Feb 252021
 
 February 25, 2021  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn The flight into Egypt – a night piece 1651

 

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)
Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)
COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)
US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)
New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)
Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)
Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)
NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)
Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)
House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)
The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)
California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

 

 

 

 

Anyone seen an explanation?

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)

The number of coronavirus-related deaths decreased by 20% worldwide last week compared to the week before, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization, which coincides with a drop in cases and deaths in the United States as well, as it appears the course of both the global and domestic outbreaks of the virus may finally be slowing. Slightly fewer than 66,000 fatalities worldwide were reported last week—the third consecutive week the fatality rate has decreased. The WHO also announced the total number of new cases fell to 2.4 million for the week of Feb. 15 through Feb. 21, representing an 11% dip from the prior week, which marks the sixth consecutive week the global case count has declined.


The U.S. has averaged 68,038 new cases per day over the past seven days, a decrease of nearly 40% compared to the average earlier this month. On Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the U.S. dropped below 56,000 for the first time since early November. While there is no disputing the fact that the numbers are trending in the right direction, the emergence of new variants has many health professionals concerned. Three particular variants, B.1.1.7 (first found in the U.K.), B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) are the most prevalent at this point.

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There will be thousands. Get fit. One of the many drawbacks of the vaccines is that the virus will beat them. Too many people are infected worldwide to prevent this.

Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)

A new coronavirus strain that shares some characteristics with the South Africa variant is emerging in New York City, researchers said Wednesday. As of mid-February, the new variant, called B.1.526, was present in about 12 percent of coronavirus samples collected in the Big Apple and surrounding areas, according to researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In their analysis of publicly available databases, the Columbia researchers did not find a high prevalence of the South Africa or Brazil COVID-19 variants in the region.


“Instead we found high numbers of this home-grown lineage,” Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement. The Columbia study found the new strain shares some similarities to the South Africa strain, which scientists believe can spread more easily than other virus variants. B.1.526 was also described in research published this week by the California Institute of Technology.

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“Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats.”

COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)

The U.S. House version of the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” – a $1.9 trillion emergency aid package to help America recover from the coronavirus pandemic has an extra perk for federal workers: Enhanced paid time off if your child is enrolled in a school that isn’t back to full-time, in-classroom instruction. Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats. It is funded through a new $570 million family leave account exclusively for federal workers. While millions of parents struggle to work from home with kids who are enrolled in shuttered or partially shuttered schools, and millions more left the workforce or lost jobs to care for their at-home children, evidently parents in the federal bureaucracy need their own, personal Covid-19 bailout.

Buried on page 305 of the House bill released late last Friday night (included after the bailout details for states and localities), is a new Treasury Department fund called the “Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund.” $570 million in the new fund is available through September 30. Federal employees caring for others due to Covid-19 are eligible for paid leave. Among those eligible are those who are “unable to work” because they are caring for school-aged children not physically in school full time “due to Covid-19 precautions[.]” The new Fund allows a federal employee “caring for a son or daughter” to qualify for the paid leave, specifically:


“if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to Covid-19 precautions;” Under the bill as currently drafted, full-time federal employees can take up to 600 hours in paid leave until September 30, up to $35 an hour and $1,400 a week. That’s 15 weeks for a 40-hour employee. Part-time and “seasonal” employees are eligible, too, with equivalent hours established by their agency.

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Find in your thesaurus under “dysfunctional”.

US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)

U.S. senators on Wednesday were eyeing potentially significant cuts to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as they awaited a ruling on whether the measure can include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian was expected to decide soon whether Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed minimum wage increase is allowable under a rule allowing a simple majority of the 100-member Senate to approve the sweeping relief measure, instead of the chamber’s typical 60-vote majority. The House of Representatives on Friday could pass the bill that would help tackle the heavy human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

The Senate is likely to follow up in early March. The measure is Biden’s top legislative priority. Senate Democrats and Republicans were looking at scaling back some of the biggest provisions, including expanded federal unemployment benefits, $1,400 direct payments to Americans and money for state and local governments, according to lawmakers and aides. [..] A new round of stimulus checks could be scaled back to exclude more high earners, the aide said. Several senators, including Democrat Joe Manchin, have said they were looking at a minimum wage increase to $10 to $11 an hour, instead of $15 by 2025, up from the current $7.25.


“I think even though several Democrats have some concerns, that we can still find a basis for agreement,” Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who must juggle demands of progressive and moderate Democrats amid Republican opposition, described a U.S. economy in need of help beyond the nearly $4 trillion provided last year.

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“During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)

The Biden administration will release an intelligence report Thursday that concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, three U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The intelligence assessment, based largely on work by the CIA, is not new — NBC News was among the organizations that confirmed it in 2018. But its public release will mark a significant new chapter in the U.S.-Saudi relationship and a clear break by President Joe Biden with former President Donald Trump’s policy of equivocating about the Saudi state’s role in a brutal murder that was widely condemned by members of Congress, journalists and a U.N. investigator.

Reuters first reported on the declassified intelligence summary scheduled for release Thursday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden would communicate with the Saudi king, rather than his son the crown prince. She said the declassified report was being prepared for release soon. It remains to be seen how releasing the report will affect U.S.-Saudi relations. Biden officials have been engaging with the Saudis since they took office, according to the State Department.


[..] During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.” Biden has ended American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, but he has not moved to cut off military aid to an important Middle East ally and counterterrorism partner. “The president’s intention, as is the intention of this government, is to recalibrate our engagement with Saudi Arabia,” Psaki said Wednesday.

