Dec 022020
 


Ford Madox Brown King Lear and Cordelia c1851

 

UK Becomes First Country To Approve Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 Vaccine (NBC)
With Tanden Choice, Democrats Stick it to Sanders Voters (Taibbi)
We Know Joe (Jacobs)
Putting a BlackRock Alum in Charge of Greening the Economy (TNR)
Trump Raises At Least $150 Million Since Election Day (JTN)
Whistleblowers Allege Ballots Crossed State Lines, Disappear, Backdating (JTN)
Why the Fed Needs Public Banks (Ellen Brown)
The Rich Cheer Wall Street’s Latest Records. The Rest Drain 401(k)s (CP)
Ray Dalio’s Chart Hints At What Beijing Is Really Up To (Xie)
Debenhams ‘Never Recovered From Private Equity Ownership’ (G.)
One Of Biology’s Biggest Mysteries ‘Largely Solved’ By AI (BBC)

 

 

 

 

The rest of us should be happy they will be the guinea pigs. I’ve seen one too many doctors and scientists say they’ll sit this one out.

UK Becomes First Country To Approve Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 Vaccine (NBC)

The U.K. has become the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and will begin inoculations next week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early Wednesday. “For so long we’ve been saying that if a vaccine is developed, then things will get better in 2021, and now we can say when this vaccine is rolled out things will get better,” Hancock told the BBC. The U.K. has ordered 40 million vaccine doses from Pfizer — enough for up to a third of the population. The vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, the drugmaker said after clinical trials.


The pharmaceutical giant submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 20 for an emergency use authorization in the U.S. A vaccine committee will now decide which groups will first get the vaccine, such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically vulnerable. “This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a news release. The Pfizer shots must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than standard cooling systems. To help accommodate the extra refrigeration requirement, Pfizer has developed a supercool storage unit packed with dry ice.

Read more …

She looks like a no-go. But many of the other neocons will be in.

With Tanden Choice, Democrats Stick it to Sanders Voters (Taibbi)

The Democratic Party is not known for its sense of humor, but news that Joe Biden will appoint longtime Center for American Progress chief Neera Tanden to his government qualifies as a rare, well-earned laugh line. Tanden is famous for two things: having a puddle of DNC talking points in place of a cerebrum, and despising Bernie Sanders. She was #Resistance’s most visible anti-Sanders foil, spending awe-inspiring amounts of time on Twitter bludgeoning Sanders and his supporters as a deviant mob of Russian tools and covert “horseshoe theory” Trump-lovers. She has, to put it gently, an ardent social media following. Every prominent media figure with even a vague connection to Sanders learned in recent years to expect mud-drenched pushback from waves of “Neera trolls” after any public comment crossing DNC narratives.

No name in blue politics is more associated with seething opposition to Sanders than Tanden. Biden is making this person Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders is the ranking member (and, perhaps, future chair) of the Senate Budget Committee. Every time Bernie even thinks about doing Committee business, he’ll be looking up at Neera Tanden. For a party whose normal idea of humor is ten thousand consecutive jokes about Trump being gay with Putin, that’s quite a creative “fuck you.” The Democrats still have to reckon with Trumpism in both the short and long term, but the Sanders movement on their other flank has at least temporarily been routed as a serious oppositional force. The Democrats know this, which is part of the joke of the Tanden appointment. While the party’s labors to oppose Trump have been incoherent at best, the campaign to kneecap Sanders has been, let’s admit it, brilliant.


The Blue Apparat has always despised Bernie and his various precursor movements far more than it hated Republicans, and for good reason. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Clintonite hacks in cushy Washington sinecures who would have retained their spots in the event of a loss to Trump. A Sanders win would have put them all out of the politics business for a while. It was unsurprising to see the party mainstream marshaling all of what passes for its brainpower to devise a long game to crate-train Sanders, who in less than a year went from oppositional favorite to seize the Democratic nomination to obedient afterthought.

Tucker Greenwald on Tanden

Read more …

And Joe knows everyone who counts. Except perhaps himself.

We Know Joe (Jacobs)

We know this man Joe Biden. We know the politics he champions. We know his corporate and financial backers. We know what we’re up against. Barack Obama and the Clintons operated in the same neoliberal and essentially reactionary sphere. The faces in power may be female, Black, Latino and gay, but the policies are designed to keep the power from the people, the money from the vast numbers of working people, and the war machine’s troops around the globe. We cannot afford to get fooled again. Inauguration Day is the opening of a new front in the battle for the planet and those creatures who live on it. The Trump years were, more than anything, a forced retreat. The fascist and other reactionary forces unleashed by his occupation of the White House made major gains and they are determined to hang on to those gains.

The eight years that preceded him were, in essence, not a forced retreat but part of a decades long retreat, nonetheless. It’s good that Biden is a conventional establishment politician. It is also bad. The history of the last four decades (with the exception of the Trump years) is the history of a nation ruled by conventional establishment politicians. It is good because we know their strategies and tricks. It is bad because those strategies and tricks can lull people into a political sleep. Without the personal outrage a Trump can cause, elected officials, their appointees, and the monetary forces they serve can do a lot of damage under the guise of doing good. Whether it is Reagan’s privatization of the government, Clinton’s destruction of the social welfare system, the Bush’s bloody wars on the people of the Mideast, or Obama’s continuation of all those policies, the reality is these actions took place with most US residents’ assent.

Liberals fell for Reagan’s folksy lies, letting themselves be led by their investments into a world where the poor were once again blamed for their circumstances. When their man Clinton was in office, they supported his intensification of the war on the poor, all the while pointing to their 401Ks as proof the American Dream still worked. And the wars just went on. There was opposition, but never to the point that the troops would not be sent to fight or completely withdrawn once they got there. Indeed, too much of the antiwar leadership abandoned its constituents and joined up with the Obama campaign in 2007, just as the war on Iraq was escalating. That war, and the war on the Afghans continues to this moment. In addition, there are tens of thousands of US forces—military and mercenary—wreaking death and destruction around the globe.

