Mar 072021
 
 March 7, 2021  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  29 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Red Vineyards at Arles 1888

 

American Rescue Plan Could Set Stage for $4 Trillion of Debt (CRFB)
Yellen Coddles Up to Powell on Rising Long-Term Yields (WS)
Italy’s Government Is Outsourcing Its Economic Strategy To McKinsey (Jac.)
US Covid Cases Continue To Decline After Brief Plateau (JTN)
Connecticut Lifting All Covid-19 Capacity Restrictions On Businesses (F.)
The Nightingale Alternative (Gillian Dymond)
Trump Sends Legal Notice To GOP To Stop Using His Name (Pol.)
Congressmen Demand Twitter’s Internal Docs Regarding Trump Censorship (JTN)
Is China Hacking Random Servers To Put Itself Into A Bad Light? (MoA)
Bitcoin Could Soon Run Head First Into US Money Laundering Laws (ZH)
The Dark Side Of “Eating Lower On The Food Chain” (Turchin)
Mobile Devices Alter Children’s Minds, Change How They Perceive The World (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Jack Posobiec: Trump sent $1800 stimulus out, Biden sent $1400 but if you look closely you may start to notice the media being slightly biased about this story.

Kevin Gosztola: Jobless benefits were $600/week for 4 months in the COVID-19 relief that passed under Trump in March 2020. Biden and Senate Democrats are cutting jobless benefits for citizens in crisis to $300/week for same period—half of what passed in GOP-controlled Senate.

 

 

 

 

Already, people will get $1,400 checks, while the rescue will cost them some $5,700 each.

American Rescue Plan Could Set Stage for $4 Trillion of Debt (CRFB)

The American Rescue Plan Act is estimated to cost over $1.9 trillion through 2031, but the ultimate price tag could be twice as high if some of the policies in the bill are extended beyond their current expiration dates. The bill includes several extensions of tax credits that supporters have previously proposed on a permanent basis and several temporary economic relief measures that are slated to end before the economy has fully recovered. If the tax credits were made permanent and these relief measures were extended for the duration of the crisis, it would raise the total cost of the bill to $3.8 trillion through 2031, or $4.1 trillion with interest.

Several measures in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that provide temporary relief are likely to be extended past their expiration dates. Most significantly, expanded unemployment benefits would expire at the end of August (though that may soon be changed to September), after which all unemployed workers would lose the benefit supplement and many would lose benefits entirely. In addition, a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would end in September, after which benefits would immediately snap back to their previous level. Other smaller relief efforts also end abruptly. Extensions of these policies are likely in our view. While the actual cost would depend on the length and nature of those extensions, we believe a reasonable extension and phase-out scenario could cost roughly $300 billion.

More substantially, the American Rescue Plan Act includes one- or two-year versions of several longstanding policy priorities of President Biden’s or Congressional Democrats’. It includes over $100 billion for a one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which increases the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 (or $3,600 for children under age 6) and makes it fully refundable. The bill also includes a $15 billion, one-year expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers that many have been seeking for years, and an $8 billion expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which closely matches President Biden’s campaign proposal to increase the maximum credit from $2,100 to $8,000 and from covering 35 percent of expenses to 50 percent of expenses. Finally, the legislation includes a $35 billion, 2-year increase in Affordable Care Act premium subsidies that closely matches a similar proposal in President Biden’s campaign plan and $10 billion in small Medicaid expansions that last five years.

Making the expanded CTC permanent would cost an additional $1.1 trillion, assuming the expiring provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which boosted the credit from $1,000 to $2,000 and eliminated the dependent exemption, are eventually extended or the policy is modified after 2026. Relative to current law, we estimate this would cost more like $1.5 trillion. Meanwhile, making the EITC and CDCTC extensions permanent would cost over $200 billion, and making the health care provisions permanent would cost about $250 billion. Altogether, we estimate these potential extensions would cost $1.9 trillion before interest, boosting the overall cost of the bill to $4.1 trillion when interest is included.

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“The Wall Street crybabies are clamoring for this because massive highly leveraged bets on Treasury securities are producing massive losses.”

Yellen Coddles Up to Powell on Rising Long-Term Yields (WS)

It seems to be a rare sight that a Treasury Secretary and a Fed Chair color-coordinate their comments about rising long-term yields. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in an interview on PBS NewsHour echoed what Fed Chair Jerome Powell had said on Thursday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. When Yellen was asked about the rising long-term yields that the crybabies on Wall Street are getting so nervous about, Yellen said in her quiet manner: “Long term interest rates have gone up some, but mainly I think because market participants are seeing a stronger recovery, as we have success with getting people vaccinated and a strong fiscal package that’s going to get people back to work.” “Rising interest rates don’t concern you?” she was then asked.


“I think they’re a sign that the economy is getting back on track, and market participants see that, and they expect a stronger economy,” Yellen said. “And instead of inflation lingering below levels that are desirable for years on end, they’re beginning to see inflation get back to a normal range of around 2%.” And inflation may rise more than that, but it’s going to be transitory, she said. So on Friday, the Treasury 10-year yield rose to 1.57%, still ludicrously low, given the outlook on inflation, and given the Fed’s insistence that it will let inflation run over 2% – as measured by “core PCE,” the inflation measure that nearly always produces the lowest inflation readings in the US. But that 1.57% was nevertheless the highest since February 14, 2020:

The spread between the Treasury 2-year yield (0.14%) and the 10-year yield (1.57%) widened to 1.43 percentage points. By this measure, the yield curve is the steepest since November 2015:

This rise in the 10-year yield has set off clamoring among the crybabies on Wall Street for the Fed to do something to bring them down. They have already outlined the remedies, including prominently another “Operation Twist,” where the Fed sells Treasury securities with short maturities and buys Treasury securities with long maturities. This concentrated buying of long-dated Treasuries would raise their prices and thereby push down their yields. The Wall Street crybabies are clamoring for this because massive highly leveraged bets on Treasury securities are producing massive losses.

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This must be crossing some line.

Italy’s Government Is Outsourcing Its Economic Strategy To McKinsey (Jac.)

Upon its formation last month, Mario Draghi’s new government was heralded by almost all Italian and international media as a rescue operation. Where the former European Central Bank (ECB) chief Draghi had “saved the euro” in the 2010s, most outlets gushed over “Super Mario” and his plan to “save Italy” by splashing a mooted €209 billion in European recovery fund cash while “reforming” its lackluster economy. The kind of “reforms” this meant went unmentioned — and after all, this government bears no relation to voter decisions, or the coalitions that ran in the last general election. But for the fourth time since the 1990s, a president called on a technocrat from the world of finance and banking to form a cabinet, halfway through a parliament. Eight of Draghi’s twenty-three ministers are unelected technocrats, in a so-called government of experts.

If these figures are not party-political, they have similar backgrounds and instincts. Economy minister Daniele Franco is a former Bank of Italy official who drafted the famous 2011 ECB letter instructing the government to implement privatizations and cut back collective bargaining. Former Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao — today innovation and digital transition minister — is a former partner at private consultants McKinsey & Company. Now, it has been revealed that McKinsey is going to be tasked with writing Italy’s economic plan for the coming period, to be submitted for review by the European Commission at the end of next month. Notorious for its role in the Enron scandal as well as the 2008 financial crisis — as it promoted the boundless securitization of mortgage assets — and the botched vaccine rollout in France, the firm is now being called on to shape the Draghi government’s “reform” agenda.

La Repubblica, the country’s leading center-left daily, gushed over the move. “Faced with a race against time,” Draghi’s government “has assumed the position of a private corporation faced with a new business opportunity that isn’t part of its core activities.” While this same paper reported on March 1 that the need for “hurry” meant Draghi himself would write the recovery plan, together with finance minister Franco, this has now been outsourced. The suggestion that this is a purely “technical” collaboration — that McKinsey’s choices will not be political — is patently absurd, not least given that this claim is also widely made for Draghi’s “technical” government itself. For decades, the imposition of neoliberal recipes in Italy has been advanced through this same procedure, with the agenda advanced by privatizers couched in the dogma of “unavoidable choices.”

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And still nobody knows why?!

US Covid Cases Continue To Decline After Brief Plateau (JTN)

Daily new COVID-19 cases in the United States have continued declining after a brief plateau following a sharp drop from the beginning of the year. Cases have declined steeply since early January, baffling scientists who are struggling to explain the unexpected drop in COVID activity, particularly after weeks of dire warnings from health officials about the potential for a post-holiday spike. That decline leveled out in late February, with daily average case numbers appearing to be on a slightly upward trajectory at one point, leading experts to warn that positive test results could be preparing to explode again.


