polls showed the President sitting above 50 percent. Biden has also taken a hit beyond overall approval ratings. While he still has 87 percent of Democrats supporting him, only 32 percent of Independents say he is doing a good job. This poll was taken Thursday through Monday, as the nation and the world witnessed the shocking images of the Taliban taking Kabul, Afghanistan. Only 26 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan and his numbers on domestic issues are not much better, with 39 percent saying he’s handling the economy well.


“Today, President Biden’s overall approval has taken a turn for the worse due to his awful job performance rating on Afghanistan,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center. “His approval on immigration and the economy are also upside down. The only issue keeping him remotely in the game is his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, where he is barely at 50%.” Biden’s initial call to exit Afghanistan was approved by 53 percent of Americans, but a whopping 62 percent disapproved of how his administration handled the departure. “He basically handed the Taliban all these weapons, and he’s inspired a resurgent ISIS now,” said fifty-one-year-old Aubrey Schlumbrecht of Lakewood, Colorado. The home healthcare nurse and political independent was among those polled and said, “He is not even taking any responsibility. He says he owns it, but he’s blaming other people and he’s blaming the Afghan people themselves.”

Read more …

No workers. But please don’t say “food inflation”. It is meaningless because from there it’s just one small step to “cookie inflation”.

Largest US Food Distributor Having Trouble Keeping Shelves Stocked (ZH)

One of the defining features of the early phases of the covid pandemic, when public fear was rampant and when few wanted to take chances that supply chains would remain viable, is that for a brief period US supermarkets resembled those of the USSR circa the late 1980s: many items were in short supply, and some – notably toilet paper, clorox, and perishables such as milk – were out of stock for weeks. Fast forward to today when fears about the Delta strain are being fanned by the liberal media, the US may be facing a similar shortage of key products… only this time for a very different reason: not a surge in demand, but rather a drop in supply. According to Bloomberg, some of the largest U.S. food distributors are “reporting difficulties in fulfilling orders as a lack of workers weighs on the supply chain.”

Take distribution giant Sysco, North America’s largest wholesale food distributor, which is turning away customers in some areas where demand is exceeding capacity. Worse, food inflation is about to soar: the company said prices for key goods such as chicken, pork and paper products for takeout packaging are climbing amid tight supplies. In particular, production has slowed for high-demand, labor-intensive cuts like bacon, ribs, wings and tenders, Sysco said. And if intermediate and final wholesale prices are “rising”, just wait until they emerge on the consumer side. The culprit for the coming price shock? Biden’s catastrophic stimmies and universal basic income which has unleashed havoc on the US job market and led to historic labor shortages.

“There are certain areas across the country that are more challenged by the labor shortage and our volume of orders is regularly exceeding our capacity,” Sysco Chief Executive Officer Kevin Hourican said in a letter to clients earlier this month. “This has, unfortunately, led to service disruptions for some of our customers.” Hourican’s troubling observations were confirmed by an analysis from DecaData, which tracks retailer transactions with shoppers and manufacturers; it showed that retailers are bumping up against manufacturer capacity as they stockpile ahead of the holiday season. In July, the incidence of suppliers limiting or putting a cap on orders from customers was more than double what it was in January, its data show.

Read more …

 

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Jan 242021
 
 January 24, 2021  Posted by at 10:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Amedeo Modigliani Elvira Resting at a Table 1919

 

EU Vaccine Delays Dog Effort To Speed Up COVID Inoculations (EN)
Delaying Second Dose Of Vaccine Increases Risk Of New Resistant Strain – Sage (Ind.)
WHO Advisor: COVID19 Pandemic Likely Started Via Lab Leak (TSun)
‘Miraculous’ Ivermectin Approved For Use In The US For COVID19 (LS)
Lancet Retracts Study That Claimed HCQ Is Ineffective (NF)
Moderate Republicans Push Back On Biden’s Economic Plan (NBC)
Rand Paul Says Chief Justice Roberts Won’t Take Trump Impeach Trial (NYP)
Seattle Police and City Attorney Take Hardline Stance Against Antifa (PM)
Grantham Sees “Spectacular” Crash In “The Next Few Months” (ZH)
Bezos, Zuckerberg $18 Billion Richer In Biden’s First Days In Office (F.)
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Refuting Mail-in Votes For Unionization (Outkick)
Eurostar Near Collapse, Asks for Bailout, Becomes Hot Potato (WS)
Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism (OffG)

 

 

 

 

“Italy’s coronavirus commissioner said that vaccinations had been cut from 80,000 a day to 28,000 a day, Italian media reported. He said Italian authorities were considering taking legal action against Pfizer..”

EU Vaccine Delays Dog Effort To Speed Up COVID Inoculations (EN)

AstraZeneca’s EU vaccine shipments will be delayed, the EU’s health commissioner said, in yet another obstacle to the bloc’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. “The EU Commission and Member States expressed deep dissatisfaction with this,” Stella Kyriakides tweeted on Friday after member states heard from AstraZeneca representatives. The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is expected to receive approval from the European Medicines Agency this week, and any delay or shortage of doses could be a significant speed bump as member states race to vaccinate their populations amid a worsening COVID-19 crisis. The emergence of more transmissible variants of coronavirus has caused significant concern in Europe with the UK reporting record daily hospitalisations and deaths due to the virus mutations.

Johnson warned on Friday that early evidence showed the new variant could be more deadly as well. Countries are racing against the clock to vaccinate as many people as possible before the variants spread further. But Pfizer said just last week that fewer doses would be available in the EU in late January and early February due to quality tests at the manufacturing plant in Belgium. Some EU countries have since had to cut vaccinations amid the delays, prompting criticism of the pharmaceutical companies behind the vaccines. Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s coronavirus commissioner, said that vaccinations had been cut from 80,000 a day to 28,000 a day, Italian media reported. He said Italian authorities were considering taking legal action against Pfizer, AP reported.

Authorities in Germany’s most populous state said that due to delays in delivery of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine they would halt first vaccinations. North Rhine Westphalia had received 100,000 vaccine doses less than originally planned, the state said. Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said that “we are currently in a phase in which the worldwide demand for corona vaccines is very high.”

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Well, that’s too bad then. Because you’ve run out.

Delaying Second Dose Of Vaccine Increases Risk Of New Resistant Strain – Sage (Ind.)

Delaying doses of coronavirus inoculations will increase the chances of a vaccine-resistant strain of Covid-19 emerging, government scientists have warned. In new reports, released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), experts also warned that resistant new variants were a “realistic possibility” driven by the virus reacting to increasing levels of natural immunity among the population. The government’s decision to delay the second dose of vaccines to 12 weeks rather than three, to try and give more people some protection from the virus, has sparked anger among frontline health workers who fear they are being left at increased risk from infections.

There have also been suggestions from Israel, that have yet to be fully validated, that the protection from a first dose could be far less than originally thought. In papers released on Friday, Sage scientists there was an “increased risk of virus replication under partial immunity after one dose than after two doses, so in the short term, delaying the second dose would be expected to somewhat increase the probability of emergence of vaccine resistance – but probably from a low base. “Is such an increase material? It is not currently possible to quantify the probability of emergence of vaccine resistance as a result of the delayed second dose, but it is likely to be small. The UK currently has more than 1,000 Covid-19-related deaths each day and has limited supplies of vaccine.

“In the current UK circumstances the unquantifiable but likely small probability of the delayed second dose generating a vaccine escape mutant must be weighed against the measurable benefits of doubling the speed with which the most vulnerable can be given vaccine-induced protection.”

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While his WHO colleagues are still in China?!

WHO Advisor: COVID19 Pandemic Likely Started Via Lab Leak (TSun)

One year after the pandemic started, World Health Organization advisor Jamie Metzl wants China to come clean about the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The Kansas City-born, New York-based Metzl, who served as Deputy Staff Director of the Foreign Relations Committee under then Senator Joe Biden (2001-2003) and before that on the National Security Council (1997-99) and the State Department (1999-01) under President Bill Clinton), theorizes it was most likely an accidental lab leak in Wuhan. “There’s no irrefutable evidence,” said Metzl, who was appointed to the WHO’s expert advisory committee on human genome editing in 2019 and is also the author of Hacking Darwin. “There’s just more evidence and as more evidence arrives, the case for accidental lab leak, in my view, increases.”

We caught up with Metzl down the line from San Miguel de Allende: What about the original theory that this all started in a wet market in Wuhan? That was a lie. And the Chinese government knew very early on that that was a lie. And so in the face of overwhelming evidence in May of last year, the Chinese government shifted its position. Do you get the idea of scary viruses being created in a lab may seem a little sci-fi? It may feel like sci-fi to people but what’s happening is sci. There is a field of study called “gain of function” research, which is highly controversial in which some scientists amplify the virility of viruses. We know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was involved in gain of function research on bat coronaviruses.

Is it because this specifically started in China that we still don’t know how COVID-19 started? If there had been an outbreak in Congo or some country in Africa and that country, in the earliest days of the pandemic, prevented World Health Organization investigators from going onto the scene of the outbreak, for nearly a month, the world would have gone berserk. Will a change of the U.S. administration help find an answer? Biden will be tougher on China than President Trump because President Biden is very smart and strategic and he understands that American power and American strength doesn’t rest on bluster, it rests on principles, it rests on partnerships, and alliances and accountability. And the Trump administration unfortunately gave China a pass by over politicizing the question of the origin of the virus by alienating America’s partners and allies.

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So when’s the big rollout?

‘Miraculous’ Ivermectin Approved For Use In The US For COVID-19 (LS)

Following the diligent efforts of physicians associated with a group called Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has upgraded their recommendation for the “miraculous” drug ivermectin, making it an option for use in treating COVID-19 within the United States. The result comes one week after Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Pierre Kory—founding members of the FLCCC, along with Dr. Andrew Hill, researcher and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), presented their data before the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel. A press release from FLCCC explains the “new designation upgraded the status of ivermectin from ‘against’ [the drug’s use] to ‘neither for nor against,’ which is the same recommendation given to monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, both widely used across the nation.”


“By no longer recommending against ivermectin use,” the statement said, “doctors should feel more open in prescribing ivermectin as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19. This may clear its path towards FDA [Food and Drug Administration] emergency use approval.” “Ivermectin is one of the world’s safest, cheapest and most widely available drugs,” explained Dr. Kory, President of the FLCCC Alliance. “The studies we presented to the NIH revealed high levels of statistical significance showing large magnitude benefit in transmission rates, need for hospitalization, and death. What’s more, the totality of trials data supporting ivermectin is without precedent.”

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How many lives could have been saved?

Lancet Retracts Study That Claimed HCQ Is Ineffective (NF)

A leading medical journal has issued a retraction of their endorsement for a study that concluded the anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine was ineffective against the COVID-19 virus. This retraction appears to validate the claims then-President Trump made about the medication being a frontline drug in the battle in the pandemic. The Lancet, a respected online medical journal, issued an apology to its readers in an edition last year after the retraction. “We deeply apologize to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused,” the publishers of The Lancet said.

Compared to the significantly more expensive medications being used to treat the virus, hydroxychloroquine – a drug widely used to treat malaria – is relatively inexpensive and universally available. Hydroxychloroquine ranges in price from $0.30 to $6.63 per dose depending on location. The Lancet’s endorsement of the study was withdrawn because the Surgisphere Corporation, the company that provided data, refused to provide full access to the information it based its study on. Peer review medical journals typically engage in third-party peer review to validate the findings. The Surgisphere Corporation said it refused to release the study data because it would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements, raising questions about the study’s legitimacy.

“Based on this development, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources. Due to this unfortunate development, the authors request that the paper be retracted,” The Lancet said in a statement. In the now debunked study, researchers concluded that hydroxychloroquine didn’t aid in curbing the COVID-19 virus. It went on to say that the drug caused heart problems and appeared to elevate the risk of death. The study was immediately embraced by the beleaguered World Health Organization and other groups causing research into the use of the drug to combat COVID-19 to stop.

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Let the games ….. continue.

Moderate Republicans Push Back On Biden’s Economic Plan (NBC)

Key moderate Republicans in the Senate dismissed quick action on President Joe Biden’s top priority of a $1.9 trillion economic package, indicating that the $1,400 stimulus payments he requested could take months, or never arrive. Democrats need to convince 10 Republicans in the Senate, which might require asking for less funding than Biden initially requested, or bypassing the 60-vote threshold utilizing a parliamentarian maneuver. Biden’s team appears ready to mount an aggressive campaign to get Congress to act, a departure from the previous administration that largely failed to engage lawmakers on legislative priorities and did not spend political capital on getting bills passed.

Republicans who would be critical to get to the finish line said they’re open to additional money to speed up distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, but balked at Biden’s overall price tag. Some called on Biden to pare back the plan while others suggested waiting a few months to see if the economic need persists. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of the most moderate Republicans, said she’s “sympathetic” to boosting vaccine funds but doesn’t see the justification for a bill “that is so big.” “It’s hard for me to see when we just passed $900 billion of assistance why we would have a package that big,” Collins told reporters Thursday. “Maybe a couple of months from now, the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant, but I’m not seeing it right now.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called Biden’s request “significant,” adding that “the ink is barely dry on the $900 billion” bill. “And so it’s going to require, I think, a fair amount of debate and consideration,” she told reporters. Sen. Mitt Romney R-Utah, a conservative who has a track record of breaking with his party, told NBC News that he isn’t inclined to borrow another $1 trillion or even $500 billion for a broad economic package. “My own view is that what’s holding back the economy is Covid, not money,” he said. “I want to do everything we can to get the Covid vaccines out. But once the Covid vaccine is out and people are inoculated, I believe you’ll see the economy coming back.”

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Stretching the law.

Rand Paul Says Chief Justice Roberts Won’t Take Trump Impeach Trial (NYP)

As Democrats plunge ahead with a post-term impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a key question remains: Will Chief Justice Roberts take the case? Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he won’t — making the exercise “a fake, partisan impeachment,” the lawmaker told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Friday. Paul claimed Roberts has “privately said he’s not supposed to come unless it’s an impeachment of the president.” According to the US Constitution, “when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside” — a requirement not made for any other impeachment case. As lawmakers debated the legitimacy of impeachment, the Biden administration continued to keep its distance from the issue.

“Congress is going to do what Congress does,” Ashley Etienne, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director, told MSNBC Saturday. One thing Trump enemies in Congress appear to be doing is grasping at straws — even reaching back to a post-Civil War amendment. Several Dems have floated the idea of punishing Trump with the 14th Amendment’s rule that shuts those who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” out of elective office. “I certainly think there is a 14th Amendment avenue separate and aside from impeachment,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told The Hill.