Read more …

Predictable.

Putting a BlackRock Alum in Charge of Greening the Economy (TNR)

This week, the Biden campaign is expected to announce officially that it’s tapped former Obama adviser and current BlackRock executive Brian Deese to head the National Economic Council. The appointment will make Deese the president’s top economic adviser. And in addition to worrying climate activists, the news has again raised concerns about BlackRock’s outsize influence in U.S. politics. Deese has long been on the no-go lists of progressives tracking Biden appointments, thanks to his BlackRock background. New York Communities for Change and the Sunrise Movement protested the rumors of Deese’s appointment outside the company’s Manhattan headquarters last week.

His advocates and defenders, including climate wonks and Obama alums, have praised his character, record on conservation, role in helping negotiate the Paris Agreement, as well as the fact that he joined BlackRock to head the investment management giant’s sustainable investment strategy after his brief stint working on climate issues for Obama. Many are excited by the prospect of having an NEC head who spends time thinking about climate change. By all accounts, Deese is indeed a nice guy. But to suggest his record makes him a good fit for a position steering and greening the U.S. economy rests on fundamental misunderstandings of Deese’s climate credentials, BlackRock’s ambitions, and the crisis at hand.

Deese has now spent more time advising BlackRock on climate than the White House. But his governmental record deserves scrutiny, too. Before taking over the climate portfolio from John Podesta, he worked for the NEC and as deputy and then acting director of the Office of Management. He described his role as “showing the American people how we can do more effectively with less” and preached “fiscal discipline”—a troubling inclination given how desperately the current economy and climate crisis need government spending. He also championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have doubled U.S. exposure to pernicious investor-state dispute settlements, allowing companies to sue governments that infringe on their profits (for example, through robust climate policy). During his two years as Obama’s climate adviser, Deese defended Arctic drilling and boasted about increases in “both renewable and traditional” energy production, though he did also work to withdraw certain portions of the Arctic Ocean from mineral leasing.

Read more …

Dind’t Trump just yesterday say: See you in 2024?

Trump Raises At Least $150 Million Since Election Day (JTN)

President Trump has raised at least $150 million since Election Day nearly one month ago, according to multiple news reports. The donations have poured in, as the Trump campaign continues to solicit donations to fuel its legal efforts in several key states to uncover voter fraud and overturn the results of the election. The campaign has raised as much as $170 million, according to The New York Times, while other news outlets have reported an amount closer to $150 million. Either amount is approximately equivalent to the numbers coming in to the campaign coffers at the height of the president’s reelection bid.


The Times also reports that 75% of each donation will go to a new political action committee established by Trump and his staff called “Save America.” The other 25% will go to the Republican National Committee. The donations will allow the campaign to pay off outstanding, post-election debt. It will also allow the president to fund post-presidency political activities. Trump has not publicly stated his political intentions should his election challenges fail.

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Everyone deserves to be heard.

Whistleblowers Allege Ballots Crossed State Lines, Disappear, Backdating (JTN)

Sworn testimony of several whistleblowers on Tuesday alleged what one election integrity activist is calling “potential ballot fraud on a massive scale,” with multiple eyewitnesses testifying to alleged suspicious behavior in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In a press conference in Arlington, Va., the Amistad Project — a civil liberties initiative of the Thomas More Society — presented the testimony of three individuals who claim to have witnessed apparent voting malfeasance during the 2020 election. One, Jesse Morgan, a truck driver for a subcontractor with the United States Postal Service, claimed that a trailer he was driving, one full of potentially upwards of 288,000 ballots, disappeared from its parked location at a Lancaster, Pa. USPS depot after Morgan dropped it off there. Morgan had transported those ballots from Bethpage, N.Y.

The subcontractor also reportedly experienced “odd behaviors” from USPS personnel, behaviors which postal experts have said in sworn statements “grossly deviate[d] from normal procedure and behavior,” according to a press release from the Amistad Project. Another whistleblower, Nathan Pease of Madison, Wisc. — himself also a subcontractor for USPS — alleged that he was told the postal service was planning to backdate tens of thousands of ballots in the days after the Nov. 3 election in order to circumvent the ballot submission deadline. A third witness, Gregory Stenstrom — who testified at a Pennsylvania legislature hearing in Gettysburg last week — claimed to have witnessed a Dominion Voting Systems vendor inserting jump drives into voting aggregation machines in Delaware County, Pa.

Election officials also reportedly commingled various jump drives from aggregation machines, potentially frustrating the ability of auditors to properly certify the election results. In its press release, Amistad Project Director Phill Kline said the testimonies are “compelling” and that they provide “powerful eyewitness accounts of potential ballot fraud on a massive scale.” “This evidence joins with unlawful conduct by state and local election officials, including accepting millions of dollars of private funds, to undermine the integrity of this election,” Kline said. In the press release, the Amistad Project says it has collected sworn expert testimony alleging that “over 300,000 ballots are at issue in Arizona, 548,000 in Michigan, 204,000 in Georgia, and over 121,000 in Pennsylvania.”

Read more …

Bernie’s ideas.

Why the Fed Needs Public Banks (Ellen Brown)

The Fed’s policy tools – interest rate manipulation, quantitative easing, and “Special Purpose Vehicles” – have all failed to revive local economies suffering from government-mandated shutdowns. . The Fed must rely on private banks to inject credit into Main Street, and private banks are currently unable or unwilling to do it. The tools the Fed actually needs are public banks, which could and would do the job. [..] Private banks are not following through on the Fed’s attempted money injections, but publicly-owned banks would. In countries with strong government-owned banking systems, public banks have historically increased their lending when private banks pulled back. Public banks have a mandate to stimulate their local economies; and unlike private banks, they can do it and still turn a profit, because they have lower costs.