Yet cases appear to be dropping again, according to several data sources. The COVID Tracking Project indicates that daily average case numbers began slowly decreasing again around Feb. 27 and have continued on that downward trend over the past week. Likewise, the data website Worldometers also identifies average daily case numbers beginning a new decline at right around the same day. According to COVID Tracking, COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued on a seemingly unabated downward trajectory since early January, on Friday reaching levels not seen since late October.

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Not all restrictions.

Connecticut Lifting All Covid-19 Capacity Restrictions On Businesses (F.)

Connecticut will lift all capacity limits on certain businesses including restaurants, gyms, offices and houses of worship starting March 19, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday, going further than most other Democratic-led states to roll back Covid-19 restrictions even as public health officials advise governors not to do so. Restaurants, retail businesses, libraries, personal services, indoor recreation facilities, gyms, fitness centers, museums, aquariums, zoos, offices and houses of worship will all have their capacity limits repealed. Social distancing protocols will still be in place and face masks will be required, and there will be some restrictions: theaters will remain restricted to 50% capacity, restaurants are limited to eight people per table and must close at 11 p.m. and bars that only serve beverages will still be closed entirely.


The state’s mask mandate will remain in effect. Gathering limits on social and recreational gatherings will also be increased March 19 to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors at a private residence, or 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors at a commercial venue. On April 2, the state will open outdoor amusement parks, open indoor stadiums at 10% capacity and increase occupancy at outdoor event venues to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 people. Connecticut will be one of only a few Democratic-led states to have such relaxed capacity restrictions: Virginia does not have capacity restrictions at restaurants or places of worship but does at gyms, Wisconsin’s capacity limit order has expired and Kansas’ restrictions are determined by county, with many having few or no limits.

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“..depriving us all of autonomy and of the comforting, real-world support of friends and family, and robbing the less fortunate among us of health, of livelihoods, and, in the worst cases, of life itself.”

The Nightingale Alternative (Gillian Dymond)

It is a year now since I last took a train: a short return trip, from Leamington Spa to Oxford. On the journey out, I was lucky enough to find a seat in which, for some forty minutes, I shared the air with my fellow travellers. At Oxford station I rubbed shoulders with a multiplicity of strangers as I joined the throng surging towards the exit and proceeding slowly through the congested barriers, then made my way along busy streets, brushing against other human beings on the narrow pavements. At the Ashmolean I met a friend, and together we mingled freely with the rest of the visitors at the well-frequented Rembrandt exhibition, then chatted at length over a late lunch in the museum café, where the tables – disdaining any hint of anti-social distancing – were full to capacity.

Later, after a walk through Christchurch Meadow and along the river, exchanging smiles and occasionally the odd word with those I passed along the way, I spent some time browsing the shelves of Blackwell’s in daring proximity with other booklovers before deciding on a purchase and braving the jostle of the station platform to board a packed train back to Leamington. It was a very ordinary day – a day passed without fear as I came into contact with numerous unknown people, some of whom, no doubt, were suffering from the common cold or harbouring incipient or suppressed symptoms of influenza or even of Covid-19 (which, as we now know, had already been on the loose for several, possibly many, months at that time). Not for a moment did this disturb me.

Like all those in good health and unafflicted by obsessive-compulsive disorder, I judged the hasard of stepping out boldly into the microbial soup which surrounds and permeates our existence to be a risk worth taking in exchange for the spontaneous social interaction without which human beings cannot thrive. I never guessed that this could be the last time I would be free to enjoy a day of such unexceptionable pleasures. True, rumblings of the pandemic had been growing over the previous weeks, but memories of previous damp squibs – SARS, bird flu, swine flu – which the worst-case speculations of computer-modellers had repeatedly failed to ignite encouraged me to hope that present reports from China and Italy, too, would soon fade into a penumbra of failed sensationalism.

[..] And the lockdowns, distancing and masking began. For close on a year now official statistics and figures spun out by a team of approved government experts into webs of cautionary speculation have justified rule by decree, depriving us all of autonomy and of the comforting, real-world support of friends and family, and robbing the less fortunate among us of health, of livelihoods, and, in the worst cases, of life itself. To anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of economic interdependence, the consequences of this decision to quarantine the whole nation were obvious from the start, and were uncannily favourable to the objectives of Agendas 21 and 2030, as handed down from the UN, via national administrations, to local governments throughout the world: but the people of the UK, it seemed, were convinced by the official “narrative”, thousands of them assembling on their doorsteps each Thursday evening to shake their fists at The Virus, and demonstrate solidarity with the NHS.

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Ha ha!

“As one of President Trump’s MOST LOYAL supporters, I think that YOU, deserve the great honor of adding your name to the Official Trump ‘Thank You’ Card.”

Trump Sends Legal Notice To GOP To Stop Using His Name (Pol.)

Lawyers for former President DONALD TRUMP sent out cease-and-desist letters Friday to the three largest fundraising entities for the Republican Party — the RNC, NRCC and NRSC — for using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise, a Trump adviser tells Playbook. We reported yesterday that Trump was furious that his name has been bandied about by organizations that help Republicans who voted to impeach him — without his permission. Trump, who made his fortune in licensing, has always been sensitive to how his name has been used to fundraise and support members, even while in office.

On Friday, the RNC sent out two emails asking supporters to donate as a way to add their name to a “thank you” card for Trump. “President Trump will ALWAYS stand up for the American People, and I just thought of the perfect way for you to show that you support him!” the email states. “As one of President Trump’s MOST LOYAL supporters, I think that YOU, deserve the great honor of adding your name to the Official Trump ‘Thank You’ Card.” A follow-up email was sent hours later to “President Trump’s TOP supporters” warning of a deadline of 10 hours to get their names on the card.

None of the committees returned a request for comment. But privately GOP campaign types say it’s impossible not to use Trump’s name, as his policies are so popular with the base. If Trump really wants to help flip Congress, they argue he should be more generous. His team, however, sees this differently. “President Trump remains committed to the Republican Party and electing America First conservatives, but that doesn’t give anyone – friend or foe – permission to use his likeness without explicit approval,” said a Trump adviser.

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They’ll refuse.

Congressmen Demand Twitter’s Internal Docs Regarding Trump Censorship (JTN)

Two Republican representatives are renewing a demand that Twitter hand over internal documents regarding its decisions to censor and moderate content on its platforms, accusing the tech company of harboring significant bias against a large part of its user base. Reps. Jim Jordan and Ken Buck claimed in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this week that Twitter itself has played “a leading role in silencing and censoring political speech of conservative Americans.” The letter repeats a request that Jordan lodged last summer with which Twitter reportedly did not comply.


“In recent months, Twitter throttled the dissemination of a mainstream newspaper article critical of then-candidate Joe Biden’s son,” they wrote in the letter, “and later took the unprecedented step of de-platforming the sitting President of the United States. If Twitter can do this to the President of the United States, it can do it to any American for any reason.” The politicians demanded that Twitter hand over “an accounting of all content moderation decisions made by Twitter over the past year for users located within the United States, including which Twitter rule or policy the user allegedly violated and the content of the moderated tweet,” as well as “all documents and communications” related to its decision to censor several of then-President Donald Trump’s tweets last year.

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“Why would a state sponsored hacking campaign, especially from China, actually want that? Why would China want to attract more negative news about its country?”

Is China Hacking Random Servers To Put Itself Into A Bad Light? (MoA)

In January 2021, through its Network Security Monitoring service, Volexity detected anomalous activity from two of its customers’ Microsoft Exchange servers. Volexity identified a large amount of data being sent to IP addresses it believed were not tied to legitimate users. A closer inspection of the IIS logs from the Exchange servers revealed rather alarming results. … Through its analysis of system memory, Volexity determined the attacker was exploiting a zero-day server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange (CVE-2021-26855). The attacker was using the vulnerability to steal the full contents of several user mailboxes. This vulnerability is remotely exploitable and does not require authentication of any kind, nor does it require any special knowledge or access to a target environment. The attacker only needs to know the server running Exchange and the account from which they want to extract e-mail.

The hackers used four different zero-day security holes in Exchange Server products. A zero-day security hole is one that was previously unknown and has never been used before. To find new zero-day security holes is difficult and expensive. But after they are found and made operational they are often easy to use. Whoever did this hack has invested quite some effort. Besides extracting emails the hackers also installed backdoors that give them remote access to the hacked Exchange systems. On March 2 Microsoft released patches for the four security holes. In its release it accused China of being behind the hack:

“Today, we’re sharing information about a state-sponsored threat actor identified by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) that we are calling Hafnium. Hafnium operates from China, and this is the first time we’re discussing its activity. It is a highly skilled and sophisticated actor. Historically, Hafnium primarily targets entities in the United States for the purpose of exfiltrating information from a number of industry sectors, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs. While Hafnium is based in China, it conducts its operations primarily from leased virtual private servers (VPS) in the United States.”