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Get him under oath.

Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Republican colleagues on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking the FBI to brief them on the California Democrat’s relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang. The GOP legislators say that it’s important to understand Swalwell’s relationship with Fang, who seduced US politicians as part of her work, to protect themselves and national secrets. The 14 Homeland Security Committee Republicans, led by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray that “Members of Congress must understand the threats we now face and the extent of damage already done.”

“As our nation faces a growing security threat from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempts to infiltrate and undermine the United States Government, we write to request a full briefing regarding counterintelligence threats to Members of Congress, including information related to Representative Eric Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative,” the legislators wrote. “In light of Fang’s infiltration of Rep. Swalwell’s inner circle, we believe Members of Congress must know the full extend of the CCP’s efforts to target Members of Congress.” The Republicans wrote to Wray, “We must ensure the Committee can safeguard Top Secret information and make an informed decision regarding Rep. Swalwell’s future access to classified information”


Swalwell is a member of both the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, which entitles him to top-secret information. Most if not all of his GOP colleagues were unaware of his ties to Fang before a bombshell December report. Swalwell received an FBI “defensive briefing” in 2015 on Fang, who is believed to have returned to China to avoid apprehension. His brother and father remained active Facebook friends with her until after her role was publicly reported. Swalwell has refused to say if he had a romantic relationship with Fang, who fundraised for him and allegedly seduced at least two mayors as part of her work.

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Historians are going to think Twitter was a political party.

Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)

Social media giant Twitter announced yesterday that it has deleted 373 accounts it claims were linked to Russia, Iran, and Armenia. In a blog post entitled “Disclosing networks of state-linked information operations,” it claimed that it had taken the decision to remove 69 Russian accounts primarily because they were “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”The move sparked controversy on Twitter itself, with many users joking that their own fealty to NATO was insufficiently zealous. Twitter justified the decision by pointing to its rules regarding the prohibition of state-controlled disinformation networks. Yet it failed to fully explain exactly how it knew these users were in the pay of the Kremlin or under the control of the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.


Indeed, the supposedly “independent investigation and analysis” team at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to which Twitter contracted out its work, itself has troubling connections to the (U.S.) state. For example, its non-resident fellow Matt Masterton was, until recently, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, the whole observatory is located within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, headed by former American Ambassador to Russia (and noted Kremlin hawk) Michael McFaul. Supposed “experts” accuse users of being Russia-linked disinformation agents with great regularity. Ben Nimmo, data journalist and former NATO press officer, falsely asserted that a noted Ukrainian concert pianist and a Welsh pensioner were Kremlin bots. Nimmo was recently announced as Facebook’s chief of intelligence.

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Bubble.

NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)

The New Zealand bond market imploded on Thursday as traders raced to price in a better-than-even chance of a rate hike coming as soon as this year, to ensure the central bank meets a shock Ardern government mandate to keep housing affordable. The yield on the 10-year New Zealand government bond soared 18.5 basis points to 1.852 per cent. Australian 10-year government bonds rose in sympathy, trading 11 basis points higher at 1.718 per cent. The New Zealand currency edged down 0.1 per cent to US74.26¢ late in the session, but it’s trading around the highest level since August 2017. The bond market sell-off came after New Zealand’s finance minister, Grant Robertson, declared that the central bank’s remit will now change so that it has to consider housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions.

Specifically, the the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will have to take into account “government policy relating to more sustainable house prices, while working towards its objectives,” the finance minister said. In effect, that will mean that the RBNZ has to weed out investor property demand, which low rates and easy credit have fuelled. It will need to regularly explain to the government “how it has sought to assess the impacts on housing outcomes”. The finance minister also asked the RBNZ to provide advice on debt-to-income ratios and interest-only mortgages. “The minister’s direction is in tune with our recent advice to the government in which we detailed the many influences on house prices, including the actions of the Reserve Bank,” said RBNZ governor Adrian Orr. Just a day ago, he said the RBNZ had the capacity to deploy negative rates if needed.


The RBNZ is forecasting that house prices will soar to 22 per cent annual growth by mid-year, as New Zealanders turn to the investment they are most familiar with and that has delivered big returns in the past – housing. The central bank slapped new restrictions on the housing market earlier this month, after warning that speculation is helping to fuel huge post-pandemic price gains. The December REINZ house price index rose an eye-watering 17.3 per cent year on year, with prices up 18.1 per cent in Auckland and 16.6 per cent outside Auckland. ANZ New Zealand fixed income strategist David Croy said markets interpreted the government’s move to change the RBNZ’s mandate to include housing as further confirmation that the economy is flying. The market “is simply seeing the government’s move as validation of the good news,” he said.

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Sinkhole.

Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)

Since the Lincoln Project’s co-founder John Weaver was accused of sexually harassing multiple young men, the controversial anti-Trump group has received tens of millions in free media coverage, according to a new analysis. Weaver’s alleged misconduct broke in a story on January 11 in a report from the American Conservative, but Lincoln Project members have still been aplenty on both CNN and MSNBC – two networks that have heavily promoted the organization, run by anti-Trump Republicans, since its inception. According to the new analysis from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, media coverage between January 11 and February 11 for the group is worth a whopping $32 million, based on advertising value estimated by media monitoring service Critical Mention. In that time, there were 40 appearances by founders and advisers – 10 on CNN and 30 on MSNBC.