They have eliminated the parasitic profit-extracting middlemen, and they do not have to focus on short-term profits to please their shareholders. They can pour their resources into improving the long-term prospects of the economy and its infrastructure, stimulating local productivity and strengthening the tax base. Three promising new bills are before Congress that would facilitate the establishment of a public banking system in the US. HR 8721, ”The Public Banking Act”, was introduced on Oct. 30, 2020. As described on Vox, the Act would “foster the creation of public [state and local government-owned] banks across the country by providing them a pathway to getting started, establishing an infrastructure for liquidity and credit facilities for them via the Federal Reserve, and setting up federal guidelines for them to be regulated. Essentially, it would make it easier for public banks to exist, and it would give some of them grant money to get started.”

In September, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand also introduced The Postal Banking Act, which they said would • Create $9 billion in revenue for the postal service, saving it from privatization; • Protect low-income or rural families and communities from predatory lending; and • Reestablish postal banking to provide basic, low-cost financial services to those who cannot access banks. The third bill, HR 6422, “The National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2020,” is modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which funded the rebuilding of the US economy in the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to its advocates, HR 6422 will build or restore over $4 trillion in infrastructure and create up to 25 million union jobs, while being “revenue neutral” (not burdening the federal government’s budget).

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Trickling up.

The Rich Cheer Wall Street’s Latest Records. The Rest Drain 401(k)s (CP)

The all-time record highs that Wall Street has registered this week have given some Americans — the nation’s already rich — considerable cause for celebration. And the rest of the nation? Tens of millions of Americans are paying precious little attention to the chirpy tale of Wall Street’s ticker. The simple reason: They own no stocks at all. Millions of other Americans who do own stocks don’t see any reason to celebrate either. They’re finding themselves forced, amid pandemic economic collapse, to start selling the stocks that make up the bulk of their retirement savings. How best to start understanding this story? The best place to begin: The latest numbers on stock ownership from the Federal Reserve. Fed researchers have been tracking who exactly owns the stocks that trade every business day on Wall Street ever since 1989.

Back nearly 30 years ago, in 1992, the share of stock nationally that belongs to America’s poorest half of households hit an all-time high. That “high” amounted to all of a miniscule 1.6 percent. How much of America’s stock wealth does the bottom 50 percent hold these days? At the end of this past June, the most recent Federal Reserve data point available, the nation’s poorest half held less than 1 percent of the nation’s stock holdings, just 0.6 percent. The nation’s poorest 90 percent, all combined, now hold just 11.8 percent of the nation’s stocks. Numbers like these help explain why massive numbers of Americans didn’t rush out onto the streets to cheer earlier this week when two top Wall Street benchmarks, the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500, hit their own all-time record summits.

Shares of stock — either held directly or through mutual funds — make up just 2.3 percent of the total assets of households in the bottom 50 percent and a mere 7.6 percent of the assets the rest of the bottom 90 percent hold. America’s richest 1 percent, on the other hand, have plenty of reason to celebrate Wall Street records. Stock holdings make up over 40 percent of top 1 percent household wealth. These 1 percenters, overall, hold 52.4 percent of the nation’s stock, a share almost five times greater than all the stock that households in the bottom 90 percent hold. This top 1 percent share has been steadily increasing. Since 1989, the year the Fed started keeping track, the top 1 percent share of the nation’s stock holdings has jumped 22 percent. The bottom 90 percent share has dropped 33 percent.

Read more …

“..the buzz in Beijing is that the financial industry should serve the real economy and people..”

Ray Dalio’s Chart Hints At What Beijing Is Really Up To (Xie)

Another day, another stock record. The S&P 500 soared to a fresh all-time high on Tuesday, while the yield curve steepened on optimism about more fiscal stimulus and the imminent deployment of vaccines. The seeming disconnect between financial markets and the economy is kind of surreal, considering that 11 million people remain unemployed and the virus is spiraling out of control. The fact that U.S. policy makers are still pedal-to-the-metal with monetary stimulus stands in sharp contrast to China, where officials have set their sights on an exit from loose policy. Consider recent events: Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, described China’s property market as the biggest “gray rhino” – an obvious yet ignored financial risk.


Guo also pledged to impose “special and innovative regulatory measures” on financial technology behemoths such as Jack Ma’s Ant Group. The recent regulation changes have essentially put these fin-tech companies under the similar supervision umbrella as traditional banks to avoid excessive leverage. Beijing has allowed a number of SOEs to default, breaking the implicit government guarantee. PBOC Governor Yi Gang vowed to avoid monetizing government debt. In addition, officials have said low interest rates contributed to social inequality. Clearly, there’s a sense of urgency to address financial risks and close the gap between markets and the economy. In the meantime, the buzz in Beijing is that the financial industry should serve the real economy and people.

What China is doing makes perfect sense in the context of the big economic cycle described by Ray Dalio. In his latest essay published Tuesday, Bridgewater’s founder showed that China is in the midst of a debt bubble and the beginning of widening wealth gap. Apparently, China wants to tackle both before it’s too late. In contrast, the U.S. has passed the peak of its economic power, settling into the stage of money printing after the burst of the debt bubble, according to Dalio. “It is in this stage when there are bad financial conditions and intensifying conflict,” wrote Dalio. “Classically this stage comes after periods of great excesses in spending and debt and the widening of wealth and political gaps and before there are revolutions and civil wars. United States is at a tipping point in which it could go from manageable internal tension to revolution and/or civil war.”

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Vultures all around.

Debenhams ‘Never Recovered From Private Equity Ownership’ (G.)

Coronavirus store closures may have been the final nail in the coffin for Debenhams but retail experts argue the department store chain never recovered from a brutal period in the hands of priv ate equity. The retailer was taken over in 2003 by a private equity consortium. The trio of funds, TPG, CVC Capital and Merrill Lynch, made huge returns from their £600m investment, collecting £1.2bn in dividends despite owning the company for less than three years. Debenhams owed around £100m when it was taken private but, by the time it returned to the stock market in 2006, that debt had swollen to more than £1bn. After the retailer’s subsequent poor performance, the deal came to epitomise the worst excesses of the private equity model – the “quick flip” whereby investors buy a listed business cheaply, load it with debt and then refloat it at a big profit.


