Apr 072021
 


Jacobello Alberegno The Beast of the Apocalypse 1360-90

 

0.1% Of Covid-19 Cases In Ireland Come From Outdoor Transmission (IT)
Ron Paul Urges Americans To ‘Wake Up’ And Reject Vaccine Passports (RT)
Texas Becomes 2nd US State To Ban Vaccine Passports (RT)
Yup, Still Waiting for the Maskless Texan Apocalypse (NR)
California’s Failed Response To COVID (Bhattacharya/Kulldorff)
AstraZeneca Trial Involving Minors Halted As EMA Links Jab to Blood Clots (ZH)
Only Half Of Americans Intend To Vaccinate Their Children Against Covid (F.)
Travel Bubble Between New Zealand And Australia To Start On 19 April (G.)
Australia Calls On EU To Supply Outstanding Astrazeneca Vaccine Doses (G.)
Comedy Club Pulls Out Of Covid Safety Trial After Online ‘Hate Campaign’ (G.)
In Biden Change Of Tune, US Mulling Boycott Of 2022 Beijing Olympics (ZH)
Biden Admin Mulls Restarting Border Wall Construction (ZH)
The Greatest Game (Booth)

 

 

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.
– Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

Or maybe it’s even as high as twice that, 0.2%?!

Here in Greece, as in many other places, all outdoor sites, like restaurant and café terraces, remain closed, forcing people indoors, where the other 99.9% of infections occur.

And when people do go outside, they have to wear a mask. For an 0.1% risk.

0.1% Of Covid-19 Cases In Ireland Come From Outdoor Transmission (IT)

Earlier on Tuesday, a professor of immunovirology said figures showing 0.1 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the State come from outdoor transmission may be an underestimate. Prof Liam Fanning of University College Cork said he was surprised by the figures and felt there could be a “slight bias” in the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data on cases linked to outdoor transmission. Figures from the HPSC showed just one confirmed case of Covid-19 in every thousand is traced to outdoor transmission. Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1 per cent of the total, the data revealed. There were 42 outbreaks associated with outdoor gatherings, with one community outbreak accounting for seven cases.


Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast on Tuesday, Prof Fanning said there was an obvious difference in transmission rates of the virus between outdoor and indoor locations. He cautioned that meeting people outdoors still posed a risk, as the virus could be spread if someone infectious was “face-on chatting” to other individuals. People should try to avoid speaking directly face-to-face and instead attempt to speak to each other while side by side when outdoors, a common method used during the Spanish flu, he said. Prof Fanning said financial support to encourage more outdoor dining spaces should also be “much higher”, given the low transmission rates outdoors. At present, restaurants, cafes and bars are restricted to delivery or takeaway services only, with no outdoor dining permitted.

Read more …

Liberty. It’s an easy concept.

Ron Paul Urges Americans To ‘Wake Up’ And Reject Vaccine Passports (RT)

Ron Paul has warned that Covid-19 vaccine passports could be used by the US government to restrict freedoms, stirring up an already heated debate over whether such IDs are necessary. The former US congressman and physician said on Monday that requiring certificates to verify vaccination for international travel or daily activities would “solidify the whole idea that our lives belong to the government.” “They own liberty and now you are going to get permission to use a little bit of it. They are going to divvy it out a little bit. You’ll never get back what you should have,” he said while speaking on his program, the Ron Paul Liberty Report. The Biden administration has acknowledged that it is collaborating with tech companies to develop a variety of potential vaccine passport apps.

At the state level, New York has already created its own digital certificate that grants entry to venues. Paul warned that the initiative could be used to regulate nearly all aspects of life, including where you will be allowed to go and what kind of activities you will be permitted to participate in. He said he hoped Americans would “finally wake up” and oppose vaccine IDs. If people don’t “take a stand” now things are going to get “bad,” the former Texas lawmaker predicted. He called on his supporters to reach out to family and friends in order to start a grassroots movement against identification programs, adding that those who choose to do so should understand “what life and liberty is.”

The message resonated with many. Some commenters echoed Paul’s fears that the initiative could be used to usher in a dystopian nightmare. Others said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ pledge to ban the use of vaccine passports should be emulated nationwide and expressed hope that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule the IDs unconstitutional. One observer said they opposed storing personal health data in a digital device but saw nothing wrong with doctors issuing paper certificates showing vaccination status. There were plenty who disagreed with Paul, however. “The government is there to serve & protect us,” argued one Twitter user, adding that while passports could potentially lead to discrimination, the spread of Covid-19 poses a greater threat to our freedoms.

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Dormant rights?! Oxymoron.

“..bars and restaurants in Florida and Texas were thronged with people celebrating their long-dormant right to gather outside their homes..”

Texas Becomes 2nd US State To Ban Vaccine Passports (RT)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced a ban on so-called vaccine passports, becoming the second US governor to officially do so, just a few days after Florida’s Ron DeSantis. The issue has largely broken along political lines. Abbott made an announcement on Tuesday declaring that no Texas government agencies or political entities would be permitted to require “vaccine passports” in the state. “Don’t tread on our personal freedoms,” the governor warned, even as he made clear that he was not against the idea of vaccination in principle, but resented forced vaccination. “Every day Texans return to normalcy as more people get (and become immune to) the spread of Covid-19,” Abbott declared, adding that the jabs “help slow the spread of Covid, reduce hospitalizations and reduce fatalities.”

The Biden administration’s medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, seemed almost displeased with Texas’ refusal to slide down its predicted Covid-streaked death spiral, where “the restaurants and the bars are full and open, the ballparks are full, and yet we’ve seen cases and hospitalizations since then continue to tick downward,” as an MSNBC host put it. “It looks like 2019,” he said in shock, noting that bars and restaurants in Florida and Texas were thronged with people celebrating their long-dormant right to gather outside their homes. Attempting to explain why Texas and Florida’s case counts had dropped despite their having some of the least strict virus regulations, Fauci blamed a “lag,” arguing that the undesirable data everyone was waiting for was still coming – it was just a few weeks down the line.

“We’ve gotta make sure we don’t prematurely judge [the case numbers],” the doctor continued. At least 17 separate vaccine passes are in the works to track travelers’ medical data, the Biden administration told the media earlier this week, though the president has previously insisted that he has no plans for a nationwide vaccine passport. Abbott’s Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis, unveiled a similar ban on Friday, barring all state agencies and local businesses from issuing “vaccine passports” and banning state government agencies from doing business with private companies that require such passports.

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What Fauci doesn’t like.

Yup, Still Waiting for the Maskless Texan Apocalypse (NR)

The day before Texas’s statewide mask mandate ended, March 9, Texas had 5,119 new cases of COVID-19, and the seven-day average for new cases was 3,971. On that day, the state had 126,404 active cases of COVID-19. As of March 9, the seven-day average for new deaths was 104. Yesterday, Texas had 2,906 new cases, and the seven-day average for new cases is 2,815. As of yesterday, the state had 96,640 active cases of COVID-19. As of yesterday, the seven-day average for new deaths was 81. When Texas governor Greg Abbott announced the decision, I argued that he and other state officials were not crazy or exhibiting “Neanderthal thinking.” I noted that masks were not disappearing from public life in Texas.

Major grocery chains and Walmart and Target still required them, as did many public-school districts, some localities, and so on. Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso would require them in city-owned buildings. Since early March, I have noted that Texas COVID-19 statistics keep gradually getting better instead of worse, the opposite trend of what many mask advocates and all-purpose critics of Texas expected. Every time, folks on social media told me that it’s just too early to tell, and that the catastrophic consequences of the rescinding of the Texas statewide mask mandate are just around the corner. And yet, here we are, a month later, and all of the measuring sticks show significant improvement.

I am sure many people will declare that the huge crowd at yesterday’s Texas Rangers game is a potential “super-spreader” event. Before the event, President Biden called the stadium and state policies “not responsible.” And maybe yesterday’s large attendance will turn out to be a bad decision. But some other large gatherings, where people intermittently followed social-distancing guidelines if they followed them at all, did not turn into super-spreader events, like the crowds of thousands of people around the Super Bowl in Tampa. This pandemic is unpredictable, and the data rarely line up perfectly with people’s expectations or yearning for confirmation of their partisan preferences. By far the sharpest increase in cases occurring right now is in Michigan, where the masking and lockdown policies have been comparably strict.

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Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff.

California’s Failed Response To COVID (Bhattacharya/Kulldorff)

From the beginning, the Golden State has taken an aggressive stance toward the epidemic, including imposing the earliest shelter-in-place order in the nation; ceasing in-person schooling for the vast majority of public-school kids; shuttering churches, parks, and playgrounds; mandating masks, with hefty fines for violators; and forcing the closure of “non-essential” businesses that cannot operate using distancing technologies, such as videoconferencing. Even Disneyland has been closed since March 2020. In short, California has followed one of the strictest lockdowns in the country. Though the state’s response received high marks in July from the “covidian” high priesthood, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the state has seen exploding coronavirus cases and deaths.


Through March 28, 2021, 8.9 percent of all Californians have been identified as COVID cases – 3.6 million cases. Since most infections are not recognized as cases, a much larger fraction of the population has been infected with COVID. Through March 29 this year, nearly 57,800 people have died in California with COVID. To put these numbers in perspective, it helps to have a comparison state that has followed a very different policy. For that, we should consider Florida, which partially lifted its lockdown in May 2020 and then further relaxed restrictions in September (based in part on focused protection ideas advocated by us).

In sharp contrast to California, in Florida most schools and universities have been open for in-person instruction since the fall, normal human activities—sports, church going, visits to the park—occur with regularity, and businesses have been open for in-person activities. Local ordinances can recommend masks and social distancing and impose indoor-capacity limitations but cannot mandate closures, as is the case in California. Disneyworld has been open since July. At the same time, Florida increased testing and protection within its nursing homes to reduce the risk of COVID among its most vulnerable residents.


The Florida policy has drawn sharp criticism from Fauci, who said it “opened up too quickly” in July. However, the infection control results to date look remarkably similar to California’s, and in some ways better. Through March 28, 9.5 percent of Floridians have been identified as COVID cases. Once we account for the fact that Florida has one of the oldest populations in the country and California has one of the youngest, the death rates with COVID through March 28 are lower in Florida than in California. In fact, the COVID death rate for the under-65 population and the over-65 population are both lower in Florida than in California.

Read more …

How can anyone inject a child with a untested substance?

AstraZeneca Trial Involving Minors Halted As EMA Links Jab to Blood Clots (ZH)

Just days after Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Michael Kidd, acknowledged that there was likely a connection between rare blood clots and the COVID vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford, officials from the EMA, Europe’s top pharmaceutical regulator, have finally acknowledged the link, even if the agency’s official stance – that there’s no evidence of a link, but no evidence to rule it out – remains unchanged. The EMA declared at the conclusion of a hasty “safety review” last month that the benefits of the AstraZeneca jab (which is expected to to be the workhorse of the global vaccination rollout as Covax, the WHO/Gates Foundation program to vaccination developing countries, expects to heavily rely on the jab) far outweighed any risks, while saying it couldn’t definitively rule out the possibility that the blood clots and the vaccine might be connected.

But researchers from Norway, Germany and elsewhere insisted they had found evidence of a connection. And after the UK acknowledged more than 2 dozen new cases of the rare clots – 9 of them fatal – it seems the dam has finally broken. New findings from the EMA show that there is indeed a link between the “very rare” blood clots in the brain and the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the exact possible causes are still unknown, according to a senior EMA official, who made the comments in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Messagero. Here’s a Reuters summary of that report. “In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association (of the brain blood clots) with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” Marco Cavaleri, chair of the vaccine evaluation team at the EMA, told Italian daily Il Messagero.

Cavaleri provided no evidence to support his comment.[…] Cavaleri said the EMA would say in its review that there is a link but was not likely to give an indication this week regarding the age of individuals to whom the AstraZeneca shot should be given. In a separate interview, Armando Genazzani, a member of the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, told another Italian newspaper, La Stampa, that a connection between the jab and the clots was “plausible.” The EMA is officially investigating 44 cases of the brain blood clots, an ailment known as a cerebral venous thrombosis (or CVST). More than 9.2M people in the EU have received the vaccine in total.

In response to Cavaleri’s comments, the Amsterdam-based EMA said in a statement on Tuesday: “EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) has not yet reached a conclusion and the review (of any possible link) is currently ongoing.” While the EMA refused to confirm the comments made by individual officials, WSJ reported Tuesday that the University of Oxford had decided to pause trials of the vaccine in the UK that involved children between the ages of 12 and 15. An Oxford spokesman said Tuesday that while no safety issues have arisen in the trial, broader concerns about rare clotting problems in adults have triggered further regulatory reviews in the UK and Europe to investigate any potential link with the vaccine.

Read more …

“All states have the power to require vaccination among students attending school; many do for diseases like polio and measles.”

Yes, but those are tested and approved actual vaccines.

Only Half Of Americans Intend To Vaccinate Their Children Against Covid (F.)

Only half of Americans intend on getting their children immunized against Covid-19 as soon as vaccines become available, according to a new Axios/Ipsos survey published Tuesday, another potential barrier towards expanding vaccine access ahead of schools returning in fall. 48% of parents surveyed in April said they are not likely to have their children vaccinated against Covid-19 when the shots first become available. The figure contrasts with growing adult acceptance of the vaccines, which has grown from around 38% in September and October to nearly 70% today. Vaccine hesitancy remains a problem, however, and polls throughout 2021 show that one in five Americans consistently say they are unlikely to get vaccinated.

The Axios poll found Republicans (31%) and those with a high school education or less (28%) to be most resistant to vaccines. Vaccinating children is going to play a major role in ending the pandemic and getting life back to normal as schools return in fall. While children and young teens don’t often get seriously sick from Covid-19, they can and do: 227 children have died from Covid-19 in the U.S., according to the New York Times. They can also pass on the virus to others, notably adults who are likely to be much more vulnerable. A vaccine for this age group would help cut the risk of illness, limit transmission from children and better contain outbreaks. Now that adult vaccination drives are well under way, manufacturers are starting to trial shots in younger people.

After promising preliminary results from a clinical trial in late March, Pfizer said it plans to apply for an expanded emergency use authorization for young teens in Europe and the U.S. in coming weeks. Moderna also has several ongoing trials exploring its vaccine’s effectiveness in young children and adolescents. Experts are still debating whether the B.1.1.7. variant of the virus, first found in the U.K., is able to infect children more readily. Though few states have started to fully grapple with the idea of requiring vaccination for Covid-19 in children—Tennessee and Pennsylvania have said vaccination will remain optional—some school districts have signaled an intent to mandate it, setting the stage for wider conflict if and when vaccines are approved for use, especially if resistance remains high. All states have the power to require vaccination among students attending school; many do for diseases like polio and measles.

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Does New Zealand even have vaccines?

Travel Bubble Between New Zealand And Australia To Start On 19 April (G.)

After nearly a year shut off from the world, New Zealand is cracking open its borders, with a trans-Tasman travel bubble allowing two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia. The NZ prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced on Tuesday the bubble would open from 19 April, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two nations. Travellers from New Zealand have been able to enter selected Australian states without quarantining since October but the arrangements did not apply in the other direction. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, applauded Ardern’s announcement while airlines in both countries hurriedly advertised hundreds of weekly flights and routes. However, tourism operators warned the benefits would be muted in the short term, as the first passengers would likely be low-spending travellers visiting family.


At a press conference on Tuesday, Ardern said she was “confident not only in the state of Australia, but in our own ability to manage a travel arrangement”. More than 600,000 New Zealanders live in Australia, and many families straddle the border. “One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many,” Ardern said. “This is the next chapter.” Ardern said the arrangement – of two countries, both maintaining a full elimination strategy for Covid-19 opening up to international travel – was potentially unique in the world. The plan has been in the works for months now, but was paused repeatedly after outbreaks of Covid-19 on either side of the border.

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Australia has some vaccines, but not enough.

Australia Calls On EU To Supply Outstanding Astrazeneca Vaccine Doses (G.)

Scott Morrison denies his government has presented the public with overly rosy assessments about the state of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, as he steps up calls for the European Union to allow 3.1m outstanding AstraZeneca doses to be shipped to Australia. While declaring that vaccine supply issues were a matter of “straightforward maths”, the prime minister also attempted to calm a growing diplomatic dispute between Australia and the EU, insisting he had not made any criticism of Brussels over its handling of the matter. Earlier on Wednesday, the Morrison government issued a statement accusing the European Commission of “arguing semantics” by saying just one shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses had been formally blocked.

The government said the commission had signalled it would block other applications to export vaccine doses from the region. The government also complained that the European Commission has not responded to Australia’s request for 1m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be made available to Papua New Guinea, one of the countries hardest hit in the region. The latest statements follow comments by a European Commission spokesman on Tuesday that the only export request rejected out of nearly 500 received has been a shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia in March. Morrison told reporters on Wednesday the government was asking AstraZeneca to resubmit its application to the European Commission to export the remaining 3.1m of the 3.8m contracted vaccine doses to Australia.

He was seeking further talks with the commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to discuss the issue. The prime minister said he was “pleased to hear that the European Union overnight has indicated that they are not seeking to restrict these vaccines to Australia”. He said the government would therefore encourage Brussels to allow the rest of the 3.8m does to come to Australia, including 1m “to provide support to our Pacific family in Papua New Guinea that are undergoing a humanitarian crisis”. He also wanted the remaining doses to “be part of the vaccination rollout here in this country”.

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Of course there’s resistance.

Comedy Club Pulls Out Of Covid Safety Trial After Online ‘Hate Campaign’ (G.)

A comedy club has pulled out of a trial to test how venues can operate safely after it said the government failed to clarify whether it would involve Covid-19 vaccine passports. The Hot Water comedy club in Liverpool said it was subjected to a “hate campaign” online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial Covid-status certification. Club co-owner Binty Blair said he had tried to contact DCMS to clarify whether vaccine passports would be trialed in the pilot event, but to no avail. The club has subsequently cancelled its event, which was due to be the first in the pilot. It had been due to take place on 16 April with an audience of 300 at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena Auditorium. “The reason for us backing out is the government wasn’t clear about the Covid passports,” Blair told the PA news agency.


“The problem is we don’t know what we signed up for.” On Tuesday evening, the government confirmed there will be no requirement for participants in the initial pilot events to have received a vaccination in venues like a comedy club. DCMS announced over the weekend that a series of pilot events were planned for the coming months as officials look to find a way for venues such as football grounds and nightclubs to reopen without the need for social distancing. It said Covid-status certification would be trialled as part of the programme, while detailing a number of events on an initial list of pilots, including Hot Water comedy club. Blair said he had agreed to take part in the pilot in March but only learned of the government’s plans to trial Covid-19 vaccine passports two days ago. He said four acts had lost £300 each as a result of the cancelled event.

Read more …

Brought to you by the same people stoking unrest in Ukraine.

In Biden Change Of Tune, US Mulling Boycott Of 2022 Beijing Olympics (ZH)

As if US-China relations weren’t bad enough at this moment, things are about to escalate further – potentially taking the Biden White House past even beyond the low-point of the trade war during the Trump presidency. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a daily briefing on Tuesday that the US and its allies are discussing a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. = It’s not the first time the issue has been addressed, and previously it was mainly Republicans pressuring action regarding the Olympics and China’s egregious human rights record. In early February the White House had indicated it “had no plans” for a boycott, with Jen Psaki asserting at the time, “We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics.”

But “plans” have clearly changed, especially following the March 22 coordinated sanctions slapped on top Beijing officials over the Uighur crackdown by the US, UK, EU and Canada. The Canadians in particular have been the most vocal in parliament for urging an international boycott of the 2022 games, which has riled China. Here’s what the State Department’s Ned Price said in the Tuesday afternoon comments: “It [a joint boycott] is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” …he told reporters when asked about the Biden administration’s plans ahead of the international games. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners,” he added.

Price said that the United States has not yet made a decision but was concerned about China’s egregious human rights abuses. The Olympic Games are due to take place between Feb. 4 to Feb. 20. When pressed over a possible timeline of when such a decision would be reached, Price added: “We’re talking about 2022, and we are still in April of 2021, so these Games remain some time away.” “I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it, but these discussions are underway.”

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It’s almost too funny.

Biden Admin Mulls Restarting Border Wall Construction (ZH)

Less than 90 days after President Biden signaled his immense virtue by halting construction on Trump’s border wall and canceling future contracts, Biden’s beleaguered Department of Homeland Security is exploring whether to restart border wall construction in order to ‘plug gaps’ in the current barrier, according the Washington Examiner, citing DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. This of course would make Biden a xenophobic tyrant, if we’re playing by the Trump-era media guidebook. “In a conversation with Immigration and Customs Enformcement employees last week Mr. Mayorkas was asked about his plans for the wall and he said that while President Biden has canceled the border emergency and halted Pentagon money flowing to the wall, “that leaves room to make decisions” on finishing some “gaps in the wall.”

“Mr. Mayorkas, according to notes of the ICE session reviewed by The Washington Times, said Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the wall, has submitted a plan for what it wants to see happen moving forward.” -Washington Examiner. “It’s not a single answer to a single question. There are different projects that the chief of the Border Patrol has presented and the acting commissioner of CBP presented to me,” said Mayorkas, adding “The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended. But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

According to Mayorkas, the work would cover “gaps,” “gates,” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.” Former President Trump’s acting commissioner of CBP, Mark Morgan, said Mayorkas’ comments were “more spin and misdirection,” and that the agency has always given the administration options on how to proceed with the wall. When Trump left office, around 460 miles of border wall was completed – most of which being improvements in areas with existing wall and/or outdated designs, or vehicle checkpoints that people could simply walk around.

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“..by preventing failure in economies in the short term, Creative Destruction has only moved — now to the level of our international economic system..”

The Greatest Game (Booth)

Breakthroughs, that step-change our lives for the better, invariably come from something that most people couldn’t see. Our belief of how the world should exist and operate is shaped from looking backwards, not forward, so it makes sense that new paradigms that change everything — face resistance in our minds. Because most people don’t see them, breaking through an existing paradigm needs to provide enough compelling value for users to disrupt an old paradigm. Apple’s iPhone for instance, didn’t copy the market leader, Research in Motion’s Blackberry design of needing a keyboard or selling to businesses who required RIM’s security. It created a digital interface when that wasn’t ‘needed’ and created an entirely new platform that changed the industry as a result.


Along the way, the Blackberry died, unable to compete with the value for users, that was now increasing exponentially on Apple’s platform. That process describes “Creative Destruction” a paradoxical term first coined by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 to describe how Capitalism works in a “free market.” Entrepreneurs innovate and “create” value for society — and that value gained by society also often “destroys” the former monopoly power. That process and its importance is at the centre of how all modern economies have evolved and given rise to most of the benefits to society we take for granted today. New winners become so valuable that they disrupt existing market power or structures. It is all driven from a near-constant flow of innovative entrepreneurs with bold ideas and the capital backing them that go up against the status quo and are only successful, “if’’ they create value for society.

For the process to work, failure is critical! Both for entrepreneurs and the capital in them whose business doesn’t work, and for legacy businesses that get disrupted by them if their innovation brings better value to society. And while failure is hard, preventing failure is much worse. Why? Because by preventing failure, market incentives become warped, and in doing so, eventually put a small number of people (government/central banks) in charge of choosing who gets what, instead of the free market. Unfortunately, preventing failure has been the policy makers tool for the last 20 years and it has enormous consequences.


By socializing losses and preventing failure in our economies, central banks and governments have all but ensured that the existing monetary system of the world collapses — and is replaced by something new. In other words, by preventing failure in economies in the short term, Creative Destruction has only moved — now to the level of our international economic system. I believe with what is to come, Bitcoin has a higher than average probability of overcoming all barriers and becoming a global reserve currency. More importantly, I believe it gives humanity its best chance for a peaceful transition to the future. A world where the abundance gained from our technological progress is more widely distributed. It is not hyperbole to say that almost everything changes as a result of this innovation.

Read more …

 

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Ricky Gervais

 

 

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Apr 042021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe New York night 1929

 

We Cannot Afford to Censor Dissenting Voices During a Pandemic (Kulldorff)
Boris Johnson Ditches Plans For Covid Vaccine Passport For Pubs (Sun)
Policymakers Use Panic To Shift Blame For Covid-19 Onto Us, The People (RT)
Do We Now Need Permission To Be Free? (Black)
The Texas Neanderthals Were Right (Spiked)
Rapid Test Result To Be Confirmed With PCR Amid Hunt For New Variants (Ind.)
Persistence Of Covid-19 Antibodies Varies Widely From Person To Person (F.)
JPMorgan Reveals ‘Big’ Bitcoin Price Prediction (F.)
The Crazy Claims Against Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (NYP)
‘Your Life Is Not About Yourself’: Jimmy Lai (HKAD)
Giant Pieces Of Ancient Alien Planet May Be Lodged Under Earth’s Surface (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Epic. This same pastor, Artur Pawlowski in Calgary, was fined $1,200 a year ago for feeding the homeless.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1378506465158303747

 

 

“If the Prime Minister needs the comfort of company with other politicians, get in touch with Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida.”

We Cannot Afford to Censor Dissenting Voices During a Pandemic (Kulldorff)

The media has been very reluctant to report reliable scientific and public health information about the pandemic. Instead they have broadcast unverified information such as the model predictions from Imperial College, they have spread unwarranted fear that undermine people’s trust in public health and they have promoted naïve and inefficient counter measures such as lockdowns, masks and contact tracing. While I wished that neither SAGE nor anyone else would argue against long-standing principles of public health, the media should not censor such information. During a pandemic, it is more important than ever that media can report freely. There are two major reasons for this: (i) While similar to existing coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus that we are constantly learning more about and because of that, it takes time to reach scientific conclusions.