But the stricture, which was written to prevent former Confederate loyalists from regaining power as the United States struggled through Reconstruction, has not been used since — and would spark a long judicial battle if Congress attempted to invoke it, legal experts say. Meanwhile, with Trump no longer in the White House, Republicans like Paul continued to deride the impeachment as “an illegitimate procedure.” Roberts, who has not said publicly whether he will preside over the trial, has two more weeks to decide. After the House of Representatives’ impeachment managers on Monday read their articles of impeachment accusing Trump of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot, the Senate will delay the trial until the week of Feb. 8 so that President Biden can get his administration up and running, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday.

If Trump is convicted with a two-thirds majority of the Senate, Schumer could call for a second vote, this one requiring only a simple majority, barring him from holding elective office again. But conviction will require the votes of at least 17 Senate Republicans — an increasingly remote possibility, as more party members climb aboard Paul’s argument that only a sitting president can be impeached. “It’s going to be tough to get even a handful” of GOP defectors, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told CNN — because “everybody has views that it’s kind of a constitutional concern.”

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The Seattle Times never mentions the term Antifa. It’s just an idea.

Seattle Police and City Attorney Take Hardline Stance Against Antifa (PM)

As Antifa militants take to Seattle’s streets on a near-daily basis following the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the city’s police and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes are responding with a promise to bring the hammer down on violent protesters. In an announcement on Saturday, the city’s interim police Chief Adrian Diaz announced that his department is coordinating with the city attorney to enact a strict new policy to arrest and prosecute protesters who destroy property during street demonstrations. Diaz said that the new enforcement policy will take effect this Saturday, when a demonstration has been planned for Occidental Square. Prosecutions will increase under the new order.

In his speech, Seattle’s top cop said that he has wanted to crack down on the violent militants for months, and that its becoming clear following Biden’s inauguration that their protests have no real cause. “They’re focused on breaking windows, and these are things we need to work on,” he said, reported Seattle Times. A spokesperson for the police said that suspects in low-level crimes were not even booked into jail last year due to coronavirus concerns, and that the policy of not booking those who commit misdemeanors is unlikely to change. However, individuals released on bail who are re-arrested will likely be prosecuted now. Diaz said that police will take a hardline approach to repeat offenders.

“We will be prosecuting these crimes from now on,” he said. “When we don’t have any form of accountability for people — and many of them are coming from outside the city — they will continue to do that activity, and we can’t have that.” In addition to the prosecutions, police will be deploying in extra numbers starting Saturday and will coordinate law enforcement efforts with the Washington State Patrol and federal agents to prevent protesters from entering freeways and federal buildings. “We would like to protect buildings from being vandalized in the first place, and don’t want to cause undue conflict. It’s safer for protesters and officers to not be drawing that line, so to speak,” said Diaz. Earlier this week, Antifa rioters vandalized and looted the historic Starbucks, a Democratic Party office, and numerous local businesses in protest of the newly inaugurated president.

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“stimmy” checks.

Grantham Sees “Spectacular” Crash In “The Next Few Months” (ZH)

Two weeks ago, investing icon Jeremy Grantham turned apocalyptic and warned that the “Bursting Of This “Great, Epic Bubble” Will Be “Most Important Investing Event Of Your Lives.” Since then the market has generally continued to melt up, yet Grantham’s conviction that all this will end in tears has only grown, and in an interview with Bloomberg today, the co-founder of GMO who correctly called the last two crashes, now predicts that Joe Biden’s economic-recovery plan will propel stocks to perilous new heights, followed by an inevitable crash. “We will have a few weeks of extra money and a few weeks of putting your last, desperate chips into the game, and then an even more spectacular bust,” the value-investing legend said in a Bloomberg “Front Row” interview.


“When you have reached this level of obvious super-enthusiasm, the bubble has always, without exception, broken in the next few months, not a few years.” Amid market euphoria the likes of which have – literally – never been seen before as the following chart from Citi shows and which prompted Citi, BofA and Goldman to all warn that a selloff appears imminent, and which was fueled by risk-taking behavior funded by the latest round of pandemic-relief checks, Grantham has “no doubt” at least some of the $1.9 trillion in federal aid Biden is seeking from Congress will end up being spent on stocks instead of food or shelter.

While that will help push stocks even higher, Grantham then sees it all ending in tears, or rather a collapse rivaling the 1929 crash or the dot-com bust of 2000, when the Nasdaq cratered 80% before recovering thanks to trillions more in Fed “stimmy” checks. And while some (increasingly fewer) investors claim that today’s valuations are justified by the growth potential of transformative technologies and new business models, Grantham, 82, dismisses that argument as fanciful, and rejects the popular theory that the Federal Reserve can cushion or even the next crash with even more QE or easing. “At the lowest rates in history, you don’t have a lot in the bank to throw on the table, do you?” he said.

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How much more stimulus do we need to keep making them richer? It will stop somewhere.

Bezos, Zuckerberg $18 Billion Richer In Biden’s First Days In Office (F.)

The world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, had a very good week. The Amazon CEO got $10 billion richer, bringing his net worth to $191.5 billion. He’s got an $8.3 billion lead over Tesla CEO Elon Musk (net worth: $183.2 billion), who briefly claimed the top spot this month before falling back to second place. Even better for Bezos? His boost this week comes in part thanks to the departure of Donald Trump, a constant critic of Amazon and the Bezos-owned Washington Post. President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, sending tech stocks soaring on optimism over his administration’s Covid-19 vaccine and stimulus plans.


Amazon ended the week up 6.1%, Facebook gained 9.2% and Google parent Alphabet rose 9.5%, beating the S&P and Dow Jones Industrial Average’s weekly gains of 2% and 0.5%, respectively. On Inauguration Day, Amazon executive Dave Clark sent a letter to Biden offering Amazon’s resources to help distribute the vaccine. “We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination effort,” he wrote. Clark also took the opportunity to advocate prioritizing vaccinating Amazon’s 800,000 employees, most of whom are essential frontline workers.

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Ha ha ha.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon Refuting Mail-in Votes For Unionization (Outkick)

Jeff Bezos — a strong Democratic supporter — and Amazon are aiming to postpone a unionization vote at one of its warehouses in Alabama, the Wall Street Journal reports. Interestingly, Amazon has requested that the National Labor Relations Board reconsider allowing mail-in voting, claiming that the mail-in voting process has “serious and systemic flaws.” Got that? Bezos and Amazon are doing all they can to prevent any shady activity when workers cast their ballots for unionization, and they are particularly concerned about the integrity of mail-in ballots. You are likely trying to figure out how that adds up, right? The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, called any claims of mail-in voter fraud by Donald Trump and his supporters dangerous and inexcusable.

Amazon even banned Parler from its servers, in part to ensure no one could claim voter fraud occurred from mail-in ballots back in November. But stop trying to make it make sense. It is not supposed to add up. In this case, mail-in voting is disadvantageous for Bezos and his e-commerce behemoth. Therefore, they now consider mail-in voting seriously flawed. An Amazon spokesperson tells CNN the company is seeking a “valid, fair and successful election” and suggests that only in-person voting can ensure that. Hmm, interesting perspective. Amazon has, thus far, fended off unions in the United States. If a majority of ballots vote in favor of unionization, hourly Amazon workers would send an L right up to Bezos’ office.

Bamazonunion.com explains that a union at Amazon would “give us the right to collectively bargain over our working conditions including items such as safety standards, training, breaks, pay, benefits, and other important issues that would make our workplace better.” The NLRB says, “A mail ballot election will enfranchise employees who cannot enter the voting location for health reasons or due to positive COVID tests.” Fearing an unfavorable outcome, however, Amazon now insists that current COVID outbreaks aren’t dangerous enough to warrant this NLRB decision.

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In a train in a tunnel with COVID. No thanks.

Eurostar Near Collapse, Asks for Bailout, Becomes Hot Potato (WS)

Eurostar, the company that operates the cross-Channel train service that connects the UK with France, Belgium and the Netherlands, is on the brink of collapse, the company’s management warned this week. With passenger numbers down 95% in the final quarter of 2020 and revenues down over 80% over the course of 2020, it is now “on a drip” and in desperate need of extra cash, says Christophe Fanichet, a senior executive of France’s state SNCF railways, which is the majority shareholder of Eurostar. “I’m very worried about Eurostar. The company is in a critical state, I’d even say very critical,” he said.

In 2019, Eurostar shuttled 11 million passengers — including many businessmen and women — from London St Pancras to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. While generally more expensive than budget air fares, it is quicker, more comfortable, and drops off passengers in the center of their chosen city of destination. But like the airlines, its whole business model has been upended by the virus crisis. At present, the company is operating only two services a day, a far cry from the two trains an hour it used to operate during peak times before the pandemic. And most of those trains are less than a quarter full. More than 90% of its workers have been furloughed.

It’s a similar story across Europe’s railway sector. Passenger numbers have plunged between 70%-90% as lockdowns, social-distancing rules, and concerns about the risks of using public transport have taken their toll. The industry is estimated to have racked up losses of €22 billion in 2020, according to CER, a Brussels-based commerce group representing passenger and freight prepare operators. That’s similar to the total losses accrued so far by Europe’s airlines. Thousands of workers are on government-subsidized furloughs. “It’s a totally extraordinary situation,” said Libor Lochman, CER’s executive director. “There is no comparison for it, and it can and will lead to the bankruptcy of a number of companies, unless there is the political will to prevent it”.

Just as happened last Spring, travel restrictions are tightening across Europe and borders are closing as countries try to counter the spread of new strains of the Covid-19 virus. France announced on Thursday that visitors from the UK, which is no longer part of the EU, will need to observe a seven-day quarantine and undertake a PCR test on their arrival. The UK already has a quarantine system in place for travelers from the EU. These latest travel restrictions have compounded Eurostar’s woes. It could run out of money by April, according to industry sources. To stave off that fate, the company is asking for government support of the kind already doled out to many airlines. Eurostar has already tapped shareholders for €200 million and is apparently loath to do so again, particularly given the recent tightening of travel restrictions.

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Monsanto.

Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism (OffG)

In the above short video on the empirediaries.com YouTube channel, a protesting farmer camped near Delhi says that during lockdown and times of crisis farmers are treated like “gods”, but when they ask for their rights, they are smeared and labelled as “terrorists”. He, along with thousands of other farmers, are mobilising against three important pieces of farm legislation that were recently forced through parliament. To all intents and purposes, these laws sound a neoliberal death knell for most of India’s cultivators and its small farms, the backbone of the nation’s food production. The farmer says: “Corporates invested in Modi before the election and brought him to power. He has sold out and is an agent of Ambani and Adani. He is unable to repeal the bills because his owners will scold him. He is trapped. But we are not backing down either.”

He then asks whether ministers know how many seeds are needed to grow wheat on an acre of land: “We farmers know. They made these farm laws sitting in air-conditioned rooms. And they are teaching us the benefits!” While the corporations that will move in on the sector due to the legislation will initially pay good money for crops, once the public sector markets (mandis) are gone, the farmer says they will become the only buyers and will beat prices down. He asks why, in other sectors, do sellers get to put price tags on their products but not farmers: “Why can’t farmers put minimum prices on the crops we produce? A law must be brought to guarantee MSP [minimum support prices]. Whoever buys below MSP must be punished by law.”

The recent agriculture legislation represents the final pieces of a 30-year-old plan which will benefit a handful of billionaires in the US and in India. It means the livelihoods of hundreds of millions (the majority of the population) who still (directly or indirectly) rely on agriculture for a living are to be sacrificed at the behest of these elite interests. Consider that much of the UK’s wealth came from sucking $45 trillion from India alone according to renowned economist Utsa Patnaik. Britain grew rich by underdeveloping India. What amount to little more than modern-day East India-type corporations are now in the process of helping themselves to the country’s most valuable asset – agriculture.

According to the World Bank’s lending report, based on data compiled up to 2015, India was easily the largest recipient of its loans in the history of the institution. The World Bank thus exerts a certain hold over India: on the back of India’s foreign exchange crisis in the 1990s, the IMF and World Bank wanted India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture. In return for up to more than $120 billion in loans at the time, India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange. The plan involves shifting at least 400 million from the countryside into cities.

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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 162020
 
 December 16, 2020  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937

 

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)
Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)
The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)
COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)
Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)
Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)
Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)
DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)
Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)
McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)
Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign
Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Very long, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Still, when it’s about saving lives, including your own… might as well read it..

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)

In this article I am not going to simply transform the treatment with HCQ (an acronym for hydroxychloroquine) from “not promising”, as the New York Times qualifies it, to “promising”. I will explain that it is scientifically proven, and in every possible scientific way. In addition, I will explain how and why the biggest journalistic blackout in human history is taking place right now. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you here that the New York Times and almost all the other mainstream media are doing dirty, lousy quality journalism. As a result of this amateurism, a seismic tremor of gigantic proportions is being created at the moment, and without precedent, in the credibility of the mainstream world press, with unpredictable consequences for humanity in the coming decades.

And I warn you right now. I have no concern in producing a short article. There are many analyses to be done, nuances to be approached and many details that cannot be left out. The farce is so big and with so many actors, that it’ s almost unbelievable that it can be dismantled with day-to-day facts and simple logic There are scientific articles, facts and figures that no one wants to report or discuss. These studies have not become news in the major media nor have been cited by science journalists, but they have impacts like Muhammad Ali’s punches in the logic of those who claim that the drug does not work. Here they will come to the public. My main point of view in this article is the evolution of the arguments of people who insist that the drug is ineffective against COVID-19.

This is my third article on the subject. In the first one (in French, English, Portuguese), three months ago, I explained my personal view. I had the goal of making a choice between taking or not these drugs, in case of catching the virus. In it I have spoken about the political scenario and the incredible logical flaws of those who claim that the treatment does not work. I discussed how the “official story” is an incredible conspiracy theory and explained how the false narrative about this medication was formed, all in a timeline. In my second article, I lamented the shameful censorship, pretending to be of service to society, that has been present in today’s world. In addition, I explained the inversion of ideological values, in the West, between right and left, when dealing with this topic. (Originally published on France-Soir in French. Also with versions in Portuguese and English).

Now I write this third article, where I bring all the main news from the scientific world in the last three months. It is to disassemble the last arguments of those who say it doesn’t work. The world is standing still. There is panic and fear in the global population. More than one million three hundred thousand people have died. For the vast majority of these victims, a cure with a high percentage of success has been neglected. Another millions are depressed, with no prospect of life and happiness. All due to a perfect storm and gross errors. All conveniently taken advantage of by petty interests.

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All too common refrain: “I did not fail, all the others did.”

Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)

Sweden’s health experts misjudged the resurgence of the coronavirus by recommending a light-touch approach, the prime minister said. The country, which has pursued a form of herd immunity strategy under Anders Tegnell, its chief epidemiologist, has been hit so hard by the second wave of infections that hospitals in Stockholm are struggling to cope. Stefan Lofven, the prime minister, told the Aftenposten newspaper that his medical advisers had not seen such a wave coming. “They talked about different clusters,” he said. Sweden’s neighbours, Finland and Norway, which adopted stricter social controls and have suffered fewer fatalities per capita, have offered medical help after Stockholm reported that 99 per cent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds were full and called for more staff.

Mr Lofven, who leads a Social Democrat-Green Party coalition, spoke hours before a commission examining Sweden’s handling of the pandemic concluded that it had failed to protect elderly people during the first wave. A high level of community spread was the biggest factor in the virus getting into care homes, the commission said. Sweden’s pandemic strategy, shunning lockdowns and masks, has been much debated as an alternative approach to tougher curbs. Schools, restaurants and businesses were largely left open while people were advised to maintain social distance and hygiene. The strategy was coupled with a goal to “ring-fence” the most vulnerable. As deaths mounted, especially at nursing homes, the commission said that it had failed to do so effectively.

The approach has been called reckless and cruel but it also won praise from people seeing it as more sustainable and business-friendly. About half of Sweden’s almost 7700 deaths have been nursing home residents. The country now faces a significant rise in cases and fatalities. Its statistical agency recorded a total of 8088 deaths from all causes last month, the highest mortality in any November in Sweden since the first year of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, when 16,600 people died. Since Friday 153 people have died from COVID-19 related causes, bringing the total to 7,667. There have been 320,000 confirmed cases.

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Word.

The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)

Not a year has passed since peace was declared in 1945 that Britain has not sent military forces to fight the wars of empire. Not a year has passed when countries, mostly poor and riven by conflict, have not bought or have been “soft loaned” British arms to further the wars, or “interests”, of empire. Empire? What empire? The investigative journalist Phil Miller recently revealed in Declassified that Boris Johnson’s Britain maintained 145 military sites – call them bases — in 42 countries. Johnson has boasted that Britain is to be “the foremost naval power in Europe”. In the midst of the greatest health emergency in modern times, with more than 4 million surgical procedures delayed by the National Health Service, Johnson has announced a record increase of £16.5 billion in so-called defence spending – a figure that would restore the under-resourced NHS many times over.

But these billions are not for defence. Britain has no enemies other than those within who betray the trust of its ordinary people, its nurses and doctors, its carers, elderly, homeless and youth, as successive neo-liberal governments have done, Conservative and Labour. Exploring the serenity of the National War Memorial, I soon realised there was not a single monument, or plinth, or plaque, or rosebush honouring the memory of Britain’s victims — the civilians in the “peacetime” operations commemorated here. There is no remembrance of the Libyans killed when their country was wilfully destroyed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his collaborators in Paris and Washington.

There is no word of regret for the Serbian women and children killed by British bombs, dropped from a safe height on schools, factories, bridges, towns, on the orders of Tony Blair; or for the impoverished Yemeni children extinguished by Saudi pilots with their logistics and targets supplied by Britons in the air-conditioned safety of Riyadh; or for the Syrians starved by “sanctions”. There is no monument to the Palestinian children murdered with the British elite’s enduring connivance, such as the recent campaign that destroyed a modest reform movement within the Labour Party with specious accusations of anti-Semitism.

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Capitol Hill is simply incapable of getting these, the most basic of things, right.

COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)

A draft of coronavirus relief legislation, circulated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, eschews direct payments to average Americans but contains an unusually generous handout to the very wealthy. The draft legislation, the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, was released this week as part of a package of two major bills to confront the ongoing crisis. The draft of the first bill circulating on Capitol Hill contains a number of adjustments to the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program that has served as the centerpiece of the government’s efforts to curb job loss stemming from the pandemic.

Many of the changes provide extended eligibility for expenses that can be reimbursed by the PPP program, including damage from looting and costs associated with cloud computing, as well as the construction of sneeze guards and other safety measures implemented by businesses. But one of the revisions in the legislation is a subtle yet radical change that would result in a major windfall for the highest-income Americans and large corporations. The bill provides that businesses claiming expenses reimbursed by PPP forgivable loans, which are already tax-free, can be further used as deductions when calculating taxable income. In other words, the change would allow a corporation that claimed $1 million in PPP reimbursements to apply that money as a deduction on its tax return, reducing taxable income by $1 million.

Critics of this idea, first circulated by a bipartisan set of legislators last summer, note that it provides an unprecedented tax advantage that overwhelmingly benefits investors and high-net-worth professionals. IRS rules have long prohibited tax-free government grants and reimbursements from being used as deductions. Steven Rosenthal, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, writing in his blog TaxVox, has noted that the proposal represents a “double dip” that abandons longstanding tax norms to provide “overly generous relief” that rewards “savvy, well-connected business and crowds out relief for others, undercutting the effectiveness of Congress’ aid.”

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Baseless, blah blah.

Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)

President Donald Trump is considering pushing to have a special counsel appointed to advance a federal tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden, setting up a potential showdown with incoming acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.Trump — angry that out-going Attorney General William Barr didn’t publicly announce the ongoing, two-year investigation into Hunter Biden — has consulted on the matter with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside allies. That’s according to several Trump administration officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.

Beyond appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the younger Biden, the sources said Trump is interested in having another special counsel appointed to look into his own baseless claims of election fraud. But if he’s expecting his newly named acting attorney general to go further than Barr on either matter, he could end up quickly disappointed.Barr on Monday evening announced he will resign effective next week, revealing his plans about a week after Hunter Biden publicly disclosed that he was under investigation related to his finances. It is generally Justice Department policy not to disclose investigations that are in progress, though the subjects of those investigations can. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, will step into the Justice Department’s top job in an acting role.

A longtime litigator, he has served as Barr’s top deputy since May 2019 but largely shies away from the spotlight. He said in a statement Tuesday he was “honored” to serve and “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.” Trump is still weighing his options, considering whether to pressure Rosen to make the special counsel appointment or, if needed, to replace the acting attorney general with someone more likely to carry out his wishes. He has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself. A key question will be whether Rosen can stand up to presidential pressure — and potentially withering attacks — in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. If not, Rosen could be cast aside in favor of others more willing to do Trump’s bidding.

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Watching the dice roll…

Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)

A group of Republicans in Pennsylvania on Tuesday has again urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their lawsuit that challenges the 2020 election results in the state. The nation’s top court had previously rejected the group’s request for immediate injunctive relief to block Pennsylvania from taking further steps to certify the 2020 election results. At the time, the group’s lawyer, Greg Teufel, said the case was not over because his clients were planning to file a formal petition to ask the court to review the lawsuit, which they hadn’t filed the first time. The lawyer filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Dec. 11, docketed by the court on Dec. 15, which argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was wrong when it dismissed their case because the justices thought the plaintiffs filed their case with unreasonable delay.

“This Court should not turn a blind eye to unconstitutional election laws that permit massive vote dilution and have a significant impact on election outcomes, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did,” the petition (pdf) states. The case at hand—cited as Kelly v. Pennsylvania—argues that Act 77, a law that made voting by mail without an excuse legal in Pennsylvania, was enacted in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitution. The state constitution, the plaintiffs argue, prohibits absentee voting in Pennsylvania except for four limited circumstances. The lawsuit alleges that the state law is “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

The lawsuit was filed by a Republican lawmaker Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and several GOP congressional candidates. In late November a Pennsylvania commonwealth judge, Patricia McCullough, issued a temporary injunction that would have prevented the state from taking further steps to complete the certification of the presidential race. She argued that “petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment.” She also opined that the “petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene” the plain language of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which deals with absentee voting.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long before the county of boards of election were required to certify the election results to bring the case, which could “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters” who voted by mail.

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“Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)

Concerned about possible election evidence being destroyed, members of a joint session of the Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate oversight committees on Tuesday voted to issue subpoenas to Detroit and the nearby suburb of Livonia demanding they surrender hard drives, emails, absentee voter counting board laptops and other election-related materials. One Senate Democrat reportedly joined his Republican colleagues in supporting the subpoenas. A Nov. 28 order memo from the State Bureau of Elections had followed the same protocol as prior elections and ordered the deletion by November 30 of “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives … unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”

Tracy Wimmer, director of Media Relations for Michigian Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told Just the News in a statement Thursday that she rejected Republicans’ concerns about the deletion memo. “The Bureau of Elections memo sent to clerks is the same memo that has been sent to clerks for years, including under the administration of now state senator Ruth Johnson,” Wimmer said. “Republican House and Senate legal counsel were provided this information days ago. The fact that members of their party is choosing to ignore these truths in a press release demonstrates they have no interest in preserving the integrity of our elections or democracy.”

Michigan State Senator Ruth Johnson, the Republican who supported the subpoena effort, told Just the News she had previously signed the same deletion order while she was secretary of state but the unusual nature of the 2020 election meant circumstances had changed. “Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved while there are ongoing lawsuits, audits, and Oversight committee review of the November election,” Johnson said. “Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

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Declassify all of it.

DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)

Top U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned heading into the 2016 election that the Russians were aware of and potentially manipulating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to smear Donald Trump as a Russian agent that they personally briefed President Barack Obama on the matter, newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents show. CIA officials also requested that the FBI investigate Russian knowledge of the Clinton campaign’s collusion smear operation. Newly declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan show that the U.S. intelligence community knew in 2016 that Russian intelligence was actively monitoring, and potentially injecting disinformation into, Clinton’s anti-Trump collusion narrative.

The intelligence concerning Russia’s knowledge of Clinton’s campaign plans was so concerning to Brennan and other national security officials that they personally informed Obama of the matter in the Oval Office in the summer of 2016. The handwritten notes from Brennan were declassified by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and provided to Congress on Tuesday afternoon. According to the declassified notes, Brennan and the U.S. intelligence community knew months prior to the 2016 election that the collusion smear was the result of a campaign operation hatched by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activites from [REDACTED],” Brennan’s handwritten notes state. “Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.” The notes appear to have been prepared by Brennan to memorialize a meeting held at the White House with the president and his top national security advisers. Included in Brennan’s notes are the responses of other participants in the briefing — including those of former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and former DNI James Clapper, but those responses are redacted.

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Why they should be treated as, and broken up like, AT&T.

Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)

Facebook and Twitter executives poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, all while blocking the New York Post’s exposé about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. The revelation comes amid accusations from President Trump and other Republicans that Silicon Valley is censoring conservative voices, sparking a push for the companies to lose their liability protections. A review of Federal Election Commission records show Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, donated $99,440.01 to Democrats and Biden in the final weeks of the race.

Egan donated the maximum contribution of $2,800 to the former veep’s White House bid on Sept. 8 and Oct. 1 before ponying up a whopping $55,000 for the Biden Victory Fund and $35,500 for the Democratic National Committee. According to Biden’s website, the Biden Victory Fund is a joint fundraising effort among his campaign, the DNC, and the 47 state parties to help defeat Trump. As first reported by Fox News, she made no contributions to the president’s campaign. Likewise, Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, donated $2,800 apiece to Biden’s campaign and Democrat Amy McGrath’s failed bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, donated $2,800 to Biden’s bid during the Democratic primary, according to FEC records, and another $750 during the general election. But Fischer also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic challengers in other key races, including Jamie Harrison’s unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper’s successful Senate races in Arizona and Colorado. A number of Facebook vice presidents and Instagram’s chief financial officer also donated the maximum $2,800 to Biden’s White House bid.

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Just ban the damn things. If elections can be manipulated, they will.

McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)

In 2016, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states and, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, breached systems in Illinois and two counties in Florida, gaining access to information on millions of registered voters. In his report, Mueller described the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections as “sweeping and systematic.” Three years later, security experts warn that not enough has been done to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently told Congress that “the threats just keep escalating,” adding that he viewed the 2018 midterms as a “dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

In fourteen states, some 2018 midterm voters submitted their votes on touchscreens that did not produce paper trails necessary to verify their votes or audit election outcomes. If votes had been inaccurately processed in these precincts—whether through equipment errors or foreign hacking operations—election officials wouldn’t have been able to find or correct the problems. Several Democratic and Republican members of Congress have submitted legislation to shore up election security. Proposals from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) include replacing paperless electronic voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners, subjecting voting equipment vendors to rigorous cybersecurity standards, and requiring vendors to report cybersecurity incidents.

But all the bills have hit a roadblock. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.

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A whole article on SolarWinds without mentioing Dominion even once. Well done!

Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign

On an earnings call two months ago, SolarWinds Chief Executive Kevin Thompson touted how far the company had gone during his 11 years at the helm. There was not a database or an IT deployment model out there to which his Austin, Texas-based company did not provide some level of monitoring or management, he told analysts on the Oct. 27 call. “We don’t think anyone else in the market is really even close in terms of the breadth of coverage we have,” he said. “We manage everyone’s network gear.” Now that dominance has become a liability – an example of how the workhorse software that helps glue organizations together can turn toxic when it is subverted by sophisticated hackers.

On Monday, SolarWinds confirmed that Orion – its flagship network management software – had served as the unwitting conduit for a sprawling international cyberespionage operation. The hackers inserted malicious code into Orion software updates pushed out to nearly 18,000 customers. And while the number of affected organizations is thought to be much more modest, the hackers have already parlayed their access into consequential breaches at the U.S. Treasury and Department of Commerce. Three people familiar with the investigation have told Reuters that Russia is a top suspect, although others familiar with the inquiry have said it is still too early to tell. [..] In a statement issued Sunday, the company said “we strive to implement and maintain appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, security processes, procedures, and standards designed to protect our customers.”

Cybersecurity experts are still struggling to understand the scope of the damage. The malicious updates – sent between March and June, when America was hunkering down to weather the first wave of coronavirus infections – was “perfect timing for a perfect storm,” said Kim Peretti, who co-chairs Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird’s cybersecurity preparedness and response team. Assessing the damage would be difficult, she said. “We may not know the true impact for many months, if not more – if not ever,” she said. The impact on SolarWinds was more immediate. U.S. officials ordered anyone running Orion to immediately disconnect it.

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Oh please, make it stop. What clown will takeover from Pompeo?

Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a verbal salvo charging that Russia continues to destabilize the Mediterranean, and that it sows “chaos, conflict, and division” in the region. Pompeo directed his comments Tuesday at his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently accused the U.S. of playing political games in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “It’s unfortunate and unhelpful that Mr. Lavrov again gets the facts wrong and attempts to rewrite history,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States is working actively with allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote greater stability, security, and prosperity.”