The private equity consortium installed Rob Templeman, fresh from lucrative private equity revamps of Homebase and Halfords, to overhaul Debenhams. His plan was to cut costs at the same time as increasing sales and profit margins. He also used price cuts to clear products that weren’t selling, but regular discounting was blamed for dragging the brand downmarket. The consortium had used £1.1bn of debt to acquire the business and Templeman cut borrowing costs by remortgaging some of the stores. In 2005, 23 shops were sold for £495m. Debenhams leased the stores back, on expensive rent deals up to 35 years in length. Blaming private equity for Debenhams’ demise is “100% justified”, said veteran retail analyst Richard Hyman. “At the very time when the sort of massive changes we’re seeing today were embryonic, Debenhams’ wherewithal to react, ie money, was removed. It was removed into the bank accounts of private equity investors. That is the truth of it.”

Read more …

AI and complexity.

One Of Biology’s Biggest Mysteries ‘Largely Solved’ By AI (BBC)

One of biology’s biggest mysteries has been solved using artificial intelligence, experts have announced. Predicting how a protein folds into a unique three-dimensional shape has puzzled scientists for half a century. London-based AI lab, DeepMind, has largely cracked the problem, said the organisers of a scientific challenge. A better understanding of protein shapes could play a pivotal role in the development of novel drugs to treat disease. The advance by Google-owned DeepMind is expected to accelerate research into a host of illnesses, including Covid-19. Their program determined the shape of proteins at a level of accuracy comparable to expensive and time-consuming lab methods, said independent scientists.

Dr Andriy Kryshtafovych, from University of California (UC), Davis in the US, one of the panel of scientific adjudicators, described the achievement as “truly remarkable”. “Being able to investigate the shape of proteins quickly and accurately has the potential to revolutionise life sciences,” he said. Proteins are present in all living things where they play a central role in the chemical processes essential for life. Made up of strings of amino acids, they fold up in an infinite number of ways into elaborate shapes that hold the key to how they carry out their vital functions.Many diseases are linked to the roles of proteins in catalysing chemical reactions (enzymes), fighting disease (antibodies) or acting as chemical messengers (hormones such as insulin).

“Even tiny rearrangements of these vital molecules can have catastrophic effects on our health, so one of the most efficient ways to understand disease and find new treatments is to study the proteins involved,” said Dr John Moult of the University of Maryland, US, the chair of the panel of scientific adjudicators. “There are tens of thousands of human proteins and many billions in other species, including bacteria and viruses, but working out the shape of just one requires expensive equipment and can take years.”


A DeepMind model of a protein from the Legionnaire’s disease bacteria (Casp-14)

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 012020
 


Vincent van Gogh Women Picking Olives 1889

 

Vitamin D Insufficiency May Account for Almost 9 of 10 COVID19 Deaths (MDPI)
The Wuhan Files (CNN)
It Could Take 4 Years To Regain The 22 Million Jobs Lost During COVID19 (F.)
Black Friday Foot Traffic Down More Than 52% (RetailDive)
US Billionaires Have Gained $1 Trillion Since The Pandemic Started (ZH)
Trump’s Hill Allies Could Take One Last Shot To Overturn The Election (Pol.)
GA Govt Lawyers Defend Dominion ‘Trade Secrets’ To Stop Forensic Analysis (NP)
Neera Tanden: Unhinged, Venomous, Corrupt, Pathologically Dishonest (Greenwald)
Biden Picks Budget Director Who Pushed Social Security Cuts (DP)
The Case Against Sally Yates (Turley)
Behind the Scenes in Swamptopia (Kunstler)
Trump Pardons Flynn…It’s a Good Start! (Ron Paul)
We Can’t Vote ‘Em Out (Lee Camp)
Establishment Journalists Are Piling On To Smear Robert Fisk (Cook)

 

 

Fauci get kids back into school

 

 

How Churchill procured alcohol during prohibition.

 

 

White Hat hackers
https://twitter.com/i/status/1333500580287950849

 

 

“..statistically attributable..”

Vitamin D Insufficiency May Account for Almost 9 of 10 COVID19 Deaths (MDPI)

Evidence from observational studies is accumulating, suggesting that the majority of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infections are statistically attributable to vitamin D insufficiency and could potentially be prevented by vitamin D supplementation. Given the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, rational vitamin D supplementation whose safety has been proven in an extensive body of research should be promoted and initiated to limit the toll of the pandemic even before the final proof of efficacy in preventing COVID-19 deaths by randomized trials. We read, with great interest, the recent article by Radujkovic et al. that reported associations between vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D < 12 ng/mL) or insufficiency (25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL) and death in a cohort of 185 consecutive symptomatic SARS-CoV-2-positive patients admitted to the Medical University Hospital Heidelberg, who were diagnosed and treated between 18 March and 18 June 2020 [1].

In this cohort, 118 patients (64%) had vitamin D insufficiency at recruitment (including 41 patients with vitamin D deficiency), and 16 patients died of the infection. With a covariate-adjusted relative risk of death of 11.3, mortality was much higher among vitamin D insufficient patients than among other patients. When translated to the proportion of deaths in the population that is statistically attributable to vitamin D insufficiency (“population attributable risk proportion”), a key measure of public health relevance of risk factors [2], these results imply that 87% of COVID-19 deaths may be statistically attributed to vitamin D insufficiency and could potentially be avoided by eliminating vitamin D insufficiency.

Although results of an observational study, such as this one, need to be interpreted with caution, as done by the authors [1], due to the potential of residual confounding or reverse causality (i.e., vitamin D insufficiency resulting from poor health status at baseline rather than vice versa), it appears extremely unlikely that such a strong association in this prospective cohort study could be explained this way, in particular as the authors had adjusted for age, sex and comorbidity as potential confounders in their multivariate analysis. There are also multiple plausible mechanisms that may well explain the observed associations, such as increased concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as decreased concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines in vitamin D insufficiency..