With censorship it takes longer and we cannot afford that during a pandemic. (ii) In order to maintain trust in public health, it is important that any thoughts and ideas about the pandemic can be voiced, debated and either confirmed or debunked. [..] I hope that the UK Government will quickly reverse course to avoid further unnecessary damage from both COVID-19 and the lockdowns. Why the UK Government and SAGE are not looking at public health more broadly is incomprehensible to me. Chris and Patrick got it right in early March 2020, when they argued for focused protection of high-risk older people without a destructive lockdown for children and young adults. Chris, Patrick, take advice from yourself from a little over a year ago.

You can complement that with the extensive knowledge of epidemiology professors such as Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan at Oxford University, Ellen Townsend at the University of Nottingham, Francoix Balloux at University College London and Paul McKeigue at University of Edinburgh. It should now be obvious to everyone that lockdowns, masks and contract tracing failed to protect older high-risk people, as it could not suppress and contain COVID-19, with far too many deaths as a result. Lockdowns are just a dragged out let-it-rip strategy. That was clear to most infectious disease epidemiologists already a year ago. The fatal logical flaw of the lockdowners has been that we must lock down because COVID-19 is dangerous. The opposite is true. Because it is a very dangerous disease among the old, they should have been properly protected through focused protection.

Instead of continuing to take advice from those who were wrong then, Boris should listen to those who were right. In the UK, you have the world’s preeminent infectious disease epidemiologist in professor Sunetra Gupta. She can help implement a focused protection strategy of older high-risk individuals through vaccination and other means, while removing the lockdowns. If the Prime Minister needs the comfort of company with other politicians, get in touch with Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida.

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Logic is overrated.

Boris Johnson Ditches Plans For Covid Vaccine Passport For Pubs (Sun)

Boris Johnson has ditched plans to force customers to show a vaccine passport every time they go into a pub. In a major boost for the hospitality trade, the PM will exempt bars and restaurants from new Covid safety rules. Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity. Landlords, who can reopen outdoors-only a week tomorrow in England, will soon be free to admit anyone who follows existing guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing. Boris’s change of heart came after an angry backlash from 72 MPs who branded the idea “divisive and discriminatory”. But he will tomorrow announce his determination to press ahead with a “vaccine certification” system for larger venues from next month.

NHS chiefs are developing a new app members of the public will have to show to gain access to sports stadiums, theatres, festivals and nightclubs. Those without a smartphone will get a paper certificate. The system will be trialled at nine pilot events over the next few weeks, where experts will also explore how high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry are working. Mr Johnson will study the feedback to help decide how to manage other large-scale gatherings as restrictions are lifted. The PM said: “We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”


Liverpool will be a key test centre for the opening up of the rest of the country — with four pilot events being held at a comedy club, a cinema, a nightclub and a business conference arena from next week. And some fans will be allowed at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final on April 25, the FA Cup final on May 15 and a semi-final on April 18. The World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and a mass participation run at Hatfield, Herts, are also involved.

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Ashley Frawley, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University and the author of Semiotics of Happiness: Rhetorical Beginnings of a Public Problem.

Policymakers Use Panic To Shift Blame For Covid-19 Onto Us, The People (RT)

The message is clear: Regardless of who you are, you are at risk. Stay home, clap for the NHS. Or this could be you. This expansion of risk is a common tactic in public health messaging. While risks tend to be patterned, officials find it politically useful to play down patterns and ‘democratise risks’: Take a risk specific to some people and generalise it to everyone so everyone feels equally afraid. This avoids accusations of discrimination against any one group, and officials can never be accused of playing down risks. But it also encourages us to see the world as much riskier and scarier than it is. Is it any wonder that levels of health anxiety have steadily increased, particularly among young people who in many ways have least to fear?

But for policymakers, anxiety is useful. Ideally, citizens imagine any risk, no matter how small, as quite likely to happen and act accordingly. Indeed, a level of crippling anxiety that means you cannot leave the house is the goal. But as we have seen with overblown risks regarding, for example, child abduction, this level of fear cannot simply be switched off. The profound effects on society long outlive the initial panic – which is why children’s unsupervised play has dwindled. Yet as audiences, we knew that in the balance of probabilities, the cropped-headed patient on the gurney would not be us. For all the attempts by government officials to claim that ‘the virus does not discriminate’, it was difficult to deny that, in terms of deaths, it clearly did.

But behavioural scientists viewed people’s level-headed appraisals of risks as another problem to be overcome. In a report by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (with the fittingly dystopian acronym ‘SPI-B’), the authors bemoaned the fact that people were comforted by low death rates in their own age groups. “A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened,” they lamented. In response, they advised governments to ramp up fears. To accomplish this, a different approach was needed. In a series of posters released weeks later, a yellow and red filtered NHS worker in full PPE looks at audiences with a slightly cocked head and serious eyes. Her surgical mask looks more like a gas mask than a protective covering. This grainy, dystopian aesthetic was beamed out on social media with the message:

‘IF YOU GO OUT, YOU CAN SPREAD IT. PEOPLE WILL DIE.’ It is this emphasis on threats to others that became the dominant tactic of the campaign. You are at risk. But more importantly, you are A risk. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in the ‘look into my eyes’ campaign, where extreme close ups of coronavirus patients in oxygen masks accompanied by messages like, ‘Look him in the eyes. And tell him you always keep a safe distance.’ If things have gone wrong, it is not because of government failures to, for example, protect care homes or stop the virus leaking out of hospitals. No, it must be you.

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“You might be wondering why the government has been using the Public Health Act, rather than including a general lockdown clause in the Coronavirus Act, or even using the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which was designed precisely for an emergency such as Covid-19. The reason is simple: to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.”

Do We Now Need Permission To Be Free? (Black)

As Britain was heading into lockdown on 23 March 2020, UK health secretary Matt Hancock was busy introducing the accompanying legislation in parliament. ‘To defeat [Covid-19]’, he said, ‘we are proposing extraordinary measures of a kind never seen before in peacetime’. He was underselling them. In their repressiveness, their illiberalism and often their sheer arbitrariness, the ‘extraordinary measures’ the government was then about to impose on British society had never been seen before in wartime, either. They exceeded powers granted by the Defence of the Realm Act 1914. And they went beyond those of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939. These were draconian pieces of legislation, placing people and property at the service of the state. But they certainly didn’t authorise the de facto imprisonment of every single citizen in his or her home.

Because that is what Hancock’s ‘extraordinary measures’ amounted to: the quarantining of everybody, regardless of health. As Lord Justice Hickinbottom described it, the government’s response to Covid represented ‘possibly the most restrictive regime on the public life of persons and businesses ever’. Take the Coronavirus Act itself. This hulking 348-page document, rushed through parliament in just four days, was focused mainly on marshalling the nation’s medical resources and authorising the massive public expenditure that was to come. But it still found room to stamp all over civil liberties. It granted the state unprecedented powers of detention, allowing police, public-health officials and immigration officers to detain for up to 14 days those whom they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect of being ‘potentially infectious’.

Which gave them the power to detain, well, anyone. The act also invested the government with the powers to close premises, cancel events, prohibit gatherings and ban protests. That act is now halfway through its two-year lifespan, but, troublingly, it can be extended if the government decides ‘it is prudent to do so’. Not that it seems to need the Coronavirus Act to deprive us of our most basic freedoms. No, for this the government has principally used the Public Health Act 1984 (as amended in 2008). This authorises it to create a regulatory regime ‘for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public-health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination’.

Indeed, it was on the basis of the Public Health Act that the government first created the regulations that, in steadily expanding form, have dominated and restricted our lives for a year, from closing all businesses to confining people to their homes unless they had a ‘reasonable excuse’. You might be wondering why the government has been using the Public Health Act, rather than including a general lockdown clause in the Coronavirus Act, or even using the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which was designed precisely for an emergency such as Covid-19. The reason is simple: to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. General lockdown measures in the Coronavirus Act would have rightly demanded a lot more interrogation. And, under the conditions of the Civil Contingencies Act, regulations have to be put before parliament in draft form before they are issued. And even if approved, they will lapse within 30 days.

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Yes, but stop the “vaccine” propaganda.

The Texas Neanderthals Were Right (Spiked)

In early March, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced he was ending the state’s mandate for people to wear masks, and reopening businesses at full capacity. Media outlets went into overdrive to denounce him and predict catastrophe. CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza called Abbott’s decision ‘head-scratching, anti-science’. ‘Model projections for Texas show worst-case scenario without mask mandate’, warned an ABC TV station in Houston. Abbott’s move was part of a ‘bold plan to kill another 500,000 Americans’, screamed Vanity Fair. Politicians also rushed to criticise Abbott. Former representative and failed presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called his decision a ‘death warrant for Texans’. California governor Gavin Newsom said Texas was ‘absolutely reckless’ for lifting its Covid rules.

No less than President Joe Biden felt obliged to speak out and condemn Abbott. ‘The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine – take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.’ Well, it appears the Neanderthals in Texas got it right, and Biden is the one whose thinking is caveman-like. Now, three weeks after Abbott’s order to lift the mask mandate went into effect, the Covid situation has improved in Texas. New cases are down, to their lowest level since June. Hospitalisations have fallen to their lowest level since autumn. Death rates have plummeted. Furthermore, the outlook for vaccinations in the state appears bright, with a record daily number of people receiving shots. Adults of all ages are now eligible for a vaccine jab, a faster pace than many other states.

Have Biden and the media apologised for slandering Texas? And have they learned that lifting mandates on mask-wearing and removing other restrictions does not lead to Covid-spreading? Of course not. Instead, Biden cited an uptick in new cases nationally to bang on again about masks. ‘I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate’, he said earlier this week. ‘Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down.’ Biden’s plea came on the same day that CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned of ‘impending doom’. Holding back tears, she said: ‘Right now, I am scared.’

Overwrought emotionalism from the head of the CDC is not helpful, to put it mildly. Nor is a president insisting on state-mandated mask-wearing. Biden’s message implied that the latest increase in cases was down to states like Texas that have loosened restrictions on activity, but that is not true. In fact, the national increase was driven mainly by New York, New Jersey and Michigan – states that have imposed the most onerous of restrictions. As it happens, there is no need for alarm in the US. Yes, new cases are up in some states, but far below the January peak. The levels are much too low to talk about a ‘fourth wave’.

With the rollout of vaccines in progress, it is important for any discussion of Covid’s spread to break down findings by age group. And here we find encouraging developments. Nearly three-quarters of those aged 65 and older have been vaccinated, a group that has accounted for about 80 per cent of all Covid-related deaths. Accordingly, hospitalisations and deaths among seniors have been reduced dramatically. The latest increase in new cases is concentrated among younger people. This spread from older to younger was seen in Israel as vaccines were implemented there, but proved to be a temporary phenomenon. Also, we know that younger people are much less likely to be hospitalised or die from Covid. That’s why it is unlikely the latest increase in cases will lead to a corresponding increase in deaths.

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Self testing is all the rage suddenly.

Rapid Test Result To Be Confirmed With PCR Amid Hunt For New Variants (Ind.)

The government is to use standard PCR testing to confirm positive Covid-19 results returned via rapid, on-the-spot tests which are now being used by millions of people every day across the UK. This comes as part of efforts to quickly detect new and emerging “variants of concern”, some of which are partially capable of evading immunity triggered by infection or vaccination. For those people who test positive via a lateral flow device (LFD), which is capable of returning a result in 30 minutes, the result will then be cross-checked using a PCR test. These are more accurate than the LFDs and also make use of new technology, known as genotype assay testing, which could halve the time it takes to identify if a positive Covid test is caused by a variant of concern.

This will allow positive cases to be traced sooner and stop the spread of variants on UK soil, the government has said. Genotype assay testing is compatible only with PCR tests and not LFDs, meaning the latter is unable to detect or trace the spread of variants. The UK has bought millions of LFD tests as part of plans to reopen society. Teachers, schoolchildren and their families without any symptoms are being asked to test themselves using the kits twice a week. Contact tracing will continue to be implemented in the eventuality of a positive LFD result, but will be stopped automatically after receipt of a negative confirmatory PCR test.

NHS Test and Trace has introduced new features that will automatically inform anyone self-isolating from a positive LFD, along with their contacts, to stop isolating if the confirmatory PCR is taken within two days and is negative. Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, said the new policy was “very welcome”. “This will ensure that the risk that individuals are unnecessarily isolated through false positives is reduced,” he told The Independent. “It is only a shame that it has taken so many weeks for concerns raised by the Royal Statistical Society and others to be addressed, with many children unnecessarily missing school as a result.”

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Curious pattern.

Persistence Of Covid-19 Antibodies Varies Widely From Person To Person (F.)

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of Covid-19 is why the neutralizing antibodies our bodies generate in response to the virus tend to dwindle in number so quickly. A small minority of studies, including one completed in Iceland last summer, have observed lengthier periods of persistence in their participants, but the vast majority—spanning a wide breadth of people and places, from specialized Covid-19 hospitals in China to healthcare workers in Tennessee—concluded that anti-Covid-19 antibodies were fast to fade, so much so that some patients didn’t even appear to develop any, at least not at levels that could be detected by researchers. Another way of interpreting this array of data, however, is that antibody persistence varies from person to person—meaning people with longer-lasting antibodies wouldn’t be outliers, but just one clause of a general rule.

This is the argument made by a new study published in The Lancet last week, which sorted participants into five different categories based on the titer and duration of their neutralizing antibody response. While distribution between them was by no means equal, it ranged enough to beg the question of whether current conceptions of immunity from Covid-19, which influence everything from nationwide vaccine strategies to our individual choices and behaviors, require revision. The subjects of the study were 164 Covid-19 patients living in Singapore. Researchers collected data on these patients using both neutralizing and binding assays over a period of 180 days, then plugged that data into an algorithmic model to predict how long their antibodies would last in the years and even decades following initial infection.

Based on the longevity of their antibody responses, patients were sorted into one of five groups: the negative group, or patients whose antibodies never reached detectable levels; the rapid waning group, or patients whose antibody levels were detectable within 20 days of infection, but dropped in less than 180 days; the slow waning group, or patients who still tested antibody-positive 180 days after infection; the persistent group, or patients whose antibody levels, over many months, showed little to no signs of decay; and the delayed response group, or patients who, against all odds, had a late surge in antibody levels later in their recovery as opposed to after infection.

Earlier immunological research on Covid-19 placed most patients in one of the first two categories—negative or rapid waning. But this study found that the spread between the rapid waning, slow waning, and persistent groups was as close to even as it gets, with about 29.8 percent of participants falling in the rapid waning group, 29 percent in the slow waning group, and 31.7 percent in the persistent group. Just below 12 percent landed in the negative group, with a small sliver—just 1.8 percent—rounding out the curve in the delayed response group.


Table 1. A table based on data from the persistent antibody study. “DYNAMICS OF SARS-COV-2 NEUTRALISING ANTIBODY RESPONSES AND DURATION OF IMMUNITY: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY” HTTPS://WWW.THELANCET.COM/JOURNALS/LANMIC/ARTICLE/PIIS2666-5247(21)00025-2/FULLTEXT

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Any self-interest?

JPMorgan Reveals ‘Big’ Bitcoin Price Prediction (F.)

Bitcoin has won its fair share of Wall Street supporters this year amid a bull run that’s seen it soar around 500%. The bitcoin price hit highs of just over $60,000 per bitcoin last month before falling back slightly but has since made up lost ground. Meanwhile, the broader cryptocurrency market has surged to almost $2 trillion—boosted by decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens. Now, analysts at Wall Street banking giant and former bitcoin skeptic JPMorgan have said bitcoin could climb as high as $130,000 in the long-term if it continues to see its volatility converge with that of gold’s. “Considering how big the financial investment into gold is, any such crowding out of gold as an ‘alternative’ currency implies big upside for bitcoin over the long term,” JPMorgan analysts led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note to clients this week.


The bank found that a six-month measure of bitcoin volatility appeared to be stabilizing around the 73% mark—suggesting “tentative signs of bitcoin volatility normalization” that could help to “reinvigorate” interest from institutional investors. High volatility “acts as a headwind towards further institutional adoption,” according to JPMorgan. The bitcoin price has soared as institutional investors including London-based asset manager Ruffer and insurance giant MassMutual have bought into bitcoin—with Elon Musk’s Tesla topping off a series of high-profile bitcoin bets. The bitcoin price has climbed from around $10,000 per bitcoin to around $60,000 as a result, but JPMorgan thinks it could still have some way to run. “Mechanically, the bitcoin price would have to rise [to] $130,000, to match the total private sector investment in gold,” JPMorgan analysts wrote.

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Quite the story. Stay tuned.

The Crazy Claims Against Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (NYP)

An alleged orgy with prostitutes. Accusations of sex with an underage girl. A trophy photo of a woman wearing only a hula hoop. And a convoluted extortion plot involving a likely dead American hostage in Iran. Even by Florida standards, the Matt Gaetz saga is downright bizarre – and getting weirder by the day. Before this week, the young Sunshine State congressman and ally of former President Donald Trump was best known, like his mentor, for his ambitious conservatism and promontory coiffure. But this week, the Republican has faced a daily flurry of scandalous ≠headlines. Most seriously, he is being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl, and for paying for her to travel with him across state lines, potentially violating federal sex-trafficking laws.

Gaetz denies the allegations – but not the fact of the investigation. Then, on Thursday, CNN alleged that he had shown fellow lawmakers nude photos of women he said he’d slept with, including one photographed wearing a hula hoop, and nothing else. There have also been claims by two of Gaetz’s enemies that the FBI has photos of him in a “sexual orgy with underage prostitutes.” It’s all enough to make his penchant for posing on Instagram without pants, as he did in a July posting he captioned, “Covid work!” seem tame by comparison. This is how the latest Gaetz drama has played out so far: News of the sex-trafficking investigation, launched in the final months of the last administration, broke Tuesday in The New York Times.

The Pensacola bachelor, 38 — whose engagement to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey, 26, was announced on Twitter by Fox’s Jeanine Pirro in December — immediately denied he had sex with a minor or transported one across state lines. “In the strongest possible terms. I deny that I have ever been with someone underage,” he told The Post on Tuesday. “That is false,” he insisted. [..] Then there’s the Iranian hostage angle. McGee and ex-Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent didn’t want the money for themselves, necessarily, Gaetz is alleging. They wanted to use the money to free Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007, and declared dead by his family last year. McGee, meanwhile, has denied Gaetz’s hostage-extortion plot allegations, calling them “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” as he told The Washington Post. And McGee is fighting Gaetz with banner-headline dirt of his own.

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Jimmy Lai was just convicted, with 6 others, for organizing a protest. He faces years in prison.

‘Your Life Is Not About Yourself’: Jimmy Lai (HKAD)

Lai was born in 1948 in Guangzhou to a family of wealthy landowners, who saw their properties confiscated by the Chinese Communist Party. His father fled to Hong Kong amid political persecution, while his mother was taken to labor camps. As a child, Lai scavenged and sold illegal cigarettes to feed his sisters. When the country was hit by famine in the late 1950s, he escaped to Hong Kong as a stowaway at the age of 12 with only a dollar in his pocket. On the second day of his arrival, he got a job at a glove factory on Fuk Wing Street, beginning his career in manufacturing and working his way up from an apprentice to a manager. In 1975, the 26-year-old set out as an entrepreneur and established his own textile factory along with two partners.

Six years later, he began his foray in the retail industry and founded the Hong Kong clothing brand, Giordano, which rapidly expanded into a chain after a drastic reform. Lai could have retired in his 40s, but the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 set his life on a different trajectory. You must live remembering the shame of June Fourth. Even as the country celebrates its prosperity, you must hold on to this torch in a dark corner, Lai wrote to his children on the 20th anniversary of the event. A year after the bloody crackdown in Beijing, Lai founded Next Magazine in Hong Kong and withdrew his business from China. Because of his belief that a free flow of information would push China towards democracy, Lai started Apple Daily, a newspaper that stands firm on the universal values of democracy and freedom.

The paper remains fiercely critical of the authorities, even as other media outlets in Hong Kong are gradually undermined and bought up by Chinese corporations. Advertising revenues plummeted amid the political pressure and the newsroom was raided by nearly 200 police officers in August 2020, a month after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on Hong Kong. I will stay and fight till the last day, Lai pledged, even as he was taken away in handcuffs. “If we give up on the fight for freedom and justice, we also surrender our dignity as humans,” he wrote on the 20th anniversary of Apple Daily in 2015. “Your life is not about yourself.” And six years on, the rebel tycoon still holds fast to his belief and remains defiant against oppression, even at the price of his own freedom.

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Theia.

Giant Pieces Of Ancient Alien Planet May Be Lodged Under Earth’s Surface (JTN)

Scientists seeking to explain a series of seemingly inexplicable formations deep within the Earth’s surface may have found an explanation: They came from outer space. Researchers with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration said in a recently published paper that the “continent-sized Large Low Shear Velocity provinces” identified in Earth’s mantle—essentially giant formations of rock the origins of which scientists have struggled for decades to explain—may have been formed by Theia, the proto-planet thought to have slammed into the ancient Earth billions of years ago.


The collision between Earth and Theia is hypothesized to have ejected a significant portion of Earth into outer space; those fragments would have eventually coalesced under Earth’s gravity to form the Moon. In the paper, the Arizona State researchers argue that “the left-over Theia mantle materials may [have sunk] to the bottom of Earth’s mantle and cause[d] the LLSVPs.” Theia’s geological mantle, they argue, may have been “several percent intrinsically denser than Earth’s mantle,” leading it to sink down through the Earth and form the mysterious provinces. The Theia impact theory is widely regarded as the prevailing explanation for the Moon’s origin.

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 April 2, 2021  Posted by at 8:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  90 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris 1945

 

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)
CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)
Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)
Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)
Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)
Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)
Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)
GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)
Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)
We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)
Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)
The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)
Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)
New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

 

 

Reopening
https://twitter.com/i/status/1377756996083011592

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Deaths in Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), since its start in 1990. 2021 is off the charts.”

 

 

Ron Paul is a Doctor of Medicine. Will he be censored too?

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)

Even the establishment experts seem to be in total disagreement with each other – and often with themselves – over the experimental Covid “vaccine.” Does it prevent the illness? Lessen the illness? Provide lasting immunity? Temporary immunity? Is it safe for all? So many questions, but so few reliable answers.

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Pfizer’s sales team.

CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)

A new CDC study provides strong evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers. These groups are more likely than the general population to be exposed to the virus because of their occupations. The study looked at the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections among 3,950 study participants in six states over a 13-week period from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021. Results showed that following the second dose of vaccine (the recommended number of doses), risk of infection was reduced by 90 percent two or more weeks after vaccination.

Following a single dose of either vaccine, the participants’ risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 was reduced by 80 percent two or more weeks after vaccination. It takes about two weeks following each dose of vaccine for the body to produce antibodies that protect against infection. As a result, people are considered “partially vaccinated” two weeks after their first dose of mRNA vaccine and “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second dose. These new vaccine effectiveness findings are consistent with those from Phase 3 clinical trials conducted with the vaccines before they received Emergency Use Authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration. Those clinical trials evaluated vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 disease, while this study evaluated vaccine effectiveness against infection, including infections that did not result in symptoms.

“This study shows that our national vaccination efforts are working. The authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provided early, substantial real-world protection against infection for our nation’s health care personnel, first responders, and other frontline essential workers,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “These findings should offer hope to the millions of Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines each day and to those who will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in the weeks ahead. The authorized vaccines are the key tool that will help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”

Read more …

PCR history.

From New York Times Jan. 22, 2007

Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)

Dr. Brooke Herndon, an internist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, could not stop coughing. For two weeks starting in mid-April last year, she coughed, seemingly nonstop, followed by another week when she coughed sporadically, annoying, she said, everyone who worked with her.Before long, Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth, had a chilling thought: Could she be seeing the start of a whooping cough epidemic? By late April, other health care workers at the hospital were coughing, and severe, intractable coughing is a whooping cough hallmark. And if it was whooping cough, the epidemic had to be contained immediately because the disease could be deadly to babies in the hospital and could lead to pneumonia in the frail and vulnerable adult patients there. It was the start of a bizarre episode at the medical center: the story of the epidemic that wasn’t.

[..] For months, nearly everyone involved thought the medical center had had a huge whooping cough outbreak, with extensive ramifications. Nearly 1,000 health care workers at the hospital in Lebanon, N.H., were given a preliminary test and furloughed from work until their results were in; 142 people, including Dr. Herndon, were told they appeared to have the disease; and thousands were given antibiotics and a vaccine for protection. Hospital beds were taken out of commission, including some in intensive care. Then, about eight months later, health care workers were dumbfounded to receive an e-mail message from the hospital administration informing them that the whole thing was a false alarm. Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory. Instead, it appears the health care workers probably were afflicted with ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.

[..] “You’re in a little bit of no man’s land,” with the new molecular tests, said Dr. Mark Perkins, an infectious disease specialist and chief scientific officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a nonprofit foundation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “All bets are off on exact performance.” Of course, that leads to the question of why rely on them at all. “At face value, obviously they shouldn’t be doing it,” Dr. Perl said. But, she said, often when answers are needed and an organism like the pertussis bacterium is finicky and hard to grow in a laboratory, “you don’t have great options.” Waiting to see if the bacteria grow can take weeks, but the quick molecular test can be wrong. “It’s almost like you’re trying to pick the least of two evils,” Dr. Perl said.

At Dartmouth the decision was to use a test, P.C.R., for polymerase chain reaction. It is a molecular test that, until recently, was confined to molecular biology laboratories. “That’s kind of what’s happening,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, an infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. “That’s the reality out there. We are trying to figure out how to use methods that have been the purview of bench scientists. The Dartmouth whooping cough story shows what can ensue.

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From September 2020.

Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)

Elaborating on the effective methods being followed for treating COVID-19 across the globe, Shashikanth Manikappa, a specialist cardiac anaesthetist working at Monash Health in Melbourne, Australia, has strongly advised what he termed Quadruple Therapy involving four medicines — Ivermectin, Doxycycline, Zinc and Vitamin D3 — as a preventive as well as treating method. Addressing a media conference in Kalaburagi on Monday, the senior doctor said that the use of Ivermectin would be more effective than that of Hydroxychloroquine which was widely being used worldwide, right from the outbreak of the pandemic.

Referring to a pre-official release of a randomised controlled trial using Ivermectin in three doses in primary contacts of COVID-19, Dr. Manikappa said that 93 % of primary contacts who received Ivermectin did not develop any symptoms and 58 % of primary contacts who did not receive Ivermectin did progress to have symptoms of the pandemic. “Quadruple Therapy includes Ivermectin 12 mg one dose, Doxycycline 100 mg once a day for four days, Zinc 50 mg once a day for four days and Vitamin D3 once a week. Ivermectin, Doxycycline and Zinc are to be repeated every 14 days and Vitamin D3 every week with blood levels monitored. The synergistic effect of these medicine acts to prevent viral multiplication and also stop the virus from entering human cells.

Thomas Borody, an Australian gastroenterologist who is known for curing peptic ulcers with triple antibiotic therapy, has revealed that one block in South America that received Ivermectin combination prophylaxis did not contract coronavirus infection while others did,” he said. On the side effects, Dr. Manikappa said that Ivermectin was being used in 3.7 billion people for intestinal parasites and was found to be safe. “These are not new medicine. They are already in use for treating different ailments and are found to be safe. They can be prescribed by any doctor to control the pandemic,” he said.

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“The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.”

Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)

For the better part of the past year, the US public was bombarded with “science” how only the wearing of a mask (or two masks, or three masks or more) was the only thing that stood between the Western way of life and Armageddon (despite the periodic emergence of cold, hard data showing no improvement in covid transmission in states that mandated masks vs those that did not, at least until Twitter decided to ban it). Then, one month ago, Texas had had enough and its governor shocked the Faucis of the world – and the White House – when he declared that the mask mandate in the state was officially over. What happened then? Well, in a development that would likely shock Dr. Fauci, newly confirmed Coronavirus cases in Texas plunged to their lowest since June, roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses.

Additionally, the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet over the weekend. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, some 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27.

Read more …

National Health Service’s Test and Trace program costs £37 billion over two years.

Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)

Only half of Britons know the main symptoms of Covid-19, and most don’t get tested or self-isolate, a new study has shown, raising questions about the UK’s Test and Trace system and placing emergence from the pandemic at risk The large study, exploring the effectiveness of the National Health Service’s Test and Trace program, was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday. Designed to identify, find and test those who have coronavirus, it has been allocated a massive budget of £37 billion over two years. Researchers at King’s College London, University College London and Public Health England looked at aggregated data from some 37 national online surveys, encompassing more than 75,000 responses from nearly 54,000 people living in the UK.

Only some 51.5% of those surveyed managed to properly identify the symptoms of Covid-19 – which include a cough, high temperature, fever, and loss of sense of smell or taste – that have been “actively promoted to members of the UK public,” the study reads. Moreover, the willingness to get tested should any of those symptoms be experienced turned out to be extremely low, with only 18% of those who reported suffering such symptoms having requested a test to confirm whether they had coronavirus. Such low figures call into question the effectiveness of the whole Test and Trace system, the researchers said, while acknowledging a slight improvement in people’s willingness to follow the rules over time.

With such low rates for symptom recognition, testing, and full self-isolation, the effectiveness of the current form of the UK’s test, trace, and isolate system is limited. Only 43% of respondents said they had adhered to self-isolation. The need to go to work or to leave the house to shop or attend to medical needs other than Covid-19 were among the most common excuses given for breaking the rules. Young people, those on a low income and/or from a working-class background were identified as the ones most likely to break the rules. The researchers suggested targeted messaging and increased financial support as methods by which to improve adherence.

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“..far from a benign illness..”

Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)

Nearly a third of people who have been in hospital suffering from Covid-19 are readmitted for further treatment within four months of being discharged, and one in eight of patients dies in the same period, doctors have found. The striking long-term impact of the disease has prompted doctors to call for ongoing tests and monitoring of former coronavirus patients to detect early signs of organ damage and other complications caused by the virus. While Covid is widely known to cause serious respiratory problems, the virus can also infect and damage other organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Researchers at University College London, the Office for National Statistics, and the University of Leicester, compared medical records of nearly 48,000 people who had had hospital treatment for Covid and had been discharged by 31 August 2020, with records from a matched control group of people in the general population.


The records were used to track rates of readmission, of deaths, and of diagnoses for a range of respiratory, heart, kidney, liver and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. After an average follow-up time of 140 days, nearly a third of the Covid patients who had been discharged from hospital had been readmitted and about one in eight had died, rates considerably higher than seen in the control group. “This is a concern and we need to take it seriously,” said Dr Amitava Banerjee, at the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London. “We show conclusively here that this is very far from a benign illness. We need to monitor post-Covid patients so we can pick up organ impairment early on.”

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Ha ha ha!

GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday said she is introducing a bill to strip Dr. Anthony Fauci of his government salary. In a press release Greene posted on Twitter, the controversial Georgia Republican said her “Fire Fauci Act” would decrease “Dr. Always Wrong’s pay to $0 and the ‘We Will Not Comply Act’ will ‘prevent discrimination against the unvaccinated.’ ” Greene said the Fire Fauci Act will: • Remind the American public that Dr. Fauci is the highest paid ($434,312) of all 4 million federal employees, including the president. • Cite numerous findings about Dr. Fauci’s evolving and contradictory advice on COVID-19. • Reduce Dr. Fauci’s salary to $0 until a new NIAID administrator is confirmed by the Senate. • Direct the Government Accounting Office to conduct a study about the correspondence, financials, and policy memos inside the NIAID before COVID through the end of this year. This will allow us to see what Fauci and the NIAID knew, when they knew it, what they spent money on, and how the agency responded to the virus.


The bill has little if any chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled House. Fauci has made several seemingly contradictory statements during the pandemic about the virus and related health-safety measures – including one on mask wearing. The annual salary for Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, makes him “the highest paid doctor in the federal government and the highest paid out of all 4 million federal employees,” Forbes reported. In fact, Fauci’s salary is more than the president of the United States’ annual $400,000 pay.

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Who do YOU think is the agressor here?

Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)

Various reports strongly suggest that over the past week there’s been a significant uptick in shelling and fighting in the war-torn Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. This has served to thrust the over 5-year long crisis back in the media spotlight in the past days, particularly after the US Army ( via US European Command, or EUCOM) raised its Europe threat level to its highest of “potential imminent crisis”. At the same time The New York Times and others are detailing the escalation while alleging ‘Russian aggression’ is fueling the fresh flare-up, which has signaled the collapse of yet another cease-fire. And more alarmingly the reports allege a major build-up of Russian troops and tanks along Ukraine’s eastern border. But even as the NY Times report mused, it’s also likely that the estimated 4,000 regular Russian soldiers there were simply left over from recent scheduled military exercises common during this time of year.


The Kremlin has responded to the slew of reports on Thursday, underscoring that given the troops remain entirely within Russia’s national boundaries, it’s essentially ‘nobody’s business’ where they go. “The Russian Federation transfers the Armed Forces on its soil as it wants to. This should not concern anyone and this is not posing any threat to anyone,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized. Moscow is taking “all the necessary measures to ensure security of its frontiers,” he stressed according to TASS. Peskov added that: “As for the participation of Russian troops in the armed conflict on Ukraine’s soil, the Russian troops have never taken part in it and are not participating now.” He further said: “And we, the European countries and all world states would not like the civil war in Ukraine as a result of provocations and provocative steps by Ukraine’s military to flare up again.”

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“we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.”

We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)

Moscow has rejected claims that it is unwilling to participate in talks with NATO, arguing instead that it would be eager to hold a summit, but only if it sticks to topics that are actually within the US-led military bloc’s remit. Last week, the faction’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, claimed that a breakdown in communication was the fault of one side alone. “Since the summer of 2019, there have been no meetings of the NATO-Russia Council,” he said. “And that’s because Russia has not responded positively to our invitation to convene the Council.” “I regret that, because I think that dialogue is important, especially when times are difficult as they are now, then it is important that we sit down, discuss also difficult issues,” Stoltenberg added.

“I believe in dialogue with Russia partly to strive for a better relationship with [that country].” However, on Wednesday, Moscow hit back at the remarks, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arguing that his country was not opposed to talks with the bloc. “Our colleague Mr Stoltenberg declares that Russia refuses to work in the Russia-NATO Council,” Lavrov said, insisting that “we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.” “NATO has nothing to do with Ukraine,” the Minister said, “and yet when they offer to convene the Russia-NATO Council, they always insist that the first question should be about Ukraine. We sat down a couple of times, listened, we all know this.

Therefore, we have proposed to restore contacts between our militaries in order to save complex agreements that we have previously signed.” In February, Stoltenberg said that the ball was in Moscow’s court when it comes to relations with the bloc. “We need to send a clear signal to Russia,” he said. “If they want clashes, we are ready. If they want to co-operate, we will be glad.”

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“Damn, @theintercept got yet another whistleblower pinched. It’s almost like Omidyar is running a sting operation there.”

Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)

A former Air Force intelligence analyst pleaded guilty Wednesday to leaking classified documents to a reporter about military drone strikes against al-Qaida and other terrorist targets. The guilty plea from Daniel Hale, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee, comes just days before he was slated to go on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, for violating the World War I-era Espionage Act. Hale admitted leaking roughly a dozen secret and top-secret documents to a reporter in 2014 and 2015, when he was working for a contractor as an analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). While court papers never specified the recipient of the leak, details about the case make it clear that the documents were given to Jeremy Scahill, a reporter at The Intercept, who used the documents as part of a series of critical reports on how the military conducted drone strikes on foreign targets.


He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for July 13. The original indictment against Hale states that he reached out to the reporter in April 2013 while still enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency. The leaks continued after Hale became a private contractor and was assigned to NGA. Hale’s lawyers sought unsuccessfully last year to have the case tossed on First Amendment grounds. They also argued that the case was a selective and vindictive prosecution. Defense lawyers said that while Hale was being punished for leaking information about negative aspects of the drone program, the government seemed unconcerned about anonymous leaks by government officials about successful strikes.

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“And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.”

The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)

Over the last few decades, ships have gotten really really big, four times the size of what they were 25 years ago, what the FT calls “too big to sail.’ The argument behind making such massive boats was efficiency, since you can carry more at a lower cost. The downside of such mega-ships should have been obvious. Ships like this, which are in effect floating islands, are really hard to steer in tight spaces like ports and canals, and if they get stuck, they are difficult to unstick. In other words, the super smart wizard financiers who run global trade made ships that don’t fit in the canals they need to fit into. The rise of mega-ships is paralleled by the consolidation of the shipping industry itself. In 2000, the ten biggest shipping companies had a 12% market share, by 2019 that share had increased to 82%.

This understates the consolidation, because there are alliances among these shippers. The stuck ship is being run by the Taiwanese shipping conglomerate Evergreen, which bought Italian shipping firm Italia Marittima in 1998 and London-based Hatsu in 2002, and is itself part of the OCEAN alliance, which has more than a third of global shipping. Making ships massive, and combining such massive ships into massive shipping monopolies, is a bad way to run global commerce. We’ve already seen significant problems from big shipping lines helping to transmit financial shocks into trade shocks, such as when Korean shipper Hanjin went under and stranded $14 billion of cargo on the ocean while in bankruptcy. It’s also much harder for small producers and retailers to get shipping space, because large shippers want to deal with large clients.

And fewer ports can handle these mega-ships, so such ships induce geographical inequality. Increasingly, we’re not moving ships between cities, we’re moving cities to where the small number of giant shipping lines find it efficient to ship. Dumb big ships owned by monopolies are the result of dumb big ideas, the physical manifestation of what Thomas Friedman was pushing in the 1990s and 2000s with books such as The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, the idea that “taking fat out of the system at every joint” was leading towards a more prosperous, peaceful and competitive world. Friedman’s was a finance-friendly perspective, a belief that making us all interdependent with a very thin margin of error would force global cooperation.

Just make ships bigger, went the thinking, until a big boat got stuck in a canal, taking down global supply chains with it. It seems so dumb. And it is. But it’s also reality, because for whatever reason, a lot of powerful people at one point thought Thomas Friedman was a genius. And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.

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Bigger than God.

Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)

New research from Chinese scientists shows that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing causes massive damage to the genome, much of which would have been missed by the analytical tools used so far. In a previous study, the same authors described a novel DNA sequencing procedure, which they called a “primer-extension-mediated sequencing assay” or PEM-seq. By applying this procedure, they found that DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) brought about by the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool could lead to unintended chromosomal translocations and large deletions. In their latest follow-up report, the researchers describe a new computer program, which enabled them to analyse the PEM-seq data to greater depth than previous programs had allowed.

They used this program to analyse real sequence data from their own new experiments, as well as previous ones, following CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in mouse and human cells. In gene editing, while the initial double-strand break made by the DNA “scissors” or gene-editing tool can be targeted to a given location, the subsequent DNA repair that makes the “edit” is performed by the cell’s own repair mechanisms and is not controllable or precise. The researchers analysed the outcomes of the gene edit – and found what they call “tremendous deleterious DSB repair byproducts of CRISPR/Cas9 editing”. The unintended outcomes or genetic errors ranged from unintended small insertions or deletions (indels) to large deletions, plasmid (gene-editing tool delivery vehicle) integrations, and chromosomal translocations.

The researchers wrote, “Our findings provide an extra dimension for genome editing safety besides off-targets” – the well documented unintentional DNA damage at locations of the genome that were not targeted for editing. They added, “Caution should be exercised to avoid not only off-target damages but also deleterious DSB repair byproducts during genome editing.” Worryingly, these unintended deleterious outcomes of gene editing were not overcome even when a high-fidelity CRISPR/Cas tool was used. Furthermore, when components of the DNA repair machinery were inhibited in an attempt to force a specific gene sequence modification outcome (known as SDN-2), this resulted in large deletions, large insertions, and DNA cuts around the start site of genes.

Read more …

Smithsonian. The Archive of Healing lists traditional remedies, procedures and practices from all seven continents.

New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

For thousands of years, people around the world have relied on medicinal folklore, herbal treatments and rituals to heal an array of ailments. Now, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have created an online platform featuring hundreds of thousands of these traditional therapies. Spanning seven continents and 200 years, the Archive of Healing draws on such sources as anthropologists’ field notes, scholarly journals, oral histories and folktales. “The whole goal here is to democratize what we think of as healing and knowledge about healing, and take it across cultures in a way that’s respectful and gives attention to intellectual property rights,” says David Shorter, director of the digital archive, in a statement.

As Valentina Di Liscia reports for Hyperallergic, the database is one of the most inclusive catalogues of medicinal folklore in the world. A key goal of the project is preserving Indigenous treatments while ensuring that this knowledge is protected against exploitation by pharmaceutical companies seeking to make a profit. To that end, certain identifying details for plants and recipes are omitted from the archive. Western medicine has, historically, overlooked herbal remedies used by women and Indigenous peoples. As folk herbalist Sade Musa explained for Healthline in 2019, many traditional treatments were passed down orally and, as a result, overlooked in favor of written documentation.

“[C]olonialism built a medical industrial complex through often violent means of cultural suppression, erasure, and exploitation,” noted Heathline. “The rise of the patriarchy also authorized only white male physicians to practice and define medicine for the world.” Former faculty member Wayland Hand launched the UCLA database more than 40 years ago. In 1996, folklorist Michael Owen Jones began digitizing the collection of more than one million notecards—then known as the Archive of Traditional Medicine—after receiving a grant. Speaking with Jeyling Chou of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s independent student newspaper, in 2005, Jones said, “Folk medicine [includes] the beliefs and practices that we learn and teach in our first-hand interactions with one another in our everyday lives.” He added, “It’s not institutional medicine, it’s not medicine that requires a license.”

Read more …

 

 

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How Earth will look in 250 million years according to plate tectonics theory

 

 

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Mar 302021
 


Edouard Manet Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan) 1862

 

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)
UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)
CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)
Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)
Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)
Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)
New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)
Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)
Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)
Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)
Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)
Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)
The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)
Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

 

 

 

 

There is a move in Washington towards saying it’s the private sector that wants vaccine passports. “It’s just the markets at work”.

That way the government won’t be blamed, or so they hope. Coming soon to a country near you.

This promises to turn into an epic fight for rights and freedoms.

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denounced so-called “vaccine passports” in a Monday press conference — a policy currently being tested in New York State and one the Biden administration is reportedly developing, according to The Washington Post. Vaccine passports are digital credentials, a way of proving the carrier has received a COVID-19 immunization before frequenting a venue or traveling. DeSantis said he would take “an executive function” and “emergency function” and urged the state Republican legislature to propose legislation banning vaccine passports. “We always said we wanted to provide [the vaccine] for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said.

“While it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society.” The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is working with Big Tech to develop vaccine passport technology. Five administration officials told the media outlet that coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is leading the operation. In January, 30 international airlines penned a letter to Zients urging the U.S. to implement vaccine passports for all citizens for travel. This followed an executive order by Biden instructing government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of COVID-19 documentation requirements.

[..] The Florida governor said in the press conference that by sometime this week the state will have administered the vaccine to 75 percent of seniors, or 3.5 million individuals. “You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do. It’s important to be able to do it [get the vaccine], but at the same time, we are not going to have you provide proof of this just to be able to live your life normally.”

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No other country has as many surveillance camera’s as Britain. Let’s add some more.

UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)

The UK government is funding companies that are producing technology which will utilize digital face scans to check people’s vaccination status and allow or block them from entering pubs, stadiums and other venues. “Britons could have their faces scanned to allow them to access pubs, gigs and sports events under one government-funded plan being drawn up for vaccine passports,” reports the London Times. Two companies – Mvine and iProov – are working together on the system after being given a £75,000 grant by the government having already worked with the NHS on facial recognition technology in the form of the contact tracing app.

The technology is being proposed as a solution to concerns that presenting vaccination status via an app on a phone will be too slow when multiple people are entering a busy venue. “Whoever is standing on the door of the pub is going to have to scan the certificate, read the name and date of birth, then ask the person for an ID document, check that the name and date of birth on the ID document are the same, squint at the photograph on the ID document and then make sure that the person in front of them is that person,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said. “To which the answer is, that’s not going to happen.” Bud said that the facial recognition system would reduce this process to a matter of seconds, streamlining the system.

“It speeds the process up and it absolves people of what would otherwise be a very heavy responsibility,” he added. After months of promising that there would be no domestic vaccine passport, every indication is now that the government is going ahead with it. Millions of Brits will refuse to submit to digital face scans to go about their everyday business, but the vast majority are likely to accept it without question, creating a two tier society where those who resist the biosecurity surveillance state will remain in a de facto permanent state of lockdown.

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Some states are not doing well, but overall, does that graph justify panic?

CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)

In a stunningly emotional outburst during this morning’s COVID-19 Response press conference, new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went “off-script” (though if one watches here eyes it appears she is very much reading a script) to warn the public about her “impending doom” following a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.


The most dramatic surge has come in Michigan, with admissions up 50%, to an average of 379 a day. The next-worst momentum was in South Dakota, where daily admissions rose by 40% to an average of 28. “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.” “Right now, I’m scared,” Walesky exclaimed. Here is what Walensky is freaking out about… (could that simply be a rise in testing around Spring Break as responsible Americans check their health before traveling? Or is it remnants of the vaccines being picked up by the RT-PCR tests being run at 35 Ct?)


Source: Bloomberg

Of course, Fauci knows why: “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.” Walensky implored Americans to mask up, socially distance, etc., etc. as she is worried about a new wave “if rules are lifted” too soon… “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,”

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Others states do very well. Wonder why.

Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)

Coronavirus cases have dropped to a record low in Texas roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses. “Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%. Hospitalizations dropped to a 6 month low. This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, at least 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27. Abbott’s tweet also notes that hospitalizations dropped to their lowest number in the past six months. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 3,104 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals across the state as of Saturday. Data shows that the state has not recorded a number this low since September 19, when there were 3,081 hospitalizations. As of Monday, Texas has reported more than 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 47,156 deaths.

Biden Mask Up

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Fauci on masks. Oh well.

Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that vaccinated parents still need to worry about their children becoming infected while playing with other kids. “The children can clearly wind up getting infected,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” when asked about the risk of kids playing in groups. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that while adults inoculated against COVID-19 don’t always have to wear masks around each other, children — who are not yet eligible for the jab — should wear them around each other.


“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” he said. But when asked whether kids can return to camp or playgrounds this summer, Fauci said it was “conceivable that will be possible.” “We now have 3 to 3.5 million vaccinations each day. If we keep up with that pace, invariably, that’s going to drive the rate and the level of infections per day to a much, much lower level,” Fauci said, adding that lower infection rates will enable the country to have a “good degree of flexibility during the summer … with things like camps.”

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“..the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%..”

Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)

Canada on Monday suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The pause was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday. “There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.


She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under age 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%. Dr Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation taskforce said despite the finding that there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious side-effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe. Reimer said the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days after getting the shot and the symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack. “While we still believe the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks I’m not comfortable with ‘probably’. I want to see more data coming out of Europe so I know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is,” Reimer said.

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How about ivermectin?

New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)

The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists. Scientists have long stressed that a global vaccination effort is needed to satisfactorily neutralise the threat of Covid-19. This is due to the threat of variations of the virus – some more transmissible, deadly and less susceptible to vaccines – that are emerging and percolating. The grim forecast of a year or less comes from two-thirds of respondents, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, who carried out the survey of 77 scientists from 28 countries. Nearly one-third of the respondents indicated that the time-frame was likely nine months or less.

Persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear, said 88% of the respondents, who work across illustrious institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Edinburgh. “New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains,” said Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, in a statement. “Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”

The current crop of vaccines that have received emergency authorisations in different parts of the world is a mix of old and fresh technologies. Of particular interest is the mRNA approach, employed by the companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which can be tweaked at speed (within weeks or months) to accommodate new variants – however, manufacturing hiccups are always a potential problem. But crucially, they are unlikely within reach of poorer countries, given that this set of vaccines are far more expensive and have comparatively onerous temperature storage requirements.

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I read the WHO is due to announce its guidance on the use of Ivermectin for Covid. This from India dates from November 2020.

Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)

In a significant finding, two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis has led to 73 per cent reduction in COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers (HCWs), who are more likely to contract the virus given their nature of job. The findings of the study conducted by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar between September 20 and October 19 is set to give a new dimension to the ongoing research on the behaviour of SARS-CoV2 and prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Ivermectin is one among several potential drugs explored for its therapeutic and preventive role in COVID-19 infection. The study conducted by 12 physicians of AIIMS-BBSR aimed at exploring the association between Ivermectin prophylaxis and development of COVID-19 infection.

The study was conducted on two sets of HCWs. While one set was administered with two doses of Ivermectin in a gap of 72 hours, the other took other prophylaxis. Corresponding author of the study and AIIMS Director Gitanjali Batmanabane said two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 micro gram per one kg body weight with a gap of 72 hours was associated with 73 pc reduction of COVID-19 infection among the HCWs. AIIMS-BBSR has around 4,600 employees of which, over 625 have so far tested positive for novel coronavirus. As many as 372 including doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitisation workers were considered for the month-long study. The list was prepared by the contact tracing team of the institute as per their exposure to COVID-19, based on WHO risk assessment guidelines.

“Earlier, at least 20 to 25 HCWs were getting infected with the virus daily. After the workers started taking Ivermectin, the number of infection has come down to one or two per day,” Dr Batmanabane said. As per ICMR guidelines, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), vitamin C and other interventions were used by HCWs of AIIMS from April 11 in addition to the appropriate use PPE depending on the place they were posted. However, the uptake was not encouraging on account of known side-effect as large numbers of HCWs were getting infected. “Considering the fact that Ivermectin had been shown to have diverse mechanisms by which it successfully attacks the SARS-CoV-2, we decided to use it. The Ivermectin has a proven safety profile as a safe drug which has been used for many decades. The encouraging results of a study from Egypt prompted us to explore its role as prophylaxis for HCWs,” she said.

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All these “leaders” have failed for an entire year, despite often draconian measures, to stop the pandemic. Now they want more power.

Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)

The world needs a global treaty for pandemics to protect states in the wake of Covid-19, akin to the settlement forged after the second world war, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have urged. In a joint article published in newspapers across the world, leaders including the UK prime minister, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warn that a future global pandemic is an inevitability and that Covid has served as “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. Escalating international tensions over vaccine supplies have led to calls for countries to abandon isolationism and nationalism, and come together to make way for a new era founded on principles like solidarity and cooperation.

The call comes from 24 world leaders, alongside the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and will appear in newspapers including the Telegraph in the UK, Le Monde in France and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. The leaders describe the pandemic as “the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s” and said that a settlement like the one formed after 1945 is needed to build cross-border cooperation before the next international health crisis. In the joint article, they say: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”

A treaty on pandemics “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, the leaders go on.

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Death, taxes and RussiaRussia.

Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)

Joe begins his rant by insinuating that those who’ve spent time documenting errors on the Russiagate story are maybe on “Russia’s payroll,” which is nothing new for this network, of course, or frankly for the press in general during this time. Implying that anyone who didn’t buy into the moral panic on Russia was a traitor was a fairly constant theme in media and politics in the last four years, with NBC’s smear of Tulsi Gabbard as a “favorite” of “Russia’s propaganda machine” being one of the ethical low points of the era. Why should Joe Scarborough be above the same tactics? The exact quote: “I’m amused by so-called reporters who — I don’t know if they’re useful idiots for Russia, or if they’re on Russia’s payroll … but there are some gifted writers who spend all night and day, trying to dig through, looking for instances where the press screwed up on Russia stories.”