The comments come during a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow, and in the wake of reports that Russian hackers have breached U.S. government computer systems. Although he did not directly mention hacking operations, Pompeo charged Russia with spreading disinformation and undermining national sovereignty specifically in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. “In Syria, Russia supports the Assad regime whose war against its own people has added to regional instability, led to a protracted humanitarian crisis, and displaced half the population,” Pompeo said. The secretary of state listed a number of Russian actions in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and elsewhere.

“In Libya, Russia/ supported an assault on the/ Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing civilians and undermining the UN s efforts to bring peace to the country,” Pompeo said. Citing a litany of actions in Libya, Pompeo noted Russia had printed counterfeit Libyan dinars and has used its proxy mercenary army known as Wagner to fuel conflict.

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Dec 132020
 


Detail of a fresco from the House of the Tragic Poet, Pompeii, 2nd century BC

 

Sputnik V Likely Provides COVID Immunity For 2 Years, Pfizer For Months (Sp.)
Russian Cooperation Saves British Vaccine (MoA)
No Need For Vaccine This Year: Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (Yu)
Global Economy To Contract By 5.6% This Year Due To Pandemic – UN (RT)
Millions Of Working-Poor Americans Forced To Turn To Food Banks (ZH)
SCOTUS Had One Last Chance To Keep The American Republic Together (Malic)
Reporters Disclosing Embarrassing Comments From Joe Biden (Turley)
How NBC News Helped the Biden Campaign Ruin an Innocent Man (PJM)
Pascrell Seeks To Block 120 House Republicans From Being Seated (Turley)
GOP Megadonor Celebrates His Profits From “Huge Increases In Rents” (DP)
Sweden Considers E-krona Amid Rapid Growth Of Cash-free Transactions (RT)
UK Ministers Warn Supermarkets To Stockpile Food On No-deal Brexit Fears (R.)
Australian MP Calls On Trump To Pardon Assange Before Leaving WH (RT)

 

 

 

 

Now coming to an AstraZeneca place near you.

Sputnik V Likely Provides COVID Immunity For 2 Years, Pfizer For Months (Sp.)

Russia’s vaccine showed efficacy of over 95 percent during Phase III trials. According to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the organisation that invested in the development of Russia’s inoculation, over 50 countries have already ordered 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V. The Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, will likely provide immunity from COVID-19 for two years, while the inoculation developed by Pfizer will shield for 4-5 months, said the institute’s director Alexander Gintsburg. Gintsburg emphasised, however, that this data needs to be checked during experiments.

“The method used in Sputnik V was used in the vaccine against Ebola and experimental data has proved that it provides immunity from the disease for a minimum of two years, but it could be more. I don’t know how long Pfizer’s vaccine will protect from infection”, Gintsbur said. The director of Gamaleya Research Institute also said there is a 96 percent chance that people who have received the Sputnik V jab won’t get sick with COVID-19. Only 4 percent of people who got the vaccine might get sick, Gintsburg said, but stressed that this would be a mild case of the disease that will not affect the lungs. Most likely an individual will have a cough, sniffles, and minor temperature.

Both Sputnik and Pfizer vaccines showed efficacy rates of 95 percent. However, two UK National Health Service workers who received the Pfizer inoculation had allergic reactions to the jab, which prompted UK’s health department to issue a warning that people with a history of allergic reactions should not receive Pfizer’s vaccine. Alexander Gintsburg previously said that the Sputnik V vaccine can be used by people with allergies.

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Excellent background.

“The possible reason for 62% efficacy of AstraZeneca’s full dose regiment is that immunity to chimpanzee adenoviral vector from the 1st shot makes 2nd shot not effective. #SputnikV addresses this issue by using two different human adenoviral vectors for two shots (92% efficacy)”

Russian Cooperation Saves British Vaccine (MoA)

In late November Debs is dead and I wrote about the ruthless vaccine competition. The cause were the ambiguous results of the non-profit AstraZeneca vaccine trials which led to delighted criticism from those who prefer commercial vaccine suppliers. The good news today is that cooperation between vaccine developers is still possible and can lead to better results. As Debs had opined: “In the real world that means if the AstraZeneca vaccine is more than 60% efficacious (which is better than any flu vaccine – 95% is new big pharma BS IMO) and has no major side effects (one case of MS tells us nothing for the reason I outlined above), then it will be that or nothing for a sizeable slab of the world’s population. If everyone falls for big pharma’s transparent attempt to stop this possible vaccine in its tracks, prior to testing completion, then that will mean no vaccine for billions of our fellow humans, so rather than joining in the big pharma sabotage, it makes better sense to consider that vaccine more objectively than de Noli, that Harvard minion of corporations seems to do.”

I agreed with that and discussed the most likely reason why the AstraZeneca vaccine did not create a higher efficacy: “The AstraZeneca vaccine uses an adenovirus as ‘vector’ to deliver a DNA sequence that human cells then use to create one specific (but harmless) SARS-CoV-2 protein. The immune system will then learn to attack that protein. Afterwards it should be able to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infections. … In order to safeguard against cases where an already existing immunity to human adenoviruses may impede inoculation AstraZeneca is using a chimpanzee-originated version of an adenovirus as a vector. The Russian Sputnik V vaccine, hyped by Prof. de Noli on RT, uses two doses with different human adenoviruses (Ad-26, Ad-5) as vectors to increase the chance of inoculation.

Other vaccine developers, CanSino Biologics and Johnson & Johnson, are also using adenovirus vectors. Sinopharm’s vaccine uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus. AstraZeneca found by chance that its vaccine works best when the first dose is smaller than the second one. Vector immunity can explain why this is the case. A first high dose will create some immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus but also some immunity against the vector virus, the chimpanzee-originated adenovirus. When a first high dose has trained the immune system to fight the vector virus the second ‘booster’ vaccine dose using the same vector will become inefficient. A lower first dose can make sure that the second higher dose is not prematurely defeated by vector immunity but can still do its work.

Unbeknownst to me the Russian developers of the Sputnik V vaccine had come to the same conclusion: Sputnik V @sputnikvaccine – 13:10 UTC · Nov 23, 2020 “The possible reason for 62% efficacy of AstraZeneca’s full dose regiment is that immunity to chimpanzee adenoviral vector from the 1st shot makes 2nd shot not effective. #SputnikV addresses this issue by using two different human adenoviral vectors for two shots (92% efficacy). They had offered AstraZeneca to cooperate with them: Sputnik V @sputnikvaccine – 2:41 PM · Nov 23, 2020 “Sputnik V is happy to share one of its two human adenoviral vectors with @AstraZeneca to increase the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine. Using two different vectors for two vaccine shots will result in higher efficacy than using the same vector for two shots.” Today the Sputnik V website announced that AstraZeneca has accepted the proposal. Trials will start immediately.

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How many Australians are still stuck abroad after 11 months?

No Need For Vaccine This Year: Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (Yu)

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says Australia’s success against coronavirus means, unlike other countries, we can wait for full vaccine approvals. Australia’s top doctor says news of the U.S. drug regulator granting emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine – like the UK and Canada have also recently done – is not necessary in Australia. “We don’t need any vaccine this year,” Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Saturday. “Other countries are in far different state than us and they should be prioritised.” Australia will wait for the Therapeutic Goods Administration—the national drug regulator—to run through its own approvals of the Pfizer vaccine with the expectation it will be distributed in early 2021.


He highlighted the nation’s success at controlling virus transmission. “Today is eighth day in a row we’ve not had any community transmission,” Kelly said. “That’s the first time we’ve been able to say that since February.” This is compared with the fact that Friday was the most deadly day of the virus yet, with more than 13,000 deaths and skyrocketing infections, Kelly said. The emphasis right now is on having an impenetrable hotel quarantine system. “Whilst we’re concentrated on bringing Australians home… we have to make sure absolutely that our hotel quarantine system is the very best it can be,” Kelly said.

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Feels a bit much like guesswork.

Global Economy To Contract By 5.6% This Year Due To Pandemic – UN (RT)

The volume of global trade is set face the sharpest decline since the end of the global financial crisis, falling as much as 5.6 percent this year, the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) predicts. The figure, announced by the agency earlier this week, is more optimistic than its previous forecast, which expected global trade to contract by nine percent year-on-year. The previous largest decline was seen in 2009, when global merchandise trade took a 22-percent nosedive. However, the UNCTAD downgraded its forecast for the service sector, which was hit hard by a steep decline in travel, transport and tourism activity during the pandemic.


The troubled sector is on path to fall by a staggering 15.4 percent to levels last seen in the 1990s, according to nowcasts – data-led projections for the immediate future – from UNCTAD’s 2020 Handbook of Statistics. Even following the previous crisis, services trade was down by less than 10 percent. The pandemic has also transformed business as usual in 2020, the UN agency said, adding that it had to adjust statistics methods to provide up-to-date figures on the economic fallout. “Unlike previous years however, the models that nowcast international trade and GDP had to grapple with some of the most unusual circumstances in living memory,” said UNCTAD’s chief statistician, Steve MacFeely.

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“Feeding America handed out 4.2 billion meals from March through October, the most ever.”

Millions Of Working-Poor Americans Forced To Turn To Food Banks (ZH)

For the first time, millions of Americans waited in food bank lines this year, unlike anything seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to AP, as the pandemic rages on, with more than 20 million still claiming unemployment benefits, food banks are dishing out more meals than ever. The one place millions of Americans found themselves this year, as readers may recall, really starting in mid-March, have been food bank lines. We highlighted this phenomenon sweeping across the country as the pandemic wrecked the working poor as they grappled with food insecurity. Among some of the most memorable sights this year, reminiscent of the Depression-era, were mile-long food bank lines.

Huge traffic jams captured by civilian drones documented large lines in San Antonio, Texas to Toledo, Ohio to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida, where thousands of vehicles carrying hungry people waited for care packages. Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, was overwhelmed with demand as 20% of the organization’s food banks were at severe risk of running out of food earlier this year Demand at food banks has been so high, that Feeding America handed out 4.2 billion meals from March through October, the most ever. The organization reported a 60% average increase in food bank users during the pandemic – and at least 30% are first-timers. Data from Feeding America showed 181 food banks in its network distributed nearly 57% more food in the third quarter than the same period in 2019.

Estimates from the food bank suggest 1 in 6 Americans, from 35 million in 2019 to more than 50 million by the end of this year, will have food insecurity problems. The problem is worse for children – nearly 1 in 4 will go hungry as the pandemic deeply scarred the economy. Shockingly, Feeding America found that 1 in 5 residents in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana could not put food on the table.

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“The Silicon Valley tech giants, who in the run-up to the election censored and suppressed the story about Joe Biden’s family business deals overseas – that later turned out to be accurate – and slapped “disputed” warnings on Trump’s claims of electoral fraud the way they never did on ‘Russiagate,’ are now openly censoring any notion that 2020 wasn’t perfectly legal. You’re now forbidden to say that. Soon you won’t be allowed to think it.”

SCOTUS Had One Last Chance To Keep The American Republic Together (Malic)

By washing its hands of responsibility to hear the Texas challenge to the 2020 presidential election, the nine Justices of the US Supreme Court may have sealed the country’s fate and made a kinetic civil war much more likely. On Friday, the highest court in the land decided that Texas “lacked standing” to challenge the conduct of elections in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin under Article 3 of the US Constitution. Yet the article in question explicitly states that the SCOTUS will be the original jurisdiction in “Controversies between two or more States; – between a State and Citizens of another State; – between Citizens of different States,” among other things. Contrary to media reports, Texas did not seek to “overturn” the election of Democrat Joe Biden.

The motion filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton very explicitly called for the court to order the state legislatures thereof to seat the electors, as is their constitutional prerogative. Yes, those legislatures are majority Republican, but nothing guaranteed they would actually back President Donald Trump. After all, Georgia has a Republican governor and secretary of state, and both declared the election clean as a whistle, brushing off all evidence of alleged irregularities. The very same media that brayed for the past four years about how the 2016 election was somehow tampered with by Russia – never offering any evidence for that – have declared the 2020 one pure as driven snow, the most secure in history, perfect in every way.

In what was surely a massive coincidence, it even happened to exactly mirror the 2016 result, with Biden getting 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232. The Silicon Valley tech giants, who in the run-up to the election censored and suppressed the story about Joe Biden’s family business deals overseas – that later turned out to be accurate – and slapped “disputed” warnings on Trump’s claims of electoral fraud the way they never did on ‘Russiagate,’ are now openly censoring any notion that 2020 wasn’t perfectly legal. You’re now forbidden to say that. Soon you won’t be allowed to think it. In America, the country that invented the constitutional amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech and thought!

Democrats and their allies in the media and Silicon Valley were eager to declare the Texas motion “seditious.” One influential House Democrat said any Republican backing the lawsuit was “engaging in rebellion against the United States” and should be stripped of their office under the 14th Amendment, originally written to justify disenfranchising the Confederates after 1865. The irony here is that the Supreme Court could have actually prevented another civil war had it chosen to hear the Texas lawsuit, and then ruled against it on non-pretextual grounds. That, at least, would have sent the message to Trump supporters that the System works, and that they should continue to place their trust in it. There would always be the possibility of a rematch in the 2022 midterms or 2024.

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“I am not sure when it became acceptable for politicians to expressly refuse to state their intentions and policies until after they are elected.”

Reporters Disclosing Embarrassing Comments From Joe Biden (Turley)

We have been discussing the open bias shown by the media in the last four years. It is not clear if we can regain the ground lost for journalism as even journalism professors call for the rejection of objectivity in favor of advocacy. This has included shielding Joe Biden from any challenging questions during the recent election. That includes the news blackout on reporting on the Hunter Biden scandal, the subject of my column today in the Hill. CNN’s April Ryan personifies this trend. Even as the media is facing widespread criticism for burying the Hunter Biden story (and is now doing the same with the Swalwell scandal), Ryan lashed out at confidential sources responsible for leaking a recording of Joe Biden making embarrassing comments about the “defund the police” movement.

Ryan is demanding to know who is responsible for allowing the embarrassing comments to be made public despite her past enthusiastic discussion of such leaks against President Donald Trump. President-elect Biden lashed out at the “defund the police” movement this week in a meeting with civil rights leaders, stating “That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not.” The recording was obtained by The Intercept. What I felt was most notable was that Biden said that he would not share his plans for reforming the police until after the Georgia runoff to avoid any backlash from voters. While NBC paraphrased the quote as Biden warning “about getting ‘too far ahead of ourselves’ with critical Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5,” it was more direct and disturbing than that.