Read more …

The timing for this report is a tad curious perhaps.

The Wuhan Files (CNN)

A group of frontline medical workers, likely exhausted, stand huddled together on a video-conference call as China’s most powerful man raises his hand in greeting. It is February 10 in Beijing and President Xi Jinping, who for weeks has been absent from public view, is addressing hospital staff in the city of Wuhan as they battle to contain the spread of a still officially unnamed novel coronavirus. From a secure room about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the epicenter, Xi expressed his condolences to those who have died in the outbreak. He urged greater public communication, as around the world concerns mounted about the potential threat posed by the new disease. That same day, Chinese authorities reported 2,478 new confirmed cases — raising the total global number to more than 40,000, with fewer than 400 cases occurring outside of mainland China.

Yet CNN can now reveal how official documents circulated internally show that this was only part of the picture.In a report marked “internal document, please keep confidential,” local health authorities in the province of Hubei, where the virus was first detected, list a total of 5,918 newly detected cases on February 10, more than double the official public number of confirmed cases, breaking down the total into a variety of subcategories. This larger figure was never fully revealed at that time, as China’s accounting system seemed, in the tumult of the early weeks of the pandemic, to downplay the severity of the outbreak. The previously undisclosed figure is among a string of revelations contained within 117 pages of leaked documents from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shared with and verified by CNN.


Taken together, the documents amount to the most significant leak from inside China since the beginning of the pandemic and provide the first clear window into what local authorities knew internally and when. The Chinese government has steadfastly rejected accusations made by the United States and other Western governments that it deliberately concealed information relating to the virus, maintaining that it has been upfront since the beginning of the outbreak. However, though the documents provide no evidence of a deliberate attempt to obfuscate findings, they do reveal numerous inconsistencies in what authorities believed to be happening and what was revealed to the public.

Read more …

You’re not going to “regain” them, they will have to be new jobs.

It Could Take 4 Years To Regain The 22 Million Jobs Lost During COVID19 (F.)

As the bull market for stocks rages on and even bests pre-pandemic levels, some American households are bouncing back much more slowly than others, unearthing a pattern indicative of a K-shaped (or lopsided) economic recovery, Goldman Sachs said on Sunday–and without additional fiscal relief, it could take years for employment to fully recover. The biggest driver of the K-shaped recovery taking shape is that pandemic job losses were “highly concentrated in virus-sensitive industries” like retail, leisure and hospitality–all of which disproportionately employ low-wage workers, Goldman analyst Joseph Briggs wrote in a weekend note. Some companies have turned to technology in an effort to boost productivity in the absence of real workers, and it’s working (which is bad news for American workers).

Productivity is up 4% this year despite major job losses, according to Moody’s Analytics, which now estimates the 22 million jobs lost this spring won’t come back until early 2024. While stimulus measures have helped keep overall disposable income afloat during the pandemic, Americans making less than $30 per hour are feeling the most economic pain. Slowed wage growth has also been markedly worse for lower-income workers–further contributing to the disparate economic recovery, the Goldman report goes on to say. Goldman projects a lack of new fiscal relief will cause a fourth-quarter decline in disposable income that will hit the bottom 25% of earners “particularly hard,” while also weighing on consumer spending this winter.

The outlook for lower-income workers will get “significantly worse” if Congress doesn’t pass another fiscal stimulus package of at least $700 billion in the first quarter, Goldman notes, adding that additional relief coupled with widespread vaccination could actually help yield a V-shaped recovery, which is characteristic of a quicker, more equitable economic bounceback. “The largest pandemic casualties have been less productive industries including retailing, leisure and hospitality, while the biggest winners have been in more productive industries like technology, wholesaling and professional services,” Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said in a weekend note, adding that within industries, smaller businesses have fared worse than their larger, more productive counterparts, which are more able to afford large investments in technology and organizational changes.

Read more …

Shopkeepers will become Amazo delivery workers.

Black Friday Foot Traffic Down More Than 52% (RetailDive)

With COVID-19 cases hitting new highs, it comes as little surprise that many shoppers opted to stay away from physical stores this year. That said, the differences between Black Friday 2020 and those that preceded it were stark. “Our traditional store checks over the holiday weekend were like none other we’ve ever experienced in our lifetime — no hustle and bustle, no lines at the register,” said MKM Partners Managing Director Roxanne Meyer in an emailed research note. Retailers have anticipated and prepared for that, even nudged consumers into changing up their holiday shopping plans to keep them from packing into stores. Major players like Walmart and Target have been spreading Black Friday-like discounts through the month of November and encouraging online purchases and curbside pickup.


Many also followed Amazon’s lead by launching online sales events in October, which pulled holiday purchases into the month and heralded the beginning of the holiday shopping spree. Black Friday still had a major impact. Sales in the U.S. were up 177% Friday against their October average, according to Criteo data emailed to Retail Dive. By category, fashion was up 240%, consumer electronics were up 359% and home goods were up 148%. However, year-over-year Black Friday sales were down 5%, meaning that even the online sales surge couldn’t fully make up for the lost foot traffic. Criteo’s data shows, however, that the prior weeks’ discounting may have affected sales on Black Friday itself — which was the plan among retailers all along. Sales in the first three weeks of November were up 7% year over year, Criteo said.

Read more …

Tax the crap out of them.

US Billionaires Have Gained $1 Trillion Since The Pandemic Started (ZH)

American billionaires haven’t been just immune to the pandemic, they have been thriving in it, drastically increasing their collective wealth. An analysis by Chuck Collins at the Institute for Policy Studies found that American billionaires have been their wealth grow by $1 trillion since March of this year – more than 34 percent. That was not the case during the 2008 financial crisis when it took Forbes’ 400 richest people three years to recoup their losses from the Great Recession. Collins’ findings highlight a wealth gain by a mere 650 individuals that, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, seems obscene at a time when nearly 7 million Americans are at risk of eviction when moratoriums expire at the end of the year.