He went on to say that yes, there were instances of mistakes, and some bad mistakes, but “more often than not,” the press got it right. Perhaps this could be a new slogan for the network: “MSNBC. We get it right. More often than not.” The full quote: “If you look at the totality of it, the totality of everything — I mean, yeah, the media screwed up at some points, and sometimes they screwed up badly… But more often than not, they got it right.” Obviously, I won’t presume that he’s talking about me when he mentions “some gifted writers” who may or may not be foreign spies, criticizing networks like his. He could be referring to Aaron Mate, or Glenn Greenwald, perhaps even Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, whose critique of Scarborough’s colleague Rachel Maddow’s Russia coverage was scathing enough.

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Judge and jury.

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)

The daily newspaper USA Today is the second-most circulated print newspaper in the United States — more than The New York Times and more than double The Washington Post. Only The Wall Street Journal has higher circulation numbers. On Sunday, the paper published and heavily promoted a repellent article complaining that “defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.” It provided a road map for snitching on how these private citizens — who are charged with serious felonies by the U.S. Justice Department but as of yet convicted of nothing — are engaged in “a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another” in order to avoid bans on their ability to raise desperately needed funds to pay their criminal lawyers to mount a vigorous defense.

In other words, the only purpose of the article — headlined: “Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters raise money for lawyer bills online” — was to pressure and shame tech companies to do more to block these criminal defendants from being able to raise funds for their legal fees, and to tattle to tech companies by showing them what techniques these indigent defendants are using to raise money online. The USA Today reporters went far beyond merely reporting how this fundraising was being conducted. They went so far as to tattle to PayPal and other funding sites on two of those defendants, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, and then boasted of their success in having their accounts terminated: ”

“As of Wednesday afternoon, the Biggs fundraiser was listed as having received $52,201. Pezzola had received $730. Biggs’ campaign disappeared from the site shortly after USA TODAY inquired about it…. Friday, a USA TODAY reporter donated to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Stripe. Stripe told USA TODAY it does not comment on individual users. A USA TODAY reporter was able to make a $1 donation to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Venmo, a payment app owned by PayPal. After being alerted by USA TODAY, Venmo removed the account. Soon a PayPal account took its place. PayPal caught that and removed it, too.”

Wow, what brave and intrepid journalistic work: speaking truth to power and standing up to major power centers by . . . working as little police officers for tech giants to prevent private citizens from being able to afford criminal lawyers. Clear the shelves for the imminent Pulitzer.

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“..whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. ..”

Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)

UBI is the primary feature of that because, in a command economy, production is mostly pretend, so you just have to give people money (for nothing). Remember the old basic operating system of the Soviet Union, stated succinctly as: We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Got that? The idea behind “Build Back Better” is to renovate the infrastructure of a hyper-tech economy that actually no longer exists because we are in the contraction phase of an historic pulsation or cycle, leaving us with lots of tech and less production, tending toward zero. Nobody flogging this slogan actually knows what it ought to mean under the circumstances, which is to go with the flow of the reality of this contraction: to downsize, downscale, and re-localize all our activities to bring them back into sync with actual productivity — that is, raising food, making real stuff, and trading it.

Again, it’s the energy dynamic, stupid. To get to that point, we’re going to shed the massive over-burden of financial game-playing that has pretended to represent our economy. That means stock valuations and bond prices will vaporize along with the derivative activities concocted for trading gainfully in these now-phantom representations of capital. If that happens sooner rather than later, we won’t even be able to pretend to Build Back Better the interstate highways, the electric grid, airports, and all the other stuff in the “infrastructure” folder. Indeed, a lot of that would be malinvestment folly now because we’re nearing the end of mass motoring and commercial aviation as we’ve known them.

If we even have electricity twenty-five years from now, it will come from much-reduced grids on a much more regional basis. The bottom line for all this is that pretty soon every corner of the country will be on its own amid quite a bit of social disorder and financial wreckage. So, whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. And remember, all of the attempts by a national government to control these events, and coerce its citizens in the service of that, will only lead to a more ineffectual and impotent national government that nobody has faith in, confirming the fact that you are on your own.

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“..the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%..”

The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)

The eurozone’s economic problem do not come from just a slow vaccination, but overly aggressive lockdowns. Between October and November, Europe’s leading economies decided to shut down the economy aggressively to prevent an increase in cases. Despite France’s extremely severe lockdown, one of the most aggressive in the world, daily new confirmed cases per 100 people went from 250 cases at the beginning of October to 522 as of March 26th. Daily new cases rose rapidly and fell in the month of November but have risen steadily since January. In Italy, new cases went from 70 in October to 369 by March 26th. In Germany, from 117 to 179 in the same period. In all of them, daily new cases have steadily risen since bottoming in January even with severe lockdowns.

Shutting down the economy for prolonged periods of time generates long-term side effects in jobs and growth that will likely hurt the recovery and create important social challenges. We cannot forget that the eurozone still had an unemployment rate of 8.3% and more than seven million furloughed jobs at the end of February. Massive stimulus plans have been implemented, with the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%, and money supply growing at a 12% annualized rate in the euro area. Fiscal stimulus is also enormous, with fiscal impulse and liquidity measures ranging between 10% (Spain) to 50% of GDP (Germany) in the main economies.


It is important to note that it is not just how much is spent, but where and when. A significant part of the fiscal stimulus in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany has been targeted at maintaining current government spending, and the measures to support businesses have only been decisive in Germany and France. However, large, and decisive measures to support businesses may fail as prolonged lockdowns lead to an insolvency crisis and inevitably a relevant part of those support mechanisms will zombify the economy, especially as this was an important risk that already existed in the eurozone before Covid-19, according to the Bank of International Settlements.

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“..lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

“We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards.”

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

In 2008, we had the opportunity, collectively, to reboot a broken financial system so it became fit for purpose. But instead of reconfiguring finance to serve the real economy politicians and central bankers used quantitative easing to buy time which lulled the mainstream media into reporting that everything was back on track. Some people haven’t bought that story. Marc Friederich and Matthias Weik are two economists who didn’t succumb to groupthink after the 2008 crash and now see financial capitalism’s end game. Friedrich explained to Renegade Inc. that the authors’ intention is to help translate the complexity of a financial system by inverting it into a language that everybody understands. Having studied economics, and as children of the dot com bubble, the authors of four best-selling books in Germany, stress the important role sarcasm and dark humour play in their work in respect to making seemingly complex matters accessible to the wider public.

According to Weik, the aim behind mainstream economists’ use of convoluted language is to create a camouflage in order to prevent them from having to explain what their terminology means. “It’s like the language of law spoken in secret phrases whose purpose is to garner public trust”, said Friedrich. But what mainstream economists and politicians haven’t explained is the structural nature of a crisis that hasn’t been remedied since the 2008 crash. Instead, the metaphorical can has been kicked down the road. “We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards. It will burst because last time China and all the states rescued the world. They won’t save us anymore. We used cheap money like a drug. We just put more and more drugs into the system”, said Weik.

“Economists and politicians have learnt nothing in the last decade, rather they have merely bought time. The banks who created the last financial crisis continue to be the big winners”, says Friedrich. The losers are the working class and underclass who were encouraged to borrow recklessly. And yet it is these latter groups who the American and British press blame for the crisis. According to Friedrich, the catalyst for the crisis was low-interest rates and too much cheap money. “They tried to solve it with even lower interest rates and much more money. The debts have doubled since 2008”, said the economist. In Friedrich’s view, the Fed, ECB and other central banks will try to print more money “like they always do.” “We will definitely see negative interest rates….Since 2008 debts worldwide doubled for private people and for companies even three times more debts than 2008. So this is the final bubble. And the central banks create one bubble after the next one to keep the whole thing running. That’s it.”

“And we all know the patient is dead but nobody is ready to unplug the life support. The aim is to keep the system alive for as long as possible.” Weik added: “Over the past two years real estate prices exploded, the share prices exploded, lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

Read more …

 

 

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Tucker Candace

 

 

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Mar 042021
 


Francisco Goya The Dog 1819-23

 

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)
16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)
The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)
Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)
Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)
Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)
34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)
Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)
Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)
Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)
Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)
How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)
Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)
Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)
New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)
Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)
Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

 

 

A bit overloaded today, so two separate Rattles. For all non-Covid news, check Debt Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

 

 

He should perhaps try and keep the country together….

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)

President Biden has slammed Texas and Mississippi for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, calling it “Neanderthal thinking.” “I think it’s a big mistake…It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science…” said Biden.
Newly minted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky wants residents of Texas and Mississippi to continue wearing face masks despite the governors there lifting COVID-19 restrictions amid a decline in cases. “I think we, the CDC, have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” said Walensky during a White House pandemic briefing in response to a question about reopening Texas. “Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what states decide.”


On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott enraged the left after announcing that the state would lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses next week, while also banning counties from fining or jailing people who disregard local measures. Effective March 10, all businesses will be allowed to open at 100% of capacity, Abbott said during a media briefing in Lubbock on Tuesday. His executive order allows county judges to reinstate anti-virus rules should hospitalizations surge. “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities; too many small-business owners have struggled to pay their bills,” the Republican governor said. “It is now time to open Texas 100%.”

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…because people see things in different ways:

16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)

It took an entire year, but lockdowns and mask mandates are officially incredibly unpopular with half of the country, to the point that governors are rapidly making sweeping changes to their year-long COVID-19 policies. Jumping onto the coattails of pro-individual freedom leaders like governors Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), the governors of Mississippi and Texas decided Tuesday to announce an end to business restrictions and statewide mask mandates. Both Tate Reeves (R-MS) and Greg Abbott (R-TX), who had long taken a nanny state approach to the COVID-19 crisis, acted almost simultaneously to announce the end of statewide restrictions. The centrally planned solutions to COVID-19 have failed spectacularly, and the American people have taken notice of this reality.

Hundreds of millions have now been through a full year of government-imposed tyranny on both a federal and state level. Whether it was a travel ban, an endless series of lockdowns, mask mandates, countless emergency orders, business closures, and the like, not a single top-down order from the federal or state level did anything productive for the wellbeing of Americans. None of it worked. All of it served as a net negative. The people have noticed. Now that their constituents have had enough, politicians on the Right are fast departing from the COVID tyranny, and attempting to secure what is left of their political aspirations. Abbott and Reeves are not the only GOP governors moving fast in ending the restrictions, several other governors have recently acted to roll them back.

On February 12, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte lifted his statewide mask mandate. On February 8, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lifted Iowa’s statewide mask mandate along with several other restrictions. On February 22, North Dakota took it a step further. Its legislative body took the bold step in voting to make mask mandates illegal. As of March 2, there are now 16 states that no longer have statewide mask orders. However, across the political divide, there remains no end in sight to the corona madness. Much of the Left continues to embrace and root on endless COVID-19 restrictions, and the hijacking of individual rights in the name of a virus. Governor Gavin Newsom of California took to Twitter in describing the end of restrictions as “absolutely reckless.” It took long enough, but it’s now official: Governors who continue to impose lockdowns and mask mandates are fast becoming as popular as Red Sox fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, at least in half of the country.

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Vit. D, ivermectin, HCQ get heavily censored on social media.

The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)

The effort to manage COVID treatment information has its roots, in part, in a sad chapter in American science and journalism: The Trump endorsement last spring of hydroxychloroquine. In an instant, early treatment was turned into a right-wing myth of interest only to Fox News. The rest of the press was merciless in repeating assertions that a reliable pharmaceutical workhorse used for several diseases was dangerous for COVID. Multiple studies have since refuted that and shown effectiveness in early illness, something most people do not know. Dr. Mobeen Syed was among the first last March to explore HCQ’s potential in a YouTube video that went viral and landed him in a love-it/hate-it, right/left firestorm. “I started getting so many threats,” he said, prompting him to take the piece down himself.

After that, however, YouTube itself decided what the 250,000 subscribers to Drbeen Medical Lectures should see, removing videos willy-nilly, it seemed, on Vitamin D, remdesivir and, what others said was frequently censored, ivermectin. Among other examples of this new censorship trend: On Jan. 31, Facebook removed a page called Ivermectin for MDs Team, with 10,200 members from more than 100 countries. The last straw was a post on the Slovak Ministry of Health’s decision to allow use of ivermectin, which Facebook censors “believe is harmful to physical integrity,” the administrator wrote. Facebook also ruled that news of ivermectin approval by a southern state in Brazil violated its standards. Put another way, the social media giant did not like two independent government decisions and thought it knew better.

On Jan. 12, Twitter ruled a tweet by the Brazilian Ministry of Health — 1.2 million followers — was “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.” Why? It urged people with COVID symptoms to “go to a Health Unit and request early treatment.” More egregious, YouTube recently expunged two videos posted by a U.S. Senate committee on Dr. Kory’s ivermectin testimony. Further, it purged a video in which a scientist discussed his review of ivermectin as part of a project for a World Health Organization-hosted agency called Unitaid. YouTube even removed a video on its censorship of ivermectin. In a hint at how vast the censorship is, Facebook asserted proudly in a Feb. 8 website post that it had “removed more than 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.”

Seven of my posts, on an article I wrote with multiple links to the science of ivermectin, were stricken with that label. (I got off on a 14-hour posting ban.) My efforts were fruitless to get Facebook, Twitter or Google, which owns YouTube, to explain the methodology it uses to censor. In a public post, YouTube says it disallows information that “contradicts local health authorities” and the World Health Organization. Twitter maintains it culls “content that is demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm.” But who actually decides on a video or post? Are algorithms by technicians making the decisions or scientists and doctors? Should government guidelines be the ultimate yardstick when these are evolving — and sometimes wrong?

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“This is about the world. It’s global.”

Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)

Brazil’s rampant coronavirus outbreak has become a global threat that risks spawning new and even more lethal variants, one of the South American country’s top scientists has warned as it suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic. Speaking to the Guardian, Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist who is tracking the crisis, urged the international community to challenge the Brazilian government over its failure to contain an epidemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians – about 10% of the global total. “The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who has spent most of the last year confined to his flat on the westside of São Paulo. “What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?”

Nicolelis said the problem was not simply Brazil – whose far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly spurned efforts to combat a disease he calls a “little flu” – being “the worst country in the world in its handling of the pandemic”. “It’s that if you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants.” Already, one particularly worrying variant (P1) has been traced to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, which suffered a devastating healthcare breakdown in January after a surge in infections. Six cases of that variant have so far been detected in the UK. “Brazil is an open-air laboratory for the virus to proliferate and eventually create more lethal mutations,” warned Nicolelis. “This is about the world. It’s global.”

The alert came as Brazil hurtled into the most deadly chapter of its year-long Covid crisis, with hospitals around the country collapsing or on the verge of collapse and the average weekly death toll hitting new heights. A record 1,726 fatalities were reported on Tuesday, the highest number since the pandemic began. “It’s a battlefield,” a doctor in the southern city of Porto Alegre told local television after his hospital’s intensive care unit and mortuary ran out of space. Nicolelis said Bolsonaro’s failure to halt the outbreak and launch an adequate vaccination campaign had created a domestic tragedy from which Latin America’s most populous nation was unlikely to emerge until late 2022.

“We’ve now gone past 250,000 deaths and my expectation is that if nothing is done we could have lost 500,000 people here in Brazil by next March. It’s a horrifying and tragic prospect but at this point it’s perfectly possible,” he said, predicting a traumatic month as public and private hospitals buckled. “My forecast is that if the world was appalled by what happened in Bergamo in Italy and what happened in Manaus a few weeks ago, it’s going to be even more shocked by the rest of Brazil if nothing is done.”

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What does that even mean when the first ones were never properly tested?

Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)

Coronavirus vaccines tweaked to deal with variants will be fast-tracked without compromising on safety or effectiveness, the UK’s regulator has said. The approach will be similar to the regulatory process for the modified flu vaccine, to deal with new strains each year, with a brand new approval not required. Scientists have previously said a Covid-19 variant resistant to the current crop of vaccines is likely to emerge at some point, but vaccines can be adapted quickly. The guidance states coronavirus vaccine manufacturers will need to provide robust evidence that the modified jab produces an immune response. However, lengthy clinical studies are deemed not to add to the regulatory understanding of their safety, quality or effectiveness and will not be needed.


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said researchers are in a better position to measure protection by looking at antibodies in the blood after vaccination, reducing the need to wait and see whether people in a trial become infected with the virus. It said this will “significantly reduce” the length of time it takes for the modified vaccine to be ready. The guidance from the Access Consortium – a group made up of regulatory authorities from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland – requires that, as well as evidence on immune response, the modified vaccines must be shown to be safe and of the expected quality. It says data from the original clinical trials and ongoing studies on real-world use in millions of people could be used to support any decision by the regulators.

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Harmless?

Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)

The latest data made public by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) on deaths and injuries reported after COVID vaccines are in line with trends that have been emerging since the first data were released in December. Between Dec. 14, 2020 and Feb. 18, 2021, 19,907 reports of adverse events have been reported to VAERS, including 1,095 deaths and 3,767 serious injuries. About a third of the deaths reported occurred within 48 hours of vaccination, and 48% of the people who died became ill within 48 hours of being vaccinated. About 21% of the deaths were cardiac-related. As The Defender reported last month, Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, a pediatric rheumatologist, warned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December that mRNA vaccines like those developed by Pfizer and Moderna could cause inflammation of the brain and heart, and other injuries in ways not assessed in safety trials.

Of the reported deaths, 966 were reported in the U.S. and 129 outside the U.S. The average age of the deceased was 77.8, the youngest was 23. Of those who died, 53% were male, 46% female and 1% of the reports did not include gender. Of those who died, 56% received the Pfizer vaccine, and 43% got the Moderna vaccine. The number of serious adverse events reports increased by 641 this week, to a total of 3,767 between Dec. 14, 2020, and Feb. 18. Adverse reaction reports from the latest CDC data include: • 160 reports of adverse reactions affecting pregnancy, including 47 miscarriages/preterm births • 1,135 anaphylactic reactions, 64% of which were reported after a Pfizer vaccine and 35% after the Moderna vaccine • 257 reports of Bell’s palsy (Pfizer 71%; Moderna: 29%)


By comparison, during the same time period — Dec. 14, 2020 – Feb. 18, 2021 — VAERS received reports of 83 deaths following flu vaccines. According to the VAERS website, “it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established … VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.” VAERS is the primary mechanism in the U.S. for reporting adverse vaccine reactions. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a determination can be made as to whether the reported adverse event was directly or indirectly caused by the vaccine.

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Or not harmless?

34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)

Thirty-four cases of pregnant women experiencing spontaneous miscarriages or stillbirths after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a passive reporting system that allows people to submit a report of an adverse event after vaccination and is run by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research funded by the CDC has shown that fewer than 1 percent of reactions from vaccinations are being reported on VAERS. Reports made to VAERS do not necessarily mean that a vaccine may have caused the event or reaction. Miscarriages are labeled as spontaneous abortions or abortions in the reporting system.

Many cases of spontaneous miscarriages occurred in the first trimester, or the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, with 25 occurrences after being immunized with a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. While the four cases of stillborns occurred in either the second (weeks 13-27) or third trimester (weeks 28-40). According to Verywell Health, an online resource on health-related issues: “Research suggests that between 10% and 20% of women with a medically confirmed pregnancy will end in miscarriage. Eighty percent of these will occur during the first trimester.”

[..] Dr. Shelley Cole, MD, an OB-GYN and a member of America’s Frontline Doctors, says it’s concerning that a vaccine still in an experimental phase is being recommended to pregnant and lactating women and that science is no longer protecting them. “As an obstetrician-gynecologist, it is a concern,” Cole told The Epoch Times. “We’re [now] throwing science and the scientific medicine method out the window and jeopardizing pregnancies and future pregnancies.” “It concerns me that the CDC says that there are no studies, but it’s okay to get it and you don’t even need to discuss it with your doctor,” Cole added. “I mean this is the opposite of everything that the scientific models and methods, and standard of care has been for a century.”

[..] The politicization of the drug continues to overshadow studies that show hydroxychloroquine is safe and effective in treating COVID-19. According to c19study.com that tracks clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine around the world, all 27 hydroxychloroquine studies on early treatment reported a “positive effect and an estimated reduction of 65 percent in the effect measured (death, hospitalization, etc.)” However, the drug is “not effective when used very late with high doses over a long period.”

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They all go out of their way to claim there is no proof of a direct link between deaths, and “other adverse reactions”, and vaccines. But it’s a bit much.

Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)

The deaths of 16 elderly people in Switzerland after being inoculated with Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines underscore the potential danger of mRNA vaccines to the age group, Chinese vaccine experts said, further calling for caution. At least 16 people died after receiving vaccines in Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) was quoted as saying by Sputnik in a report on Saturday. The agency said it had obtained about 364 suspected adverse drug reactions, with 199 incidents linked to the vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and 154 to Moderna’s drug, said the report. Swissmedic said the average age of the deaths was 86 and most of them had pre-existing diseases, adding there was no evidence to suggest that the vaccines were the cause of death.


Chinese experts said the incidents should be assessed cautiously to understand whether the deaths were caused by the vaccines or other preexisting conditions in these individuals. Previously, Norway reported 23 deaths in connection with vaccinations, all of whom were over 80 years old. The COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTec/Pfizer and Moderna were used in Norway. A Chinese immunologist who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the large-scale use of mRNA vaccines carries the risk of causing abnormal immune dysfunction, allergy or even death, especially among the elderly and people with underlying diseases. The immunologist suggested individuals with preexisting conditions, the elderly and those with vulnerable immunity not be given vaccines.

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And neither do those in Germany and Switzerland.

Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)

Around half of health workers in French care homes do not want to be vaccinated, according to the group of experts guiding the state’s vaccine rollout – compared to only 20% of the residents who have not been inoculated. If significant numbers of care home workers do not get the jab, they could transmit the disease to residents who are not vaccinated and at high risk of serious illness, say advocates for the elderly. One reason for the scepticism is that those recommending the vaccine are the same people – the French state – whom care home workers blame for their low pay and tough working conditions, said Malika Belarbi, a care worker and trade union official. “There’s a complete loss of trust,” she said. The issue is not unique to France. In Germany, care home operator BeneVit Group surveyed staff in November and found only 30% wanted to get vaccinated.


Peter Burri, head of ProSenectute, Switzerland’s biggest advocacy group for seniors, said at most half of nursing staff in the medical sector were willing to get inoculated. [..] Regulators around the world have repeatedly said speed will not compromise safety and vaccine developers have said they will not cut corners in testing for safety and efficacy. The quicker results have stemmed from conducting in parallel trials that are usually done in sequence and can take years. Trials for the shots developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have shown only temporary side-effects. France’s state drug safety watchdog has said the procedure for approving the vaccines ensures they are safe and that it monitors side-effects and has seen nothing to warrant stopping their use.

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Google translate

“It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime.”

10 micrograms= 400 IU. Useless.

Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)

Based on the current state of science, according to the Health Council, it is “impossible to assess” whether taking vitamin D can contribute to the prevention of corona. “There is still too little useful research available on this,” said the government’s advisory body. According to the advisory board, sufficient research is available into the prevention of other acute respiratory infections. The chance of respiratory infections is about 10 percent lower if you take vitamin D. But the Health Council sees no reason in this to adjust the existing advice for taking vitamin D. Children up to four years old, women over 50 and men over 70 and pregnant women are already advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

This also applies to people who produce too little vitamin D in the skin because they get little sunlight or have dark skin. According to the Health Council, many people are not aware of the advice to these groups to take vitamin D. The council wants more attention to be paid to this. In October, several professors of immunology, scientists and doctors called on everyone via this site to take vitamin D. According to those experts, the chance that you will contract a corona infection is smaller and if you do become ill, the disease can be less serious. As a result of this attention to a possible role of vitamin D in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport has asked the Health Council for advice.

However, according to the Health Council, it is “still too early” for an opinion, because there is still too little research of sufficient quality. The scientists are aiming at studies in which vitamin D has been compared with a placebo. At least six such studies are currently underway, the first results of which are expected this spring. Sufficient research is available on vitamin D and the prevention of other acute respiratory infections not related to covid-19. There is some evidence that vitamin D supplements can help prevent these types of respiratory infections, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 16. But the council sees insufficient reason to advise everyone to take preventive vitamin D.

A large group of renowned experts expressed all their anger in December about the government’s wait-and-see attitude about vitamin D. More and more studies show, they say that vitamin D can reduce the chance of getting corona and that the infection is milder. . The wait-and-see attitude of governments goes down the wrong way with scientists. It “frustrates”, for example, professor of immunology at Wageningen University Huub Savelkoul. “There are more and more studies showing the benefit of vitamin D. I think it’s a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You should be careful with that comment, but that’s where my frustration is. “”

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Moral standards.

Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)

President Joe Biden’s administration is being asked to punish Hungary, Colombia, Chile, and other countries for seeking to ramp up the production of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics without express permission from pharmaceutical companies. The sanctions are being urged by the drug industry, which has filed hundreds of pages of documents to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining the alleged threat posed by any effort to challenge “basic intellectual property protections” in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The drug industry has sharply criticized any attempt to share vaccine patents or the technological knowledge needed to manufacture them, despite global need.

According to one estimate, wealthy countries representing just 16 percent of the world’s population have already secured more than half of all Covid-19 vaccine contracts. And current projections show that much of the middle-income and developing world will not achieve widespread vaccinations for years. Some projections predict that low-income countries such as Mali, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe may not achieve significant levels of vaccination until early 2024. The delay will undoubtedly cost countless lives and risk future, potentially dangerous mutations of the Covid-19 virus. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, initial tests showed, is far less effective against the Covid-19 variant that has spread rapidly through South Africa, for example. A prolonged pandemic will also threaten to extend and exacerbate a global economic downturn.