Biden stated: “Just think to yourself and give me advice whether we should do that before Jan. 5th, because that’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police.” It was precisely what Biden did with regard to packing the Supreme Court. He expressly refused to tell voters whether he would support such a plan because it might cost him votes. The key issue in the Georgia runoff is whether, once in control of the Senate, the Democrats would move forward on what are viewed as radical proposals, including sweeping police reforms. Biden’s answer again is not to tell the voters what they have planned. As I mentioned yesterday, I am not sure when it became acceptable for politicians to expressly refuse to state their intentions and policies until after they are elected.

Biden has now twice said that he does not want voters to know in case it might cost votes. There are a host of issues raised by Biden’s remarks, but Ryan lashed out at the use of such tapes, which are standard in journalism; “I asked an incoming White House source was the meeting contentious with civil rights leader and @JoeBiden and the answer was ‘no’. A rights leader at the meeting says @JoeBiden was passionate,” Ryan tweeted. “The question is who taped this meeting and why? What is the agenda?”

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We’re not allowed to find out what went on with Balding and his story.

How NBC News Helped the Biden Campaign Ruin an Innocent Man (PJM)

Hunter Biden was the October Surprise that wasn’t. A report so explosive, so potentially damaging, so dangerous for national security that it should have destroyed Joe Biden’s bid for the White House. In any other election, fleets of investigative reporters would have been unleashed to verify the claims in the report. Instead, in the ultimate expression of Trump Derangement Syndrome, a major media company set out to personally destroy the man who they thought put the report together and thereby discredit the report to the point that the entire media complex in America took turns ridiculing the story instead of investigating it. The results could have dire implications for national security. But hey, at least they got rid of the Bad Orange Man.

The week before Election Day, RedState published a series of articles about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, based on a 64-page report from researchers who combed public records to reveal how compromised the Biden family is to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). You can read Part 1 here. The four-part series lays out deeply disturbing connections between Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and the CCP. The pro-democracy news outlet Apple Daily, based in Hong Kong, used an earlier 40-page version of the report and was the first to report on its findings. In response, NBC News launched a coordinated attack on one of the publishers of the report, Christopher Balding. This attack had all the appearances of being coordinated with the Biden campaign and it had the effect of benefiting the CCP.

The report goes into intimate detail about the deep connections between the Biden family and the CCP. In fact, Hunter Biden’s company BHR is listed as a subsidiary of the Bank of China, owned by the CCP. Balding, who taught English for several years in China before moving to Vietnam to teach there for a couple of years, appeared on a Facebook Live event for the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) on October 30 to talk about his report. In that event, he said, “Hunter Biden started going to China, the first trips that we picked up were shortly before Biden became vice president in 2008, and there was a steady stream of visits to Beijing over time. I would say it was probably almost once a year to China during that time. He was meeting with individuals and institutions that would ultimately become the investors in the BHR Fund.”

“The first thing to note,” Balding said, “is this appears to significantly predate 2013 going back to probably 2008, that’s when you really see the groundwork being laid for this. I think another thing that is very important to note is that all of the individual institutions that are surrounding everything’s going on here … are very closely linked to the state, whether it is with a quasi-state type of organizations, whether it is state-owned banks, whether it is part of the actual government, everyone that you’re seeing here is very closely linked to the state. A lot of people that you’re seeing are also very closely tied to Chinese organizations that are known by the U.S. government and other governments to be intelligence, their cover institutions for Intel, and until an influence operation, and what I mean by that is China has a lot of very innocuous-sounding institutional or organizational names, you know, one of the ones that pops to mind is the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

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“Such challenges and concerns are brought to the courts where we can have disputes resolved without violence in a constitutional system.”

Pascrell Seeks To Block 120 House Republicans From Being Seated (Turley)

It appears that Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., NJ) has a serious problem with Republicans going to court. We recently discussed Pascrell’s absurd effort to disbar roughly two dozen Republican lawyers for challenging the results of the 2020 election. Now Pascrell is declaring that 120 House Republicans signing a “Friend of the Court brief” (or amicus brief) is tantamount to supporting a rebellion against the United States and that they should be blocked from taking their seats in Congress. I previously denounced Pascrell for his “dangerous form of demagoguery.” This latest call shows the demagoguery has reached a level of utter delusion.

From the outset of the Texas lawsuit, I stated that it was virtually guaranteed to fail on standing. It did fail last night. However, courts are where we take cases alleging such injuries. Tens of millions of American believe that the election was not fair, including many Democratic voters. Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe the election was stolen. Such challenges and concerns are brought to the courts where we can have disputes resolved without violence in a constitutional system. Rather than welcome such review, Democrats have launched a scorched earth campaign, including an abusive campaign of harassment and abuse by the Lincoln Project. These efforts notably began shortly after Biden was declared the presumptive winner of the election and before any challenges were actually ruled upon by the courts.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also fueled such reckless rhetoric, declaring that the Republicans are “subverting the Constitution by their reckless and fruitless assault on our democracy which threatens to seriously erode public trust in our most sacred democratic institutions, and to set back our progress on the urgent challenges ahead.” Pascrell’s move against his colleagues mirrors language in the response of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro calling the Texas lawsuit “seditious.” Seeking judicial review is the antithesis of sedition or rebellion. It is working within our constitutional system for a legal opinion on the merits of a challenge. These litigants have complied with court orders, as has President Trump.

On Twitter, Pascrell declared: “Stated simply, the men and women who would act to tear the United States Government apart cannot serve as Members of the Congress. These lawsuits seeking to obliterate public confidence in our democratic system by invalidating the clear results of the 2020 presidential election undoubtedly attack the text and the spirit of the Constitution, which each Member swears to support and defend.”

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Blackstone.

GOP Megadonor Celebrates His Profits From “Huge Increases In Rents” (DP)

The world’s largest private equity firm has bankrolled campaigns against rent control and been accused by the United Nations of fueling a global housing crisis. Now, as millions are threatened with eviction during the pandemic, Blackstone’s top executive is openly bragging that the firm is making huge profits off of rent increases. At the Goldman Sachs’ Financial Services Conference on December 9, Blackstone’s billionaire CEO Stephen Schwartzman boasted that after the 2008 financial crisis, his firm was able to cash in on the mortgage crisis. At the time, the company was able to buy up foreclosed homes and convert them into rental properties subsequently plagued by accusations of dilapidation and excessive fees — all while it received a big financial boost from the government. Schwartzman, a top Republican donor and close ally of President Trump, indicated his firm is positioning itself for a similar jackpot.


“You always have winners and losers — Blackstone was a huge winner coming out of the global financial crisis and I think something similar is going to happen,” he said. Noting that about half of his private equity firm’s revenues are now from real estate, Schwarzman added: “We’re the largest owner of real estate in the private world. And that asset class has boomed with huge increases in rents, almost no occupancies, [and] rent collections from almost everyone.” Blackstone recently made billions selling off its single-family residential rental business — but in the last year, the company has been buying new stakes in residentialrental properties. In 2018 and 2020, it gave millions to political groups that successfully fought to defeat rent control ballot initiatives in California, where Blackstone has significant real estate investments.

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Is there any paper money left in Sweden?

Sweden Considers E-krona Amid Rapid Growth Of Cash-free Transactions (RT)

Swedish authorities have announced plans for a step-by-step replacement of the traditional krona with a digital equivalent, signaling a potential shift away from paper money in one of the world’s most cashless societies. A detailed review of the possibility was launched earlier this week, and is expected to be completed by the end of November 2022, according to the country’s financial markets minister, Per Bolund. It followed the launch of a pilot Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) earlier this year. The ministry reportedly set up a committee to oversee the review headed by Anna Kinberg Batra, a former chairwoman of the central bank’s finance committee. Sweden is among the world’s pioneers when it comes to integrating a digital currency into a national financial system.


Earlier this year, the Riksbank, the country’s central bank, launched a pilot project to introduce an electronic krona based on the same blockchain technology that underpins digital currencies like bitcoin. The government will officially launch e-krona as soon as the review is completed. “Depending on how a digital currency is designed and which technologies are used, it can have large consequences for the entire financial system,” Bolund told Bloomberg, stressing that “it’s crucial that the digitalized payments market functions safely, and that it’s available to everybody.” The use of paper money in Sweden has significantly declined in recent years, with that trend strongly reinforced during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. The national mobile payment system, Swish, has bolstered the move since it was introduced in 2012 by Sweden’s six largest banks.

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The Brexit stories will increasingly come in fast and furious for the rest of the year.

UK Ministers Warn Supermarkets To Stockpile Food On No-deal Brexit Fears (R.)

British ministers have warned supermarkets to stockpile food amid possibilities of a no-deal Brexit, with shortages feared as talks with the European Union remain deadlocked, The Sunday Times newspaper reported. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to take control of planning if Britain opts for no deal and will chair an exit operations committee to prepare the response, the newspaper reported. Ministers have told suppliers of medicines, medical devices and vaccines to stockpile six weeks’ worth at secure locations in the United Kingdom, the report added.

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How about his own government?

Australian MP Calls On Trump To Pardon Assange Before Leaving WH (RT)

Australian MP George Christensen called on Donald Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder and fellow Australian citizen Julian Assange while he still can, as it seems to be the US president’s last month in the Oval Office. Christensen – a member of the Liberal National Party who represents Dawson, Queensland – launched a petition this week encouraging the president to pardon the journalist, who faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing classified material. Christensen also appeared on Sky News Australia to make his case. He told the network that Assange “has been a target of the Democrats,” noting that his persecution started under the administration of former president Barack Obama.

“I mean Hillary Clinton hates his guts, obviously, for exposing who the real Hillary was, and you’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the deep state,” he claimed, pointing out that projected president-elect Joe Biden has called Assange a criminal and a “hi-tech terrorist.” The MP argued that a pardon is “one way that Donald Trump can stand up for free speech,” and against the Democratic establishment, and would also allow him to “poke the deep state in the eye.” At the center of the United States’ “great document of democracy that is the United States Constitution” is free speech and freedom of the press, Christensen declared, before concluding, “So I’m hoping that he will pardon Julian Assange. It’s the right thing to do.”

During his Sky News appearance, Christensen also sided with Trump’s allegations of 2020 election voter fraud, claiming that the Democrats have “successfully stolen an election from Donald Trump.” Also on Saturday, Stella Morris, Assange’s partner and the mother of his children, told the Australian government in her own Sky News Australia interview to “pick up the phone and speak to its closest allies” in order to get Assange freed.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 122020
 


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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remember yesterday’s quote:

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

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

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


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

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Warped logic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)

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

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

Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Problem solved?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Was this the steepest street in Britain?

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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Street corner in Athens.

 

 

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


August Strindberg Alpine Landscape I 1894

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

No drinkie, no problem!

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

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


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

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Common sense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Ron Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Swalwell needs to be investigated for real.

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

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

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

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

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Lots of China stories all of a sudden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For the banks.

ECB To Unveil Yet Another Stimulus Package (R.)

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

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

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

Read more …

This is supposed to happen under Biden?

Federal Trade Commission Calls For Breakup Of Facebook (NBC)

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 092020
 


Paul Cézanne Curtains 1885

 

Many Aren’t Buying Public Officials’ ‘Stay-at-home’ Message (LAT)
Nine Out Of 10 In Poor Nations To Miss Out On Vaccines (G.)
Tenants, Landlords Face Imminent Crisis As Pandemic Lifelines Expire (ZH)
Texas Files Lawsuit To SCOTUS Challenging Election Results In 4 States (JTN)
Professor: Probability of Biden Winning ‘Less Than One In A Quadrillion’ (EW)
Swalwell Suggests Trump Is Behind Blockbuster Axios Report (Fox)
Biden Defense Secretary Nominee Under Fire For Industry Connections (IC)
Former Clinton Aide Confirms Ties to Epstein, MSM Silence Deafening (MPN)
Trump Exits Somalia (OffG)
Where’s the Hitler? (CJ Hopkins)
Melzer Calls For Immediate Release Of Assange After 10 Years Of Detention (UN)
American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress (Onion)

 

 

Passionate science: Ivermectin is the miracle drug

 

 

I see a tsunami of violent lockdown protests in our immediate future. Maybe it’ll wait till 2021, but not much longer.

“..harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether..”

Many Aren’t Buying Public Officials’ ‘Stay-at-home’ Message (LAT)

With the coronavirus running rampant in Los Angeles and hospitals projected to overflow by Christmas, officials have fallen back on a familiar refrain: Stay home. “My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. “If you’re able to stay home, stay home.” Some 33 million Californians are now under a new regional stay-at-home order that began Sunday night, a last-ditch effort to turn the corner on an alarming rise in coronavirus cases statewide. The blunt messaging worked to bend the curve in the spring, when fear of the novel virus and the insidious ways it might spread kept many indoors. But nine months later, the words seem to have lost their meaning.

The percentage of Angelenos staying home except for essential activities has remained unchanged since mid-June — around 55% — despite pleas from health officials in recent weeks for people to cut down on their activities, according to a survey conducted by USC. A similar story has played out nationwide, as millions of Americans zigzagged across the country to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday, flouting the advice of health officials. “It’s not because the public is irresponsible; it’s because they are losing trust in public health officials who put out arbitrary restrictions,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Francisco. “We are failing in our public health messaging.” Health officials are up against a fatigued public, as well as a number of people who don’t believe in the danger of the virus, Gandhi said.

But she is also part of a growing number of experts who think there’s a better way to engage those who do want to take the pandemic seriously — by taking a lesson from the public health strategy known as harm reduction. Typically used to describe sex-education programs and needle exchanges for drug users, harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a harm-reduction approach would encourage masking and social distancing instead of demanding that people have no contact at all with friends or family they don’t live with. In other words, even during a pandemic, abstinence-only isn’t effective.

L.A., however, has adopted more of a “just say no” attitude. Last week the county became one of the only places in the nation to halt all outdoor gatherings among people who aren’t in the same household, prohibiting two friends from meeting up in a park or going on a hike with masks on. Gov. Gavin Newsom followed suit and included the ban in his regional stay-at-home order. California officials are desperate to reverse an unprecedented flood of new coronavirus cases up and down the state, and even their critics acknowledge the impossibility of the situation. But banning relatively safe outdoor activities risks alienating people who want to follow the rules but feel exhausted, disregarded and sometimes confused by them, Brown University health economist Emily Oster said. “Some of the things they’re telling you not to do are incredibly low-risk,” Oster said. “When you are so strict about what people can do, they stop listening.”

Read more …

Close the borders! But seriously, vaccines have become an entirely critiqueless issue. And thereby uninteresting. Once something is blown up to the status of a religion, it’s time to tune out.