There are 650 billionaires on the list, out of which 47 are new arrivals with 11 dropping out due to death or financial decline. There were numerous impressive financial gains among notable billionaires on the lit with Jeff Bezos growing his fortune by $69.4 billion between March 17 and November 24. The Amazon boss and richest man on the planet is now with $182.4 billion. The most impressive gain on the list was recorded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who has seen his fortune experience a meteoric rise. In the above period, his weath surged a whopping 414 percent, climbing from “just” $24.6 billion to $126.2 billion, making him the world’s second richest man after Bezos. Illustrating the gulf in financial inequality in the U.S. today, the analysis states that U.S. billionaires own $4 trillion, 3.5 percent of all privately held wealth in the country. Billionaire wealth is now twice the amount of wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of all American households combined, approximately 160 million people.

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By running a plan the Dems used extensively.

Trump’s Hill Allies Could Take One Last Shot To Overturn The Election (Pol.)

The framers declared that the presidential election isn’t official until lawmakers certify the winner. The voters, on Nov. 3, picked 306 electors for Biden and 232 for Trump. Those electors will cast their formal votes for president on Dec. 14. An obscure 1887 law called the Electoral Count Act, and several subsequent updates, spell out the process, setting Jan. 6 after a presidential election as the official certification date and outlining vague, complicated procedures. On that day, the House and Senate meet in a joint session at 1 p.m. — just three days after a newly constituted Congress is sworn in. One of their first orders of business is to pass judgment on the Electoral College vote. That same federal law also gives a tiny number of lawmakers enormous power to challenge the results.

If a single House member and a single senator join forces, they can object to entire slates of presidential electors. They must do so in writing and provide an explanation, though there are no guidelines on how detailed it must be. If they do, the House and Senate must retreat to their chambers and debate the outcome for up to two hours before voting on the matter. Each state’s electors are certified separately, meaning lawmakers bent on challenging the results have multiple chances to force lengthy delays. If the Democrat-run House and GOP-controlled Senate disagree? That outcome has never been tested before, though it would likely give governors in key states — including the Democrats who lead Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — a larger role.

A few House Democrats have previously tried and failed to challenge GOP presidencies in 2001 and 2017 — after Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote but lost the Electoral College to George W. Bush and Trump, respectively. And congressional Democrats went even further in 2005, when John Kerry lost to Bush, forcing a full-fledged debate on Ohio’s electoral votes before both the House and Senate voted to reject the challenge.

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“..defending a private, foreign company’s “trade secrets” instead of attempting to secure the vote of the American public..”

GA Govt Lawyers Defend Dominion ‘Trade Secrets’ To Stop Forensic Analysis (NP)

A buried lead in Judge Timothy C. Batten’s order released late last night from an Atlantic District Court describes Georgia State lawyers – ostensibly acting on behalf of the public via the local government – defending Dominion Voting Systems’ “trade secrets”. The court ordered that voting software and information contained therein should not be destroyed, or erased or altered in Cobb, Gwinnett, and Cherokee Counties. But the order also revealed: “Defendants’ counsel also argued that allowing such forensic inspections would pose substantial security and proprietary/trade secret risks to Defendants.”


The bizarre nature of government lawyers defending a private, foreign company’s “trade secrets” instead of attempting to secure the vote of the American public will raise further questions about the company’s involvement in U.S. voting systems. The term “trade secret” is used no fewer than NINE times in the contract between Georgia and Dominion Voting Systems.

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Is she what the country deserves?

Neera Tanden: Unhinged, Venomous, Corrupt, Pathologically Dishonest (Greenwald)

The announcement that Joe Biden intends to nominate Neera Tanden as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget — a critical position overseeing U.S. economic and regulatory policy — triggered a wide range of mockery, indignation and disgust from both the left and the right. That should not be surprising: though a thoroughly mediocre and ordinary D.C. swamp creature from the perspective of both ideology and competence, Tanden’s uniquely unhinged, venomous, corrupt and pathologically dishonest conduct as a Clinton Family and DNC apparatchik and President of the corporatist-and-despot-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) has earned her a list of enemies far longer and more impressive than her accomplishments.

[..] Tanden owes her entire career to the patronage of Hillary Clinton, and her devotion to Hillary approaches restraining-order levels of creepiness (here you can watch Tanden beam with adoration as then-Senator Hillary Clinton, on the Senate floor in 2004, explains her steadfast opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples on the ground that “marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman” and “exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history” for the primary purpose of raising children — just a few short years before Democrats changed views on this, after which it instantly became the hallmark of an unreconstructed hateful bigot to say this). Few people took Hillary’s 2016 loss to Donald Trump as hard as Tanden, or handled it as poorly. Indeed, she refused to believe it really happened, and encouraged others to similarly refuse to accept its reality.

In the weeks after Trump’s victory, Tanden joined numerous Democrats in encouraging electors of the Electoral College to ignore their states’ votes and refuse to elect Trump as President (many rationale were invoked for this: Tanden’s was a CAP article promoting #Resistance fanatic Richard Painter’s argument that Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause precluded an Electoral College win). She insisted that Hillary lost because of Russia, claiming the “Russians did enough damage to affect more than 70k votes in 3 states.” And she was not only one of the first to push the Steele Dossier’s claim that Russia held blackmail power over Trump but also one of the last to do so — insisting in 2018 that “the dossier been mostly proven to be true” and claiming as late as 2019 that nothing in this discredited junk report had been disproven.

But what really distinguished Tanden when it came to unhinged and toxic behavior was her repeated (and obviously baseless) claims that Hillary only lost because Russian hackers invaded the U.S. voting system and clandestinely changed Hillary’s votes to Trump’s, costing the real winner — Hillary — her rightful place on the throne, behind the Resolute Desk.

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The left doesn’t like Tanden either.