Earlier this month, Weaver resigned from the group he co-founded after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances on numerous young men, often offering professional advances in exchange for sexual favors. He apologized for sending “inappropriate” messages, but reports since have indicated his behavior was known about by others, including co-founder Steve Schmidt, who has denied such knowledge. Only hours after Weaver’s departure, Schmidt appeared on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’, where he faced no questions about his fellow co-founder but was grilled about the group’s tens of millions in funding and where it goes. That subject has become yet another controversy for the group, as it has been revealed much of the money was funneled into separate organizations involved with the founders.

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Pass it to Nancy and Kamala.

House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)

A group of about three dozen Democrats in the House have signed a letter calling for President Joe Biden to give up his sole authority to authorize the launch of nuclear weapons, which was obtained by Politico. “Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., according to Politico. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.” The letter continues, “While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so. The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”


The congressman said in a tweet on Wednesday: “ICYMI: I’m calling on @POTUS to install checks & balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure. Past presidents have threatened nuclear attacks on other countries or exhibited concerning behavior that cast doubt on their judgment.” The Democrats suggest several alternatives to the president’s sole authority, including requiring other officials in the presidential line of succession, specifically the vice president and the House Speaker, neither of whom can be removed by the president if they disagree — to concur with a launch order.”

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Which idiots signed that treaty?

The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)

On 4 February the German energy giant RWE announced it wassuing the government of the Netherlands. The crime? Proposing to phase out coal from the country’s electricity mix. The company, which is Europe’s biggest emitter of carbon, is demanding €1.4bn in ‘compensation’ from the country for loss of potential earnings, because the Dutch government has banned the burning of coal for electricity from 2030. If this sounds unreasonable, then you might be surprised to learn that this kind of legal action is perfectly normal – and likely to become far more commonplace in the coming years. RWE is suing under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a little-known international agreement signed without much public debate in 1994.

The treaty binds more than 50 countries, and allows foreign investors in the energy sector to sue governments for decisions that might negatively impact their profits – including climate policies. Governments can be forced to pay huge sums in compensation if they lose an ECT case. On Tuesday, Investigate Europe revealed that the EU, the UK and Switzerland could be forced to pay more than €345bn in ECT lawsuits over climate action in the coming years. This amount, which is more than twice the EU’s annual budget, represents the total value of the fossil fuel infrastructure that is protected by the ECT, and was calculated using data gathered by Global Energy Monitor and Change of Oil International.


With ECT-covered assets worth €141bn (or more than €2,000 per citizen), the UK – which in 2019 became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law – is the country most vulnerable to future claims. In 2019 the European Commission called the ECT “outdated” and “no longer sustainable”, and more than 450 climate leaders and scientists and 300 lawmakers from across Europe have called on governments to withdraw from the treaty. But in response, powerful interests have mobilised to not just defend the treaty, but to expand it to new signatory states. These interests include the fossil fuels lobby keen to keep its outsized legal privileges; lawyers who make millions arguing ECT cases; and the Brussels-based ECT Secretariat, which has close ties to both industries and whose survival depends on the treaty’s continuation.

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That graph is downright scary.

California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

California’s Assembly is slated to consider a new bill requiring department store childrens’ sections to be largely “gender-neutral” in order to combat “prejudice” and “judgment” against gender non-conforming children. “Large retailers that sell toys, clothes, and other children’s items in California would have to devote floor space to merchandise marketed to both boys and girls under a new bill,” Politico reported earlier this week. “Stores would be able to sell the same products they do now as long as they maintain some areas where shoppers can find all toys or clothes, regardless of gender-based marketing, under CA AB2826 (19R) from Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would apply to department stores with 500 or more employees beginning in 2023.”


Lowe told Politico that the idea for the bill, which he also introduced last year to little effect, came from one of his staffers, who claims her daughter wanted an item in the “boys” section but felt slighted because she felt the toy was designated for a male child. “This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” Lowe told the outlet. “Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the text of the bill notes.

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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.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 112020
 


Pierre Bonnard Nude in an Interior c1935

 

“We Hadn’t Really Thought Through the Economic Impacts” – Melinda Gates (AIER)
Coronavirus Fact-Check #9: Is The Vaccine Safe? (OffG)
Sidney Powell Plans to Appeal Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit (ET)
Judge Gives Benson OK To Intervene Antrim County Election Case (DN)
AG Barr Concealed Hunter Biden Probes From Public During Election (ZH)
Sen. Grassley Blasts MSM Over Hunter Biden Hypocrisy (ZH)
Sen. Cotton: Circumstances Warrant Special Counsel To Probe Hunter Biden (JTN)
Biden Taps Susan Rice For Top White House Domestic Policy Job (Pol.)
Is the Media Burying The Swalwell Story? (Turley)
Investigators Delve Into Suspected Chinese Spy Ties With Swalwell Staff (JTN)
Dianne Feinstein ‘Seriously Struggling’ With Cognitive Decline (NYP)
Sexual Misconduct Shakes FBI’s Senior Ranks (AP)
The “Great Reset” and Plans for a Global War on Savings (Lacalle)
Greece Is Setting Itself Up For Another Financial Crisis (Mises)
US Hits Search & Destroy Against The New Silk Roads (Escobar)
Australia Sabotaged Its Own Interests in China Relations (CN)

 

 

 

 

Jim Jordan

 

 

“..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.”