In response, governments around the world are considering a temporary exemption to traditional intellectual property rights in order to rapidly produce coronavirus treatments at low cost, a demand intensely opposed by American lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry. The push by foreign governments to unilaterally set the price and pace of production of coronavirus vaccines, drug lobbyists with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, argued, will place “American jobs and the workers who rely on them at risk, and impede scientific advances from reaching society.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, another drug lobby group, requested that the Biden administration “pursue a variety of enforcement initiatives” and “use all available tools and leverage to ensure America’s trading partners” do not suspend traditional intellectual property rights in the fight against the coronavirus. BIO and PhRMA represent the largest drug firms in the world, including Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, and Johnson & Johnson. The two groups collectively spent more than $38 million lobbying federal officials last year, and member companies maintain extensive ties to prominent think tanks, lawmakers, and academics active in shaping the policy response to the pandemic.

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“The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.”

How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)

When the organ claiming to be the world’s leading financial newspaper conceals the large price subsidy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the NATO allies, in order to accuse Russia of price gouging the poor, you can be sure you are watching an information warfare attack. And when the concealment of the vaccine subsidy operation run by GAVI and COVAX hides the fact that the UK, US, and the Bill Gates (lead image, right) and Melinda Gates Foundation are paying 92% of the $10 billion scheme, then you realise that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon of war. A war, not only against Russia, but also against China.

GAVI stands for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Originally established with $750 million from the Gates Foundation in 1999, it is based in Geneva and Washngton, DC, and directed by an epidemiologist, Seth Berkley (lead image, centre). He’s an American doctor whose previous jobs were also funded by Gates and several NATO governments, and before that by the Rockefeller Foundation.COVAX is an acronym, created by GAVI, to stand for a multinational scheme of financing Covid-19 vaccine development in Europe and the US; then funding sale and distribution of these vaccines to low-income countries around the world. GAVI claims the scheme “is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.” Read more of GAVI’s version here.

Think of COVAX as a bank created by GAVI from money deposited by the NATO governments and either granted or loaned to client government which meet the bank’s eligibility criteria. GAVI’s website publishes a weekly update on what it calls the “Covid-19 vaccine race”. The best known of the 11 vaccines on the GAVI list and marked as medically approved are Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson (US); AstraZeneca (UK); Pfizer (Germany); Sinovac (China); and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V (Russia). The American and British vaccines are being promoted and funded by the GAVI-COVAX scheme; the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not.

Last Thursday, on February 25, the Financial Times, a Japanese-owned, London-based, and Lebanese-edited publication, claimed the cost price of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to the poorest of African Union (AU) country members was “three times more than the price of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to people familiar with the procurement process.” The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.

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“The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development..”

“And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)

We felt it was our duty to start developing this type of alternative,” says professor Kalle Saksela, chair of the Department of Virology at the University of Helsinki. “Back in the spring, I still thought that surely some public entity will get involved and start pushing it forward. Turns out that no situation is urgent enough to compel the state to start actively pursuing something like this.” Saksela’s team has had a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine ready since May 2020, which they dubbed “the Linux of vaccines” in a nod to the famous open-source operating system that also originated from Finland. The work is based on publicly available research data and predicated on the principle of sharing all new findings in peer-reviewed journals.

The research team includes some of Finland’s scientific heavyweights, such as Academy professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala of the A. I. Virtanen Institute, a former president of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, and academician Kari Alitalo, a foreign associated member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. They believe their nasal spray, built on well-established technology and know-how, is safe and highly effective. “It’s a finished product, in the sense that the formulation will no longer change in any way with further testing,” Saksela says. “With what we have, we could inoculate the whole population of Finland tomorrow.” But instead of exploring the potential of intellectual property–free research, Finland, like other Western countries, has continued to follow the default policy of the last several decades: to lean fully on Big Pharma.

In the mainstream narrative, the first-generation COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are typically presented as an illustration of how markets incentivize and accelerate vital innovation. In reality, the fact that the profit motive is the overriding force shaping medical research has been devastating — particularly in a global pandemic. The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development, and how it currently hampers the possibility of conducting effective mass-inoculation campaigns. [..] “Different biotech firms would slap the spike protein onto some type of delivery mechanism, whether it was RNA technology or something else,” Saksela explains. “And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

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” It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.”

Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)

Virologist Jonathan Latham and geneticist Allison Wilson have proposed a new hypothesis for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been known since February that a bat virus called RaTG13, collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2013, is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2. It has been known since May (to some) that RaTG13, previously known as BtCoV/4991, was found in bat feces in a mineshaft near Mojiang in southwest China, after six miners fell ill with Covid19-like pneumonia and three of them eventually died. The WIV itself didn’t disclose this link, however. On the contrary, in a March 2020 interview the famous WIV “bat woman” Shi Zhengli falsely claimed “a fungus” had caused the miners’ illness.

It is also known that RaTG13, despite its 96% similarity, cannot be the direct ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, as natural mutations in the environment would have taken at least several decades. But it has been shown computationally that RaTG13 can already infect human lung cells to some extent. Finally, it is known that the sick Mojiang miners, exhibiting severe Covid19-like pneumonia, were hospitalized for up to four months before being either discharged or dying back in 2012. Latham and Wilson now propose that the Mojiang miners were originally infected by RaTG13 and/or similar coronaviruses during their up to two week stay in the mineshaft inhaling aerosols from bat feces. RaTG13 then turned into SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor virus) through mutations and/or recombinations in the lungs of the miners during their up to four month stay in the hospital.

Thus the infected lungs of the miners may have served as a ‘human incubator’ enabling RaTG13 to adapt to both the human ACE2 cell receptor and the human immune system in just four months instead of several decades as would have been expected in a natural (animal) environment. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2012/2013 received tissue and blood samples of the surviving or dead miners that may already have included SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor). WIV virologists may then have been waiting five more years, until the completion of their BSL-4 (high security) lab in 2017/2018, before beginning to do research on what is now known as SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 may then have escaped, in autumn 2019, from the WIV lab, perhaps through an infected lab worker or animal cadaver, initiating what is now a global coronavirus pandemic.

This, in short, is the Latham-Wilson Mojiang Miners Passage (MMP) hypothesis. It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.

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The “Excelsior Pass”… Whenever you see things like this, remember:

“..all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)

New York has launched a new Covid-19 ‘passport’ program at major event venues, with spectators asked to use a phone app to prove they’ve been vaccinated, as mandated under state guidelines, or else be barred entry. The “Excelsior Pass” was tested for a second time at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday during a New York Rangers game, functioning like a mobile boarding pass that conveys attendees’ vaccine and testing status. While it made its debut at the Barclays Center late last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the project in an announcement this week, insisting the data on the pass would be kept “completely confidential.”

“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” he said, stressing that participation is “voluntary” for now. As an alternative to the mobile app, residents can also present a paper version of the pass to gain entry to events, both using a QR code linked to their health information. The code does not pass any sensitive medical data to event venues, but merely alerts when a pass is invalid. While it has only been tried at two locations, the state government hopes to expand the program further after the testing period.

As of February 23, New York’s pandemic restrictions require venues with more than 10,000 seats to ensure all staff and spectators receive either a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of an event, or to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against the illness. The guidelines also force organizers to “collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts,” though that is done separately from the new Excelsior Pass.

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Maybe you should question the way education is organized in the first place.

Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)

Across the UK schools are again preparing for a phased or full return of pupils to the classroom. Most weary parents, compassionate teachers and lonely kids will be delighted to see this day come, but concerns remain about the effect that protracted school closures have had on our children and young people. Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils “catch up” on their “lost learning”. This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people. It’s our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel that they have “fallen behind” if they haven’t learned certain things at certain times. But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of cognitive, physical and emotional development.

There is no such thing as “behind”, there is only where children are at. Besides, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, then a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a brief bump on their educational journey. When I read recently of measures being planned to help children make up for lost school time through extended school days, tutoring and summer schools, my first instinct was that we should do the exact opposite. Pre-Covid research from the US has been referenced in support of extending school days, but studies have not provided evidence of positive impact on attainment. Research by the Education Endowment Foundation has highlighted limited evidence of small group tutoring benefiting learners who are “falling behind” and some small benefits of summer schools.

Whether the small gains seen in these studies could be replicated on a larger scale post-pandemic is as yet untested, and open to debate. Given limited time and resources, rather than hoping for a slight boost in standardised attainment scores, educators and government should focus instead on addressing the immediate impact of the crisis, with an eye to what interventions will help children most in the long term. Emotional wellbeing is fundamental and foundational for academic attainment. A stressed, anxious child will have difficulty learning anything. On the flip side, promoting wellbeing can boost academic outcomes. A meta-analysis of 213 school-based, social and emotional learning programmes demonstrated an 11% boost in results in standardised achievement tests.

The impact of lockdown on child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing is clear from research on previous school closures, within the health service, and in our own experiences as parents. Social isolation has exacerbated disadvantage and pre-existing vulnerability. It’s vital that long-term planning includes improving the availability and accessibility of therapeutic support for those who need it. Right now, we need to emotionally regulate before we educate.

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Is it the school closures, or is it banning them from meeting?

Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the mental health of teenagers in the United States, according to an analysis of medical records and insurance claims conducted by non-profit FAIR Health, which found that overdoses, intentional self-harm claims, substance use disorders and claims for depression and anxiety disorders all increased substantially in 2020 compared to the prior year. FAIR Health analyzed data from over 32 billion private healthcare claim records, tracking month-by-month changes from January to November 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019. The most significant spikes were discovered early on in the pandemic, as the overall number of insurance claims for mental health issues among young people aged 13-18 in March and April of 2020, as a percentage of all medical claim procedures, was nearly double compared to the prior year.

Specifically, claims related to overdoses among that age group jumped up 119% in April 2020 versus April 2019, while claim reports for generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders rose 94% and 84%, respectively. Claims for intentional self-harm as a percentage of all medical claim rpeorts in the 13-18 age group increased 99.8% during that time frame. According to the study, these claims remained elevated through November. “We know that teenagers already have high rates of mental illness,” Dr. Jess Shatkin of the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center told MedPage Today. “Now [with the pandemic], their parents are starting to struggle, with relationships, jobs, food security. It just ups the ante. We already see vulnerability, and this just makes them more vulnerable.”

While confirmed cases of Covid-19 and related fatalities can clearly be tracked, the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of human beings is not as easily quantifiable. The FAIR Health study’s authors cite infection-related fears, grief, economic instability, and social isolation as contributing factors that have triggered and intensified mental health issues. The numbers in the study align with previously reported data on this subject. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last summer found that the prevalence of depression in June 2020 was approximately four times higher than in the second quarter of 2019, with anxiety about three times higher as well. Several other studies have also shown that young people have been particularly vulnerable to mental health issues due in large part to school closures, which have left them isolated from friends and teachers.

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 February 21, 2021  Posted by at 10:21 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Ceiling painting from the palace of Amenhotep III, New Kingdom ca. 1390–1353 B.C.

 

46 Die in Spain Nursing Home After First Pfizer Shot, Second Shots Halted (CB)
Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment (PCR)
Newsweek ‘Fact Check’ Claims India Vaccine Ban “Mostly False” (SN)
Russia Registers Third Domestically-Created Vaccine Against Covid-19 (RT)
White House ‘Working Directly’ With Big Tech To Censor ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ (RT)
Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More (Greenwald)
Nursing Home Industry Avoids Scrutiny For Covid-19 Deaths With Lobbying (IC)
For Albany’s Biggest Bully, The Hits Keep Coming (TU)
Lincoln Project Implosion Has Derailed Plan For A Media Empire (VF)
Reuters, BBC, Bellingcat Part Of Covert UK Programs To “Weaken Russia” (GZ)
Texas Blackouts Spark First Lawsuit; AG Vows Probe (ZH)
The Future Of Money Is Gold (Macleod)
Assange’s Lawyers Consider a Cross Appeal (Mercouris)

 

 

 

 

Picked this up. Can’t seem to be able to double check it.

46 Die in Spain Nursing Home After First Pfizer Shot, Second Shots Halted (CB)

The Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) nursing home is reeling due to mass deaths after mRNA inoculations. All residents and workers at the facility received the first dose of Pfizer mRNA in early January, according to Spain mainstream media outlet ABC de Sevilla. Most residents became extremely ill shortly after the shots. It is believed many came down with COVID-19, despite being “vaccinated against it.” The Andalusian Health Service reported that at least 46 residents have died since January. For perspective, Our Lady has a maximum capacity of 145 residents. The Junta de Andalucía (regional government) intervened in early February to curtail the death count. But people continued dying. Spain’s Ministry of Health is now in charge of mitigation.


The Ministry said in a statement: “In view of the imminent risk to public health, and in particular for the [residents] and workers of this center, as the current protocol for disinfection and isolation of positive cases cannot be guaranteed.” The situation remains dire, as at least 28 residents and 12 staff members were COVID-19 positive last week. Health officials halted all further mRNA shots as a result. The Federation of Public Services criticized Our Lady for not taking action sooner. The workers’ union said the response was inadequate after eight people died by January 18. The death count grew to 30 by January 28. Spain is continually in the news related to mRNA shots. Health Minister Salvador Illa said in December that his agency is keeping a database of all citizens who refuse the mRNA. He said the list will be shared with all EU members.

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“What reason is there for people in any country to have confidence in their government and public health authorities?”

Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment (PCR)

[..] the vaccines themselves have not undergone long-run testing, and many serious reactions and more than 1,000 deaths are associated with the vaccinations. Some scientists are concerned that the untested technology in some of the vaccines will have adverse effects on the immune system and result in a jump in the overall death rate. However, we look at it, we are flying at least partly blind. Why as there is a far superior way to proceed? First, begin with prevention. Vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and NAC are effective and inexpensive immune boosters that ward off infection and reduce the severity of infection. Then turn to cures. Both the HCQ/zinc/antibiotic treatment and the Ivermectin/zinc/antibiotic treatment are proven, safe, and inexpensive.

Yet the evidence has been kept from the public. Even the most knowledgeable experts are deplatformed when they say anything that is in conflict with the vaccination/lockdown agenda. The media are complicit in keeping the public uninformed. Why is this? How does information suppression help deal with an alleged world pandemic? Clearly, it does not help. I have reported many times on the effectiveness of HCQ/zinc. You can use the search feature on this website to locate my reports. Ivermectin has proven to be even more effective than HCQ. Dr. Marc Wathelet, a leading virologist, has brought the evidence for Ivermectin before the government of Belgium. There is no justifiable reason for not using these cures, and there is no justifiable reason for not initiating a prevention program based on supplements, diet, and a more healthy life style.

The failure of governments and health authorities to employ these proven means amounts to premeditated mass murder. The reason people have died from Covid is the refusal to treat and to prevent with known effective means. Instead, governments and health authorities have interfered with doctors and prevented treatment with HCQ and Ivermectin, while using the presstitutes to brainwash the public that these effective and safe treatments are dangerous. The massive disinformation campaign waged against effective prevention and treatment does not come from ignorance and incompetence of public authorities. It comes from the agendas that Covid is being used to advance, agendas whose toll in human life and suffering is unimportant to those whose agendas are being served. What reason is there for people in any country to have confidence in their government and public health authorities?

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“The Newsweek fact check itself is “mostly false.” The fact checkers have been fact checked.”

Newsweek ‘Fact Check’ Claims India Vaccine Ban “Mostly False” (SN)

Newsweek published a “fact check” which labeled claims that India had banned the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as “mostly false” despite admitting in the article that India has in fact temporarily banned the vaccine. Last week, discussion around the issue intensified after it was revealed that Indian health authorities had refused to give permission for the vaccine to be distributed. “On February 3, 2021, India’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC), a panel that advises the nation’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), a national regulatory body focused on pharmaceuticals and devices, ruled that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should not be recommended for an EUA in the country “at this stage,” reports Newsweek.

The report quotes India’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC), which ruled, “The committee noted that incidents of palsy, anaphylaxis and other SAE’s have been reported during post marketing and the causality of the events with the vaccine is being investigated. Further, the firm has not proposed any plan to generate safety and immunogenicity data in Indian population.” In response, after the meeting with the regulator, Pfizer Inc. withdrew its application for the vaccine’s use in India. The Newsweek report admits all this, including but then asserts that that the claim India banned the vaccine is “mostly false.”Indian authorities refused to allow the vaccine to be distributed in India. That’s also known as a “ban”. The ban might be lifted at a future date, but it’s a ban nonetheless.

For Newsweek to claim that this is “mostly false” is completely erroneous. The Newsweek fact check itself is “mostly false.” The fact checkers have been fact checked.

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Three different techniques.

Russia Registers Third Domestically-Created Vaccine Against Covid-19 (RT)

A third Covid-19 vaccine has been registered in Russia, the country’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on Saturday morning. The drug, dubbed CoviVac, has been developed by the Chumakov Scientific Center in Moscow. The new formula, which has yet to complete phase three trials, uses the most traditional technology out of all of the Russian-made anti-coronavirus solutions. CoviVac is a whole virus vaccine that contains either weakened or deactivated strains of the infection, cultivated specifically for its production. Its developers have previously said that the vast majority of vaccines worldwide have been built on this technology and using it against the Covid-19 pandemic was a viable option.

The pilot batch of 120,000 doses is expected to become available for Russia’s public in mid-March, Mishustin stated. The developers are also seeking to export the vaccine to other countries, following in the footsteps of the Gamaleya Center’s pioneering Sputnik V. The virus sample used to create the vaccine was collected from a Covid-19 patient hospitalized in the Moscow region, the head of Chumakov Center, Aidar Ishmukhametov, revealed back in December. The sample turned out to be both bold and ‘cooperative’ enough to thrive in the laboratory, providing scientists with the material needed to produce the vaccine.

The first coronavirus vaccine registered by Russia, Sputnik V, relies on a unique two-vector human adenovirus technology. Basically, coronavirus particles are inserted into a weakened adenovirus, which is a genetically modified flu virus that cannot reproduce in the human body. It then triggers the required immunity reaction. Sputnik V uses two different adenoviral vectors for the first and second dose and is more effective defense compared to other vaccines that use the same vector for both shots. The second jab, the EpiVacCorona developed by the Siberia-based Vector Institute, uses synthesized particles of the virus instead. They are put into the human body by carrier proteins. Unlike some foreign competitors, all the Russian-made vaccines, including the brand new CoviVac, can be stored in regular refrigerators, which greatly facilitates the logistics and distribution of the shots.

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There is only one religion.

White House ‘Working Directly’ With Big Tech To Censor ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ (RT)

Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly working directly with Silicon Valley giants to root out ‘misinformation and disinformation’ that hampers US vaccination efforts, indicating hands-on involvement in Big Tech censorship. “Disinformation that causes vaccine hesitancy is going to be a huge obstacle to getting everyone vaccinated and there are no larger players in that than the social media platforms,” a source with direct knowledge about the cooperation told Reuters. “We are talking to them… so they understand the importance of misinformation and disinformation and how they can get rid of it quickly.” The White House previously acknowledged working with tech giants like Facebook and Google on the issue, but direct engagement was not confirmed, Reuters said.


The Biden administration wants digital platforms to suppress content that can result in events like the anti-vaccination protest at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in late January, the source said. The arena has been repurposed as a drive-in mass vaccination site, one of the largest in the US, after being used for Covid-19 testing since May. Police shut it down for about an hour on January 30, after around 50 protesters gathered at the entrance, decrying a “Covid scam” and demanding an end to lockdown in California. The event went off peacefully and was rebuked by state officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom – whom the protesters wanted to be recalled, according to one of the signs they carried.

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“..Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.”

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More (Greenwald)

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.” The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.”

They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.” House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.

I’ve written and spoken at length over the past several years about the dangers of vesting the power in the state, or in tech monopolies, to determine what is true and false, or what constitutes permissible opinion and what does not. I will not repeat those points here. Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the U.S. Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.

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Who thinks there will be a thorough probe?

Nursing Home Industry Avoids Scrutiny For Covid-19 Deaths With Lobbying (IC)

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, as the country was being hit by the first wave of the deadly outbreak, New York state, under the leadership Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued an order directing over 9,000 coronavirus-positive patients be discharged from hospitals into nursing homes. The Cuomo administration claimed that the order was necessary due to the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed by Covid-19. In fact, nursing homes tend to have much less effective infection control policies than hospitals, and the order, which likely contributed enormously to the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes, was reversed in May.

In the meantime, though, the Cuomo administration moved to further protect nursing homes. In April, New York became one of the first states to implement liability relief for nursing home operators, after aggressive lobbying and years of donations from the hospital and nursing home industries. Besides New York, at least 27 other states have implemented liability protections for nursing homes.

Across the country, 161,000 nursing home and other long-term care residents have died from Covid-19, an astonishing 36 percent of the total coronavirus deaths in the U.S., and there have been over 1.2 million cases in nursing homes, meaning about half of all nursing home residents contracted the virus. The Government Accountability Office released a report in May 2020 titled “Infection Control Deficiencies Were Widespread and Persistent in Nursing Homes Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic.” And study after study has shown a connection between nursing home staffing and Covid-19 deaths, from the New York Attorney General’s office to researchers at the University of Chicago to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

[..[ The industry, with its powerful lobby, has escaped significant scrutiny, however. Just two nursing home executives have been indicted for Covid-19 deaths, while the industry showered over $10 million on candidates and political action committees in 2020, according to data collected by the National Institute on Money in Politics. Congress has held just one hearing on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, in the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, chaired by progressive Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

And in the CARES Act, passed in March 2020, Congress gave the industry $10 billion through the Provider Relief Fund — with no strings attached for quality or staffing — as the Trump administration reduced nursing home inspections and fines. As a result, “there are some nursing home chains where the chain had more profits in 2020 than in 2019,” said Toby Edelman, an attorney and nursing home resident advocate with the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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“You haven’t seen my wrath.” Who, other than raging megalomaniacs, talks that way? Why do we insist on electing such miserable people to positions of power?”

For Albany’s Biggest Bully, The Hits Keep Coming (TU)

Andrew Cuomo’s team insists the governor didn’t threaten Ron Kim, the Queens assemblyman who has been a persistent and effective critic of the governor’s nursing home policies. But nobody who follows state government heard Kim’s story and said, “Gee, that doesn’t sound like Andrew Cuomo.” The alleged threat to “destroy” Kim sounds exactly like the governor. It’s who he is. For a decade, until the pandemic temporarily elevated his reputation, Cuomo was Albany’s leading bully, the secretive, scheming, petty narcissist who used fear and threats to subdue friends and opponents alike. Some perhaps believed such distasteful pugilism was needed to wrestle New York’s anarchic government under control. If nothing else, Cuomo seemed competent. He was reelected, twice, without breaking a sweat.

But now, suddenly, everything is crashing down around him. The searing report released at the end of January by Attorney General Letitia James, the one that castigated the governor for dramatically undercounting nursing home deaths, was a watershed, perhaps because James had been considered a Cuomo ally. It’s been a drumbeat of bad news for the governor ever since. The blows keep coming. You probably know that a state judge said the Cuomo administration illegally ignored Freedom of Information Law requests for truthful nursing home information. You’re aware of the firestorm that erupted when a top Cuomo aide blamed a federal inquiry for the administration’s stonewall.

This week, we learned the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn have launched a new probe into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Lawmakers, increasingly frustrated by the administration’s intense gaslighting, are calling for investigations and threatening to strip the governor’s pandemic power. There’s even impeachment talk. So, Cuomo was in real trouble even before he spent 20 minutes angrily assailing Kim at a press conference Wednesday, an assault that led the assemblyman to talk publicly about frightening threats from a raging governor. I will destroy you!” Cuomo screamed, according to Kim. “You haven’t seen my wrath.” Who, other than raging megalomaniacs, talks that way? Why do we insist on electing such miserable people to positions of power? Why do they get away with behavior that would get anyone else fired?

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Why does this make me think of Epstein?

Lincoln Project Implosion Has Derailed Plan For A Media Empire (VF)

That executives at the organization—including Steve Schmidt—may have known about allegations against Weaver before they were made public. (Schmidt has denied prior knowledge of the allegations. In a statement, the Lincoln Project said it had been “betrayed and deceived” by Weaver.) If true, the stories, which have blasted through the group with bombshell force, represent a spectacular and horrific denouement. In response, many of the Lincoln Project’s members have fallen back on their favorite mantra: Donald Trump is worse. “You know who would be the happiest man in the world if he knew he’d never have to deal with [Lincoln Project] again? Donald Trump,” tweeted cofounder Stuart Stevens last week. “Pick a side. I’m with [Lincoln Project].” He then urged readers to stand with the group.

“Most effective Super PAC in US history,” Stevens wrote. (In fact, though the Lincoln Project’s viral attack ads racked up millions of views, the videos seemingly didn’t do much to accomplish their stated goal of swaying the GOP electorate. Trump received a larger share of the Republican vote nationally in 2020 than he did in 2016.) Others appeared resigned. “Just shut it down already,” wrote Kurt Bardella, who departed from his position as a senior adviser amid the whirlwind of bad press. George Conway, another since-departed cofounder, likewise tweeted that, at this point, shuttering the PAC is the “right” move. On Thursday, the Lincoln Project announced the formation of a “transition advisory committee” that will support the internal investigation of Weaver, as well as a “Stewardship Report” to outline its finances.

As the organization flounders, its plans for the future have been thrown into doubt. The group’s stars had planned to work for Israeli prime minister hopeful Gideon Sa’ar in his bid against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an election that will be held in March. Sa’ar’s campaign had brought on the Lincoln Project’s Schmidt, Reed Galen, Stevens, and Rick Wilson a few weeks ago in the hopes that the group’s aggressive attack ads would work against Netanyahu, but their relationship has since been dissolved, according to a Tuesday report in the Jerusalem Post. Just before the 2020 election, Axios reported that the Lincoln Project had potential plans for a sprawling media organization—Lincoln Media—and had been approached by “several media and entertainment companies and podcast platforms looking to launch franchises from its brand.”