[..] The attribution Microsoft makes is in light of the above quite weak. The direct attacks came from rented virtual private servers within the U.S. These were, says Microsoft, operated through machines in China. But how does Microsoft know who has actually control over those machines in China? Could they not be hacked too? Couldn’t the real actors sit anywhere on this planet and access them through the Internet? Microsoft also says that its attribution is “based on observed victimology, tactics and procedures”. The victims are described as “infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs”.

For a state sponsored campaign, especially one that burns four expensive zero-days, that victimology is unusually wide. It practically guaranteed that the attack would be detected fairly soon. “Tactics and procedures” are something that is even harder to attribute than the code used in the attack. Microsoft details some of these: “HAFNIUM has previously compromised victims by exploiting vulnerabilities in internet-facing servers, and has used legitimate open-source frameworks, like Covenant, for command and control. Once they’ve gained access to a victim network, HAFNIUM typically exfiltrates data to file sharing sites like MEGA.

This hack used legitimate open source tools that are widely available and are also used by many cybercrime organizations and secret services. What then are the specific ‘tactics and procedures’ which attribute this to China? Microsoft won’t say. There is also a fact that the hackers have gone into overdrive as soon as Microsoft released the patches. They now infect any system they can find. That surely will result in an extreme amount of international publicity. Why would a state sponsored hacking campaign, especially from China, actually want that? Why would China want to attract more negative news about its country? Could there be some other country that has an interest in pushing public accusations against China by linking it to massive global hacking campaign?

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Governments and central banks want control.

Bitcoin Could Soon Run Head First Into US Money Laundering Laws (ZH)

Among the challenges in regulating bitcoin will be the Biden administration’s handling of recent anti-money laundering laws put into place by the Trump administration pertaining to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The rules, implemented at the last-minute by the Trump administration, seek requirements for financial services firms to report identities of cryptocurrency holders, according to Bloomberg. The point of the rules is to stop attempts to use crypto as a means of transferring money illicitly. Lobbying against the regulations are “heavyweights from both K Street and Wall Street”, according to Bloomberg, including Fidelity and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce has said the rule would have “unintended long-term consequences” on the virtual currency industry.

Also lobbying against the rule have been “Republican lawmakers, including former Representative Cynthia Lummis, who is now a Wyoming senator; Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii”. The rules were implemented by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, after President Trump lost the 2020 election. The move drew criticism and even the threat of lawsuits from pro-crypto trade groups. The rule would require filings to the Treasury every time a customer moves at least $10,000 worth of virtual currency into a wallet not hosted at an exchange. These are similar to the reports that banks already send under existing AML laws when customers take out $10,000 or more in cash.

The regulation would also require banks and exchanges to keep records of customers who send $3,000 or more of virtual currencies to someone else’s unhosted wallet. Obviously, such regulation would maim one of bitcoin’s biggest “assets”: the ability to transfer money anonymously and “outside the system”. Should Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen move forward with the rules, crypto services could wind up becoming more expensive – and some cryptocurrencies could even disappear altogether.

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Nice take.

The Dark Side Of “Eating Lower On The Food Chain” (Turchin)

Nine years ago I made one of the most consequential decisions of my life—I switched to the so-called Paleo Diet (“paleo” is a bit misleading, as I explain in the post). Had I not done so, I would certainly have contributed to the rising obesity statistics for the United States. Within six months of switching to Paleo diet I lost 20 pounds before equilibrating at my current weight. But weight is actually the least important thing. Much more important was a dramatic improvement of my general health I experienced in the months since switching. I feel better today than ten years ago, despite being (obviously enough) ten years older. The major change was eating much higher on the food chain. The only way to get protein on a purely plant-based diet is to eat grains and pulses, which means wheat and beans.

But those are precisely the foods elimination of which resulted in my health improvement. I sometimes unknowingly consume small amounts of wheat, when a restaurant chef uses flour for the sauce (despite explicit entreaties not do so). The next day I know that I had been poisoned. The other thing is that it’s not just protein deficiency. Your body doesn’t need that much protein. The biggest problem with purely plant diet is that you don’t get enough healthful fat. Instead you end up poisoning yourself with seed oils. This is why I watch with increasing alarm the current trend to “cancel” meat. Last year the town of Cambridge, home of one of two best universities in UK, banned meat. So Cambridge is now off my list of places to go to (fortunately, I visited it years ago, when it was still safe for carnivores).

I am very worried that the veganism tide will continue spreading, leaving us carnivores on reservations (or even driving people following Paleo diet to extinction). Somebody is sure to immediately accuse me that I don’t care about the environment. Au contraire. Some of the most depressing environments that I’ve seen are giant agricultural fields (e.g. driving through Iowa).

Compare it to what they looked like before:

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“..children who frequently use mobile devices are more likely to process stimuli on a “local” level, for example they “process the details” of an image first rather than the overall image itself.”

Mobile Devices Alter Children’s Minds, Change How They Perceive The World (JTN)

Researchers in Hungary this week announced the findings of studies into what effects digital devices have on young minds, concluding that the increased usage of such technology has changed how younger individuals interact with the world around them. In a press release, scientists at Eötvös Loránd University said that children of the “Alpha Generation,” or those born after 2010, “typically grow up with mobile devices in their hands” which “seems to change how they perceive the world.” Summarizing their findings, the Hungarian researchers claim that children who frequently use mobile devices are more likely to process stimuli on a “local” level, for example they “process the details” of an image first rather than the overall image itself.


The results “show that the type of experiences children meet matters much,” the release said, “because at this age the brain is very plastic, so such massive early exposure may have a significant long-term effect.” “The atypical attentional style in mobile user children is not necessarily bad,” one of the scholars commented, “but different for sure, and we cannot ignore this – for example in pedagogy.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 042021
 


J.J. Grandville ‘A Comet’s Journey’, Illustration from ‘Un Autre Monde’ 1844

 

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)
Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)
COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)
Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)
Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)
A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)
When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)
No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)
Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)
Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

 

 

So many articles today, I’ll put up a separate Covid Rattle shortly here: Covid Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

“Tucker every once in a while has a segment that just completely knocks it out of the park.This is one of those times.”
Tucker Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

Excess savings, sure, but only among the rich. Who don’t spend it.

 

 

“..the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018..”

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)

[..] we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades. Fifty trillion dollars has been redistributed from the poorest Americans to the top one percent over the past several decades. That’s right, a new study shows the richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans. To put this in easier to access terms — you know how mad you get when someone takes the last donut? Well, imagine that multiplied by 50 trillion. (Quick reminder: If you make $40,000 a year, it would take you 1.25 Billion years to make $50 trillion.)

The new study reveals, “…that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020.” And to be clear, this money has been stolen from nearly every American. Had income distribution and buying power remained the same as it was from the end of World War II to 1975, ” . . . the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is … enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.”

The richest people in America are pilfering over $1,100 from you personally and everyone you know every single month of every single year. Just imagine what each living soul in America could do with an extra $13,700 per year — how many people that would feed, how much less stressful their lives would be, how many fewer foreclosures there would be, and how many more people would get the healthcare they need. Yet every time the most modest tax increases are proposed on the richest Americans, or every time someone so much as mumbles about putting in a public jungle gym or putting in filters to take the metal chunks out of the water or fixing the holes in our bridges that are bigger than the ones in Maria Bartiromo’s head — every time someone brings up these common sense solutions, the elites of our society (who own the media outlets and the levers of the state and the law enforcement and the courts) start screaming from their wine-soaked ski resort orgy balconies, “That’s wealth redistribution! That’s class war!”

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Sure they’ll all vote for him again.

Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)

During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples.


The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more “targeted.” In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won’t, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn’t qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion.

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So the states get what their citizens can’t.

COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)

Joe Biden is giving so much money to states as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that they’re set to receive approximately six times more money than estimated tax revenue shortfalls across the country, according to Bloomberg. While the package carves out nearly $200 billion for state governments, the cumulative tax revenues which have disappeared in the current fiscal year are just $31 billion. “In other words, that money could make up for that loss and be plowed back into states’ economies, such as their own version of relief checks, infrastructure projects and more, depending on the federal guidelines around the aid.”