“We Hadn’t Really Thought Through the Economic Impacts” ~ Melinda Gates (AIER)

In a wide-ranging interview in the New York Times, Melinda Gates made the following remarkable statement: “What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts.” A cynic might observe that one is disinclined to think much about matters than do not affect one personally. It’s a maddening statement, to be sure, as if “economics” is somehow a peripheral concern to the rest of human life and public health. The larger context of the interview reveals the statement to be even more confused. She is somehow under the impression that it is the pandemic and not the lockdowns that are the cause of the economic devastation that includes perhaps 30% of restaurants going under, among many other terrible effects.

She doesn’t say that outright but, like many articles in the mainstream press over this year, she very carefully crafts her words to avoid the crucial subject of lockdowns as the primary cause of economic disaster. It’s possible that she actually believes this virus is what tanked the world economy on its own but that is a completely unsustainable proposition. Further, her comments provide a perfect illustration of the core problem all along: most of the people who have been advocating lockdowns in fact have no actual experience in managing pandemics. To many of these, Covid-19 became their new playground to try out an unprecedented experiment in social and economic management: shutting down travel, businesses, schools, churches, and issuing stay-at-home orders that smack of totalitarian impositions. Here is what she says:

“You can project out and think about what a pandemic might be like or look like, but until you live through it, it’s pretty hard to know what the reality will be like. So I think we predicted quite well that, depending on what the disease was, it could spread very, very, very quickly. The spread did not surprise us. What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts. What happens when you have a pandemic that’s running rampant in populations all over the world? The fact that we would all be home, and working from home if we were lucky enough to do that. That was a piece that I think we hadn’t really prepared for.”

There are plenty of specialists who have lived through pandemics in the past and managed them by maintaining essential social and economic functioning. A major case in point is Donald A. Henderson, who as head of the World Health Organization is given primary credit for the eradication of smallpox. He wrote as follows in 2006: “Experience has shown that 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. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

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Pfizer (and the producers of other vaccines), are immune from civil liability.

Coronavirus Fact-Check #9: Is The Vaccine Safe? (OffG)

There are dozens of articles all over the mainstream reassuring us that the brand new Sars-Cov-2 vaccine is safe. In the UK the vaccine rolled out is being hailed as “V Day”, in a shameless attempt to draw a parallel with World War II. Matt Hancock went on Good Morning Britain and attempted to “cry”. On the other side of that coin, many experts in the field have vociferously called for all vaccine trials to be put on halt, some medical researchers are questioning the data and others counsel people to refuse the vaccine under any and all circumstances. So – is the vaccine safe? The only rational answer is “we don’t know”. It’s certainly true some people who have received it have experienced unexpected side effects.

It was recently revealed that 4 people involved in the US-based trial suffered partial facial paralysis. In the UK, two NHS staff who have received the vaccine suffered allergic anaphylactoid reactions, as a result the NHS is now not recommending the vaccine for anyone who “suffers from allergies”. They don’t know what caused the reaction, and as far as we know so far, the people involved were not allergic to anything in the vaccine. It seems it’s not about being allergic to the vaccine, so much as the vaccine potentially causing problems for anyone with a sensitive or dysfunctional immune system. It’s essentially recommended that no one who is allergic to anything, ie. other food or medication, should have the jab. We’ve already had “explainers” appearing the media, saying vaccine allergic reactions are “rare and shortlived”.

To be clear, as of December 10th, the vaccine either has never been tested on, or is not recommended for:
• People under sixteen years of age.
• Pregnant women (or women intending to become pregnant in the near future).
• People with serious co-morbidities.
• People already taking other medications.
• People who have allergies.
So the official line already cedes that the vaccine may be harmful to some or all of those people.

Even on the fully-grown and totally healthy adults it was tested on, obviously, there has not been enough time to do any kind of long term studies on possible side-effects or complications It usually takes 5-10 years to fully develop and test a vaccine, where as this has been rushed out in less than 10 months. On top of that, of course, we have the fact all the vaccine producers have campaigned for – and won – total legal immunity in the UK, US and other nations around the world. In the event the vaccine does cause harm, Pfizer (and the producers of other vaccines), are immune from civil liability. Which means that, just like us, the producers themselves are well-aware the new vaccines might not be safe, and don’t want a repeat of 2009, when a rushed-out flu vaccine resulted in children suffering life-long complications and receiving millions in damages. In the final analysis, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Do you feel safer taking an untested vaccine, or risking getting a virus with a survival rate of over 99%?

Rob Swanda

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Let the dice roll. If they come up zero, so be it. But let them roll.

Sidney Powell Plans to Appeal Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit (ET)

The legal team led by attorney Sidney Powell plans to appeal the dismissal of an Arizona election lawsuit by an Obama-appointed federal judge on Dec. 9. Powell’s Arizona co-counsel Alex Kolodin told The Epoch Times in an interview that his team plans to fast-track the case to the Supreme Court and will file a petition for appeal in the coming days. The Arizona case, filed on Dec. 2 by former federal prosecutor Powell on behalf of the state’s 11 Republican electors and others, alleged that manipulation of election software and other fraud in the state resulted in violations of the U.S. Constitution and state election laws. The lawsuit also claimed that more than 412,000 votes were cast illegally in the state’s 2020 general election.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Gov. Doug Ducey were named as defendants in the case, which highlighted what it said was an “especially egregious range of conduct” in Arizona’s Maricopa County, and other counties using Dominion Systems. The lawsuit alleges that Dominion Voting Systems violated election laws by having their machines connected to the internet. The case is supported by a redacted affidavit from a former electronic intelligence analyst, alleging that the voting system software was accessed by agents from China and Iran. Powell’s team also filed a temporary restraining order seeking to immediately block Ducey from delivering the certified election results to the Electoral College while the court hears the case. Arizona certified its presidential election results on Nov. 30.