Those talks reportedly included interest from a TV studio in developing a fiction series; queries from networks about streaming the Lincoln Project’s proprietary show, LPTV; and potentially creating a nonfiction film. The organization had planned to launch a revamped version of its podcast, telling Axios it would be “unveiling new episodes imminently” and expanding its LPTV programming “in the coming weeks.” Those plans are now, presumably, in limbo.

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The incompetence is baffling.

Reuters, BBC, Bellingcat Part Of Covert UK Programs To “Weaken Russia” (GZ)

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have sponsored Reuters and the BBC to conduct a series of covert programs aimed at promoting regime change inside Russia and undermining its government across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a series of leaked documents. The leaked materials show the Thomson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action participating in a covert information warfare campaign aimed at countering Russia. Working through a shadowy department within the UK FCO known as the Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD), the media organizations operated alongside a collection of intelligence contractors in a secret entity known simply as “the Consortium.”

Through training programs of Russian journalists overseen by Reuters, the British Foreign Office sought to produce an “attitudinal change in the participants,” promoting a “positive impact” on their “perception of the UK.” “These revelations show that when MPs were railing about Russia, British agents were using the BBC and Reuters to deploy precisely the same tactics that politicians and media commentators were accusing Russia of using,” Chris Williamson, a former UK Labour MP who attempted to apply public scrutiny to the CDMD’s covert activities and was stonewalled on national security grounds, told The Grayzone. “The BBC and Reuters portray themselves as an unimpeachable, impartial, and authoritative source of world news,” Williamson continued, “but both are now hugely compromised by these disclosures. Double standards like this just bring establishment politicians and corporate media hacks into further disrepute.”

[..] The Grayzone reported in October 2020 on leaked materials released by Anonymous which exposed a massive propaganda campaign funded by the UK FCO to cultivate support for regime change in Syria. Soon after, the Foreign Office claimed its computer systems had been penetrated by hackers, thus confirming their authenticity. The new leaks illustrate in alarming detail how Reuters and the BBC – two of the largest and most distinguished news organizations in the world – attempted to answer the British foreign ministry’s call for help in improving its “ability to respond and to promote our message across Russia,” and to “counter the Russian government’s narrative.” Among the UK FCO’s stated goals, according to the director of the CDMD, was to “weaken the Russian State’s influence on its near neighbours.”

[..] The UK FCO projects were carried out covertly, and in partnership with purportedly independent, high-profile online media outfits including Bellingcat, Meduza, and the Pussy Riot-founded Mediazona. Bellingcat’s participation apparently included a UK FCO intervention in North Macedonia’s 2019 elections on behalf of the pro-NATO candidate.

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Who will be sued?

Texas Blackouts Spark First Lawsuit; AG Vows Probe (ZH)

A Corpus Christi man has accused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s primary electric grid, of ignoring repeated warnings that the state’s electric power infrastructure had weaknesses, according to a new lawsuit. In a statement by the Dallas law firm which filed the suit, ERCOT and American Electric Power utility are also accused of causing property damage and business interruptions as last week’s cold snap shattered water pipes and caused widespread power outages to millions of Texans, according to NBCDFW. “This cold weather event and its effects on the Texas energy grid were neither unprecedented, nor unexpected, nor unforeseen,” states the lawsuit, filed by Donald McCarley.

“In fact, similar cold weather events in 1989 and 2011 led to exactly the same type of rolling blackouts that have affected and continue to affect Texas residents and businesses.” The lawsuit also cites a clause in the Texas Constitution which holds that “no person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made.” “The rolling blackouts ordered by Defendant ERCOT took, damaged, or destroyed Plaintiff’s property without adequate compensation,” the suit claims. “The lawsuit filed Friday in a Nueces County court at law in Corpus Christi alleges the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, manager of the state’s main electric grid, ignored repeated warnings of weaknesses in the state’s electric power infrastructure.” -NBCDFW

“The resulting widespread property damage from blackouts was caused by their negligence and gross negligence. In addition, the disruptions rendered private property unusable and amounted to an illegal `taking’ of private property by the government,” the law firm said in a statement. The lawsuit also claims that utility companies should have winterized their plants and increased generation to meet skyrocketing demand, “but consciously chose not to do so.”

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Not everyone will agree, but this is intriguing: “.. when gold is the basis of all transaction settlements, economies become self-regulating and self-correcting..”

The Future Of Money Is Gold (Macleod)

As a circulating medium, gold and its properly established and exchangeable substitutes have proved to be the most effective lubricant for economic progress. It behoves us to take a moment to understand why this is the case, and why its circulation as money was central to the rapid and unprecedented improvement in living standards in the nineteenth century. People in a community, town, city or even a nation set their own monetary requirements and the level of their trade. Let us assume that in doing so, the general price level differs from that of a neighbouring population. The conditions then exist for an arbitrage to take place, whereby gold payments will flow to the community with the lower prices when economic actors in the community with higher prices take advantage of them.

Price differentials will tend to close to a level that reflects transaction and transport costs, so the purchasing power of gold in the two communities converge. This understanding in classical economics is the basis behind purchasing power parity theory. Additionally, savings in gold will seek out the higher investment returns between the two centres. It is likely that the centre with lower costs will offer the greater attraction to capital flows, but this is less certain. However, the quantities of gold held as savings are always significantly less than the quantities spent in consumption in an economy that uses monetary capital efficiently. The arbitrage takes place both through the trade of goods and also by the deployment of capital exploiting interest rate and opportunity differentials, so that a convergence in both prices and interest rates is achieved.

And what applies between two communities using gold as money applies between them all, so that across all unfettered, free market economies which maximise the benefits of the division of labour, the benefits of gold as money are enjoyed by all. It is therefore easy to see that in a commercial world with effective transport and communications, whatever the local preferences for holding money relative to goods may be, multi-centre arbitrage tends to produce a common price level and a common level for interest rates. These adjustment factors are conducive to trade, not only between communities but between nations. And trade priced and settled in gold is, all else being equal, far more efficient than when individual fiat currencies are involved, because with gold as the common money national boundaries are no longer barriers to payments and trade is truly global.

Given gold’s ubiquity as money, the effect of localised changes in general preferences for holding gold relative to goods can be regarded as minimised. An additional but unrelated factor is the inflation of above-ground stocks of gold through mine supply, but this is broadly offset by population growth. And a substantial element of gold usage is non-monetary, mainly for jewellery, which becomes a flexible source of monetary gold if markets demand it. Technological innovation and improvement in production methods as well as competition all tend in the long run to reduce the general price level of goods and services measured in gold. So, while there is little change in the general level of prices from the money side, there can be a significant reduction in prices over long periods of time from the goods side.

The effect is to enhance the purchasing power of savings, leading to stable, low interest rates and improved living standards for all but the indolent. In summary, when gold is the basis of all transaction settlements, economies become self-regulating and self-correcting. Successful economic activity is rewarded with profits and the opportunity to accumulate wealth. In every respect, government intervention and regulation results in the opposite.

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“If Assange’s lawyers do decide to bring a cross appeal, then the High Court hearing of that and the U.S. appeal will acquire epochal importance.”

Assange’s Lawyers Consider a Cross Appeal (Mercouris)

Julian Assange’s lawyers are considering bringing a cross appeal to the High Court in London disputing parts of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s Jan. 4 judgment not to extradite Assange to the United States, according to a report by journalist Tareq Haddad. Baraitser refused the U.S. request on narrow grounds, saying Assange’s extradition would put his life and health at risk. But Baraitser sided with the U.S. on every other point of law and fact, making it clear that in the absence of the life and health issues she would have granted the U.S. request. That opens the way for the U.S. government to seek the extradition of other persons, including journalists, who do the same things as Assange did, but who cannot rely on the same life and health issues.

It also means that if the U.S. wins the appeal it filed last Friday in High Court it can try Assange in the U.S. on the Espionage Act charges that went unchallenged by Baraitser. If Assange’s lawyers counter the U.S. appeal with one of their own in the High Court against Baraitser’s upholding of the espionage charges, it would be heard simultaneously with the U.S. appeal. Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, has written that Assange’s lawyers are indeed considering a cross appeal: “The next step in the legal case is that Julian’s legal team will respond to the US grounds for appeal. Julian’s lawyers are hard at work. Julian’s team has asked the High Court to give them more time to consider whether to lodge a cross appeal in order to challenge parts of the ruling where the magistrate did not side with Julian and the press freedom arguments. A cross appeal would provide an opportunity to clear Julian’s name properly.

Although Julian won at the Magistrates’ Court, the magistrate did not side with him on the wider public interest arguments. We wanted a U.K. court to properly quash the extradition and refute the other grounds too. We wanted a finding that the extradition is an attempt to criminalise journalism, not just in the U.S. but in the U.K. and the rest of the world as well; and that the decision to indict Julian was a political act, a violation of the treaty, a violation of his human rights and an abuse of process. Julian’s extradition team is considering all these issues, and whether they can be cross-appealed.”

[..] One should be cautious about the idea of a cross appeal to the High Court on Assange’s behalf. Despite the fact that Baraitser sided with the U.S. government on most of the contentious issues of law and fact in the case, she did in the end refuse the U.S. government’s request for Assange’s extradition. The normal practice in an appeal is to uphold a judgment made in one’s favour, not to challenge it by bringing a cross appeal, which could serve to undermine it. That often means going along with things in the judgment with which one is unhappy.

There is however nothing normal about Assange’s case. As Moris’ comments show, one has to be aware, perhaps more than in almost any other case, of the overriding and even transcendent issues of media freedom and human rights that arise. It may be that Assange’s lawyers will decide that Ainsworth’s comments to the House of Commons in 2003; Davis’s recent comments about parliament’s intentions at the time when the 2003 Extradition Act was passed into law; and any other points of law or fact that carry sufficient weight, justify bringing a cross appeal, despite the attendant risks. If Assange’s lawyers do decide to bring a cross appeal, then the High Court hearing of that and the U.S. appeal will acquire epochal importance.

Assange Facebook
https://twitter.com/i/status/1362662696739500037

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 202021
 
 February 20, 2021  Posted by at 10:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Edward Hopper Gloucester Beach, Bass Rocks 1924

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)
We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)
Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)
Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)
Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)
German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)
Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)
Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)
Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)
Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)
Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)
China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)
The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)
The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

 

 

 

 

Mike Ryan

 

 

Saw something in a Dutch paper. Can’t find an English version, and it has no sources. So a Google translate.

This is the first time I see a claim that the Pfizer vaccine prevents the virus from spreading, something the company itself, until recently, said it had no proof for.

What I did find in an AFP article is this, which sort of seems to deny the claim: “Gili Regev-Yochay, co-author of the study [..] said that despite the vaccine being “amazingly effective”, scientists are still studying whether fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others. “That is the big, big, question. We are working on it. This is not on this paper and I hope we will have some good news soon..”

The Dutch bit: “People vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are much less likely to transmit the coronavirus. That means the vaccines may not only prevent people from getting sick, but also make them much less likely to infect others, two Israeli studies show. The virus would be 89.4 percent less transmissible in vaccinated people without symptoms. In patients who do have symptoms, that percentage is even higher, at 93.7.


This is stated in a data analysis by Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health.” A separate study also yielded good news. Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center concluded that 7,214 vaccinated hospital workers were much less likely to transmit the virus after 15 to 28 days. This is an 85 percent reduction in infected people with symptoms.

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)

Data released by Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer on Friday showed that coronavirus infections were reduced by 75% after the first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The data, published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal, centered on a study of around 9,000 Sheba healthcare workers, around 7,000 of which received their first dose in January. Sheba’s team found a 75% decrease in all infections and an 85% reduction in symptomatic infections between 15-28 days after vaccination. According to Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the hospital’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, only 170 people became infected during the two week period. Of those who contracted the virus, 99 showed symptoms. Eighty-nine of the sick were unvaccinated.

“In real life, the data looks at least as good as in the clinical trials,” Regev-Yochay said. “The first dose is even more effective than we thought.” She said the hospital is now completing research on the impact of the second dose, which she said researchers still believe is essential. However, she noted that the research supports the British government’s decision to spread out the time between the first and second shots of the vaccine in order to inoculate more people. “This is the first study assessing effectiveness of a single vaccine dose in real life conditions and shows early effectiveness, even before the second dose was administered,” said Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba’s Travel & Tropical Medicine department.

Regev-Yochay noted that there was at least one limitation on the data – that hospital workers tend to be under the age of 65 and healthier than the rest of the population, so it is possible that less people got sick or showed symptoms for that reason.

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“Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)

Johns Hopkins surgeon, Dr. Marty Makary, penned an Op-ed in the WSJ this morning saying that we will have herd immunity by April. “Experts should level with the public about the good news…” exclaims Makary (who is likely on the verge of getting canceled), as he cites the “miracle” 77% drop in cases over the past 6 weeks and that testing likely only captured about 10% – 25% of infections; he extrapolates that to saying 55% of Americans have natural immunity (and add to that the 15% of Americans that have been vaccinated). Additionally, he cites Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, who believes that 250mm doses of the vaccine will have be delivered to 150mm people by the end of March.

“There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”[..] “…the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.”

[..] “Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

Read more …

More on Dr. Makary.

Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Marty Makary has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, asserting with confidence that the U.S. population will have achieved herd immunity against the coronavirus by April “allowing Americans to resume normal life.” That’s a nice thought, but not so fast, Makary. You’re not under the impression that even when we’re at an astonishingly low rate of infection that life will, on its own will, default to what it was pre-2020, are you? Don’t be so naive. The people calling the shots have made no such promises. They have, in fact, done the opposite. When is the last time anyone has heard the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci or President Biden or anyone at all in the Democratic Party say anything about resuming “normal life.”? I’ll wait.

Just last month, Fauci said that even with as much as 85% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, we could still only expect a “degree of normality.” He said that, of course, in a tone that suggested we should be grateful, but it’s what he said. Biden, just this week, made clear that “normal” isn’t part of his vocabulary. During a town hall-style event, he said that the Christmas season might bring “a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today.” Once we’re all vaccinated, aren’t you looking forward to our “very different circumstance”? Flat-lining new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 is the immediate goal for everyone, but everyone needs to understand that Democrats have some other things in mind for the pandemic as well.

In Washington, D.C., where I live, we’ve been averaging something like three deaths per day between November and now. The typical person who succumbs to the virus is usually in his mid-70s to mid-80s. New cases are down close to 40% over the last two weeks. And for that, we remain in severe lockdown. Indoor capacity at restaurants, the owners of which have started constructing permanent outdoor seating structures, is limited to 25%. All of our museums are indefinitely closed. There are no clubs, movie theaters, or concert venues in operation. Anyone who believes it’s all going to come roaring back in April is kidding themselves. This is how Democrats believe we should live. They believe it’s better for the planet, but don’t worry, trust them to send you a monthly check to tide you over.

Herd immunity won’t get us back to normal. It will be people who decide they’ll no longer tolerate lockdowns.

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“it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies..”

Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)

Two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes covid-19 have combined their genomes to form a heavily mutated hybrid version of the virus. The “recombination” event was discovered in a virus sample in California, provoking warnings that we may be poised to enter a new phase of the pandemic. The hybrid virus is the result of recombination of the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and the B.1.429 variant that originated in California and which may be responsible for a recent wave of cases in Los Angeles because it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies.

The recombinant was discovered by Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who told a meeting organised by the New York Academy of Sciences on 2 February that she had seen “pretty clear” evidence of it in her database of US viral genomes. If confirmed, the recombinant would be the first to be detected in this pandemic. In December and January, two research groups independently reported that they hadn’t seen any evidence of recombination, even though it has long been expected as it is common in coronaviruses. Unlike regular mutation, where changes accumulate one at a time, which is how variants such as B.1.1.7 arose, recombination can bring together multiple mutations in one go.

Most of the time, these don’t confer any advantage to the virus, but occasionally they do. Recombination can be of major evolutionary importance, according to François Balloux at University College London. It is considered by many to be how SARS-CoV-2 originated. Recombination could lead to the emergence of new and even more dangerous variants, although it isn’t yet clear how much of a threat this first recombination event might pose. Korber has only seen a single recombinant genome among thousands of sequences and it isn’t clear whether the virus is being transmitted from person to person or is just a one-off.

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Baby steps, but something.

Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)

An Israeli tropical-disease expert says he has new proof that a drug used to fight parasites in third-world countries could help reduce the length of infection for people who contract coronavirus. Prof. Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, last week completed a clinical trial of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent that has also been shown to fight viruses. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 100 people with mild to moderate cases of the disease who were not hospitalized for the virus. It tested whether ivermectin could shorten the viral shedding period, allowing them to test negative for coronavirus and leave isolation in only a few days.


According to his still unpublished data, Schwartz said the drug was shown to help “cure” people of the virus within just six days. Moreover, the chances of testing negative for coronavirus were three times higher for the group who received ivermectin than the placebo, he told The Jerusalem Post. “From a public-health point of view, the majority of patients with corona are mild cases, and 90% of these people are isolated outside of the hospital,” Schwartz said. “If you have any kind of drug that can shorten the duration of the infectiousness of these patients, that would be dramatic, as then they will not infect others.” Moreover, instead of isolating for a minimum of 10 days and maybe more, this period could be shortened, benefiting the economy. Finally, although Schwartz’s study did not focus on this, he said the results indicate that it is likely if the drug were given at the beginning of one’s illness, it could prevent deterioration and hospitalization.

Read more …

Full study via the link.

German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)

For more than a year, the coronavirus has been causing a worldwide crisis. In a study, nanoscientist Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger has now shed light on the origin of the virus. He concludes that both the number and quality of the circumstantial evidence point to a laboratory accident at the virological institute in the city of Wuhan as the cause of the current pandemic. The study was conducted between January 2020 and December 2020. It is based on an interdisciplinary scientific approach and extensive research using a wide variety of information sources. These include scientific literature, articles in print and online media, and personal communication with international colleagues. It does not provide strictly scientific evidence, but it does provide ample and serious circumstantial evidence:

• Unlike previous coronavirus-related epidemics such as SARS and MERS, to date, well over a year after the outbreak of the current pandemic, no intermediate host animal has been identified that could have facilitated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens from bats to humans. Therefore, the zoonotic theory as a possible explanation for the pandemic has no sound scientific basis.

• The SARS-CoV-2 viruses are surprisingly good at coupling to human cell receptors and penetrating human cells. This is made possible by special cell receptor binding domains combined with a special (furin) cleavage site of the coronavirus spike protein. Both properties together were previously unknown in coronaviruses and indicate a non-natural origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.

• Bats were not offered at the suspected fish market in the center of Wuhan city. However, the Wuhan City Virological Institute has one of the world’s largest collections of bat pathogens, which originated from distant caves in southern Chinese provinces. It is extremely unlikely that bats from this distance of nearly 2,000 km would have naturally made their way to Wuhan, only to cause a global pandemic in close proximity to this virological institute.

• A research group at the Wuhan City Virological Institute has been genetically manipulating coronaviruses for many years with the goal of making them more contagious, dangerous and deadly to humans. This has been documented in the scientific literature by numerous publications.

• Significant safety deficiencies existed at the Wuhan City Virological Institute even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which have been documented.

• There are numerous direct references to a laboratory origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. For example, a young female scientist at the virology institute in Wuhan is believed to have been the first to become infected. There are also numerous indications that as early as October 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen spread from the virological institute to the city of Wuhan and beyond. Furthermore, there are indications that the virological institute was investigated by the Chinese authorities in the first half of October 2019.

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Late to the game?

Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has submitted data on its coronavirus vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks the agency’s greenlight for emergency use. Unlike other shots, this one comes in a single dose. The emergency-use approval is a prerequisite for the vaccine joining the WHO-led COVAX watchdog program, J&J said in a statement on Friday, revealing it had submitted its paperwork to the UN health body. Unlike vaccine competitors already in the Covid-fighting market, the J&J offering comes in a single-dose form, which would make its distribution considerably easier. Moreover, it can be stored under standard refrigerator temperatures, making it an attractive option for countries with less-developed infrastructure.


While Russia’s Sputnik V, British-Swedish AstraZeneca and China’s CoronaVac vaccines can be stored in regular fridges as well, both of the US jabs by Moderna and Pfizer require extremely low temperatures to prevent spoilage. Pfizer said on Friday, however, that it had sufficient data to show its jab can actually be safely stored in a refrigerator and not the extreme cold currently advised. Johnson and Johnson published data on the late-stage trials of its vaccine last month, with the solution showing a rather modest efficacy of 66 percent. The vaccine was tested across several countries and showed mixed results ranging from 72 percent in the US to merely 57 percent in South Africa. [..] Apart from seeking the WHO’s approval, the J&J vaccine is also expected to enter the US market shortly. The solution is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, with its experts expected to discuss its emergency use authorization next week.

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I see Nobel Prize AND Oscar material:

“By the time Biden took office, the pandemic was raging out of control. ‘Oh my goodness, it was,’ Fauci says. ‘When President Biden walked into the White House we were having 300,000 to 400,000 cases per day, 4,000 deaths per day, and our hospitals were on the brink of being overrun.’”

On Jan 18, the US had 150,695 new cases.
On Jan 19, the US had 176,153 new cases.
On Jan 20, the US had 191.222 new cases.

Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)

He appears surprisingly relaxed given his immense responsibilities at this time of crisis, but then it takes a lot to faze Dr Fauci. The evergreen director of Washington’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been a medical adviser to seven consecutive US presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, steering them and his country through outbreaks of Ebola, Sars, Zika, avian flu, swine flu and the threat of biological weapons after 9/11. He was one of the first scientists to spot the lethal new syndrome that was Aids in the early 1980s. He was initially reviled by a gay community outraged at the Reagan administration’s apparent indifference to its decimation, then hailed as a hero after championing its cause.

Most recently, during almost all of 2020, he watched in horror as President Trump actively undermined his own government’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic by holding mass rallies, mocking mask wearers, promoting quack remedies and encouraging his supporters to breach lockdowns. Fauci does not consider this characterisation of Trump’s conduct unfair. ‘No, no, no,’ he says. ‘Unfortunately it’s the truth.’ Donald Trump was initially sceptical of the threat from Covid-19, but Fauci and his fellow scientists did manage to persuade him to back state-by-state lockdowns, and approve social-distancing measures. He also restricted Chinese visitors to the country. By the spring, however, Fauci’s relations with the president had soured as Trump began listening to outsiders with no scientific knowledge and fretting about the damage to the economy and – by extension – his re-election hopes.

Fauci’s challenge was to correct the president’s dangerous falsehoods as diplomatically as possible, often while sharing the stage with him at televised White House briefings, but he says that ‘when it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things – or allowed things to happen – that were terrible. ‘Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Trump’s trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong. He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.’

Trump also began to denigrate Fauci in tweets and press conferences, setting him up as a target for the extreme Right’s hatred. ‘Which I became, to the point that to this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time,’ Fauci says. And he was not the only target. To his dismay, his wife and three adult daughters were also harassed and threatened. Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’

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“..500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.”

Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)

Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech wanted to charge the EU Commission €54.08 per dose of their Coronavirus vaccine, according to German media reports. The jab would have cost more than 20 times that of a rival shot from AstraZeneca. The prospective price tag was revealed on Thursday by German broadcasters NDR and WDR, and the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The paper claims that Pfizer and BioNTech submitted a bid to the EU offering 500 million doses at €54.08 ($65.58) per dose, for a total cost of €27 billion ($32.74 billion). At €54.08, the BioNTech vaccine would have cost more than 20 times as much as the rival vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and 500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.

In comparison, Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine was expected to be priced at no more than $10 (€8.26), according to its backers. “I see it as a pursuit of profit that is in no way justified in the current situation of the pandemic,” Wolf Dieter Ludwig, drug chairman of the German Medical Association, told the newspaper. Pfizer-BioNTech has made no profit on the sale of vaccines, according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, and during negotiations last year reportedly told EU officials that the €54.08 price tag already included “the highest percentage discount” offered to any developed country. The final cost per dose of the vaccine is still unknown, though a document leaked by Belgian MP Eva De Bleeker in December suggested that Pfizer-BioNTech had been bargained down to €12 ($14.55).

Reuters later stated that it had reviewed documents showing the price at €15.50 ($18.79) per dose, “slightly lower than the $19.50 per shot the United States agreed to pay for a first shipment of 100 million doses of the same vaccine.”

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“..$1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.”

Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)

Covid-19 cases are going down fast across the country. If it actually goes away, imagine the giant hole left in the national narrative. No more arguments over lockdowns, kids could go back to school to learn about the scourge of whiteness, and Americans could see each other’s faces again. The “progressives” in power would have to hunt up some new reasons to cancel the bill of rights. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a party adept at making shit up. Right wing extremism would be my bet, even if Antifa and BLM go back to partying in the streets like it’s 2020 when the weather warms up. What won’t go away is the nation’s fantastic economic mess.

In just a few months since Thanksgiving, the financial system has gone through an epic shift, barely noticed by citizens preoccupied with unpaid bills, skipped rents, and empty refrigerators: the stock markets are now based on Bitcoin, which is to say on less than nothing. A whole new dynamic has emerged with publicly-held companies buying the stuff hand-over-fist. An outfit like Tesla, rumored to manufacture electric cars, invested $1.5 billion in the crypto-currency, which has shot up to over $50,000-a-coin in recent weeks. The move was so splendidly shrewd that Tesla’s stock price also shot up, though they don’t make a profit on those cool cars. Of course, $1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.

Other companies are buying Bitcoin on margin, taking advantage of super-low interest rates to make a fast killing. What a great idea! Even better than borrowing to buy back your own company’s stock to jack-up the share value. Don’t be surprised if half of the S & P jumps into the Bitcoin frenzy, bidding it up to six figures. Won’t that do wonders for US productivity and working-class wages? None of that will escape the attention of a “progressive” Congress, which will see a great opportunity to try to compensate for its fiscal profligacy by passing new taxes on “excess wealth” or “windfall profits.” Then, watch the rush-to-the-exits by shareholders in those companies that loaded up on Bitcoin, aggravated by the margin calls on the dough they borrowed to buy the stuff… as well as Bitcoin itself plummeting back to its actual true value: around zero.