Nine Out Of 10 In Poor Nations To Miss Out On Vaccines (G.)

Nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year because the majority of the most promising vaccines coming on-stream have been bought up by the west, campaigners have said. As the first people get vaccinated in the UK, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is warning that the deals done by rich countries’ governments will leave the poor at the mercy of the rampaging virus. Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the most promising vaccines. Canada has bought more doses per head of population than any other – enough to vaccinate each Canadian five times, said the alliance, which includes Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam.

“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager. “But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.” Supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, approved in the UK last week, will almost all go to rich countries – 96% of doses have been bought by the west. The Moderna vaccine uses a similar technology, which also is claimed to have 95% efficacy, and is going exclusively to rich countries. The prices of both vaccines are high and access for low-income countries will be complicated by the ultra low temperatures at which they need to be stored.

By contrast, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has 70% efficacy, is stable at normal fridge temperatures and the price has been set deliberately low for global access. The manufacturers have said 64% of doses will go to people in the developing world. The campaigners applaud this commitment, but said one company alone cannot supply the whole world. At most Oxford/AstraZeneca can reach 18% of the world’s population next year. The alliance has used data from science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the global deals with the eight leading vaccine candidates. They found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from the pandemic. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them.

Read more …

You can’t go out, except when you get evicted.

Tenants, Landlords Face Imminent Crisis As Pandemic Lifelines Expire (ZH)

January is going to be a mess. America’s small-time landlords, along with their tenants, are in trouble as safety nets are set to expire. Tenants haven’t paid rent in months, with a looming eviction moratorium expiring at the end of December. According to Reuters, the lack of rental income for landlords has also been troublesome, with many skipping mortgage payments, potentially resulting in a firesale of properties in the year ahead. For 12 million Americans and their families – this Christmas will be their worst – as the extended unemployment benefits that have kept many of them afloat are set to expire later this month. Then on New Year’s Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires, which could result in a massive wave of evictions in the first half of 2021.

At the moment, $70 billion in unpaid back rent and utilities are set to come due, according to a new report via Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Last month, Maryland utility companies began to terminate customers with overdue bills, many of which were unable to pay because of job loss due to the coronavirus downturn. New research from the Aspen Institute warns 40 million people could be threatened with eviction over the coming months as the real economic crisis is only beginning. According to Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the Kansas City Regional Housing Alliance, landlords are also in deep turmoil. She said more than 40% of the landlords surveyed in her coalition said they will have to sell their units because of the lack of rental income.

“They are sheltering our citizens free of charge, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Johnson-Cosby. “This is their retirement income.” She said small landlords are frightened to speak out about non-paying tenants because social justice warriors and their “Cancel Rent” groups have attacked landlords. “What they don’t realize is that if they run us out and we fail, it will be private equity and Wall Street firms that buy up all our properties, just like they did with houses after the last foreclosure crash.”

Read more …

Louisiana followed suit.

Texas Files Lawsuit To SCOTUS Challenging Election Results In 4 States (JTN)

In a novel legal strike, the state of Texas has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, arguing officials in those four battleground states violated the Constitution by making changes to how ballots were cast and counted without legislative approval. The lawsuit filed late Monday night by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the justices to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the states “from taking action to certify presidential electors or to have such electors take any official action including without limitation participating in the electoral college.” The suit argues that changes made by the state’s governors, secretaries of states and election supervisors were “inconsistent with relevant state laws and were made by non-legislative entities, without any consent by the state legislatures. The acts of these officials thus directly violated the Constitution.”

“I’m worried about the credibility of elections, not just right now, but I’m worried about the credibility of elections going forward,” Paxton told Just the News on Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview. “I’m not making a fraud argument, I’m making an argument based on the Constitution. And what we know happened, which was that we know state law was changed by people other than the state legislature, which is the only constitutionally authorized changes that are allowed … My argument is that the law was violated, the constitution was violated. I’m not addressing whether there was 2 million fraudulent ballots cast in Pennsylvania. I don’t know, and there’s no way to know, the way the system got set up, the way the rules got changed.”

States are allowed in certain circumstances to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing lower federal courts, in disputes involving other states. Paxton argued the state of Texas was wrongly harmed by the unconstitutional acts of the other states. “These non-legislative changes … facilitated the casting and counting of ballots in violation of state law, which, in turn, violated the Electors Clause of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution,” the suit stated. “By these unlawful acts, the Defendant States have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens vote, but their actions have also debased the votes of citizens in Plaintiff State and other States that remained loyal to the Constitution.”

Read more …

Because Trump was so far ahead as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020.

Professor: Probability of Biden Winning ‘Less Than One In A Quadrillion’ (EW)

In a new lawsuit filed today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, from casting “unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes” in the Electoral College. In the brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Texas includes a declaration from Pacific Economics Group member and USC economics professor, Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D. Dr. Cicchetti is the former Deputy Director at the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government and received his Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University.


According to Dr. Cicchetti, his calculations show the probability of Joe Biden winning the popular vote in the four states independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion. Dr. Cicchetti’s analysis calculates that for Joe Biden to win all four states collectively, the odds of that event happening decrease to less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power (1 in 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,0004). Stop and think about that. Given President Trump’s massive early lead on election night, the odds — according to Dr. Cicchetti — that Biden came from behind and beat Trump in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are so unlikely that it’s next to impossible. Dr. Cicchett’s work raises serious suspicions. How did Biden pull off this extraordinarily improbable win?

Read more …

You mean the report was false?

“Yes, noted pro-Trump, right-wing media outlet *Axios* spent a full year investigating a Chinese spy that infiltrated California politics because of Swalwell’s criticisms of the president.”

Swalwell Suggests Trump Is Behind Blockbuster Axios Report (Fox)

Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested Tuesday that President Trump was behind Axios’ bombshell report revealing that he was one of several politicians who was entangled with someone suspected to be a Chinese spy. Axios reported on Monday that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif. Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions. According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.

Swalwell, who was one of the most outspoken lawmakers who pushed the Russia collusion narrative since Trump took office, is now hinting that the president was behind Axios’ explosive reporting during an interview with Politico. “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 said on Tuesday. Swalwell revealed that Axios first approached him about his ties to Fang in July 2019, which was also when he ended his short-lived presidential campaign. But the Democratic lawmaker seemed to suggest that intelligence officials involved in Axios’ reporting were trying to “weaponize” his cooperation with authorities.

“What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do. But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone,” Swalwell told Politico. According to Politico, Swalwell “refused to discuss his relationship with Fang” after Axios reported that she had sexual relations with at least two other politicians. He did, however, express confidence that he will maintain his seat on the House Intelligence Commitee. “As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” Swalwell told Politico.

Read more …

The swamp.

Biden Defense Secretary Nominee Under Fire For Industry Connections (IC)

Last month, two progressive members of Congress sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter requesting that he commit to nominating a secretary of defense with no previous ties to weapons manufacturers. The letter, from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., and Rep. Barbara Lee D-Calif., cited President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper — a former lobbyist for Raytheon, one the country’s largest defense contractors — and called on Biden to adopt a different standard and find a nominee with “no prior employment history with a defense contractor.” But on Tuesday, Biden announced that he will nominate retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin III, once the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and now a member of the board of directors at Raytheon.

The company has been in the spotlight during the Trump administration in part because it supplies air-to-ground munitions for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and Austin’s role with Raytheon could be central to his confirmation fight. Austin oversaw U.S. operations in the Middle East until March of 2016, a year after the Saudi-led intervention began. He retired from the military the next month and later joined the board of United Technologies, a defense contractor that merged with Raytheon earlier this year. In 2019, Raytheon proceeded with an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which included air-to-ground munitions. After congressional Democrats blocked the sale on human rights grounds, the Trump administration helped force the sale through by declaring a state of emergency.

“Raytheon manufactures the bomb components that are used in Yemen. He bears a direct responsibility,” Phyllis Bennis, who directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, told The Intercept. “He was making money as a board member of this company that is directly responsible for the death and destruction there.” William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told The Intercept that picking Austin was “tantamount to making the position of Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense Contractors.” “The potential for conflicts is huge,” Hartung said. “Raytheon is deeply involved in controversial programs from unworkable missile defense projects to nuclear weapons — the new nuclear-armed cruise missile — to precision-guided bombs that have killed untold numbers of civilians in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. If Gen. Austin were to recuse himself from decisions on programs and policies involving Raytheon he could not carry out large parts of his job as defense secretary.”

Read more …

Mysteriously vanishing topics. There’s a lot of them.

Former Clinton Aide Confirms Ties to Epstein, MSM Silence Deafening (MPN)

A top Clinton insider has revealed that the former president visited the Caribbean home of notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. In a long interview last week with Vanity Fair, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band, noted that, contrary to the official line, his boss did indeed spend time on Little Saint James, the private island that the billionaire pedophile used as a base to traffick and rape women and children. Neither Band nor his interviewer appeared to realize the gravity of what he was revealing, the subject being touched upon only briefly towards the end of a wide-ranging 7,000-word conversation in which he noted that in January 2003, Clinton flew on Epstein’s notorious “Lolita Express” private jet to the island.

Band appeared to bring the incident up only as a way of distancing himself from the disgraced pedophile, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Manhattan prison in July last year. Band insisted that he knew nothing of Epstein’s misdeeds, but “got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship,” refusing to travel aboard Epstein’s jet with his employer. Flight logs show Clinton made around two dozen trips on the infamous airplane. Band is certainly a source in the know. For years he served as Clinton’s most trusted aide and confidant, traveling by his side and arranging his appointments for him. The former president famously did not carry even a cellphone, meaning that everyone from journalists to even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would have had to go through Band to speak to him.

Band’s testimony adds weight to others who have already said they saw him on the island. Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre previously stated that Clinton “strolled into” Epstein’s private villa with “two lovely girls” in his arms. “There was no modesty between any of them,” she said. “I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here,” Giuffre said in an interview earlier this year, “and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor.’” Epstein’s former IT and maintenance contractor also said he saw the former president on the island, an assertion that Clinton has denied. The former president was also photographed receiving a massage from Epstein victim Chauntae Davies while at an airport, on route via the Lolita Express.

While the press might be forgiven for focussing more on the pandemic and the election, the virtual silence from corporate media has been deafening. The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant — whom friends describe as being like a “son” to him — has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN, with no relevant results appearing in searches on their websites. ABC News, which for three years sat on information that could have resulted in an arrest, also did not cover the story.

Read more …

Well, he appears to be trying.

Trump Exits Somalia (OffG)

These are things that might have been done earlier. During the last, flickering days of the Trump administration, activity is being witnessed across countries which have a US troop presence. Numbers are being reduced. Security wonks are getting the jitters. Is the imperium shrinking? Will President elect Joe Biden wake up and reverse the trend? With the Beltway foreign policy Blob advising him, most likely. In November, acting defence secretary Christopher Miller announced that the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would fall from 4,500 to 2,500 and 3,500 to 2,500 respectively. Somalia has been added to the list of countries which will see US withdrawals in some number. The current troop presence stands at 700, tasked with assisting an African Union-backed peacekeeping force combat the al-Shabaab insurgency.

A good number are also there to train and support Danab, the Somali special forces with eyes on capturing and killing leaders of the insurgent movement. The ultimate objective of US Africa Command in East Africa, then, “is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the US homeland, US persons, international allies or destabilize the region.” This is a conflict that has a relentless air of eternity to it. Al-Shabaab counts itself as yet another, albeit more formidable militant group, that has thrived in Somalia’s unruly environment. Its claim to radicalised fame came with Ethiopia’s December 2006 invasion of the country. It was encouraged by the Somalian transitional government, with the intention of ousting al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu, captured by the fundamentalist alliance that June.

According to Robert Wise, the Ethiopian occupation transformed al-Shabaab “from a small relatively unimportant part of a more moderate Islamic movement into the most powerful and radical armed faction in the country.” Yet another salient lesson in the perils of foreign intervention. US administrations might have feared the messiness of the Somali scene. The death of 18 US soldiers in October 1993 in a failed effort to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu stung. Cruise-missile humanitarians and interventionists would have to wait for the republic to find its feet again. The attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States furnished the moment, incarnating the global terrorist phenomenon and the pretext for an international deployment of US forces, officially and covertly. On March 19, 2003, the capture and interrogation of Suleiman Abdallah heralded the return of US troops to Somalia.

Read more …

Good question. But good luck trying to find people who’ve read all this stuff for four years and now acknowledge they’ve been had 100%.

Where’s the Hitler? (CJ Hopkins)

All right, that’s it. I’ve run out of patience. No more excuses. Where’s the Hitler? Yes, you heard me. I’m talking to you. You respectable journalists and political pundits. You Intelligence officials and politicians. You fanatical liberals. You pseudo anti-fascists. All you members of the GloboCap “Resistance” who have been hysterically shrieking that “Trump is Hitler!” since he won the nomination back in 2016. Well, OK, it’s November 2020. The show is almost over. When do we get Hitler No, do not tell me “any day now.” You’ve been telling us that for four straight years. Do we look like a bunch of gullible idiots that you can whip up into a four-year frenzy of mindless hatred and paranoia by screaming “Hitler!” over and over, and then not produce an actual Hitler?

Well, we’re not. We remember what you said. You promised us Hitler, and we want Hitler, or at least a decent facsimile of Hitler. And don’t even think of trying to pretend that you didn’t actually promise us Hitler. You did. You want me to prove it? OK. Remember back in 2016, when The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Inquirer, and other such “leading respectable broadsheets,” and online magazines like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and countless others, warned that Trump was sending secret anti-Semitic “dog whistle” signals to his underground army of Nazi terrorists by talking about “international banks,” “global elites,” the “political establishment,” and even “corporations” and “lobbyists” … all of which was supposedly code for “the Jews,” who he was going to exterminate if won the election?

I do. I remember that, distinctly. How about after he won the election, when The Guardian reported that “white supremacy ha[d] triumphed!,” and The New York Times, NPR, Keith Olberman, and other verified news sources warned that America had descended into “racial Orwellianism,” or Zionist Anti-Semitism, or the “bottomless pit of fascism,” or whatever? Or when Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post confirmed that “Donald Trump is actually a fascist”? Do you remember all that? Because I certainly do. Remember Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter warning her that millions of “Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans [were] shaking in their shoes” as they waited for Trump to round them all up and send them to the camps, along with the “Jewish Coastal Elites”?

Read more …

He’s done this 1000 times.