In short – states, assuming they don’t squander the funds (who are we kidding?), could play a pivotal role in accelerating the recovery – assuming the money actually stimulates jobs and/or ends up in the hands of consumers. The funds would also allow for the unwinding of various budgetary cuts which began last March, and are responsible for the elimination of more than 1.3 million state and local government jobs – which Bloomberg notes is “nearly twice as many as were lost after the last recession.” Republicans, however, argue that some of the stimulus should be cut or shifted to other priorities which could have a more immediate impact than essentially giving states their own giant slush funds.

“If the whole point of this bill is to stimulate economic activity, the federal government has ways of doing that, that may be more efficient than sending checks to state and local governments,” said Moody’s director of public sector research, which estimates that $56 billion is the actual price tag states need to cover shortfalls through 2022 after previously allocated aid is taken into account. Bloomberg also notes that “the financial impact overall has been far smaller than initially feared when Covid last year sent the US economy into the deepest recession since World War II, which left governors nationwide braving for the gravest fiscal crisis of modern times.”

Deficits on that scale were averted after the federal government pushed through stimulus plans in March and again late last year, driving stocks to record highs and promising to increase collections of capital gains taxes. The magnitude of the shortfalls also reflects the unusually uneven nature of the recession: While lower paid service industry employees were thrown out of work, the highest earners who pay far more in state taxes were less affected because they were able to work from home.

Read more …

A lot of information here.

Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)

Freed from his double duty as Connecticut’s chief federal prosecutor, Special Counsel John Durham is zeroing in on the final phase of his far-reaching investigation into whether FBI officials or others committed crimes while conducting the Russia collusion probe, such as misleading federal judges or Congress. All expectations were that Durham would wrap up his probe with final indictments and/or a report last fall after a plea deal was reached with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted he falsified a document submitted to substantiate an application for a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign.

But FBI Director Chris Wray revealed Tuesday that the entire process — including the bureau’s ability to discipline agents involved in the Russia case — was slowed down at Durham’s request because of continuing concerns about potential criminality. “Because we are cooperating fully with Mr. Durham’s investigation, at his request we had slowed that process down to allow his criminal investigation to proceed,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So at the moment, that process is still underway in order to make sure we are being appropriately sensitive to the criminal investigation.” Wray’s comments signaling additional crimes are being investigated are consistent with what former Attorney General William Barr said late last year when he upgraded Durham from a U.S. attorney to a special counsel and expanded his investigative staff.

Interviews with a half dozen sources who have had interactions with Durham’s team say he is focused on whether FBI executives knowingly and unlawfully misled the FISA court and Congress by withholding exculpatory evidence, extending an investigation without justification and creating the illusion there was evidence of Russia collusion when most had been debunked or dismissed. The sources said one former senior FBI official has provided invaluable cooperation and context to what decisions FBI leadership and field agents were making in the probe on such consequential matters as what to tell Congress, the courts and Justice Department lawyers about the flaws, political origins and falsehoods in the Russia collusion narrative.

Most of the evidence that supports those concerns is now in the public domain after a series of declassifications that began last year and ended when former President Donald Trump declassified hundreds of pages of the most sensitive evidence during his last 24 hours in office in January. .

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May be he should let Biden’s blunders grab the spotlight for a while.

Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)

Former President Donald Trump is telling allies he’s seriously considering a run for president in 2024, but may do so without former Vice President Mike Pence on his ticket, according to Bloomberg, citing ‘people familiar with the discussions.’ On Sunday, Trump all but announced at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he was running again – while privately, according to two of Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, he’s discussed “alternatives to Pence as he takes stock of who he believes stood with him at the end of his term and who didn’t.” Trump’s advisers have discussed identifying a Black or female running mate for his next run, and three of the people familiar with the matter said Pence likely won’t be on the ticket.

That said, given Trump’s history of choosing the ‘best person for the job’ regardless of color or sex, and notwithstanding obvious establishment picks, we imagine that last bit may be a non-starter for Trump. According to the report, Trump is considering South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem – who Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle are hosting a Friday fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, Trump publicly endorsed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s re-election. Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate.Following the 2020 election, Trump was livid after Pence didn’t “do the right thing” and reject Electoral College votes for Joe Biden from several contested states. In response, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”

Pence rejected his boss’s appeals to unilaterally overturn Trump’s re-election defeat when he presided over the congressional count of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The event turned into an insurrection by Trump’s supporters, who invaded the Capitol, disrupted the count and forced the vice president and members of Congress to flee. Five people died in the melee. The two men didn’t speak for days afterward. Pence hasn’t said whether he’d be interested in running with Trump again, according to person familiar with the situation, who believes it’s doubtful Pence would. -Bloomberg. “President Trump hasn’t made any decisions regarding a potential 2024 run, but the buried lede here is that the media can’t stop talking about him,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. According to the report “there’s been no serious consideration of future vice presidential candidates yet,” and if Trump runs, he won’t likely make a formal announcement until summer 2023, according to the anonymous sources.

Read more …

Inflation?!

A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)

Every morning, we take the previous day’s financial news – all of it – and run it through the Narrative Machine to see if any interesting clusters pop out as a topic for us to write about in one of these quick Zeitgeist notes. And when I say clusters, I literally mean clusters – the building blocks of a graphical representation of linguistic connectivity. But when I say clusters, what I really mean is patterns. I really mean changes in the narrative structure. We’re not doing this to learn new facts. We’re not really interested in the specifics of what people are saying. We are very interested, though, in how people are saying it. We’re looking for changes in how we talk about what is important in markets and investing. We’re looking for changes in the water in which we swim.

That water is changing today. It’s changing a lot. Increasingly, the common knowledge of our investment world – what everyone knows that everyone knows – is that inflation is a problem and you should be focused on it. For example, today in a popular financial news media aggregator, RealClearMarkets.com, of the 21 articles highlighted on their frontpage aggregator, 6 of them were about inflation … is it here? is it coming? what does it mean for your portfolio? does Bitcoin fix this? etc. etc. Again, I have zero interest in the specifics or the facts or the message or the sentiment of these selected articles (even though one of them was yesterday’s Epsilon Theory note).


What interests me a lot, though, is the CHOICE made by the editors and algorithms of RealClearMarkets.com to select these articles over all of the other financial news stories available to them. What interests me a lot is the recursive ENGAGEMENT that these articles and their shared linguistic structures trigger in readers, such that they will look for more articles on this topic, which means that more articles on this topic will be written. This is how common knowledge happens. This is how the water in which we swim changes.

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“Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent..”

When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)

The mutually reinforcing crises aren’t in the future, they’re here now, and Jay Powell’s shuck-and-jive has lost its magical powers to cloak the rot with speculative bubbles. How many more times do we have to watch Jay Powell claim his speculative bubble isn’t a bubble, and that his massive expansion of billionaires’ fortunes will magically create jobs for all those living in the real world he’s created of stagnation, social depression and inequality? In other words, when will this travesty of a mockery of a sham finally implode? When will the Universe tire of the lies, fraud, embezzlement and corruption and bring the whole rotten charade down? When will we tire of the stale tale of reflation, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, phony facades of “recovery”, simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc. and funneling them to financiers, corporations, monopolies, cronies and billionaires. When will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? How many more “saves” does the Ponzi Scheme of central banking possess? Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent and its continued expansion will hide all the systemic rot hollowing out America.

On the other hand, maybe manipulation, lies and artifice can no longer keep the Everything Bubble from popping. The chart I prepared back in 2008 (below) give us a flavor of the confluence of crises that are no longer in the future–they’re here now. Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse. Four long-wave cycles are plotted in the chart:

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“No one has been charged with a firearms violation.”

No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)

No firearms were recovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 during the riot, and no shots were fired by the demonstrators, an FBI official on Wednesday told Congress.”To my knowledge we have not recovered any [firearms] on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point,” said Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “No one has been charged with a firearms violation.” Sanborn made her comments during a joint oversight hearing in the Senate to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Sanborn, witnesses included the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, and civilian officials from the Pentagon.

During testimony, Sanborn responded to questions from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who asked whether firearms were present or used during the siege. “How many shots were fired that we know of?” Johnson asked. “The only shots fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the one lady,” Sanborn said, referencing Ashli Babbitt, a protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during heightened tension inside the building. Other testimony examined the timeline of when the National Guard was dispatched to help an overwhelmed civilian police force during the siege on the Capitol.

The National Guard was dispatched to the riot more than three hours after Capitol Police made a desperate call for help with a “dire emergency,” a two-star general testified Wednesday before Congress. Major Gen. William Walker, who commands the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the 1:49 p.m. call for help from the guard on Jan. 6 was approved in a message that reached him after 5 p.m. At that point, troops who were waiting on buses sped to the Capitol, and helped to secure a perimeter, Walker said. Walker made his comments during a hearing to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Walker, civilian officials from the Pentagon and the FBI are scheduled to testify.