Biden Picks Budget Director Who Pushed Social Security Cuts (DP)

President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly nominate a White House budget director who has been one of the country’s most prominent critics of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and who has previously backed Social Security cuts. Biden — who has repeatedly pushed for Social Security cuts throughout his career — announced his selection of Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden as his choice to run the powerful White House Office of Management and Budget. A longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, Tanden touted her think tank’s 2010 proposal to reduce Social Security benefits in 2012, as Biden was pushing for such cuts in the Obama administration. Tanden’s Social Security push followed the 2010 midterms, during the deficit reduction negotiations between the Obama administration and the new GOP Congress.

Republicans drew a hard line but Obama sought a middle ground. Central to the administration’s efforts, which were led by Biden, was a plan called the “chained CPI” that would have slowed the rate at which Social Security benefits increase over time. Sanders led the fight in the Senate against chained CPI, while outside groups were divided over whether to line up behind the president. Some, like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, vocally opposed the cuts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, found that the chained CPI “would cut Social Security retirement benefits by about 2 percent, on average.” The organization, nevertheless, said it would support the concept under certain conditions.

Tanden’s CAP, at the time considered to be the largest liberal think tank in Washington, also supported the idea and was a significant voice in favor of the administration’s plan. Tanden explained her views in a February 2012 C-SPAN interview. Asked by a caller about entitlement reform, she named Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as targets for possible cuts, noting that “the president has $300 million in his budget in cuts in Medicare.” “That comes on top of cuts in Medicare for the Affordable Care Act. So he has put specific cuts in the budget in Medicare,” she said. “And they had savings in Medicaid in the past. I think the question really is: If we’re going to have a deal to address long-term deficit reduction, we need to put both entitlements on the table as well as taxes.”

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Russiagate in the flesh.

“..she ordered a federal department to refuse to assist the president…”

The Case Against Sally Yates (Turley)

As Joe Biden fills out his Cabinet, more attention is drawn to the position of attorney general and one of the most cited names on the short list, which is Sally Yates. Her consideration is surprising for a president-elect who has pledged to unify the country and move beyond the destructive politics of the last four years. I always admired the obvious talent and intellect of Yates. But my overall assessment of her changed dramatically almost four years ago, when she staged an epic battle with a newly inaugurated President Trump and thereby forged her own legend. Yates had only a few days left in government when she became acting attorney general in January 2017, following the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

One week later, Trump signed an executive order that restricted travel to the United States from seven Muslim majority countries. Yates then took the unprecedented step of ordering the Justice Department to refuse to assist the president in implementing the ban. I was an early critic of the travel ban, which had glaring errors like the absence of exceptions for legal residents or green-card holders. (Those errors were corrected in an amended order.) The ban was an issue upon which Trump campaigned and won the presidency and he wanted to move in that first week to carry out some of his core promises. But the order was poorly drafted, poorly executed and, ultimately, poorly defended. Yates could have worked with the White House to seek changes, as would later occur; instead, she ordered a federal department to refuse to assist the president.

[..] This was not her only controversy. Yates signed off on the application for secret surveillance of Carter Page, which was found by the inspector general to be riddled with errors and based on faulty information. Page was never charged with any crime. There is no indication that Yates made any substantive inquiries on the basis for the application, which she now says she would not have signed if she knew what she knows today. She just signed it and assumed it was legal, despite the targeting of a campaign aide in the opposing party. Yates also showed little concern over the basis for investigating Michael Flynn, another key aide to the incoming president of the opposing party.

While she recently expressed a lack of clear memory on the issue, prior reports linked her to raising the possible use against Flynn of the Logan Act, a notoriously unconstitutional law that has never been used to secure a single conviction since its creation in 1799. The basis was Flynn’s conversations with Russian diplomats shortly before becoming Trump’s national security adviser. There was nothing unlawful or even uncommon in such a communication. Indeed, then FBI Director James Comey reportedly told President Obama and Vice President Biden that the meetings appeared legitimate. Yet Yates reportedly went to the White House to raise the alarm and, in a 2017 interview, she had no memory problems in declaring that “there is certainly a criminal statute that was implicated” by the conduct of Flynn.

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“Do you suppose that Gen. Flynn does not know about the agency’s cyber-warfare capabilities?”

Behind the Scenes in Swamptopia (Kunstler)

There is the matter of the Kraken. Perhaps Sidney Powell was not speaking just figuratively about the lurking monster of the deep. The Kraken, apparently, is an actual computer system developed by the Department of Defense (DOD) to ferret out malevolent computer programs as might be deployed in cyber-warfare… or janky elections. Miz Powell has had legal consort all year with General Mike Flynn, the former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency railroaded on a fake charge by the FBI, now pardoned, free to speak and act. Do you suppose that Gen. Flynn does not know about the agency’s cyber-warfare capabilities? Or that he does not know skilled military technicians who can spell out, say, in a court of law, exactly how the Kraken might be put to use? Or how the Kraken intersects with the two CIA proprietary election hacking programs, Hammer and Scorecard?

Next, there is the matter of where these agencies stand with each other these days. It was not for nothing that the president sacked cheeky Sec’y of Defense Mark Esper and replaced him with Christopher Miller, a Special Forces warrior, lately, as Deputy Assistant Sec-Def, in charge of counterterrorism, Military Information Support Operations (MISO), Information Operations, unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter proliferation, sensitive special operations. Kind of sounds a little bit like exactly the skill-set you’d need to battle the rogue “resistance” operations across several US government agencies in their four-year quest to overthrow the chief executive climaxing in this election caper — for one example, the CIA.

Somehow, when I think of the CIA, I think of the sinister John Brennan, architect of RussiaGate and probably also somehow behind the activation of his protégé, “whistleblower” (and CIA agent) Eric Ciaramella, the impeachment mole who was allowed to retreat back into the CIA fortress with no consequences after his seditious deed was done. Notice, Mr. Brennan has been tweeting like mad in recent days denouncing election skeptics. Is he worried about something? All of which raises the questions: what role did the agency play in the election, with its mystifying vote-tallying irregularities? Does Mr. Brennan still wield influence in the CIA? And is the agency an enemy of the people?

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Not pardoning Snowden and Assange would be nuts.