Melzer Calls For Urgent Release Of Assange After 10 Years Of Detention (UN)

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, today appealed to British authorities to immediately release Julian Assange from prison or to place him under guarded house arrest during US extradition proceedings. He made the urgent call 10 years after Mr. Assange’s first arrest on 7 December 2010, amid an outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh prison. Reports say 65 of approximately 160 inmates, including a number in the wing where Mr. Assange is being held, have tested positive. In an opinion rendered in December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that since his arrest on 7 December 2010, Mr. Assange had been subjected to various forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, including 10 days of detention in London’s Wandsworth prison; 550 days of house arrest, and the continuation of the deprivation of liberty in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London which lasted almost seven years.

Since 11 April 2019, Mr. Assange has been held in near total isolation at Belmarsh. “The British authorities initially detained Mr. Assange on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Sweden in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct that have since been formally dropped due to lack of evidence. Today, he is detained for exclusively preventative purposes, to ensure his presence during the ongoing US extradition trial, a proceeding which may well last several years,” said Melzer. “Mr. Assange is not a criminal convict and poses no threat to anyone, so his prolonged solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis.”

The progressively severe suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange, as a result of his prolonged solitary confinement, amounts not only to arbitrary detention, but also to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Melzer said. He expressed particular concern about Mr. Assange’s exposure to COVID-19 given his pre-existing medical condition. “Prison decongestion measures seen around the world in response to COVID-19 should be extended to all inmates whose imprisonment is not absolutely necessary,” the expert said. “First and foremost, alternative non-custodial measures should be extended to those with specific vulnerabilities such as Mr. Assange who suffers from a pre-existing respiratory health condition.”

Read more …

“Jack Weldon gives us that access.”

American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress (Onion)

Citing a desire to gain influence in Washington, the American people confirmed Friday that they have hired high-powered D.C. lobbyist Jack Weldon of the firm Patton Boggs to help advance their agenda in Congress. Known among Beltway insiders for his ability to sway public policy on behalf of massive corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, and AT&T, Weldon, 53, is expected to use his vast network of political connections to give his new client a voice in the legislative process. Weldon is reportedly charging the American people $795 an hour. “Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals,” a statement from the nation read in part. “Jack Weldon gives us that access.”


“His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table,” the statement continued. “And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington.” The 310-million-member group said it will rely on Weldon’s considerable clout to ensure its concerns are taken into account when Congress addresses issues such as education, immigration, national security, health care, transportation, the economy, affordable college tuition, infrastructure, jobs, equal rights, taxes, Social Security, the environment, housing, the national debt, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, nutrition, imports, exports, foreign relations, the arts, and crime.

Read more …

 

 

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In two weeks time, days will start getting longer again in the northern hemisphere.

 

 

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

 

Nov 112020
 


Hokusai VIews of Mount Fuji: Ejiri in Suruga Province 1831

 

Does Lockdown Prevent COVID Deaths? (Rushworth MD)
Brennan et al Spooked Over Suggestion Trump May ‘Declassify Everything’ (RT)
Why Is The Supreme Court Involved In Pennsylvania? (Reeves)
49% In New Poll Say Biden Is Legitimate Winner Of Election; 34% SayTrump (JTN)
Mathematical Evidence The Election Was Stolen (Lt. Col. James Zumwalt)
Biden Camp is Already Working With Foreign Leaders, Like Flynn Did (Greenwald)
Biden Team Considers Legal Action To Force Formal Transition Of Power (NYP)
AI Software Verified Mail-In Ballots in Key Swing States (Whitney Webb)
Fox Joins MSM, Forcing Millions Of Americans To The Media Fringes (Bridge)
Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet (Turley)
EU Seizes on Vienna Attack to Enact Long-Desired Ban on Encryption (MPN)
Zoom Lied To Users About End-to-End Encryption For Years – FTC (ArsT)
EU Goes After Amazon For Breaching European Antitrust Rules (RT)
Why Do Some People Get Hay Fever And What Can They Do About It? (SMH)

 

 

 

 

Headline:

Trump’s voter fraud lawsuits are not about contradicting the will of all the people — just the Black ones
Donald Trump is blaming his loss on Black workers—the same people who risked their very lives to count votes in the middle of a pandemic.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

 

 

 

Very large study, interpreted.: .. no correlation whatsoever between severity of lockdown and number of covid deaths. [..] there was no correlation between mass testing and covid deaths either, for that matter. Basically, nothing that various world governments have done to combat covid seems to have had any effect whatsoever on the number of deaths.

Does Lockdown Prevent COVID Deaths? (Rushworth MD)

The study chose to limit itself to looking at the 50 countries with the most recorded cases of covid-19 as of the 1st of April 2020. My interpretation is that they chose the top 50 most affected countries, rather than looking at all 195 countries, due to resource constraints. Data was gathered up to the 1st of May 2020. All information gathered was in the form of publicly available facts and figures. Data gathered included information about covid, income level, gross domestic product, income disparity, longevity, BMI (Body Mass Index), smoking, population density, and a bunch of other things that the researchers thought might be interesting to look at. The authors received no outside funding and reported no conflicts of interest.

There are a few problems here that become apparent straight away. First of all, as mentioned, all the data in this study is observational, so no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Second, May was relatively early in the pandemic, and it’s now November, so we’re missing about half a year’s worth of covid data. On the other hand, the pandemic had already peaked in much of the world by May 1st, and lockdown measures had at that point been in place for months in most countries, so it should be possible to get a pretty good idea about what effect lockdown has in terms of decreasing covid deaths, even using only the data available up to May 1st.

Third, the analysis builds on publicly available data, often provided by different governments themselves, with widely varying levels of trustworthiness, and with different ways of classifying things. As an example, data from Sweden is infinitely more reliable than data from China. And while certain countries have used quite inclusive criteria when deciding whether someone has died of covid or not, other countries have been much more strict. The countries with stricter definitions will tend to have lower covid death rates than the countries with more generous definitions. This lack of homogeneity in how things are defined can make it harder to see real patterns.

Fourth, the reseachers who put this study together gathered an enormous amount of data, pretty much everything they could think of under the sun that might in some way correlate with covid statistics. That means that this study amounts to “data trawling”, in other words, going through every relationship imaginable without any a priori hypothesis in order to see which relationships end up being statistically significant. When you do this, you’re supposed to set stricter limits than you normally would for what you consider to be statistically significant results. They didn’t do this.

[..] The factors that most strongly predicted the number of people who died of covid in a country were rate of obesity, average age, and level of income disparity. Each percentage point increase in the rate of obesity resulted in a 12% increase in covid deaths. Each additional average year of age in the population increased covid deaths by 10% . On the opposite end of the spectrum, each point in the direction of greater equality on the gini-coefficient (a scale used to determine how evenly resources are distributed across a population) resulted in a 12% decrease in covid deaths. All these results were statistically significant.

Another factor that had an effect that was significant, but more weakly so, was smoking. Each percentage point increase in the number of smokers in a population was correlated with a 3% decrease in covid deaths. Ok, let’s get to the most important thing, which the authors seem to have tried to hide, because they make so little mention of it. Lockdown and covid deaths. The authors found no correlation whatsoever between severity of lockdown and number of covid deaths. And they didn’t find any correlation between border closures and covid deaths either. And there was no correlation between mass testing and covid deaths either, for that matter. Basically, nothing that various world governments have done to combat covid seems to have had any effect whatsoever on the number of deaths.

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Well, yeah, that could expose him.

Brennan et al Spooked Over Suggestion Trump May ‘Declassify Everything’ (RT)

Former CIA director John Brennan took to CNN to speculate wildly on how Trump would dump the US’ most precious military secrets out of spite. Mainstream outlets and social media alike piled on the declassification rumors. Brennan took to CNN’s airwaves on Monday to denounce Trump for firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, claiming the axe came down over Esper’s “rebuff[ing] Trump’s efforts to politicize the US military.” But the mind-reading went on considerably further as Brennan, aided and abetted by host Chris Cuomo, wondered aloud “who knows what else he has refused to do” – like expose the nation’s deepest, darkest secrets.

If Esper had “been pushed aside because he was not listening to Donald Trump, who knows what his successor is going to do if Donald Trump does give some type of order that really is counter to what I think our national security interests need to be?” Brennan wondered aloud. He cited no proof of his initial statement about the reason for Esper’s firing, or any evidence to back up Trump’s supposed inclination toward spilling all of the national security beans pre-Inauguration Day, but Cuomo didn’t seem to care. Brennan was concerned even as the pundit reminded him that Trump only had 70 days to leave the White House without leaving a smoking crater in his wake. “You can do a lot of damage in 70 days,” he hinted darkly, questioning whether the president was “going to carry out these vendettas against these other individuals.”

“It’s clear Donald Trump Is trying to exercise the power because he can, and he’s going to settle scores, but i’m very concerned about what he might do…” the spook-turned-Resistance stalwart mused, veering into projection territory with a suggestion that the president was “just very unpredictable. Right now he’s like a cornered cat” or “tiger” and was going to “lash out.”

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Because a court decided to (among other things) extend the time ballots could come in. And only the legilsature has that power.

Why Is The Supreme Court Involved In Pennsylvania? (Reeves)

Last Friday evening, in the midst of the media frenzy over the Presidential election, Justice Alito issued a short, page-and-a-half order to all Pennsylvania county boards of election. The order directs the county boards, in counting ballots, to separate any and all ballots received by mail after November 3 at 8:00 pm from those received before that time. Most legal commentators minimized the significance of Alito’s order, declaring it to be no big deal. In fact, though, the order is part of a major lawsuit currently pending before the Supreme Court, the outcome of which could have serious consequences for election law across the country regardless of whether it practically impacts the results of the Presidential election.

[..] The lawsuit, Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Kathy Boockvar, et al., presents the question of whether, under the United States Constitution and federal law, state courts can overturn the express enactments of state legislatures regarding the time, place, and manner of holding Presidential elections. The Constitution vests the state legislatures with the authority to do this and mentions nothing about state courts. The federal Congress, in turn, is vested with the authority to pass a law mandating that all states hold the voting for President on the same day throughout the country. For a major part of our country’s history, Congress declined to exercise this power. As difficult as it is to believe in this day and age, there was a time when different states held their elections for President on different days. But Congress eventually streamlined the election process by passing legislation mandating that the Presidential election be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

But while Congress, pursuant to its Constitutional authority, has mandated the date on which the Presidential election must take place, the individual state legislatures are still vested with a large amount of discretion to decide the place and manner of the elections. For example, while Congress has set the date on which the election is to take place, it has said nothing about the closing time by which all votes must be cast on that date. Should the polls close at 5:00 pm? 8:00 pm? This is a prudential matter left to the resolution of the individual state legislatures. Even more critically—should mail-in voting be allowed? If it is, how should it be done? Do mail-in ballots need to be received by election day itself, or is it sufficient for them to arrive later, so long as they are post-marked the day of the election? Again, this is a matter of prudential judgment left to each state legislature. But in any event, the Constitution vests resolution of these matters with the state legislatures—not with the judiciary.

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But we have other polls that show you completely different results. One from Reuters put Trump at just 3%. And yet another poll says 70% of Americans think election was not “free and fair”.

49% In New Poll Say Biden Is Legitimate Winner Of Election; 34% SayTrump (JTN)

More than a third of registered voters believe Donald Trump legitimately won the presidential election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Less than half of all respondents — 49% — believe Joe Biden legitimately won the race, while 34% said they believe Trump won the election, and 16% said they are not sure who really won. Of Republican respondents, 77% said they think Trump is the legitimate winner, while just 12% of Republicans believe Biden is the legitimate winner. About a quarter of independent voters also said they believe Trump won. Among Democrats, 87% think that Biden is the winner. Rasmussen noted that the survey was conducted from Thursday night until Saturday early afternoon. “During the time of this survey, no television network or other news source had formally called the race for Biden,” he said. The survey was comprised of 1,200 registered voters and conducted by Scott Rasmussen from Nov. 5-7, 2020.

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I don’t find this terribly strong.

Mathematical Evidence The Election Was Stolen (Lt. Col. James Zumwalt)

In Wisconsin, late into the night of Nov. 3/early morning hours of Nov. 4, President Donald Trump enjoyed a comfortable lead. Milwaukee was to report in with results by 1 a.m. on the 4th; 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. passed without the results. Finally, at 3:30 a.m., the vote tally arrived. All incoming votes went to Democrat Joe Biden; none to Trump. In 1995, not even Saddam proved that brazen. Something highly unusual happened that morning at several voting centers, not only in Wisconsin, but in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well. In Wisconsin, 140,000 mail-in ballots were found ; in Michigan another 200,000; and in Pennsylvania, 1,000,000 – all for Biden.

Supposedly the party of science, Democrats have lambasted Republicans for failing to heed it. Perhaps, then, the science of math provides the best explanation to understand what happened in these three states. A statistical analysis, laying out the chances of such one-sided Biden ballot dumps occurring, leads to but one conclusion: undeniable mathematical evidence the election was stolen. Analysts say statistically it is impossible for those states to have flipped to Biden the way they did. It is a virtual statistical impossibility – the odds being 0.00000189% or 1 in almost 53 million. In a national election demonstrating a close split in popular vote between two presidential candidates, how could so many last minute pro-Biden votes materialize wiping out Trump’s lead?

[..] Any hope of Trump retaining the Oval Office rests on irrefutable proof of voting fraud. Keeping in mind we live in an era where first impression news stories have proven inaccurate, some Trump confidants are saying evidence of massive voter fraud is being assembled, arrests of several players in the voting scam will follow and the proof will be damning. Allegedly, this evidence involves fraudulent use of ballots identified as part of a sting operation. The Trump administration supposedly had all legal ballots secretly imprinted with invisible watermarks in unbreakable code. A scan so far of 14 million ballots in five states reflect an 80% failure rate – all Biden votes.

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Did he talk to the Russian ambassador?

Biden Camp is Already Working With Foreign Leaders, Like Flynn Did (Greenwald)

Two weeks after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the President-elect named Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor in both the transition and the new administration. Flynn, who had previously served as President Obama’s Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and then campaigned for Trump, quickly got to work in his new position by reaching out to his counterparts in foreign governments, as is customary for national security transition team officials. One of the calls Flynn made, in late December, was to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, after the Obama administration has imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow in response to pressure to punish the Russians for interference in the 2016 election, including the expulsion of diplomats.

Gen. Flynn — fearful of an excessively retaliatory response from Moscow that could provoke what he saw as unnecessary confrontation, particularly given the growing anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. — sought to persuade the Russians that there was no need for them to retaliate because the new administration, which was only three weeks away from taking over, would reset its relations with Moscow and try to forge a more constructive engagement.