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“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment…”

Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)

Russia’s Service of Military-Technical Cooperation has noted its “bewilderment” after Washington imposed an export ban on “defense articles and defense services” to the country, despite Russia not receiving any US arms since 1945. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled new sanctions against Moscow after the alleged poisoning and “attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.” “The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” a press statement from Blinken said. As part of the restrictions, Russia has been included in Section 126.1 of the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which essentially means that any requests from Moscow to buy defense-related items would be flatly rejected.

“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment,” the federal service noted. “Arms supplies from the United States to Russia are not carried out and, of course, are not planned.” The government body also noted that the last time any military equipment was delivered to Russia from the US was through the lend-lease program during WWII, which ended on August 21, 1945. Speaking to Moscow daily RBK, Russian International Affairs Council expert Andrey Frolov noted that the new sanctions are likely to be toothless and do not pose any threat to the military-industrial complex, which does not rely on American supplies.

Another expert, Ruslan Pukhov from the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, revealed that restrictions won’t actually prevent any export contracts if the US wants to implement them. In particular, he cited the example of Rosoboronexport, which was removed from the sanctions list to sign a contract to supply the Afghan Army with helicopters, and was put back on the list straight after.

Read more …

Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

Every power worth its portion of salt in the Levant these days seems to be doing it. On February 25, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Syria. The premise for the attacks was implausible. “These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” claimed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “and to ongoing threats to those personnel.” More specifically, the strikes were in retaliation for rocket attacks in northern Iraq on the airport of Erbil that left a Filipino contractor working for the US military dead and six others injured, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier. The targets in Syria were facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack left up to 22 people dead.

The Biden administration has resorted to tactics long embraced by US presidents. To be noticed, you need to bomb a country. The measure, more a sign of raging impotence than stark virility, is always larded with jargon and bureaucratic platitudes.“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” explained Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to reporters keeping him company on a flight from California to Washington. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure about the right targets.” He was convinced “that the target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the [February 15] strikes.”

Seven 500-pound bombs were used in the operation, though Stars and Stripes initially reported that “the type of weaponry used” was not disclosed. The Pentagon had been keen to push a larger range of targets, but Biden was being presidential in restraint, approving, as the New York Times puts it, “a less aggressive option”. Kirby insisted the operation had been the sensible outcome of discussions with coalition partners. “The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel.” Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

Read more …

 

 

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From Trump’s world to Orwell’s world.

 

 

 

 

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Mar 012021
 


Pierre-Auguste Renoir Dance at Bougival 1883

 

Guidelines To Place Children In Solitary Quarantine ‘Cruel Punishment’ (TSun)
Bill Gates Warns Post-Covid Return To Normal Could Take All 2022 (F.)
Brazil Variant May Make Foreign Summer Holidays Impossible, Ministers Told (G.)
Why “New Cases” Are Plummeting (OffG.)
Trump On 2024: ‘I May Decide To Beat Them For A Third Time’ (SAC)
Biden’s Message To Iran: The Battlefield Has Been Inaugurated (Magnier)
Cuomo Cedes Control Of Harassment Probe (JTN)
NY’s Sexual Harassment Working Group Urges Gov. Cuomo To Resign (NYP)
Democrats Demand The Firing Of The Senate Parliamentarian (Turley)
Efforts In Key Battleground States To Return Voting To Pre-2020 Rules (JTN)
China’s Fiscal Risks ‘Extremely Severe’, Former Finance Minister Warns (SCMP)
The Big “Buy & Hype” Bitcoin Casino (Wolf Richter)
Far-Right Platform Gab Has Been Hacked—Including Private Data (Wired)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrative of the state of mind the world has entered. Zero comprehension of complex systems. Everything exists in one dimension only.

Guidelines To Place Children In Solitary Quarantine ‘Cruel Punishment’ (TSun)

Peel Health has issued guidelines to parents instructing them to keep any children who have been sent home because a classmate has tested positive for COVID-19 isolated in a separate room from all other family members for 14 days. The severe guidelines, which apply even to small children who are dismissed from child care, are being criticized by experts as harmful and not supported by science. “This is cruel punishment for a child, especially for younger children, 4-10 years old,” Dr. Susan Richardson, a microbiologist and infectious disease physician who is also a professor emerita at University of Toronto, wrote in an email to the Sun. “Shutting a child off from their parents and siblings for up to 14 days in this manner could produce significant and long-lasting emotional and psychological effects.”

The handout distributed at Peel Region schools explains, “If your child does not have any symptoms: the child must self-isolate, which means stay in a separate room, eat in a separate room apart from others, use a separate bathroom if possible.” The handout also says, “If the child must leave their room, they should wear a mask and stay 2 metres apart from others.” Any other children in the household not only must be both separated from their siblings but also stay home for 14 days. “This does not seem practically possible and is highly likely to cause harm to children who would already be experiencing considerable distress with having to remain at home,” Dr. Tess Clifford, the director of the Psychology Clinic at Queen’s University, said in an email to the Sun.

Clifford said those making decisions about pandemic mitigation measures need to consider the well-being of children across multiple domains of health. “I don’t understand how any health-care professional has moved so far away from the fundamentals of public health and of doing no harm that they would think that basically incarcerating a child in a room for 14 days is in any way justified,” said Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Science who focuses on pediatrics. “This is shocking,” adds Fulford, “especially when you consider this is being proposed for children who are not in any way sick.”

Read more …

There is only one truth, and Gates and Fauci control it.

Bill Gates Warns Post-Covid Return To Normal Could Take All 2022 (F.)

Fresh off a third vaccine candidate garnering U.S. regulatory approval, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called the rapid development of vaccines “a miracle” that should help Americans return to an “almost-normal” way of life as early as fall but also warned that lawmakers aren’t doing enough globally to usher in a full return-to-normal before the end of next year. Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, 65-year-old Gates said that autumn should bring about some normalcy for Americans with “basically every school back in session,” some level of occupancy in restaurants and sporting events all once again taking place.

“The big problem is that we’re not doing enough to end the pandemic globally,” Gates warned, adding that vaccines thus far are “just going to rich countries,” which leaves the risk that contagious variants could spread abroad and creep back into the United States. That risk–compounded by the potential wave of reinfections–means a full return to normal “could take all of 2022 unless we do a better job,” Gates said. Additional vaccine factories in nations like India could help curtail the risk of infection abroad and bring about a quicker return to normalcy, Gates suggested, pointing to vaccine-makers AstraZeneca, NovaVax and Johnson & Johnson that are already working on such projects.

Speaking to CNN earlier Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the United States now has three “really good vaccines” that Americans should “have no hesitancy whatsoever to take”–a sentiment Gates echoed of the five candidates approved for distribution in the Western World.

Read more …

From a live blog.

Brazil Variant May Make Foreign Summer Holidays Impossible, Ministers Told (G.)

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, was on the Today programme this morning saying that ministers have repeatedly been told that the measures currently in place in England may be inadequate. She made the same points in a thread on Twitter last night with accompanying ‘I told you so’ evidence. On the Today programme she made a further point, saying that the latest development illustrated why summer holidays abroad might not be possible this year. When she was asked if she thought the government would have to ban holiday flights over the summer, she replied:


“You’re right, there is a concern about whether the government is raising expectations about summer holidays that they may not be able to meet, because this will depend on the relationship between the spread of these new variants and what happens with the vaccine, and the timetable about things like boosters for the vaccine. And we’ve been advised on the committee by scientists that these border measures, and the strength of these border measures, becomes even more important as domestic cases fall. So as our own cases fall, and as the economy and society opens up, they argue that that’s when you actually need stronger measures at the border, rather than reducing them. The trouble is at the moment the government is encouraging people to think that those summer holidays are all going to be possible and international travel is going to return.”

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As we know.

Why “New Cases” Are Plummeting (OffG.)