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Clincher: the vote is scheduled for “as early as” June.

Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)

Swiss campaigners have triggered a referendum to strip the government of new legal powers to impose lockdowns and curtail public life as the country battles the pandemic. Campaign group Friends of the Constitution on Wednesday handed in a petition of 86,000 signatures collected over the past three months — well in excess of the 50,000 required — to formally initiate a nationwide vote to repeal the 2020 Covid-19 Act under Switzerland’s highly devolved democratic system. The outcome will be legally binding, with a vote scheduled for as early as June. While the pandemic has exposed social and political fractures across Europe over the rights of citizens, in Switzerland — where individuals’ rights are often treated as culturally sacrosanct and government powers are sharply proscribed by law — the strains have become particularly evident.

“In our opinion, the [government] is taking advantage of the pandemic to introduce more control and less democracy,” Christoph Pfluger, a board member of Friends of the Constitution, told the Financial Times. He added: “The long-term problems that will arise from this kind of approach will be grave. We are a movement that says crisis management cannot be done without the will of the sovereign — the people. You cannot govern without the people.” Mr Pfluger said Switzerland would be the first and perhaps the only country to give its citizens a direct vote on coronavirus restrictions. Until late December, Bern’s governing Federal Council had been reluctant to impose restrictions during the second wave of the pandemic.

Staunch opposition from many Swiss to further curbs and dire warnings from several of the country’s most powerful and influential lobbying groups about the economic consequences of another shutdown forestalled action in the run-up to Christmas, even as case numbers rocketed. A poll conducted by Switzerland’s Sotomo Research Institute for state broadcaster SRF in November found that 55 per cent of Swiss were concerned about their individual freedoms being restricted by government measures. The same survey found that even an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants was considered too restrictive by a third of Swiss respondents.

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Just like Twitter, Facebook.

China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)

Ma Xiaolin frequently wrote about current affairs on one of China’s leading microblogging sites, where he has 2 million followers. But recently, he said in a post, the Weibo site called and asked him not to post original content on topics ranging from politics to economic and military issues. “As an international affairs researcher and a columnist, it looks like I can only go the route of entertainment, food and beverage now,” the international relations professor wrote on Jan. 31. Ma, who often posted on developments in the Mideast, is one of many popular influencers working within the constraints of China’s heavily censored web who is finding that their space to speak is shrinking even further with the latest policy changes and a clean-up campaign run by the country’s powerful censors,


Beginning next week, the Cyberspace Administration of China will require bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish on a wide range of subjects. Some fear that only state media and official propaganda accounts will get permission. While permits have been needed since at least 2017 to write about topics such as political and military affairs, enforcement has not been widespread. The new rules expand that requirement to health, economics, education and judicial matters. “The regulators want to control the entire procedure of information production,” said Titus Chen, an expert in Chinese social media policy at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.

Read more …

Chilling. Scorsese.

The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)

Last week, Ron Kim, a Democratic State Assembly member from Queens, was preparing a bath for his three daughters—ages six, four, and two—when he got a call from the governor around 8 p.m. An hour earlier, the New York Post had published leaked details of a Zoom meeting between state Democratic lawmakers and Melissa DeRosa, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s closest aides. During the two-hour meeting, DeRosa seemed to confirm a suspicion that a number of lawmakers had had for months: the governor had intentionally withheld from them data confirming that thousands more New York nursing-home residents died from covid-19 than official numbers publicly showed. The lawmakers demanded an explanation, and DeRosa offered them one: last year, the Cuomo administration had been worried that Donald Trump and his Justice Department would use the numbers “against us.” “Basically, we froze,” DeRosa told the Democrats.

Kim, who has been a persistent critic of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, was in the meeting with DeRosa. A month earlier, he had become the chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Aging, and once the recording of the call leaked, the Post had reached out for comment. Kim told the reporters that, to him, DeRosa’s comments were as bad as they looked—“They were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence,” he said—a quote that the governor’s office had tried to get Kim to retract. But the quote had stayed in, the story was up, and now the governor was on the phone, fuming. “I will destroy you!” Cuomo screamed, according to notes Kim wrote down after the call—which he shared with me. The governor was so loud that Kim’s wife and daughters grew upset, and Kim stepped out of the bathroom. “You haven’t seen my wrath,” Cuomo told him. “I will go out tomorrow and start telling the world how bad of an Assembly member you are, and you will be finished.”

For Kim, the nursing-home issue was personal as well as political. In April, his uncle Son Kim died, of a suspected case of covid-19, in a nursing home in Queens. He was seventy-eight, and had shaped his nephew’s life. Son Kim had become a dentist at a time when it was almost impossible for a Korean immigrant to set up a dental practice in New York City. He enlisted in the Army, in which he could practice his profession, and eventually sponsored Ron and his family’s visas to the U.S.; in 1987, when Ron was seven, his uncle, a staunch Republican, chose a new American name for him, in honor of President Ronald Reagan. Despite the personal loss, Kim told Cuomo that he’d tried to keep his disagreements about the governor’s pandemic policies on the level of policy. I bit my tongue, Kim said. “I bit my tongue!” Cuomo shot back.

Neither Kim nor his wife slept that night. “I’m trying to calm her down,” Kim told me. Cuomo kept up the pressure through the weekend. That Saturday, Cuomo’s aides and other intermediaries called Kim, trying to get him to talk to the governor. “It’s Lunar New Year—I’m with my family,” Kim told me. “I felt extremely uncomfortable.” Kim believes that Cuomo was trying to silence him. “I realized if I changed course, I’m complicit,” Kim said. “And then, politically, he owns me.” Kim hired a lawyer, to whom he directed any further communications about the issue from the governor’s office. “Ultimately, what he was trying to do was asking me to lie about what I heard,” Kim said, of Cuomo. “It’s like I witnessed a crime, and they’re asking me to say I didn’t witness a crime.”

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“In the aftermath of this debacle, we will return to New Deal-style municipal socialism, or this disaster of power, water, and gas will happen again. Socialism is government, in technical matters, by engineers and others who know their stuff and not by ideologues who do not. Compared to Texas right now, it’s not such a bad prospect.”

The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

Competition would assure bare-bones, lean-and-mean efficiency, and low, low prices most of the time, reflecting the cost of fuel plus the smallest possible profit margin. The role of the state would be minimal – just to manage the common grid, through which power flows from the producer to the consumer. In times of shortage, prices might rise, but then the market would decide; those who did not wish to pay could always flip their switches off. It was a perfect textbook setup, with supply on one side, demand on the other, and a neutral manager in between. True, there were a few loose ends. One is that demand for electricity is what economists call inelastic: it doesn’t respond much to price, but it does respond to changes in the weather, and at such times, of heat or cold, the demand becomes even more inelastic.

Another detail was that in an ordinary market, there can be some play in the relationship between supply and demand. If even a fishmonger does not sell his catch, he can, at the end of the day, cut his price – or even freeze the haddock for the following day. Electricity isn’t like that. Supply has to exactly equal demand every single minute of every single day. If it doesn’t, the entire system can fail. This system, therefore, had three vulnerabilities. First, it created an incentive for cut-throat competition, to provide power in the cheapest possible way, which meant with machinery, wells, meters, pipes, and also windmills that were not insulated against extreme cold – a rarity but not unknown, even in Texas. Second, it left prices free to fluctuate. Third, it assured that when prices rose the most, that would be at exactly those moments when the demand for power was the greatest.

In 2002, under Governor Rick Perry, Texas deregulated its electricity system. After a few years, the electrical free market, managed by a non-profit called ERCOT, was fully-established. Some seventy or so providers eventually sprung up. While a few cities – including Austin – kept their public power, they were nevertheless tied to the state system. The market system could, and did, work out most of the time. Prices rose and fell, and customers who didn’t sign long-term contracts faced some risk. One provider, called Griddy, had a special model: for $9.99 a month you could get your power at whatever the wholesale price was on any given day. That was cheap! Most of the time.

The problem with “most of the time” is that people need electric power all of the time. And Texas’s leaders knew as of 2011, at least, when the state went through a short, severe freeze, that the system was radically unstable in extreme weather. But they did nothing. To do something, they would have had to regulate the system. And they didn’t want to regulate the system, because the providers, a rich source of campaign funding, didn’t want to be regulated and to have to spend on weatherization that was not needed – most of the time. In 2020, even voluntary inspections were suspended, due to Covid-19.

Enter the deep freeze of 2021. Demand went up. Supply went down. Natural gas froze up at the wells, in the pipes, and at the generating plants. Unweatherized windmills also went off-line, a small part of the story. Since Texas is disconnected from the rest of the country, no reserves could be imported, and given the cold everywhere, there would have been none available anyway. There came a point, on Sunday, February 14 or the next day, when demand so outstripped supply that the entire Texas grid came within minutes of a collapse that, we are told, would have taken months to repair.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 192021
 
 February 19, 2021  Posted by at 9:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  53 Responses »


Ito Shinsui Snowy night 1923

 

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)
Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)
130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)
Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)
FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)
The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)
De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)
Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)
The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)
Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)
The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)
Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)
Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)
Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)
Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

 

 

 

 

Our daily good news segment.

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)

New research has found that a mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, present in variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, can make the virus up to eight times more infectious than the original. The new research into the D614G mutation on the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, present in all the latest variants currently plaguing healthcare systems the world over, was led by researchers at New York University, the New York Genome Center, and Mount Sinai. “Confirming that the mutation leads to more transmissibility may help explain, in part, why the virus has spread so rapidly over the past year,” said Neville Sanjana, assistant professor of biology at NYU, who added that the mutation has reached “near universal prevalence” among the coronavirus variants spreading across the globe.

The Mount Sinai researchers injected a virus with the D614G mutation into human lung, liver, and colon cells and compared it against cells from the original strain detected in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. They found a whopping eight-fold increase in transmissibility between the two strains, with the mutated spike protein making the virus more resilient to being split by other proteins in the human immune system, highlighting the importance of continued vaccine research and development to combat this hardier version. “…[O]ur experimental data was pretty unambiguous – the D614G variant infects human cells much more efficiently than the wild type,” said Zharko Daniloski, a postdoctoral fellow in Sanjana’s lab at NYU and the study’s co-first author.

Thankfully, however, the mutation has not yet been linked to more intense progression of Covid-19 leading to more severe forms of the disease or an increase in hospitalization. On the other hand, this does pose another issue: the current generation of vaccines were developed based on the original Wuhan-variant spike protein structure, highlighting the need for booster vaccines or even annual vaccination programs to halt the spread of the coronavirus for good.

Read more …

More good news.

Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)

Vaccines developed by US companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are producing fewer antibodies against the coronavirus mutation that has emerged in South Africa, according to studies reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. A lab study jointly conducted by Pfizer/BioNTech and researchers at the University of Texas in Galveston showed that the neutralization of the South African strain “was weaker by approximately two thirds,” but concluded that it was “unclear what effect” that would have on protection the vaccine provided from the disease. This is according to the letter by the researchers published on Wednesday in NEJM, the oldest US medical journal.

Another study conducted by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – whose head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the Biden administration’s “coronavirus czar” at the moment – showed “reductions by a factor of 2.7” in the titers of neutralizing antibodies against the variant known as the B.1.351 – and by a factor of 6.4 when pitted against the full range of South African mutations. “Protection against the B.1.351 variant conferred by the mRNA-1273 vaccine remains to be determined,” says the letter from the Moderna/NIAID researchers, also published by NEJM on Wednesday. Moderna said it is working on booster shots if needed. Pfizer and BioNTech are also preparing to develop an update or a booster shot if needed, according to a statement cited by Bloomberg.

In a statement released in January, ahead of the study’s review, they said the performance of their vaccine was “slightly lower” against the South African strain when compared to other mutations, but that “small differences in viral neutralization observed in these studies are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.” South Africa has halted the vaccination with Astra Zeneca’s formula after a study showed it didn’t work as well in preventing Covid-19 caused by the mutant strain. President Cyril Ramaphosa took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday.

Read more …

We’re on a roll.

130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has sharply criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of Covid vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every country vaccinated as soon as possible. The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday that 130 countries had not yet received a single dose of vaccine. “At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community,” said. Guterres called for an urgent global vaccination plan to bring together those with the power to ensure equitable vaccine distribution – scientists, vaccine producers and those who can fund the effort.

He called on the world’s major economic powers in the Group of 20 to establish an emergency taskforce to establish a plan and coordinate its implementation and financing. He said the taskforce should have the capacity “to mobilise the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors”. Guterres said Friday’s meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialised nations – the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – “can create the momentum to mobilise the necessary financial resources”. Thirteen ministers addressed the virtual council meeting organised by Britain on improving access to Covid vaccinations, including in conflict areas.

[..] China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, criticised the growing “immunity divide” and called on the world to “come together to reject ‘vaccine nationalism,’ promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, and, in particular, make them accessible and affordable for developing countries, including those in conflict”. At the WHO’s request, he said, China will contribute 10m doses of vaccines to Covax “preliminarily”. China has donated vaccines to 53 developing countries including Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan and Palestine, which is a UN observer state. It has also exported vaccines to 22 countries, he said, adding that Beijing has launched research and development cooperation on Covid with more than 10 countries.

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Schools open. No mask mandate. Make of it what you will.

Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)

There’s a reason why the Biden regime is trying to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and create an illusion of a disproportionate viral crisis in the state. With no declared emergency restrictions in place at the state level since last September, the fact that Florida is doing better than the national average completely exposes the lie of lockdown and masks having any effect whatsoever on the fixed natural progression of the virus. Dr. Fauci is suggesting a novel scientific principle – that schools can’t reopen until Congress passes yet another “stimulus” bill. Yet in Florida, schools have been open all year, and the state’s excess deaths for 2020 rank the 16th lowest in the nation, according to a new analysis. What’s more, the Sunshine State, which is regarded as God’s waiting room for seniors, experienced the 11th lowest per capita rate of COVID deaths for seniors in 2020.

A new analysis conducted by RationalGround.com and exclusively obtained by TheBlaze collated CDC excess death data for 49 states (excluding North Carolina, which has incomplete data) and ranked the states from smallest to largest increase in excess deaths from 2019 to 2020. As we have seen in study after study, there is absolutely zero correlation between non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as business and school closures or mask mandates, and a lower rate of excess deaths. According to the CDC’s excess death table, there was a 16.9% national average increase in all-cause mortality in 2020 over 2019.


Given the loose way we count COVID deaths, it will take quite some time to sort out how many of those deaths are due to COVID and how many are due to the panic, anxiety, lockdowns, and missed care, but what is clear is that there is no correlation between the political measures taken by a state and fewer all-cause deaths. Florida, which is the third largest state, has the 16th lowest increase in all-cause deaths, and all of the states that had fewer excess deaths than Florida are much smaller and are mostly states with lower population density. California, on the other hand, ranked No. 40.

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I have no high hopes.

Did CNN just ban one Cuomo from interviewing the other?

FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned. The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly. Last March, as the virus began spreading in New York, Cuomo issued a news release listing the 13 initial members of his coronavirus task force, which has been headed by Linda Lacewell, an attorney and former chief of staff for Cuomo.

Lacewell is the superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services. Other task force members include state health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and Beth Garvey, counsel to the governor. “As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.” Azzopardi did not disclose whether any members of the administration have been interviewed or if they have been served with any subpoenas. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, on Wednesday afternoon said he could not “confirm or deny” whether the office has initiated an investigation.

Nearly three weeks after the governor’s task force was announced last year, the state health department issued an order directing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that they must accept residents who were being discharged from hospitals even if they were still testing positive for the infectious disease, as long as they were able to care for them properly. That directive, which was rescinded less than two months later, has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism directed at Cuomo’s administration, including allegations that the order — which the governor said was based on federal guidance — had contributed to the high number of fatalities of nursing home residents in New York. That assertion was largely dismissed in a report by the Department of Health that was released in July.

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“Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario..”

The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)

Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario — he will never again be the governor feted by Ellen and celebrated by self-described “Cuomosexuals.” He’s not getting another Emmy. His moment is over. What happened? In some sense, this has been slow-building. For months, more and more people have been waking up to the fact that the popular, media-created conception of Cuomo was nonsensical. More than 45,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York State, the second highest absolute death toll in America, just trailing California. (California is more than twice as large, so New York maintains a far higher rate of death.)

Cuomo, like Trump, downplayed the pandemic in its earliest days and issued a shutdown order for New York far too late, defying the opinions of experts and other elected officials. It was the nursing home issue, however, and the subsequently botched vaccine rollout that began to trigger a much-deserved reevaluation of his legacy, which is one of arrogance, secrecy, and failure. Last March, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients who had been discharged from hospitals instead of directing them to large temporary facilities that had a surplus of beds. This decision likely contributed to outbreaks in nursing homes, which the state oversees.

Unlike most other states in America, if not all of them, Cuomo’s New York decided to keep a highly skewed count of nursing home deaths, only tallying those who died while physically in facilities. If you were a nursing home resident who got infected in a home, became sick there, and were transferred to a hospital dying, you were not a part of the official Department of Health tally. Confirming the suspicions of health care experts and many journalists, the state attorney general revealed in a January report that the Department of Health had undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. Shortly after, Cuomo was forced to revise the tally far higher, increasing it by more than 60 percent.

Last week, it was revealed that the Cuomo administration had purposefully withheld nursing home data from lawmakers for months out of fear the Department of Justice, under Donald Trump, would investigate. Several legislators have contemplated calling for Cuomo’s impeachment. In a rage, Cuomo called up a leftist assembly member from Queens, Ron Kim, and threatened to “destroy” his career. This is just the news that has grabbed the most headlines. Cuomo is a Clintonian Democrat with a lust for austerity, and he has been quietly slashing and burning New York’s social safety net since the pandemic arrived last year. The City University of New York, which educates a largely working-class and nonwhite student body, has faced severe budget cuts, as have local public schools and social services.

Read more …

The more I read about Cuomo, the more he resembles a character in a Scorsese movie.

De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)

Compounding a month of bad press for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning that he believes the state lawmakers who claimed Cuomo threatened to “destroy” his career after he publicly criticized his administration’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes. De Blasio—who has had a publicly contentious relationship with the governor since the start of the coronavirus pandemic—painted Cuomo as a bully during a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The mayor said he believes New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s account of the phone call because “a lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls.”

“It’s a sad thing to say … but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo,” said de Blasio, explaining he’s heard complaints like Kim’s “many, many times.” Representatives for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes, though the governor’s Senior Advisor Richard Azzopardi released a statement accusing Kim of “lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo.” “At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup,’” said Azzopardi, describing a “long, hostile” relationship between the two men. The comments come a day after revelations that Cuomo’s handling of nursing home death data is now under federal investigation.

“The bullying is nothing new,” said de Blasio. “I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad. No public servant, no person who is telling the truth should be treated that way. But, the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment … Many, many times I’ve heard that.” Kim said he received an angry phone call from the governor last week after he publicly accused Cuomo of obstructing justice by withholding data on nursing home deaths. According to Kim, Cuomo threatened that he could “destroy” him if he did not help “cover up” comments made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who stirred controversy earlier this month by suggesting the state had purposefully delayed releasing the full Covid-19 death toll in long-term care facilities because of concerns about a potential federal investigation.

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Something tells me you should go talk to the old time engineers who’ve worked on the grid all their lives. That’s where the stories are, not in politics.

Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)

As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly. At the same time, demand was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather. “It needed to be addressed immediately,” said Bill Magness, president of ERCOT. “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.” With energy prices exploding to record highs, and with demand soaring, grid operators had to “act quickly” to cut the amount of power distributed, Magness said, because if they had waited, “then what happens in that next minute might be that three more [power generation] units come offline, and then you’re sunk.”

Magness said on Wednesday that if operators had not acted in that moment, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months,” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis. In other words, the millions of households left without power – in some cases for days – were sacrificing for the greater good. So by manually shutting down entire parts of the grid, ERCOT avoided the worst case scenario: one where demand for power overwhelms the supply of power generation available on the grid, causing equipment to catch fire, substations to blow and power lines to go down.

If the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid would take months to repair, said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin. “As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout,” she said. “ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is because of those grid operators.” If that had occurred, even as power generators recovered from the cold, ERCOT would have been unable to quickly reconnect them back to the grid, Johnson said.

And since nobody can disprove a negative, one just has to take them at their word that dozens of people died so that millions more could live… or something. Grid operators would have needed to slowly and carefully bring generators and customers back online, all the while taking care to not to cause more damage to the grid. It’s a delicate process, Johnson explained, because each part of the puzzle — the generators producing power, the transmission lines that move the power and the customers that use it — must be carefully managed. “It has to balance constantly,” she said. “Once a grid goes down, it’s hard to bring it back online. If you bring on too many customers, then you have another outage.”

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A disaster long in the making.

The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)

[..] Yes, some coal plants closed because of freezing temperatures and some natural gas pipelines froze. But as Jason Isaac of the Texas Public Policy Foundation explains in our pages today, the main problem with the Texas power grid isn’t that renewables failed or that fossil fuels failed. It’s that the grid itself has been made unstable by state and federal subsidies that distort the energy market and prevent the buildup of reliable power generation. Subsidies for renewables and fossil fuels have been around for a long time in Texas, supported by both Democrats and Republicans. For as much as Texas has a reputation as a deep-red oil and gas state, it was under Republican Gov. Rick Perry that billions were spent on wind turbines and transmission lines in West Texas, spurred on by massive tax credits for wind producers.

The same thing happened at the federal level when George W. Bush was governor of the state. In the months to come, there will be lengthy and bitter debates about who was responsible for this fiasco. The obvious partisan arguments are already out in the open. If any actual reforms come out of these debates, they will have to begin with an acknowledgment that the way things have been done for decades in Texas has not worked. That much, at least, is now painfully undeniable. For example, goosing the wind and solar industries with billions in tax credits in a state that produces almost a third of America’s fossil fuel energy was perhaps unwise and imprudent.

In hindsight, it looks like cronyism. So do the subsidies for fossil fuels, even if they are not as extravagant as subsidies for renewables. Maybe all of that was a bad idea from the beginning, and maybe it’s time to cut it out. Hardship like what Texas is going through right now can bring clarity. And in the teeth of this winter storm, the entire energy industry, with its high-powered lobbyists and its billions in taxpayer subsidies, is beginning to look like every other elite institution in America: a corrupt and parasitic enterprise whose failures come at the expense of ordinary Americans—in this case, people who are now trying to stay alive in their own homes.

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“Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity..”

Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)

After a deadly blast of winter weather overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions of Texans without power, hospitals in the state are also facing the additional stress of water shortages, crowded emergency rooms and even being forced to evacuate patients. Record-low temperatures damaged infrastructure and pipes, seriously jeopardizing drinking water systems in the Lone Star state. Authorities in Texas ordered 7 million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it. Some hospitals, already contending with COVID-19 patients and vaccine distribution, were also impacted by the winter storm’s havoc on state power grids and utilities. In Austin, hospitals dealt with a loss in water pressure and heat.

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said Wednesday night that it had lost water pressure from the City of Austin. Since water feeds the facility’s boiler, the hospital was also losing heat. Hospital officials were working to evacuate some patients to other area facilities and said they were distributing bottles and jugs of water to patients and employees. Officials added that they were working with the city to secure portable toilets. “Because this is a statewide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients,” said David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

In southwest Austin, officials with Ascension Seton Southwest Hospital said they too were facing intermittent issues with water pressure, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The hospital was rescheduling elective surgeries to preserve bed capacity and personnel as a result. At Houston Methodist, two of its community hospitals did not have running water but still treated patients, with most non-emergency surgeries and procedures canceled for Thursday and possibly Friday, spokeswoman Gale Smith told the Associated Press. Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity,” Smith said. She added that pipes had burst in Methodist’s hospitals but were being repaired as they happened.

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“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell. This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it. In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties. Once artificial intelligence becomes a fully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers. This is how it starts. Martin Niemöller’s warning about the widening net that ensnares us all still applies.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” In our case, however, it started with the censors who went after extremists spouting so-called “hate speech,” and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shamed for being perceived as politically incorrect.

Then the internet censors got involved and went after extremists spouting “disinformation” about stolen elections, the Holocaust, and Hunter Biden, and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shunned for appearing to disagree with the majority. By the time the techno-censors went after extremists spouting “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, the censors had developed a system and strategy for silencing the nonconformists. Still, few spoke out. Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs.At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other. When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.

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The MSM will be pushing this for all they’re worth.

Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a newly hired high-profile litigator interviewed Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday, as part of a criminal probe of the former president’s business dealings, said two people familiar with the investigation. The interview came after Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience in white-collar and organized crime cases, joined District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s team investigating the Trump family business. Pomerantz started on Feb. 2 as special assistant district attorney, said Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance. Pomerantz’s hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation, including the issuance in recent days of roughly a dozen new subpoenas, according to the sources.

One of those went to Ladder Capital Finance LLC, a major creditor used by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to finance the former president’s commercial real estate holdings, the sources said. Vance’s office has also conducted interviews with Ladder’s staff, one source familiar with the matter said. The district attorney’s office has said little publicly about the probe, but noted in court filings that it was focused on “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including alleged falsification of records, and insurance and tax fraud. It is the only known criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices.

Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. Ladder issued the loans on several of Trump’s big commercial holdings, including a $160 million mortgage on the Trump Building, a skyscraper in Manhattan’s financial district.

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He knew this a long time ago. But dangling the sausage gets votes.

Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)

When Joe Biden met with a group of mayors and governors last week he bluntly told them to get ready for a legislative defeat: his proposed minimum wage hike was unlikely to happen, he said, at least in the near term. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group, according to a person in the room. “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.” The comments, which were confirmed by two other people familiar with the conversation, were the furthest Biden has gone in conceding the coming axing of the $15-an-hour minimum wage provision from his first major legislative package.


And they suggest that the president is more inclined to manage the fallout of it not being included than to pursue long-shot, political-capital consuming efforts to fight for its insertion. Sitting in the Oval Office with Republican and Democratic elected officials last Friday to advocate for his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, he didn’t hide his skepticism. “Doesn’t look like we can do it,” he said of the minimum wage hike. For weeks now, the White House has been trying to manage expectations on the feasibility of advancing a $15-an-hour minimum wage provision through a broader “rescue” package. Biden first suggested it might not make it into the final Covid relief bill in an interview with CBS prior to the Super Bowl, noting his belief that the Senate parliamentarian would determine it did not jibe with budgetary rules that allow a bill to pass with just 51 votes in the Senate.

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I still wonder what the legal status is of requiring people be vaccinated with a vaccine whose producer says it doesn’t prevent the spread of the virus. And then on the basis of that, allowing them into your country without testing etc., where they can spread the virus.

If you would let people fly in to an island, and they would stay there, that’s one thing. You could monitor them, trace them. But Greek tourism is based on people traveling a lot, island-hopping etc.

Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)

Soon, vaccinated British citizens may be able to travel to Greece without any restrictions whatsoever, according to Greek Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis. Greece has entered into preliminary discussions with the UK regarding tourism, Theoharis stated, and may allow vaccinated travelers from the UK into the country this summer without being tested for the coronavirus first. Inoculated tourists may also be able to avoid Greece’s mandatory seven-day quarantine once they arrive in the country. Those who have been vaccinated and hope to enter Greece may have to present a vaccine certificate, or vaccine passport, in order to skip the strict anti-virus measures currently in place in the country.

Currently, all those entering Greece must present a negative PCR test for the coronavirus, within 72 hours of their flight, before entry is allowed. In addition to the PCR test, visitors from the UK must also now take a rapid test upon arrival to Greece. Employing nearly one in five Greeks, tourism is one of the most important sectors of the country’s economy. Greece welcomes around 4 million visitors from the UK each year. The Mediterranean country hopes that opening up a tourist corridor with the UK for the summer will bring a much-needed boost to Greece’s economy, which has suffered a great deal due to travel restrictions and strict anti-virus measures. Greek tourism took a giant plunge in the third quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

In total, in the first nine months of last year, the accommodation sector had revenues of only 1.89 billion euros, when last year in the corresponding period revenues were 6.15 billion euros — representing a staggering loss of 4.26 billion euros. When discussing the outlook for Greece’s tourism sector in the summer of 2021, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated to Reuters: “I am a realist, but I am also cautiously optimistic that we will do much better than last year.” The potential deal with the UK may well add to Mitsotakis’ optimism for a successful tourist season this year. The country has already struck a deal with Israel, which will allow vaccinated travelers from the Mediterranean country to enter Greece without coronavirus restrictions.

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Saved this for last because I would like some comments. Did anyone ever state vit. D was a cure for Covid? We sure did not. This epidemiologist appears to take studies on giving people already in hospital large doses of vit. D, to claim it’s useless. This is exactly how HCQ was discredited. But do chime in.

Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

There are many scientific questions that have come up during the pandemic. We’ve investigated the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, looked into school closures, and even checked to see whether spectacles could protect you from getting Covid-19 (the jury is still out on that one). But perhaps the most consistent question that has been asked, over and over again, is whether vitamin D supplements can treat coronavirus effectively. The allure is understandable — vitamin D is cheap, relatively safe, and there’s some evidence that it can help with the common cold, which is often caused by coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. If it worked, it could make an enormous difference in the lives of people with Covid-19 and at a very low cost.

Sadly, this has inspired endless shoddy studies that have meant that the question of whether vitamin D works for Covid-19 wasn’t answered very well (or at all) the last time I wrote about it in October 2020. This makes the recent headlines all the more understandable. A study was put up on SSRN — a preprint server run by The Lancet — a few weeks ago that purported to show a 60% decrease in mortality for people with Covid-19 who were given calcifediol (a metabolite of vitamin D) compared to a control group given treatment as usual. With such impressive-sounding results, the study soon went viral on Twitter and has been reported in news outlets around the world. If supplements really could prevent 60% of Covid-19 deaths, it would be a research finding that could literally change the course of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as with most of the previous research, the evidence is much shakier than you might expect given the glowing headlines. Even more than a year into all of this, we still don’t really know if vitamin D does anything for Covid-19 at all.

Read more …

 

 

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#Perseverance has captured the first images of life on Mars.

 

 

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Feb 182021
 
 February 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Ansel Adams Church, Taos, Pueblo 1942

 

Masked Drivers Banned From Wearing Sunglasses & Hats in Saxony (RT)
Facebook Blocks News From Australia – Yes, The Entire Country (CTH)
The Deplatforming Of Australia (Mark Pesce)
Hong Kong Aiming For Legislation To Ban Insulting Public Officials (ZH)
Vaccine Rollout Will Trigger New Covid Variants, Oxford Scientist Warns (RT)
Many Top NBA Players Hesitant To Promote Coronavirus Vaccines (ESPN)
Waitress Fired From NYC Eatery For Not Getting Covid Vaccine (DM)
How Well You Fared With Covid19 Might Be Down To Neanderthal Genes (RT)
Cuomo-gate: A Nixonian Scandal Is Engulfing New York (DP)
Texas Governor Blames Power Outages on Wind, Solar (CD)
Subzero Rates Are Coming to the US and the UK (Lacalle)
Twenty Days Of Infamy: The January 2017 Red Flags The FBI Blew Past (JTN)
VP Harris Gets Two Pinocchios For ‘Starting From Scratch’ Comment (JTN)
‘A Love As Real As Climate Change’: Tucker Carlson About Joe & Jill Biden (RT)

 

 

Perfectly in line with today’s news. Insanity rules. Just find someone to hate.

 

 

Ha ha ha. Brilliant. What people think of. “… general facial features” of the driver must still be visible to the road safety cameras…

Masked Drivers Banned From Wearing Sunglasses & Hats in Saxony (RT)

Drivers must still be identifiable by traffic cameras, even when they follow existing health protocols and wear masks, a new rule in Germany’s eastern region says. According to the Bild newspaper, Saxony became the first region in Germany to ban hats and sunglasses on masked drivers. “Wearing a hat and sunglasses in addition to a mask that covers the face and mouth makes [the driver] unrecognizable. So that’s not allowed,” Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Woller said. Woller explained that “general facial features” of the driver must still be visible to the road safety cameras.


He added that officials responsible for handing out fines to drivers were advised to handle the new rule on a case-by-case basis. Starting from Monday, people are required to wear masks in vehicles in Saxony if members of more than two households are traveling together. Last month, Germans were mandated to wear medical-grade respirator-type masks on public transport and when going to supermarkets. Simple cloth or homemade masks are not allowed in such cases.

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Will this wake up more politicians?

Facebook Blocks News From Australia – Yes, The Entire Country (CTH)

Australian officials are pushing back against the totalitarian grip of Big Tech. {Go Deep} As a result of investigations into Google and Facebook the Australian government is set to establish fines against tech companies for anti-trust violations. However, some officials are now discussing taking actions that are beyond civil lawsuits, and are now advocating for arrest of company officers for unlawful conduct. The battle lines are being drawn, and in response to the Australian government position on anti-trust Facebook (feeling they are elite and above the law) has now decided to block all news articles from the entire country from their social media platform.


FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT – […] this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed.

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“Does Facebook truly believe that their actions will change the political outcome? Or are they sending a signal to other sovereign powers—such as the EU, India and the USA—that Facebook is itself a sovereign power..”

The Deplatforming Of Australia (Mark Pesce)

Can a whole country be deplatformed? That question confronts all of Australia today, as Facebook (for Facebook, read Mark Zuckerberg, who autocratically controls the social media giant) suddenly went nuclear, blocking all postings from news sites by its Australian users, and blocking those same users from seeing news postings from any source, anywhere in the world. All of this seemingly in response to a law that hasn’t even passed through Parliament. It feels like a dummy spit for the ages, the kind of moment that historians will simply chuckle over—and it is. But there’s much more here: never before in history has any technology firm gone head-to-head with the legitimate democratic apparatus of a highly advanced state. Australia is neither an economic backwater nor new to the Internet. That’s what makes this all a bit terrifying.

The cheek of it: a trillion-dollar social media firm twists a few dials, drops in some barely-functioning algorithms—that blocked NASA and The Betoota Advocate along with the ABC, News, Seven and Nine—and voila! the entire media landscape alters, bringing the nation’s focus to a foreign technology firm that appears to be acting to interrupt the legislative workings of a democratic sovereign power. If Facebook had acted after the bill had passed through Parliament, after the Governor General had given the law royal assent, then, perhaps, it would have seemed somewhat proportionate—just a protection of business interests. Happening now—in the middle of the political process, and seemingly designed to derail that process—it feels a bit more like the Capitol Insurrection: a bit of violent theatre designed to derail another political process.

Does Facebook truly believe that their actions will change the political outcome? Or are they sending a signal to other sovereign powers—such as the EU, India and the USA—that Facebook is itself a sovereign power, and will use that power to assert its own interests? Both of these alternatives feel like a scenario from dystopian science fiction. Yet this is the problem we now find ourselves in with Big Tech. We’ve nurtured these firms with our attention and our dollars, both of which they’ve converted to raw power. And now, when that power has been turned against us, we recognise the true cost of our addictions to our newsfeeds, our community groups—even those status updates from our families. All of it fed a monster, now unleashed, wreaking havoc with Australia’s democratic interests.

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Facebook, Hong Kong, the vaccine industry, what’s the difference?

Hong Kong Aiming For Legislation To Ban Insulting Public Officials (ZH)

Hong Kong’s government is currently in the process of introducing legislation that would prohibit insulting public officials. We can only imagine the insults that were muttered when local citizens read the news from local media. Hong Kong’s Security Bureau is in the midst of leading a study on how the legislation could work and how it would be overseen, according to Bloomberg. Local outlets said, citing Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip, that the issue was under examination. The legislation would be part of a broader agenda by China to “erode basic freedoms” in Hong Kong. The move would be the biggest to censor free speech in Hong Kong since China’s institution of a law that has been used to combat mass protests in Hong Kong.


Beijing has also implemented a “patriotism test” to weed out pro-Democracy lawmakers. The test prompted mass resignations from opposition members in the Legislative Council last November, Bloomberg notes. Bloomberg also noted that Hong Kong judges and law enforcement are unlikely to challenge any new legislation from Beijing: Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s top court ordered that media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai remain in jail ahead of his trial on foreign collusion charges, a victory for Beijing that suggested Hong Kong judges were unlikely to challenge the security law. Hong Kong police also separately arrested Lai for assisting in an activist’s attempt to flee to Taiwan, the Oriental Daily reported on Wednesday, without citing anyone. Recall, back in June 2020, Hong Kong passed a law banning insults to China’s National Anthem.

Read more …

There are thousands already. If you boost your immune system, that is much less scary.

Vaccine Rollout Will Trigger New Covid Variants, Oxford Scientist Warns (RT)

A senior scientist at Oxford University has warned the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will prompt the virus to mutate, driven by “immunological selection” rather than the adaptations we have seen so far. Speaking to the UK Commons Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Professor Sir John Bell, Oxford’s regius professor of medicine, said that the Covid-19 mutations observed so far are a result of the virus adapting to be more effective in its new hosts, humans. “Most of the variants we have seen so far represent that kind of adaptation to a new species; it’s a bit like moving into a new apartment, you are shuffling the sofa around and making sure the TV is in the right place,” Bell told colleagues and lawmakers.


“What we will see between now and the end of the year is a number of variants which are driven by immunological selection, largely by the vaccines, and that will add another layer of complexity.” Bell added that a number of variants that currently exist have already demonstrated some “quite profound resistance” to existing immunity, either from previous Covid-19 infection or vaccines, citing people who have been reinfected by the Brazilian and South African strains. Despite this, Bell said there was good news in the fight against Covid-19, in that current vaccines do appear to have an impact on existing variants and are capable of stopping severe disease. “We need to be conscious of the new variants, we need to be ready to make new vaccines if we need them, but I am pretty clear our existing vaccines are going to work to some extent [against known variants],” the Oxford scientist stated.

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“Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities..”

Many Top NBA Players Hesitant To Promote Coronavirus Vaccines (ESPN)

Many of the NBA’s top players are expressing apprehension about accepting invitations to participate in league-sponsored public service announcements to bolster broader acceptance of the coronavirus vaccine, sources told ESPN. The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.

Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game. On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn’t “jump the line” of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said. Nevertheless, that’s considered a fluid timeline, largely meant to reaffirm to teams the need to be prepared for whenever the opportunity to vaccinate players comes from public health officials, sources said.

The NBA shared with teams an expectation of 70 million to 100 million vaccine doses likely distributed by mid-March. In the hours after the call with the league’s GMs, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the nation’s leading infectious disease expert — told CNN that his original hope of April as a target for widespread vaccine availability for those outside of priority groups could be pushed back. “That timeline will probably be prolonged into mid- to late May and early June,” Fauci told CNN.

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“The way I see it, getting the vaccine is for me. It protects me. If I am not getting it, it’s my choice, and I’d only be hurting myself,” she said. The coronavirus vaccines available haven’t been tested on pregnant women, but also haven’t been shown to affect pregnancy and are viewed as generally safe. [..] The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that getting vaccinated is “a personal choice for people who are pregnant..”

Waitress Fired From NYC Eatery For Not Getting Covid Vaccine (DM)

A New York waitress was fired from her job on Monday after she told her bosses at a tavern that she wanted to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine until she could learn more about its side effects on women who are pregnant. Bonnie Jacobson, 34, said she is not an ‘anti-vaxxer’ but wanted to wait for more research as she recently starting trying to get pregnant with her husband, she told DailyMail.com. Jacobson, who started working at the Red Hook Tavern in August, said the restaurant first sent out an email on February 8 which said: ‘If you choose to get vaccinated, here’s what you need to know.’ That email, reviewed by DailyMail.com, did not tell employees that vaccinations were required.

Jacobson said she told her manager during a staff meeting that she wanted more time to research the vaccine and said her manager initially understood her concerns, telling her she would not be required to get the shot. But the Brooklyn tavern changed its mind days later on February 12 and sent workers and email noting the vaccines were mandatory. Please be advised that we will require that all employees receive the vaccination,’ notes the email. This will be mandatory for all existing employees and any new hires. The exception to this policy will be if your own personal health or disability prohibits you from obtaining this vaccination. We encourage you to consult your healthcare professional to determine if getting a vaccine is right for you.’

Jacobson then emailed her employers on Saturday and said that she did not yet want to get the vaccine, which she said she ‘fully supports.’ ‘I am choosing not to get the vaccine because there just isn’t enough data or research at this point on its effects on fertility,’ she wrote to her boss.

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How do I find out?

How Well You Fared With Covid19 Might Be Down To Neanderthal Genes (RT)

Has Covid-19 floored you? Or did you only suffer mild symptoms? The answer to how your body responds to coronavirus could very well be influenced by the Neanderthal genes you carry, according to researchers in Germany. Svante Paabo and Hugo Zeberg of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have been looking to the genes inherited from our Neanderthal ancestors – and the pair’s studies suggest that our modern-day responses to Covid-19 are part of a genetic lottery played out over 40,000 years. Their latest study suggests that a genetic mutation in genes linked to our ancestral Neanderthal relatives might reduce the risk of severe infection by about 22 percent.

The mutation, which helps fight off RNA viruses, has been found in all Neanderthal DNA samples tested and is present in about 30 percent of samples from people with European and Asian backgrounds today. In September, the pair co-authored another study that looked at a different set of Neanderthal genes found in some 50 percent of Asians and 16 percent of Europeans. People that carried that particular gene sequence were found to be more susceptible to developing serious respiratory problems after contracting Covid-19. Neanderthals are known to have lived alongside – and interbred with – modern humans in Europe and Asia before becoming extinct some 40,000 years ago.

Paabo and Zeberg compared DNA samples from 2,200 people with samples taken from four ancient humans – a 70,000-year-old Neanderthal from Siberia, a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal from Croatia, and two separates samples from Denisova Cave in Siberia, to reach their findings for the most recent study. Previously, they had looked at samples from some 3,000 people for the study published in Nature.

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How is he still in office?

Cuomo-gate: A Nixonian Scandal Is Engulfing New York (DP)

The biggest political scandal in America right now is playing out in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in a lot of trouble — and rightly so. The Democratic governor did not merely wildly mismanage his state’s response to the COVID emergency, while netting himself a lucrative book deal and an Emmy. He did something worse. In the middle of a public health emergency, he used his office to help one of his largest political donors shield itself from legal consequences as 15,000 nursing home residents died from COVID — and then he and his administration underreported that death toll, helping the same donor. The Daily Poster had been covering the story for months before it exploded this week. The scandal is a cautionary tale of hubris, megalomania, and corruption that left a literal mountain of preventable COVID deaths in its wake.

Now we are about to see whether a blue state’s democratic institutions can hold wrongdoers accountable, or whether America’s culture of impunity can once again protect the powerful from facing any consequences at all. Amid a cacophony of demands for Cuomo to resign, the governor and his aides are frantically trying to cover up the basic facts of what happened, and that includes launching a Nixonian campaign of intimidation and retribution against Democratic lawmakers who have for months been sounding the alarm. Two national news outlets today detailed Cuomo’s new campaign of retribution against one lawmaker in his own party who dared to ask questions about constituents and family members who died under Cuomo’s nursing home policies.

Cuomo held a press conference to publicly berate the same Democrat, while another New York news outlet reported that other lawmakers are now facing threats. For months, these legislators’ questions were ignored by a national media that has seemed far more interested in valorizing Cuomo than in reporting inconvenient facts. But those facts are worth reviewing, because they illustrate the direct link between the underreporting of nursing home deaths and the push for corporate immunity. They also spotlight the very real human carnage that can result when an imperious, out-of-control politician is unwilling to engage in any contrition, self-reflection, or reform.

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Whether it’s Cuomo or Abbott, it’s clear that crises expose incompetence.

Texas Governor Blames Power Outages on Wind, Solar (CD)

As millions of Texans struggled desperately to keep warm amid power outages stemming from the devastating winter storm sweeping the nation, the state’s Republican governor late Tuesday blamed solar and wind for the blackouts—despite the fact that Texas relies overwhelmingly on fossil fuels—and claimed the crisis shows that the Green New Deal would be a “deadly deal” for the United States. “Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy, such natural gas and oil and nuclear, as well as solar and wind,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in an appearance on “Hannity” Tuesday night. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis.”

Abbott was far from the first Republican to deploy such blatantly false talking points in response to the ongoing crisis in Texas, which has left at least 10 people dead. But the governor’s decision to appear on Fox News and attack a policy that has not even been implemented as Texans resorted to burning their belongings to keep their children warm was viewed as yet another example of his failed leadership. “Five million Texans are without power tonight and temperatures are below freezing. People will most certainly die tonight because of it,” said Sawyer Hackett, senior adviser to Julián Castro. “But Gov. Abbott had time to go on Sean Hannity to blame the Green New Deal.” Citing an official with the state’s Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT), The Texas Tribune reported that as of Tuesday afternoon “16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, was offline. Nearly double that, 30 gigawatts, had been lost from thermal sources, which includes gas, coal and nuclear energy.”

“Texas is a gas state,” Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Tribune. “Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now.” But that hasn’t stopped Texas Republicans like Abbott and Rep. Dan Crenshaw from attempting to blame frozen wind turbines for outages that could continue for days, endangering lives and coronavirus vaccines. In response to Abbott’s “Hannity” interview, Texas voting rights advocate Charlie Bonner tweeted, “He is lying. People are dying, and he is on Fox News lying to you. We are living in fear and Greg Abbott is playing politics with our lives.” “Greg Abbott doesn’t care if you live or die tonight so take care of each other, my friends,” Bonner added. “We’re living in a failed state.”

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“The financial repression of central banks begins with a misdiagnosis assuming that low growth and below-target inflation is a problem of demand, not of the previous excess..”

Subzero Rates Are Coming to the US and the UK (Lacalle)

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists, who all start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea. Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, which perpetuates overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifies the economy by subsidizing the low-productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it. They do not strengthen the credit capacity of families: the prices of nonreplicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess and because the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk. Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions, because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money.

It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending. They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, which come from using 2001–07 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble. The argument of the central planners is based on an inconsistency: that rates are negative because markets demand them, not because they are imposed by the central bank. If that is the case and the result would be the same, why don’t they let rates float freely? Because it is false.

Think for a moment what type of investment, company, or financial decision is profitable with rates at –0.5 percent but unviable with rates at 1 percent. A time bomb. It is no surprise that investment in bubble-prone sectors is rising with negative rates and that nonreplicable and financial assets are skyrocketing. Instead of strengthening economies, negative rates make governments more dependent on cheap debt. Public debt trades at artificially low yields, and politicians abandon any reformist impulse, preferring to accumulate more debt. The financial repression of central banks begins with a misdiagnosis assuming that low growth and below-target inflation is a problem of demand, not of the previous excess, and ends up perpetuating the bubbles that it sought to solve.

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“Between Jan. 4, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2017, nearly every major assumption of the FBI’s Russia collusion theory was gutted..”

Twenty Days Of Infamy: The January 2017 Red Flags The FBI Blew Past (JTN)

From its earliest moments, the FBI’s Russia collusion probe was always fraught with warning signs. Agents were told Christopher Steele provided faulty information, had likely been compromised by Russian intel disinformation, wanted to defeat Donald Trump, had leaked to the media and was being paid by Hillary Clinton, who herself might be carrying out an epic dirty political trick to vilify Trump with false information to distract from her own scandals. Those intelligence reports alone should have given agents pause. The fact that Steele had been terminated by the FBI as an informant for leaking also should have weighed heavily.

But if ever there were red lights screaming for the FBI to end the counterintelligence probe, they were flashing during a harrowing 20-day window in January 2017 as Barack Obama was leaving office and Trump was coming in. Between Jan. 4, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2017, nearly every major assumption of the FBI’s Russia collusion theory was gutted, according to recently declassified evidence reviewed by Just the News. Months of investigating Trump adviser Mike Flynn had turned up “no derogatory information,” and agents recommended shutting down that part of the inquiry after concluding Flynn wasn’t aiding Moscow. Two separate informant recordings of Trump adviser Carter Page — the target of an ongoing FISA warrant — produced stunning evidence of innocence.

U.S. intelligence had concluded a key allegation in the Steele dossier was Russian disinformation. And Steele’s primary sub-source — whom the FBI assessed was likely tied to Russian intelligence — discounted much of the information attributed to him in the dossier. Even Director James Comey was telling colleagues there wasn’t much corroborated in the dossier. And yet somehow, some way, the FBI accelerated the investigation even though overwhelming evidence showed — as lead investigative agent Peter Strzok would later text his colleague — there was “no big there, there.”

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It doesn’t matter. She will be believed by her fans, and that’s all that counts.

VP Harris Gets Two Pinocchios For ‘Starting From Scratch’ Comment (JTN)

A Washington Post fact check has given a statement made recently by Vice President Kamala Harris a rating of two Pinocchios. “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out. And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year,” Harris said during an interview with Axios. In the Post fact checking piece Glenn Kessler writes that Harris “gets into trouble when she says ‘we’re starting from scratch.’ The Biden administration appears to have had to fill in the blanks of the Trump plan and certainly did speed up the tempo of what the Trump administration envisioned. It has added a federal component and pushed for funding for states,” Kessler wrote.


“Biden administration officials may be proud of what they have accomplished, but they shouldn’t suggest that nothing was in place when they walked in the door. They have built on an existing structure left behind by the Trump team. Harris modified her comment by saying ‘in many ways,’ but that’s not quite enough to avoid Pinocchios,” he wrote. Two Pinocchios is like a rating of “half-true,” according to the Post’s explanation of the Pinocchio Test ratings. “Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people,” the Post says about the two Pinocchio rating.

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Ha ha ha. “His latest comments quickly sparked a liberal uproar on social media, with critics calling the Fox News host “bitter,”“offensive,” and “deranged.”

‘A Love As Real As Climate Change’: Tucker Carlson About Joe & Jill Biden (RT)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has outraged Democrats once again after he appeared to suggest President Joe Biden’s relationship with his wife is a carefully-devised PR campaign, mockingly saying it is “as real as climate change.” Reacting to the glowing coverage celebrating Biden’s public displays of affection with his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, and glee over a supposed return to ‘normalcy’ following chilly public interactions between former President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, Carlson put his own spin on the situation. “Not since Antony dined with Cleopatra at downtown Antioch, before they killed themselves obviously, has a country witnessed a love story as moving and poignant as Jill and Joe’s,” said Carlson sarcastically on his Tuesday show.


“No, ladies and gentlemen, Jill Biden is not Joe’s caretaker. She isn’t his nurse. She’s his fully-equal romantic partner. Together they are like besotted teens, yet at the same time they are the wise and knowing parents of a nation,” he continued. He then implied the public displays of affection were “part of a slick PR campaign devised by cynical consultants,” designed to “hide the president’s senility,” adding that in his view, their love is “as real as climate change.” Carlson has previously shot down concerns about climate change, calling it “systemic racism in the sky” – “You can’t see it, but rest assured it’s everywhere and it’s deadly.” His latest comments quickly sparked a liberal uproar on social media, with critics calling the Fox News host “bitter,”“offensive,” and “deranged.”

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Swalwell needs to be investigated for real.

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

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

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

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

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Lots of China stories all of a sudden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For the banks.

ECB To Unveil Yet Another Stimulus Package (R.)

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

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

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

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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.

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