Judge Diane Humetewa threw out the lawsuit on Dec. 9, saying that its allegations “are sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence” and that it sought extraordinary relief. “If granted, millions of Arizonans who exercised their individual right to vote in the 2020 General Election would be utterly disenfranchised,” Humetewa wrote. In dismissing Powell’s case, Humetewa said the lawsuit doesn’t contain a “plausible” allegation that Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were hacked in the state during the Nov. 3 election, however, she described the team’s allegations of fraud as “conceivable.” The proposed Trump electors “have not moved the needle for their fraud theory from conceivable to plausible,” the federal judge said. Kolodin told The Epoch Times that the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party granted his team approval to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, and that they plan to soon file a petition for a writ of certiorari asking for the case to be heard.

A petition for a writ of certiorari is a document that a losing party files with the Supreme Court asking it to review the lower court’s decision on its merits. The provision would request from the Supreme Court an emergency transfer and would allow the case to be heard without waiting for a decision from the U.S. Courts of Appeals. The Supreme Court is usually not under any obligation to hear such cases unless the case could have national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, or could have precedential value. “I thought she [Humetewa] took the case very seriously. She treated it very professionally, and she was very fair, but I disagree with her decision,” Kolodin said. “My clients disagree with her decision, and we’ve always known that this will ultimately be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Greg Kelly

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From a local perspective.

Judge Gives Benson OK To Intervene Antrim County Election Case (DN)

A Northern Michigan judge granted Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson permission to intervene in a case questioning results in Antrim County and the security of tabulators used there on Nov. 3. Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ruled Thursday that Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office could intervene on behalf of Benson, who had argued she had supervisory control over the Antrim County clerk, had an interest in any audit discussions the case may raise and was party to the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The Secretary of State’s office is concerned particularly with forensic imaging performed on Antrim County’s 22 Dominion tabulators earlier this week by a Village of Central Lake resident and Allied Security Operations Group, said Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast.

“We’d like to know more about what was obtained, what the intent is for the use of the images obtained,” Meingast said, noting the disclosure of some elements of the tabulators could compromise their security in future elections. Elsenheimer, a Republican former lawmaker and member of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, granted Meingast’s request but warned the case would proceed in haste. “I intend to move this matter quickly, aggressively,” Elsenheimer said. Benson shouldn’t be allowed to intervene because she had missed the opportunity to do so earlier and did not have direct involvement in local elections, said Matthew DePerno, a lawyer for Antrim County resident William Bailey. In fact, a state Court of Claims judge earlier this month dismissed a case against Benson on those grounds, DePerno said.

“The court concluded there was no relief to be granted because elections are local and run by local officials,” he said. DePerno said the investigation is ongoing and data are being reviewed. But based on what had been reviewed so far, Bailey would move to decertify the Antrim County certification and push the issue to the GOP-led Legislature, he said. “We think there are serious issues, and we’re preparing right now a motion to seek relief from the court from the protective order,” DePerno said. Elsenheimer last week granted Bailey’s request to take take forensic images of 22 tabulators and review those along with flash drives, software and a “master tabulator” that the county said does not exist. Bailey and members of the Allied Securities Operation Group spent about eight hours on Sunday at county offices obtaining the material.

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Money laundering is a serious crime.

AG Barr Concealed Hunter Biden Probes From Public During Election (ZH)

Attorney General William Barr knew about several investigations into Hunter Biden since at least this spring – and “worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign,” according to the Wall Street Journal. According to ‘a person familiar with the matter,’ Barr “staved off pressure from Republicans in Congress for information into the investigations,” while President Trump and his allies pressured Barr into pursuing Joe and Hunter Biden. This week, Hunter Biden revealed the existence of one of the investigations after federal investigators served him with a subpoena seeking detailed financial information in connection with a criminal tax investigation by the Delaware US attorney’s office. The next day, CNN and Politico confirmed that the probe was wider than that, and covered potential money laundering and bribery in probes that date back to 2018, according to ‘people familiar with the matter.’ According to the report, none of the investigations implicate Joe Biden.

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“It shouldn’t take subpoenas and confirmation from Hunter Biden himself to get the rest of the press to pay attention.”

Sen. Grassley Blasts MSM Over Hunter Biden Hypocrisy (ZH)

Chuck Grassley is one pissed off Senator. After the Iowa Republican and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) produced a long-awaited Senate report which concluded that Hunter Biden’s financial dealings with Ukrainian, Chinese and Russian businesses created “criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns” concerning everything from sex-trafficking to bribery – the MSM panned it as a partisan attack on a presidential candidate’s son. Now that Hunter has admitted he’s under investigation for tax fraud (and, as Politico and CNN have added, money laundering and accepting bribes), Grassley is having the last laugh. In Thursday remarks on the Senate Floor, Grassley blasted the media after months of covering for the Bidens.


“For over a year, Senator Johnson and I investigated the Biden financial family dealings,” said Grassley, adding “We found that they engaged in potential criminal financial deals across the globe, including China, which created counterintelligence concerns.” Grassley then turned his attention to the MSM, saying “Those same liberal outlets that disparaged our investigation now report that Hunter Biden’s financial deals in China raise counterintelligence concerns.” He went on to say that the media should have been covering concerns raised by Republicans instead of covering them up. “So you can understand why I think it’s very outrageous that the fourth estate would choose to ignore facts when they are uncovered by Republicans,” Grassley continued. “It shouldn’t take subpoenas and confirmation from Hunter Biden himself to get the rest of the press to pay attention.”