Trump Pardons Flynn…It’s a Good Start! (Ron Paul)

Last week President Trump granted a “full pardon” to Gen. Michael Flynn, his first National Security Advisor. In a White House statement announcing the pardon, the Administration pointed out that the relentless pursuit of Flynn was a partisan effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election. The pursuit of Flynn was spearheaded by people who refused to accept the results of the 2016 election and worked to undermine the peaceful transfer of power, said the White House. These same people are the ones accusing Trump of undermining the election by challenging what appears to be serious voting irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. That is called “projection.”

The White House statement also cites partisans in politics, the media, and the Deep State which sought to prevent Trump from being elected, to prevent him from taking office once elected, and to remove him on false pretenses once in office. In order to push the false narrative that Trump was somehow elected due to the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the coup-masters had to make it appear that a high-ranking official was involved in monkey business with the Russians. Flynn was the unlucky victim of their smear machine, accused of “Russia collusion” over an innocent telephone call with the then-Russian Ambassador in Washington during the transition to a Trump Administration.

Yet when Joe Biden’s transition people bragged recently that Biden was connecting with foreign officials before inaugurated, the media praised it as a welcome return of the “experts” to foreign policy. While it is very good news that President Trump is in the mood to pardon those victims of the warmongering Deep State, I very much hope that he is only warming up. It would be a great tragedy if other Deep State victims are left to suffer for their non-crimes. Tweeting about her legislation that calls for charges against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange to be dropped and the Espionage Act reformed, US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard told President Trump, “since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state.”

My good friend Rep. Thomas Massie, a Ron Paul Institute Board Member, is a co-sponsor of Rep. Gabbard’s legislation, making it a real bipartisan effort to restore the rule of law in the United States and to rein in the Beltway warmongers. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are not criminals. They are heroes for telling us the truth about what criminals in government were doing in our name and with our money. The fact is we were lied into war over and over again. While those wars were profitable for the military-industrial-Congressional-media complex, they snuffed out the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people overseas and robbed our own children and grandchildren of trillions of dollars wasted on neocon lies.

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“We already know that Biden’s first national security briefing included two board members of the massive defense contractor Raytheon.”

We Can’t Vote ‘Em Out (Lee Camp)

It doesn’t matter when you read this, the assholes will still be in power. I know that because here in America we can’t vote out the assholes. We can trouble them, scare them, annoy them, and sometimes even pressure them into doing some small thing that’s mildly progressive. But we can’t vote out the assholes. Of course, right now, if you’re a Joe Biden supporter, you’re yelling out loud to your laptop or phone, “That’s not true! We just DID! We just did vote out the assholes!” And I’m not arguing that Donald Trump and his motley squad of parasitic shit stains aren’t awful. (They are “parashits,” if you will. Copyright pending.) I’m not arguing Trump’s goons aren’t awful. I’m just saying that if you even take a momentary peak at the people Biden is already putting in power for his transition and his future cabinet, they’re still more assholes.

He’s putting war hawks in charge of creating peace, fossil-fuel puppets in charge of fixing the environment, propaganda enthusiasts in charge of the media and cops in charge of fixing a brutal white supremacist police system. I’m pretty sure he’s getting ready to put Rudy Giuliani in charge of election integrity, and a dead skunk who formerly worked for Dow Chemical as the head of the EPA. We can’t vote out the assholes. We already know that Biden’s first national security briefing included two board members of the massive defense contractor Raytheon. Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes said in a CNBC interview a couple months ago that it would be “ridiculous” to think military spending will be cut under Biden. But it doesn’t stop there.

We now know Biden’s pick for defense secretary is Michele Flournoy and his selection for secretary of state is Tony Blinken. As The Grayzone has reported, these two have played central roles in all the wars waged by Democratic presidents all the way back to Bill Clinton. But to give Biden the benefit of the doubt, it makes sense that one would want a defense secretary with a standard American war criminal past because otherwise they wouldn’t know their way around the Pentagon. You don’t want to get a new guy (or gal) in there as head of our murder machine, and he’s bumbling around muttering, “What lever do I pull to blow up a village in Somalia? I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention during the introductory tour. I thought I launched a drone bomb in Libya this morning, and it turned out to be just the button for the coffee machine. But the cappuccino was great. I will say that.”

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Smells of what happened to Assange.

Establishment Journalists Are Piling On To Smear Robert Fisk (Cook)

Something remarkable even by the usually dismal standards of the stenographic media blue-tick brigade has been happening in the past few days. Leading journalists in the corporate media have suddenly felt the urgent need not only to criticise the late, much-respected foreign correspondent Robert Fisk, but to pile in against him, using the most outrageous smears imaginable. He is suddenly a fraud, a fabulist, a fantasist, a liar. What is most ironic is that the journalists doing this are some of the biggest frauds themselves, journalists who have made a career out of deceiving their readers. In fact, many of the crowd attacking Fisk when he can no longer defend himself are precisely the journalists who have the worst record of journalistic malpractice and on some of the biggest issues of our times.

At least I have the courage to criticise them while they are alive. They know dead men can’t sue. It is complete and utter cowardice to attack Fisk when they could have made their comments earlier, to his face. In fact, if they truly believed any of the things they are so keen to tell us now, they had an absolute duty to say them when Fisk was alive rather than allowing the public to be deceived by someone they regarded as a liar and fantasist. They didn’t make public these serious allegations – they didn’t air their concerns about the supposedly fabricated facts in Fisk’s stories – when he was alive because they know he would have made mincemeat of them.

Most preposterous of all is the fact that the actual trigger for this sudden, very belated outpouring of concern about Fisk is a hit-piece written by Oz Katerji. I’m not sure whether I can find the generosity to call Katerji a journalist. Like Elliot Higgins of the US government-funded Bellingcat, he’s more like an attack dog beloved by establishment blue-ticks: he is there to enforce accepted western imperial narratives, disguising his lock-step support for the establishment line as edgy, power-to-the-people radicalism.

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