The decline started in mid-January, far too early for any vaccination program to have any effect. Many experts said as much: “Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said the falling case numbers can’t be attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine, because not even a tenth of the population has been vaccinated, according to the CDC.” Further, the drop is happening simultaneously in different countries all around the world, and not every country is vaccinating at the same rate or even using the same vaccine. So no, the “vaccines” are not causing the drop. Another suspect is the lockdown, with blaring propaganda stating that all the various government-imposed house arrests and “distancing” measures have finally had an impact. That’s not it either. Sweden, famously, never locked down at all. Yet their “cases” and “Covid related deaths” have been dropping exactly in parallel with the UK:

Clearly, if countries that never locked down are also seeing declines in case numbers, the lockdown cannot be causing them. So what is? Maybe for our answer, we should look at the date the decline started. Observe this graph:

As you can see, the global decline in “Covid deaths” starts in mid-to-late January. What else happened around that time? Well, on January 13th the WHO published a memo regarding the problem of asymptomatic cases being discovered by PCR tests, and suggesting any asymptomatic positive tests be repeated. This followed up their previous memo, instructing labs around the world to use lower cycle thresholds (CT values) for PCR tests, as values over 35 could produce false positives. Essentially, in two memos the WHO ensured future testing would be less likely to produce false positives and made it much harder to be labelled an “asymptomatic case”. In short, logic would suggest we’re not in fact seeing a “decline in Covid cases” or a “decrease in Covid deaths” at all.


What we’re seeing is a decline in perfectly healthy people being labelled “covid cases” based on a false positive from an unreliable testing process. And we’re seeing fewer people dying of pneumonia, cancer or other disease have “Covid19” added to their death certificate based on testing criteria designed to inflate the pandemic.

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Is it getting a bit old, or is that just me?

Trump On 2024: ‘I May Decide To Beat Them For A Third Time’ (SAC)

In his first post-White House appearance, former President Donald Trump ripped into President Joe Biden and stressed the importance of a united GOP to win future elections.. He also dropped hints about his political future at this year’s CPAC. The president told the cheering crowd that he may consider running again in 2024. It was what many in the crowd were hoping to hear as the week’s long CPAC event ended in Orlando, Florida. The 45th president spoke for roughly 90 minutes about immigration, women’s sports, and other Biden policies. “Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history… In just one short month, we have gone from America first to America last,” Trump said.


Trump spoke on COVID lockdowns and the politics surrounding reopening schools. “There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school immediately,” Trump said. “The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers’ unions.” He also commented on the 2020 election, saying it was not a fair election and if it had been, it would have had a “very different” result. “This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court didn’t want to do anything about it,” he said. Trump even teased a future for his political career, saying he [thinks] a Republcian will in in the next cycle, and he asked “I wonder who that will be?”

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“Biden’s ill-considered murder of Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIS.”

Biden’s Message To Iran: The Battlefield Has Been Inaugurated (Magnier)

Several F-15’s have launched an attack against multiple targets on the Iraqi-Syrian borders against Iraqi security forces, Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces – PMF), by direct order of President Joe Biden. This is the first military action ordered by the new President and certainly not the last. So far, the US President has followed his predecessor’s steps concerning the sanctions imposed on foreign states and groups. One symbolic exception was the Yemeni Ansar Allah’s delisting from the US terrorist list without lifting the harsh sanctions on food supply, medicine, and oil. Moreover, it is not realistic to consider the US bombing of PMF positions, described by the Pentagon as “Iranian-backed militant groups”, as anything but a direct message directed to Iran in person.

The US is saying that the bombing of the Iraqi security forces means that its military option is on the table and will be used without hesitation against any threat to US interests in the Middle East, particularly those close to Iran. This is a challenge that is certainly not unexpected by Iran, which has vowed to expel all US forces from west Asia following the unlawful assassination of Soleimani. The battlefield has been inaugurated. A few days ago, President Biden contacted the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi following the rocket attacks against US bases in Kurdistan-Iraq earlier this month. Biden told al-Kadhimi that he would retaliate against the rocket attack. The Iraqi Prime Minister failed to inform the US President that the US forces mandate doesn’t allow the violation of the Iraqi sovereignty neither the bombing of its security forces deployed on the borders to prevent the “Islamic State” (ISIS) movement of the militants’ supply line and potential attacks.

Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, ordered the bombing of the most crucial position to Iran and its allies: Albu Kamal – al Qaem crossing. This same crossing was under ISIS control when the assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani led the attack to liberate it following the US occupation of al-Tanf crossing between Syria and Iraq. This rapid move by Iran angered both Israel and the US, who wished to impose a land siege on Syria to prevent the flow of goods from Iraq and prevent the “Axis of the Resistance” link between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

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Now he’s gone. Pelosi and Biden weigh in.

Cuomo Cedes Control Of Harassment Probe (JTN)

Under fire from dual scandals, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday ceded control of an investigation into whether he sexually harassed female subordinates and admitted for the first time some of his behavior with women “may have been insensitive or too personal.” The reversal by New York’s top Democrat came as senior members of his own party called the allegations against him credible and demanded an independent probe. “The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Fox News, signaling the fallout from Cuomo’s scandals had stretched beyond Albany to Washington. “The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.”

Cuomo on Saturday evening initially appointed a former federal judge to evaluate the sex harassment allegations from two state former workers, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan. But he reversed course Sunday amid mounting criticism he was trying to control the probe. He ceded to demands that Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, control the inquiry. James said she planned to deputize an outside law firm to conduct “a rigorous and independent investigation.” Cuomo also issued an apology, saying that while he had never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone he may have engaged in inappropriate comments that felt like flirtation to women.

[..] The Biden White House weighed in on Sunday as well, calling for an independent review. “There should be an independent review looking in to these allegations, and that’s certainly something he supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s State of the Union. Prominent Democrats, including state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, had urged Cuomo to follow the state’s tradition and refer the probe to James. “As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator,” Nadler said.

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“An anti-sexual-harassment group made up of former state legislative staffers..”

NY’s Sexual Harassment Working Group Urges Gov. Cuomo To Resign (NYP)

An anti-sexual-harassment group made up of former state legislative staffers called on Gov. Cuomo to resign Saturday in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him. “ENOUGH. New York State has now lost the talents and ambition of yet another woman, whose safety and integrity were eliminated to serve a powerful man’s desires. Andrew Cuomo must resign now,” the Sexual Harassment Working Group said in a statement, after ex-Cuomo aide, Charlotte Bennett, accused the governor of behaving inappropriately toward her last year. Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that Cuomo, 63, complained to her about being “lonely” and not being able to hug anyone during the pandemic, before pressing her on who she last hugged.


When she revealed her own history of sexual assault to Cuomo, Bennett claimed his reaction “was something out of a horror movie,” the paper reported. Cuomo allegedly kept repeating to Bennett, “‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes … It was like he was testing me,” she told a friend in a text message which was viewed by The Times. Earlier this week, the Sexual Harassment Working Group had called for in investigation of the governor after another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, accused him of trying to kiss her on the mouth and suggesting a game of “strip poker.” “There must be an immediate independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s workplace behavior, conducted by an entity over which Cuomo does not have any appointment or supervisory powers,” the group tweeted hours after Boylan came forward.

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“The use of a reconciliation bill was an effort to circumvent the filibuster and allow a majority vote on the hike. However, by using reconciliation, the Democrats triggered the ‘Byrd rule’..”

Democrats Demand The Firing Of The Senate Parliamentarian (Turley)

Democratic members this week attacked Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough after she (correctly) ruled that the inclusion of the $15 minimum wage hike in a reconciliation bill violated Senate rules. The response from Democratic members and many in the blogosphere was withering. Rep. Ilhan Omar called for MacDonough to be fired and others denounced her actions and called the Senate to simply overrule her — and the long-standing rules. It is not just the effort to gut or flip the “Byrd Rule” but vicious attacks on this parliamentarian that is so disconcerting. The use of a reconciliation bill was an effort to circumvent the filibuster and allow a majority vote on the hike. However, by using reconciliation, the Democrats triggered the ‘Byrd rule’ – which limits the type of provisions in the reconciliation process to taxing and spending.

The purpose is to limit an add-ons through reconciliation to measures designed to have a direct impact on the federal budget—barring the use of reconciliation to introduce “extraneous” measures. Otherwise, reconciliations could circumvent the normal legislative process and the filibuster option for the minority. The rule allows a senator to object when a reconciliation bill is brought to the floor through a Point of Order on the bill. After the Byrd Rule is raised, the Senate Parliamentarian informs the Presiding Officer on how to rule and the Presiding office conveys that to the Senate. Senators can then vote to overrule the Presiding Officer but the process protects the minority and the parliamentarian by requiring that a vote to overrule secure a three-fifths majority.

The Parliamentarian’s role is key to a system of orderly legislative process. To simply disregard such rules (and fire those who seek to maintain them) is yet another example of the rage that has replaced reason in our current politics. Byrd was famous for putting the interests of the Senate and the Constitution before his own party. This effort shows increasingly rare such institutional defenders have become in this age of rage. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the first to balk at any rules standing in the way of reform: “I think the parliamentarian is verging on, you know, just really intruding in this legislative process in a very concerning way.” I am not really sure what that actually means. Parliamentary rules are the thing that defines the legislative process and guarantees a neutral and ordered process of deliberation and enactment.