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Would have to happen within 5 weeks or so. Just like the Special Counsel for election irregularities. Not sure I can see Barr comply.

Sen. Cotton: Circumstances Warrant Special Counsel To Probe Hunter Biden (JTN)

Sen. Tom Cotton indicated during an interview Thursday on Fox News that he believes circumstances warrant a special counsel to investigate issues pertaining to Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Hunter Biden issued a statement Wednesday which noted that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware is looking into his “tax affairs.” “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,” the statement said. “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.”

“I know the Biden campaign released details of a tax fraud investigation in Wilmington,” said Cotton during the Fox News interview. “I think that was just to show maybe the least damaging part of the investigation.” “There’s allegations of securities fraud and money laundering related to Hunter Biden’s Chinese businesses, a crooked hospital deal with Jim Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, out in western Pennsylvania. These investigations span multiple jurisdictions,” Cotton said, remarking that in the event that Joe Biden becomes the nation’s next president, “those prosecutors are in line to be fired next month. If there were ever circumstances that create a conflict of interest and called for a special counsel, I think those circumstances are present here.”

The Arkansas Republican said that the Biden family has leveraged Joe Biden’s government posts for their benefit in the past and would continue to do so if Biden serves as president. “Look, the Biden family has been trading on Joe Biden’s public office for 50 years. Valerie Biden Owens, his sister, and Jim Biden, his brother, and Hunter Biden his son,” he said. “Do we really think that that will change if Joe Biden becomes president, the highest office in the land?”

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Predictable and terrible. She should be under investigation for Russiagate, not occupy some top job.

Biden Taps Susan Rice For Top White House Domestic Policy Job (Pol.)

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice to run the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to people familiar with the decision.Rice, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was vetted to serve as Biden’s vice president and was a contender to be secretary of State, a position that went to Antony Blinken. Democrats had concerns about Rice’s ability to get confirmed in a Republican-controlled Senate, and the director of the Domestic Policy Council is not a Senate-confirmed position. The Biden team had been looking to find a high-profile role for Rice, but the top domestic policy job comes as a surprise given her expertise and experience in foreign policy.

[..] In her position, Rice, 56, will play a large role in implementing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, a wide-ranging set of policy proposals that would invest trillions of dollars in American infrastructure and manufacturing, clean energy, caregiving, education and racial equity.A person familiar with Biden’s thinking said he chose Rice for the role because of her deep experience in crisis management and interagency processes. The person said Biden does not see foreign, economic and diplomatic realms as separate and discrete and her deep knowledge of how the federal government works will be an asset to implementing his domestic policy agenda.

Biden officially announced Rice’s appointment Thursday morning, along with his nominations of Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative and Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs. “The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” Biden said in a statement. Rice’s decision to take the domestic policy job also signals that she still harbors political ambitions. She floated the possibility of running for Senate in Maine against Susan Collins and was a finalist to serve as Biden’s running mate.

The top domestic policy job will fill out her foreign policy-heavy resume. Though Rice’s job does not require Senate confirmation, the Biden administration will need the support of Republicans to implement its far-reaching domestic policy agenda. Rice, however, has long been the target of the GOP because of he comments after the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi and unmasking requests related to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and foreign interference. Rice has never been charged with doing anything improper, but she has been the subject of withering criticism from Republicans, which could complicate the administration’s efforts to pass policies in Congress.

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The media has buried so many stories this year, who would notice another one?

Is the Media Burying The Swalwell Story? (Turley)

We often discuss media coverage and accuracy on developing legal and political controversies. Much of this discussion recently has focused on the bias shown by the media in the last four years. I have worked for the media as a legal analyst and columnist for years, but I have never before seen this raw and open bias in major media. At the same time, academics are rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. This morning, Fox News called out all of the networks for zero coverage of the bombshell story from Axios that Rep. Eric Swalwell may have had a close relationship with a suspected Chinese spy who fled to China a few years ago. Many of us were struck by the lack of coverage, particularly given the position of Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee and his former bid for the presidency.

It was particularly striking when the media is now reluctantly covering the Hunter Biden story after a long blackout before the election. Yet, the most stark comparison is with the exhaustive coverage given the highly analogous story involving an alleged spy, Maria Butina, who had an affair with a high-ranking figure in the National Rifle Association. Swalwell is alleged to have had a close relationship with Chinese national, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, who not only raised money for him but placed at least one intern in Swalwell’s congressional office, according to Axios. Bizarrely, Swalwell has refused to confirm or deny that he had an intimate relationship with his office claiming that such an answer could compromise classified information. Even that ridiculous comment did not prompt ABC, NBC, or CBS to cover the story.

Obviously, Fang and the Chinese already know if she had a sexual relationship with Swalwell. The only people in the dark are the voters. Swalwell himself explained why this is news. The congressman was one of the most vocal voices calling out a June 2016 meeting that President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was accused of being an asset for the Russian government. Swalwell declared on MSNBC in January 2019: “Stated plainly, the President’s son met with a Russian spy. We now have the best evidence of that in our minority report the Democrats put out that Ms. Veselnitskaya was going all over the world and bumping into Dana Rohrabacher, which is a sign of a spy, someone who tries to create a coincidence encounter, and now we know that she was working at the behest of the Russian government.”

Not even the utter hypocrisy of Swalwell’s position or the lunacy of his classification claim was enough to generate minimal coverage. There is also no interest in Swalwell remaining on the intelligence committee given his ill-considered relationship.