[..] It is customary for post-election transition officials to work with their counterparts in foreign governments to lay the groundwork for relations with the new administration. As The Washington Post said about Flynn’s call: “it would not be uncommon for incoming administrations to interface with foreign governments with whom they will soon have to work.” Despite its normalcy, Flynn’s call, which was recorded by the National Security Agency that had been targeting Russian officials, prompted the FBI — under the leadership of then-Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — to decide to criminally investigate Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.

[..] Any doubts about how customary it is for such calls to be made by transition officials were unintentionally obliterated on Monday night by former Obama national security official Ben Rhodes, who is almost certain to occupy a high-level national security position in a Biden administration. Speaking on MSNBC — of course — Rhodes, while amicably chatting with former Bush/Cheney Communications Director turned-beloved-liberal-MSNBC-host Nicolle Wallace, admitted in passing that “foreign leaders are already having phone calls with Joe Biden talking about the agenda they’re going to pursue January 20,” all to ensure “as seamless transition as possible,” adding: “the center of political gravity in this country and the world is shifting to Joe Biden.”

Cruz McCabe Logan Act

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Trying to make it a fait accompli, so the backlash will be huge if courts start throwing out ballots.

Biden Team Considers Legal Action To Force Formal Transition Of Power (NYP)

Joe Biden’s team is considering legal action over the ongoing refusal to grant the president-elect a formal transition into the White House, according to reports. Amid President Trump’s declining to concede the election, the federal agency needed to green-light his transition has also held back from declaring him the victor — a move usually made within 24 hours. The delay by the General Services Administration (GSA) freezes the Biden team out of access to $6.3 million in federal funding, classified information and security clearances or background checks for potential cabinet nominees, Axios noted. It also prevents access to the State Department, which facilitates calls between foreign leaders, Fox News said.

“There’s a number of levers on the table and all options are certainly available,” a Biden transition official told reporters. Legal action is “certainly a possibility,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, according to the Associated Press. “It’s a changing situation and certainly rather fluid,” added the official, according to Axios. Trump is not expected to formally concede but is likely to vacate the White House at the end of his term, several people around him told the AP. A GSA spokesperson told the wire service late Monday that an “ascertainment” on the winner of the election had not yet been made.

The formal presidential transition doesn’t begin until the administrator of the federal General Services Administration ascertains the “apparent successful candidate” in the general election. Neither the Presidential Transition Act nor federal regulations specify how that determination should be made. That decision green lights the entire federal government’s moves toward preparing for a handover of power. In 2000, the GSA determination was delayed until after the Florida recount fight was settled on Dec. 13. At the time, the administrator relied on an assessment from one of the drafters of the 1963 Presidential Transition Act that “in a close contest, the Administrator simply would not make the decision.”

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This is even crazier that letting software systems count votes.

AI Software Verified Mail-In Ballots in Key Swing States (Whitney Webb)

Though accusations of election fraud in the 2020 US presidential election have been swirling across social media and some news outlets for much of the past week, few have examined the role of a little known Silicon Valley company whose artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was used to accept or reject ballots in highly contested states such as Nevada. That company, Parascript, has long-standing cozy ties to defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and tech giants including Microsoft, in addition to being a contractor to the US Postal Service. In addition, its founder, Stepan Pachikov, better known for cofounding the app Evernote in 2007, is a long-standing and 2020 donor to Democratic presidential candidates.

Parascript’s AI software was used during this election in at least eight states for matching signatures on ballot envelopes with those in government databases in order to “ease the workload of staff enforcing voter signature rules” resulting from the influx of mail-in ballots. Reuters, which reported on the use of the technology, asked the company to provide a list of counties and states using its software for the 2020 election. Parascript, however, declined to supply the list, replying, instead, that their clients “included 20 of the top 100 counties by registered voters.”

Despite not receiving the official list from Parascript, Reuters was able to compile its own partial list, which revealed that several counties in Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Utah, among others, utilized the AI software to determine the validity of ballots. Reuters also reported that Clark County, Nevada, which is one of the hotspots of litigation between the Trump and Biden campaigns and fraud allegations, was one that used the software. Reuters was able to determine how the software was used in some counties, with many counties allowing the software to approve anywhere from 20 to 75 percent of mail-in ballots as acceptable. For several counties included in the Reuters list,staff reviewed 1 percent or less of the AI software’s acceptances. Figures were not available for Clark County, Nevada.

Prior to the election, concerns were raised regarding the efficacy of AI signature-verification software for use on mail-in ballots. For instance, Kyle Wiggers, a journalist who covers AI for Venture Beat, noted that the accuracy of such systems is believed to vary between 74 and 96 percent. However, he also stated that “we don’t have benchmarks from the systems that are in use to verify signatures on these mail-in ballots. We basically have to go by what the manufacturers of the systems are telling us, which is that the systems are accurate.”

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“It signals a massive migration away from the so-called ‘legacy media’ that was complicit in dragging Trump through the mud for four years over the fake news of Russiagate and impeachment.”

Fox Joins MSM, Forcing Millions Of Americans To The Media Fringes (Bridge)

Once upon a time, Fox provided the Republican Party solitary shelter from a storm of media attacks, which ramped up considerably with the election of Donald Trump, a Washington outsider loathed by the establishment. Eventually, however, for reasons known only to Rupert Murdoch, the channel began to abandon its core audience. Last year, for example, Fox viewers got their first whiff of change when the 89-year-old media mogul brought on board none other than Donna Brazile, a former CNN commentator as well as a former Democratic National Committee chair. Then there’s Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who served as moderator during the first debate between Trump and Biden. Critics say Wallace was so harsh with the US president that it appeared as though Trump was debating against two people instead of one.

It wasn’t until Election Day, however, when many Fox viewers got blindsided by the painful realization that the channel they had followed for years had finally betrayed them – and at the worst possible time. That much became apparent when Fox, even before ‘fake news’ CNN, jumped the gun and called the swing state of Arizona for Biden with just 73 percent of the state’s votes having been tallied. The Trump administration seemed justified in calling that move “voter suppression” – a rusty knife in the back. Many Republicans probably turned the car around when they heard that dubious news. The straw that broke the Fox back, however, came on Thursday, when anchor Bret Baier told viewers, “We have not seen the hard evidence,” after Trump remarked during a White House press conference that the election process had been rampant with “fraud and corruption.”

Baier could have at least acknowledged that some of the more questionable incidents – such as Republican ballot observers being turned away as the votes were being counted, and the names of the dearly departed appearing on the ballots – deserved some scrutiny. Now Fox will have to suffer with the ramification of its political volte-face, which, judging by the comments on Twitter, has thousands of erstwhile viewers running for the fire exits. But is there a safe alternative media universe to escape to? It should disturb many people, not least in the world of media, that Trump got 71 million votes in the 2020 showdown against his rival. That number represents not only millions of jaded American voters, exasperated by the apparent botching of the most consequential US election in modern times. It signals a massive migration away from the so-called ‘legacy media’ that was complicit in dragging Trump through the mud for four years over the fake news of Russiagate and impeachment.

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Twitter silencing news stories is not enough.

Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet (Turley)

We have been discussing the calls from top Democrats for increased private censorship on social media and the Internet. President-elect Joe Biden has himself called for such censorship, including blocking President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting. Now, shortly after the election, one of Biden’s top aides is ramping up calls for a crackdown on Facebook for allowing Facebook users to read views that he considers misleading — users who signed up to hear from these individuals. Bill Russo, a deputy communications director on Biden’s campaign press team, tweeted late Monday that Facebook “is shredding the fabric of our democracy” by allowing such views to be shared freely.

Russo tweeted that “If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after.” Russo objected to the fact that, unlike Twitter, Facebook did not move against statements that he and the campaign viewed as “misleading.” He concluded. “We pleaded with Facebook for over a year to be serious about these problems. They have not. Our democracy is on the line. We need answers.” For those of us in the free speech community, these threats are chilling. We saw incredible abuses before the election in Twitter barring access to a true story in the New York Post about Hunter Biden and his alleged global influence peddling scheme. Notably, no one in the Biden camp (including Biden himself) thought that it was a threat to our democracy to have Twitter block the story (while later admitting that it was a mistake).

I have previously objected to such regulation of speech. What is most disturbing is how liberals have embraced censorship and even declared that “China was right” on Internet controls. Many Democrats have fallen back on the false narrative that the First Amendment does not regulate private companies so this is not an attack on free speech. Free speech is a human right that is not solely based or exclusively defined by the First Amendment. Censorship by Internet companies is a “Little Brother” threat long discussed by free speech advocates. Some may willingly embrace corporate speech controls but it is still a denial of free speech.

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Dangerous. Trying to use pedophilea to clamp down on an entire society. Do these people not understand this, or is something else going on?

EU Seizes on Vienna Attack to Enact Long-Desired Ban on Encryption (MPN)

The European Union is rushing through new legislation to get rid of end to end digital encryption. This would mean the end of privacy for users of popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. A European Council draft resolution on encryption quietly published on Friday afternoon lays out the EU’s Orwellian position in detail. “The European Union fully supports the development, implementation and use of strong encryption,” it states, “Encryption is a necessary means of protecting fundamental rights and the digital security of governments, industry and society.” Yet in the very next sentence it insists that “At the same time, the European Union needs to ensure the ability of competent authorities” to “exercise their lawful powers, both online and offline.”

These “competent authorities” (a phrase occurring throughout the document) refer to law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities. “Protecting the privacy and security of communications through encryption and at the same time upholding the possibility for competent authorities in the area of security and criminal justice to lawfully access relevant data for legitimate, clearly defined purposes infighting serious and/or organized crimes and terrorism, including in the digital world, are extremely important,” it concludes. Thus, the EU’s position is that its citizens should be able to hide their data from criminals, but not from the government or its various spying agencies.

The official justification for these new laws, Austrian public service broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk reports, is the Vienna terrorist attack of November 2, which left five people dead and 23 injured. However, it notes, the EU has long dreamed of pushing through legislation which lets it surveil its population. In June, for instance, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johannson gave a speech outlining what must be done to win the fight against child trafficking and abuse. “We must also deal with encryption. Military grade encryption that’s easy to use but impossible to break makes paedophiles invisible and hides evidence of their crimes from police,” she insisted. “It’s our obligation to protect children. We must do what is necessary,” she added.

Civil rights group the Electronic Freedom Foundation is not impressed by the various arguments put forward by the EU in order to justify the end of end to end encryption, calling it a “drastically invasive step.” “We are in the first stages of a long anti-encryption march by the upper echelons of the EU, headed directly toward Europeans’ digital front-doors. It’s the same direction as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States have been moving for some time. If Europe wants to keep its status as a jurisdiction that treasures privacy, it will need to fight for it,” they wrote last month.

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The EU needn’t worry.

Zoom Lied To Users About End-to-End Encryption For Years – FTC (ArsT)

Zoom has agreed to upgrade its security practices in a tentative settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which alleges that Zoom lied to users for years by claiming it offered end-to-end encryption. “[S]ince at least 2016, Zoom misled users by touting that it offered ‘end-to-end, 256-bit encryption’ to secure users’ communications, when in fact it provided a lower level of security,” the FTC said today in the announcement of its complaint against Zoom and the tentative settlement. Despite promising end-to-end encryption, the FTC said that “Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised.”

The FTC complaint says that Zoom claimed it offers end-to-end encryption in its June 2016 and July 2017 HIPAA compliance guides, which were intended for health-care industry users of the video conferencing service. Zoom also claimed it offered end-to-end encryption in a January 2019 white paper, in an April 2017 blog post, and in direct responses to inquiries from customers and potential customers, the complaint said. “In fact, Zoom did not provide end-to-end encryption for any Zoom Meeting that was conducted outside of Zoom’s ‘Connecter’ product (which are hosted on a customer’s own servers), because Zoom’s servers—including some located in China—maintain the cryptographic keys that would allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ Zoom Meetings,” the FTC complaint said.

The FTC announcement said that Zoom also “misled some users who wanted to store recorded meetings on the company’s cloud storage by falsely claiming that those meetings were encrypted immediately after the meeting ended. Instead, some recordings allegedly were stored unencrypted for up to 60 days on Zoom’s servers before being transferred to its secure cloud storage.”

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Second try.

EU Goes After Amazon For Breaching European Antitrust Rules (RT)

The European Commission (EC) announced a second formal investigation into online retailer Amazon on Tuesday, accusing the firm of breaching European antitrust rules by using independent sellers’ data for its own benefit. The EC said that Amazon was using the data of third-party sellers, such as order numbers, revenues and numbers of visitors, to inform its strategic business decisions, like reducing the price of products. The e-commerce giant plays a dual role – both selling products itself, and acting as a platform for independent (and sometimes rival) sellers. “Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers,” said EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager.


Amazon disagreed with the Commission’s assertions, saying it “will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts.” It also said that represents less than one percent of the global retail market. “No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon,” it said. In July 2019, the EC, the executive arm of the European Union, launched a probe into Amazon due to concerns over anti-competitive behavior. This time, the antitrust investigation will look at how the company chooses which sellers offer products via Amazon Prime, its paid-for premium service. It will investigate the possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail business and those that use its logistics and delivery services (known as “fulfilment by Amazon” sellers) over other sellers.

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Article in Sydney Morning Herald, September 25 2019 about hay fever says: “This article was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated.”

How is it possible it’s talking about COVID19 in Sep 2019 at the latest? Didn’t we not know about it till December? What did I miss?

Why Do Some People Get Hay Fever And What Can They Do About It? (SMH)

In any other year, an errant sniff or explosive sneeze might be met with an offer of a tissue or a polite “bless you” – but the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has made us extremely cautious, for good reason. Thankfully, Melburnians dreading a tough hay fever season behind masks can breathe a (stifled) sigh of relief. Good late summer and autumn rains were followed by a dry winter, leaving the soils of western Victoria’s grazing lands more parched than last year. This is likely to keep pollen-producing grasses to a minimum – and itchy, running noses to just a drip.

[..] … and does it relate to COVID-19? While there are some similar symptoms: a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention released a Venn diagram that neatly illustrates the symptoms of both), there is no evidence of a link between the two. But Professor Katelaris says there is plenty of evidence to show that when the nasal lining is inflamed, it is easier to catch any virus. So those suffering from allergies should try to keep symptoms in check: seek medical advice on treatments, avoid touching your eyes and nose at all times and head straight for the nearest COVID-19 testing station if you experience allergic symptoms for the first time.

Professor Douglass says if it’s just hay fever, it’s highly unlikely you’ll experience the fevers, sore throats and general aches and pains associated with COVID-19. “[They] are more typical of a respiratory infection than hay fever … sneezing, an itchy throat and eyes are more typical of allergic symptoms,” she says.

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