Read more …

Too many people don’t *want* transparent elections.

Efforts In Key Battleground States To Return Voting To Pre-2020 Rules (JTN)

Significant legislative attempts are underway in multiple U.S. states, including key battleground states, to roll back major changes in voting rules and regulations to various pre-2020 status quo antes. The efforts come after an historically chaotic election process that has left millions of Americans doubtful of election fairness, security, transparency and accountability. Changes to election rules — some of them enacted prior to 2020 and others put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year — have included expansive mail-in voting, expanded early voting, relaxation of verification rules, and extensions to ballot receipt deadlines. Those rules likely contributed to a record 158,000,000-plus votes cast in the 2020 election.

But the relaxation of various voting requirements has also led to significant distrust in the election system: Nearly 40% of voters believe that U.S. elections are beset by fraud, while a similar number claim that such concerns haven’t been properly vetted by public authorities. Legislators in numerous states are angling to address some of those concerns by pushing for legislation to shore up what critics claim are the vulnerabilities created by relaxed voting rules. In Georgia — which flipped blue for Biden this year in one of several razor-thin races that went in the Democrat’s favor — the Senate passed a bill that would require voters to submit “photocopies of voter identification documents for absentee ballot applications.”

The bill would do away with the current signature-matching system currently in place for absentee voting. Critics have accused that system of being ripe for fraud and abuse, particularly after the state’s Gov. Brian Kemp agreed to activist demands last year to make it much more onerous for officials to reject disputed signatures. In Pennsylvania — which Trump lost by fewer than 100,000 votes — state lawmakers have signaled an intent to repeal the state’s “no-excuse” mail-in voting system, first implemented in 2019. State Sens. Patrick Stefano and Doug Mastriano last month said in a Senate memorandum that they “intend to introduce legislation repealing the no-excuse mail-in ballot provisions” put in place two years ago via the state’s Act 77.

“By removing the provisions of law that allow for no-excuse mail-in ballots, we can regain some trust in our elections’ integrity,” the senators argued. Stefano has also vowed to repeal Act 77’s “annual mail-in voter list” and to mandate that “only the Pennsylvania Department of State may send applications for mail in ballots to eligible voters.” “By guaranteeing that eligible voters must apply for a mail-in ballot for each election, and that only the Department of State may distribute the applications to apply for mail-in ballots,” he wrote, “we can address much of the confusion and frustration that surrounded our most recent election cycle.”

Read more …

“Lou charged that the United States was monetising its budget deficit to transfer its debt burden to the rest of the world..”

China’s Fiscal Risks ‘Extremely Severe’, Former Finance Minister Warns (SCMP)

China’s fiscal situation is “extremely severe with risks and challenges”, former finance minister Lou Jiwei has warned, citing fallout from aggressive US stimulus policies, the global economic slowdown during the pandemic, an ageing Chinese population and mounting domestic local government debt. Lou offered his sharp critique in December but the assessment has only been made public more recently, with just days to go now before China’s political elites meet for their annual legislative session to decide the details of economic policy. Among the big issues will be whether to scale back the fiscal stimulus implemented last year to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and instead focus on curbing rising debt risks.

Beijing is expected to cut back fiscal stimulus even as Washington closes in on approval for an additional US$1.9 trillion in economic stimulus proposed by President Joe Biden. Lou, who served as China’s finance minister from 2013 to 2016, warned that the country’s fiscal revenue was expected to be stuck at “a low level” in the coming five years, with no sign of the government cutting back its spending. “The fiscal difficulties are not only a near-term or short-term issue, but also will be serious in the medium term,” said Lou, who is known for his outspoken views. Lou’s remarks were contained in a speech delivered in December but only published in February by a magazine affiliated with the Ministry of Finance.

Lou charged that the United States was monetising its budget deficit to transfer its debt burden to the rest of the world, especially to developing countries like China. To finance its large and growing budget deficit, the US government has had to issue increasingly large amounts of Treasury bonds. In addition, the Federal Reserve had bought large amounts of those bonds to inject liquidity into the market – so-called quantitative easing – with the additional cash rapidly pushing up the prices of stocks and other financial assets to levels far beyond those justified by economic fundamentals, Lou said.

[..] On Thursday, US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed that the central bank had no plans to tighten monetary policy until it had seen a sustained improvement in employment. He expressed no concern at the prospect of rising inflation and rising asset prices. But Lou warned that the US view was short-sighted. “Once the pandemic has been brought under control and the [global] economy begins to recover, fiscal and monetary policies will make a turn that will impact on global financial stability and the economic growth of various countries,” Lou said. “Emerging market countries are facing a double blow to both their economies and finances, with the economic risk transforming into fiscal and financial risks, raising the risk of a debt crisis.”

Read more …

Nice story. Wolf will make some enemies with this.

The Big “Buy & Hype” Bitcoin Casino (Wolf Richter)

So bitcoin is trading at about 57,000 bucks at the moment. Its market cap is over $1 trillion. This glorious moment jogged my memory, so I dug up that old email. Back in August 2012, I was contacted via my website by some guy about bitcoin. At the time, bitcoin was at 10 bucks. He wanted to buy my book and pay with bitcoin. So for the paperback, which sells for about 15 bucks on Amazon, he would have had to fork over 1 and a half bitcoin. So today, the proceeds from the sale of that paperback would be around 85,000 despised fiat dollars. He called bitcoin a “monetary revolution.” He wrote, “There is a large and growing community of bitcoin users, who are migrating away from the dollar and euro, because those currencies are being inflated away to nothing.”

And he said, “The value of a bitcoin has doubled in the last 4 months.” Which is the monetary revolution, apparently, that money keeps doubling every few months. He offered me a deal. If I listed my book on a site called CoinDL, he’d buy my book, and he said he would “recommend it on the bitcoin internet forums.” And then, on my site, I would need to encourage people to buy bitcoin. I would have to post my bitcoin address, ask for donations in bitcoin, etc. to let people know that I was endorsing bitcoin, and that I held bitcoin, so that they too would pile into it. Maybe I could have sold one book to him, plus three more books to some other folks on the internet forums he frequented, four books in total, for six bitcoin in total.

Today, those six bitcoin would have amounted to 342,000 despised fiat dollars. What was striking about the deal he tried to draw me into: He offered to buy my book for bitcoin and help me sell a few more books for bitcoin, and in return I would leverage my site to hype bitcoin to my readers. Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly how it worked universally, and even today the same principle is in effect, but now big players have jumped into it, and they quietly bought bitcoin, and then they used their global megaphones that the mainstream media amplified for all to see, and they hyped bitcoin, and it’s on the front of the mainstream media, and bitcoin has soared.

Buy and hype. This is the principle on which bitcoin has operated from day one. Everyone getting into it would become a hype artist. And there would be no metric by which its price could be judged. These two factors were the true genius behind bitcoin. So obviously, I didn’t go for the deal. I didn’t need to participate in a “monetary revolution,” where the value doubles in four months. This has nothing to do with monetary anything, but is a form of gambling that relies on ever more new gamblers entering the casino and bidding up the price, with more and more gamblers selling each other the bitcoin, all united in the singular purpose of driving up its price so that everyone could get rich.

Read more …

Gab is not a far right platform. It’s just a platform that doesn’t censor.

Far-Right Platform Gab Has Been Hacked—Including Private Data (Wired)

When Twitter banned Donald Trump and a slew of other far-right users in January, many of them became digital refugees, migrating to sites like Parler and Gab to find a home that wouldn’t moderate their hate speech and disinformation. Days later, Parler was hacked and then dropped by Amazon web hosting, knocking the site offline. Now Gab, which inherited some of Parler’s displaced users, has been badly hacked too. An enormous trove of its contents has been stolen—including what appears to be passwords and private communications. On Sunday night the WikiLeaks-style group Distributed Denial of Secrets is revealing what it calls calling “GabLeaks,” a collection of more than 70 gigabytes of Gab data representing more than 40 million posts.

DDoSecrets says a hacktivist who self-identifies as “JaXpArO and My Little Anonymous Revival Project” siphoned that data out of Gab’s backend databases in an effort to expose the platform’s largely rightwing users. Those Gab patrons, whose numbers have swelled after Parler went offline, include large numbers of Qanon conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and promoters of former president Donald Trump’s election-stealing conspiracies that resulted in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. DDoSecrets cofounder Emma Best says that the hacked data includes not only all of Gab’s public posts and profiles—with the exception of any photos or videos uploaded to the site—but also private group and private individual account posts and messages, as well as user passwords and group passwords.