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He’s still on the House Intelligence Committee.

Investigators Delve Into Suspected Chinese Spy Ties With Swalwell Staff (JTN)

The investigation into suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang’s relationship with Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell included monitoring her activities with others in the California congressman’s office, according to security authorities. “There were concerns about who else in his office she was close to,” one intelligence official told Just the News. “Who could give her information or help her achieve her goals?” These concerns applied overall to people who worked for Fang’s suspected targets, the official said. “These were deeply cast nets,” the official said. The woman, also known as Fang Fang, reportedly infiltrated the inner circles of several U.S. politicians, mainly targeting those based in California. She is believed to have worked for years under a Communist Chinese spy boss in California, and also to have managed her own line of sub-agents, the official confirmed.


“There was considerable interest in learning who those agents were, and where they worked,” the official said. Swalwell would be a prime target for foreign spies because he sits on the House Intelligence Committee — where he remains so far — despite the recent revelations about his dealings with Fang. According to a report from Axios, Fang began her relationship with Swalwell early in his political career, while he was a city council member in Dublin, California. She helped raise funds for him, and came to know his family members in some capacity. In 2015, Fang fled the U.S. while the FBI was investigating her overall activities. Although Fang has not been charged with espionage, her behavior fits a suspicious pattern, according to one expert. “Christine Fang has left the U.S.,” said author Gordon Chang, who has studied China extensively. “She apparently left abruptly, which is an indication that she was working with Chinese intelligence.”

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Set term limit, set age-limit. Easy.

Dianne Feinstein ‘Seriously Struggling’ With Cognitive Decline (NYP)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate at age 87 and the most senior Democrat on its powerful Judiciary Committee, is “seriously struggling” with cognitive decline, a new report says. People familiar with the California lawmaker’s situation told the New Yorker on Wednesday that Feinstein’s short-term memory has grown so poor that she “often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has had several “painful” discussions with Feinstein about stepping aside, but the octogenarian reportedly soon forgets about their talks, forcing Schumer to confront her again, one source said. “It was like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time,” the source said.


Overtures were also reportedly made to Feinstein’s billionaire husband, Richard C. Blum. Grumblings over Feinstein’s performance have grown increasingly loud, leading to her decision to step down last month as ranking member of the elite Judiciary Committee. Pundits were unhappy with Feinstein’s handling of the confirmation of President Trump’s most recent Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. The lawmaker bungled several questions and then caused a furor when she concluded Barrett’s hearings by hugging Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and praising him for “one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in.” Schumer was reportedly so concerned about Feinstein’s performance that he “installed a trusted former aide, Max Young, to ’embed’ in the Judiciary Committee to make sure the hearings didn’t go off the rails,” the New Yorker reported.

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Inevitable when no-one can investigate the investigators.

Sexual Misconduct Shakes FBI’s Senior Ranks (AP)

An assistant FBI director retired after he was accused of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. Another senior FBI official left after he was found to have sexually harassed eight employees. Yet another high-ranking FBI agent retired after he was accused of blackmailing a young employee into sexual encounters. An Associated Press investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents. Each of the accused FBI officials appears to have avoided discipline, the AP found, and several were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions and benefits even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims against them.

Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement. “They’re sweeping it under the rug,” said a former FBI analyst who alleges in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague’s farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it’s very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,” said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.

The AP’s count does not include the growing number of high-level FBI supervisors who have failed to report romantic relationships with subordinates in recent years — a pattern that has alarmed investigators with the Office of Inspector General and raised questions about bureau policy. The recurring sexual misconduct has drawn the attention of Congress and advocacy groups, which have called for whistleblower protections for rank-and-file FBI employees and for an outside entity to review the bureau’s disciplinary cases. “They need a #MeToo moment,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has been critical of the treatment of women in the male-dominated FBI. “It’s repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol’-boy networks,” Speier said. “It doesn’t surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.”

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“Only three words spoil the entire positive message: “directing the market.”

The “Great Reset” and Plans for a Global War on Savings (Lacalle)

Global debt is expected to soar to a record $277 trillion by the end of the year, according to the Institute of International Finance. Developed markets’ total debt—government, corporate, and households—jumped to 432 percent of GDP in the third quarter. Emerging market debt-to-GDP hit nearly 250 percent in the third quarter, with China reaching 335 percent, and for the year the ratio is expected to reach about 365 percent of global GDP. Most of this massive increase of $15 trillion in one year comes from government and corporates’ response to the pandemic. However, we must remember that the total debt figure had already reached record highs in 2019, before any pandemic and in a period of growth. The main problem is that most of this debt is unproductive debt.

Governments are using the unprecedented fiscal space to perpetuate bloated current spending, which generates no real economic return, so the likely outcome is that debt will continue to rise after the pandemic crisis is ended and that the level of growth and productivity achieved will not be enough to reduce the financial burden on public accounts. In this context, the World Economic Forum has presented a roadmap for what has been called “the Great Reset.” It is a plan that aims to take the current opportunity to “to shape an economic recovery and the future direction of global relations, economies, and priorities.” According to the World Economic Forum, the world must also adapt to the current reality by “directing the market to fairer results, ensur[ing] investments are aimed at mutual progress including accelerating ecologically friendly investments, and [starting] a fourth industrial revolution, creating digital economic and public infrastructure.”

These objectives are obviously shared by all of us, and the reality shows that the private sector is already implementing these ideas, as we see technology, renewable investments, and sustainability plans thriving all over the world. We are witnessing in real time the proof that businesses adapt rapidly and provide better goods and services at affordable prices for everyone achieving a level of progress in environmental targets and welfare that would be unthinkable if governments were in charge. This crisis shows that the world has escaped the risk of scarcity and hyperinflation thanks to a private sector that has surpassed all expectations in a seemingly unsurmountable crisis.

The overall message of the World Economic Forum sounds promising. Only three words spoil the entire positive message: “directing the market.” The risk of governments taking these ideas to promote massive interventionism is not small. The idea of the Great Reset has been quickly embraced by the most bureaucratic and government-intervened economies as a validation of rising government implication in the economy. However, this is incorrect.

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“The OECD has estimated that the unemployment rate will reach roughly 20 percent by the end of the year.”

Greece Is Setting Itself Up For Another Financial Crisis (Mises)

The Greek economy shrunk by a record 14 percent in the second quarter of 2020 while at the same time government efforts to ‘’cure’’ the economy have set the country on the road to cross the 200 percent debt-to-GDP ratio as the IMF forecasts. In the meantime, government budget deficits have reached new heights (around 7 percent). The Greek government tried to combat the economic downturn with a loose fiscal and monetary policy (through the European Central Bank). The initial aim was to support pretty much everyone from the public and private sector for the bad months of the covid-19 lockdown and hope for economic recovery when the summer arrived, with the tourist industry saving the day. It soon became evident, however, that this was wishful thinking.


People from the tourist industry admitted that it could take years for the industry to recover its past numbers. The situation looked even worse once people realized how dependent the whole economy is on tourism: it accounts for 20 percent of GDP and provides 22 percent of all employment in Greece. Furthermore, the Greek government’s solutions, like those of most of the other governments in Europe, were primarily demand-side policies. As I predicted in one of my past articles, these measures could only provide short-run relief, only postponing the pain until later. The unemployment rate saw a 1.2 percent increase from March to April, of 1.3 percent from April to May, and it saw a minor decrease during the summer tourist period. The OECD has estimated that the unemployment rate will reach roughly 20 percent by the end of the year.

The ECB’s balance sheet had a massive increase from 39 percent of the GDP to 54 percent during the summer. In comparison the Fed’s balance sheet is around 32 percent of GDP. The injections of liquidity via the ECB have effectively zombified a considerable number of companies in the EU, with corporate debts reaching new highs. In the case of Greece, the government has exploited its new, EU-sanctioned fiscal leeway, which has allowed it to perpetuate structural problems in its economy along with large deficits. During the tourist season, the costs were so high that a considerable segment of the tourist industry decided to not even work this summer since they would lose less money this way.


[..] People need to understand that when you have an economy with weak productivity that’s highly indebted, shutting down the economy two times in one year has repercussions that will be here to stay for years depending on the recovery policies. The economy needs major structural reforms. Labor laws need to be liberalized. Budget surpluses are indeed the correct goal, especially now, to avoid another debt crisis, but the surpluses need to come from cuts made in the public sector. Tax cuts need to become permanent and even bigger for the economy to grow and expand. Last but not least, making foreign and domestic investments easier, less expensive, and minimizing the potential risk is a matter of utmost urgency, since Greece is being outcompeted by neighboring countries.

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Isn’t China merely replacing predatory IMF behavior with predatory Beijing behavior?

US Hits Search & Destroy Against The New Silk Roads (Escobar)

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts. The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation. In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”). This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”. Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

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Five Eyes only?

Australia Sabotaged Its Own Interests in China Relations (CN)

The address to Federal Parliament by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 17, 2014, marked a highwater mark in bilateral relations. Xi was in Australia for the G-20 summit in Brisbane hosted by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. His theme was that China was committed to peace but ready to protect its interests. Since then, the relationship has gone downhill — first slowly and haltingly, but over the past two years with sickening acceleration. Now the relationship seems irretrievable. For educated Chinese, Australia is now an object lesson in Western arrogance, hypocrisy and betrayal of friendship. The dinner party has ended in upended chairs, shouts and bitter accusations as both sides angrily walk away. After the high symbolism of the Xi speech, all seemed well. In 2015 the Darwin Port was leased to a Chinese company for 99 years.

Growing numbers of Chinese students and tourist visitors to Australia were becoming mainstays of Australia’s thriving higher education, tourism and property sectors. China as an Australian export market grew steadily in significance: last year it represented nearly 50 percent of Australian commodity export earnings. Victoria in 2018 signed a memorandum of understanding with China to work with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. From the beginning, there were signs that powerful forces were determined to cripple Australian-Chinese engagement: and they have now seemingly won. The present breakdown is tragic for Australian economic and political interests. Many innocent Australians’ livelihoods are being harmed by our own government’s and political class’ stupidity. It is hard to see now how the damage done to Australia-China relations may be healed anytime soon.

Controversially, I contend that Australia has over the past six years lived through a textbook experiment of covert foreign policy interference by powerful Anglo-American influences, subtly working through local sympathizers in public life here. Australian political elites — already culturally predisposed to trust Anglo-American friends, and naive as to their power and guile — have been persuaded to adopt increasingly adversarial positions against China across a broad front. This essay can only hint at the breadth and skill of this classic Five Eyes information warfare operation: it would take a book to expose it fully.


“Five Eyes” intelligence network including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand. (@GDJ, Openclipart)

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Dec 102020
 
 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.

Read more …

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.”

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

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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.

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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”?

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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.”

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“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.

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