“It contains pretty much everything on Gab, including user data and private posts, everything someone needs to run a nearly complete analysis on Gab users and content,” Best wrote in a text message interview with WIRED. “It’s another gold mine of research for people looking at militias, neo-Nazis, the far right, QAnon and everything surrounding January 6.” DDoSecrets says it’s not publicly releasing the data due to its sensitivity and the vast amounts of private information it contains. Instead the group says it will selectively share it with journalists, social scientists, and researchers. WIRED viewed a sample of the data, and it does appear to contain Gab users’ individual and group profiles—their descriptions and privacy settings—public and private posts, and passwords. Gab CEO Andrew Torba acknowledged the breach in a brief statement Sunday.

Passwords for private groups are unencrypted, which Torba says the platform discloses to users when they create one. Individual user account passwords appear to be cryptographically hashed—a safeguard that may help prevent them from being compromised—but the level of security depends on the hashing scheme used and the strength of the underlying password. Among the users whose hashed passwords appeared to be included in the data were those for Donald Trump, Republican congresswoman and QAnon-conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, MyPillow CEO and election-conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, and disinformation-spouting radio host Alex Jones. The hacked data also includes a chatlogs.txt file that appears to contain private conversations between the site’s users. That file’s contents begin with an added note from JaXpArO: “FUCK TRUMP. FUCK COLONIZERS & CAPITALISTS. DEATH TO AMERIKKKA.”

Read more …

 

 

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Tesla

 

 

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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.

Read more …

“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.

Read more …

“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.

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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.’

Read more …

“..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.”

Read more …

“..$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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

“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.

Read more …

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.

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

 

 

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Feb 172021
 
 February 17, 2021  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  55 Responses »


Gutzon Borglum Repairing the Face of Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore 1962

 

New French Nasal Spray Eliminates 99% Of Covid Virus (CF)
S–t Public Defenders See: The Great Covid-19 Jury Charade (Taibbi)
The False and Exaggerated Claims About the Capitol Riot (Greenwald)
Trump Acquitted (Again), But Trump Hatred Continues (Ron Paul)
Trump Cuts Ties With Giuliani (F.)
Trump Unleashes Scathing Statement Blasting Sen. Mitch McConnell (JTN)
Comey Told Clapper FBI Unable To ‘Sufficiently Corroborate’ Steele (JTN)
New Comey Email Raises More Questions About Steele Dossier (Turley)
Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson Raised $64G For Anti-Trump Film (Fox)
Is This the Greatest Bubble of All Time? (CHS)
Who Bought the $4.5 Trillion Added in One Year to US National Debt? (WS)
Bayer, US Officials Pressured Mexico To Drop Glyphosate Ban (G.)

 

 

This doesn’t often happen, but it did yesterday.

 

 

Biden said some strange things last night. His comments on China and the Uighurs were very weird.

But even then Trump steals the headlights.

 

 

Problem solved?!

New French Nasal Spray Eliminates 99% Of Covid Virus (CF)

A French pharmaceutical company has developed a nasal spray that it says could eliminate up to 99% of the Covid-19 virus, with the product set to be available to buy within weeks. French group Pharma & Beauty (P&B) has been working on the spray for almost a year. It says that according to several studies it can eliminate 99% of the viral load in nasal passages within 30 seconds and reduce the spread of the virus by up to 90%. The company is set to begin selling the product from March 1. Production is scheduled to begin next week at the P&B site in Montélimar, Drôme; and then in four other P&B factories across France.


Between 1 million-3 million bottles are expected to be available in March, followed by 13 million-15 million each month from April. Each bottle of 30ml is expected to last one month, and will be sold at €14.90 each. A statement on the P&B LinkedIn page reads: “[The spray] prevents viral spread by mechanically dislodging infectious agents in the nasal cavity, and facilitating their evacuation – and locally reduces the viral load.” The spray is 40% ionised water with high antimicrobial properties and 60% purified water.

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Curious consequences: “This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.

S–t Public Defenders See: The Great Covid-19 Jury Charade (Taibbi)

When the world ground to a halt a year ago thanks to Covid-19, Americans quickly worried over the important questions. Will we still get to go to basketball games? Will McDonald’s only be Drive-Thru now? Do manicurists deliver? The parts of the country that were already out of sight to most receded further from view. Covid-19 struck at the elderly in rest homes, but the population that took perhaps the toughest hit was behind bars. By June, the rate of infection in America’s jails and prisons was seven times that of the general population. By this month, 612,000 cases had been reported in correctional facilities, with at least 2,700 deaths among prisoners and corrections officials.

In news reports, we mostly read that prosecutors and corrections officials were trying to find ways to reduce the risk of disease both in jails and in court, another institution that traditionally required people to congregate indoors. Many districts suspended jury trials indefinitely, a serious problem for those awaiting trial, and one that raised a question: if officials were too worried about the safety of jurors to schedule trials, what did that mean for grand juries? In other words, was the pandemic too dangerous for speedy trial rights, but not dangerous enough to slow indictments? Were there places where jury trials were canceled, but grand juries were not? In some select jurisdictions across the country, the answer appeared — and appears — to be yes.

“It highlights the way in which the pandemic is being used selectively,” says Scott Hechinger of Zealous, a national public defender advocacy organization. “In some places it’s used to perpetuate the system, in some places, to make it worse.” The significance of jury trials is obvious. Defendants have a right to them, and they also have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, i.e. the government is not allowed to charge a person and leave them under suspicion indefinitely. Cases must be adjudicated in a reasonable period of time. In some jurisdictions, the satisfaction of speedy trial rights means getting a defendant to trial within a concrete number of days, though the calculation is often complicated.

During the pandemic, however, jury trials were suspended in many jurisdictions. In some of those places, it was understood that speedy trial rights simply had to be put on hold until officials could, as Donald Trump would say, figure out what the hell is going on. This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.

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Did they apologize? Or is that not done anymore in 2021?

The False and Exaggerated Claims About the Capitol Riot (Greenwald)

What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned. But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.” A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story:

After publication of these two articles, this horrifying story about a pro-Trump mob beating a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher was repeated over and over, by multiple journalists on television, in print, and on social media. It became arguably the single most-emphasized and known story of this event, and understandably so — it was a savage and barbaric act that resulted in the harrowing killing by a pro-Trump mob of a young Capitol police officer.


It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

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“Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead.”

Trump Acquitted (Again), But Trump Hatred Continues (Ron Paul)

Last week’s second impeachment trial of former President Trump should serve as a warning that something is very wrong in US politics. Far from a measured, well-investigated, rock-solid case against the former president, America was again abused with day after day of character assassination, innuendo, false claims, and even falsified “evidence.” The trial wasn’t intended to win a conviction of Trump for “incitement” because the Democrats already knew that the votes were not there. So, just as with the last impeachment trial, the goal was to fling as much dirt at Donald Trump as they could while the cameras were rolling. Their hatred of Donald Trump is so deep and visceral that probably a psychologist would have been more beneficial to them than yet another impeachment trial.

It would be incorrect to say that the House managers’ case fell apart, because they had no case to begin with. They never had a case because they made no effort to develop a case. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court saw from the beginning that this was no legitimate impeachment trial and informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would not preside. Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead. As Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley kept asking, why didn’t the House schedule a single hearing to investigate what really happened up to and on the day of the Capitol melee on January 6th? They had weeks to do so. Professor Turley believes they might even have been able to make a decent case if they had tried.

Why did they not call witnesses? Were there no rioters who could be called to explain under oath how Trump’s speech had inspired them to enter the Capitol building to overturn the election? Were they afraid that under cross-examination we might have found out more about Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ claim that Trump offered to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington before January 6th but that his offer was rebuked? What about reports that Capitol Hill Police were left without back-up and unprepared for what happened? House and Senate leadership is responsible for security at the Capitol and they obviously failed. Why?

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Can Michael van der Veen handle this one too?

Trump Cuts Ties With Giuliani (F.)

Attorney Rudy Giuliani is “not currently” representing former President Donald Trump “in any legal matters,” Trump advisor Jason Miller said in a statement Tuesday, as the ex-president’s former personal lawyer faces multiple lawsuits against him for his role in Trump’s effort to overturn the presidential election results. Miller’s statement was in response to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Trump, Giuliani and two far-right groups, which alleges the president and his lawyer violated the Ku Klux Klan Act in their attempt to stop the election results from being certified by Congress. Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney throughout his presidency and most recently helmed the president’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge the election results in court, including appearing on Trump’s behalf in a Pennsylvania case.


The former mayor said he did not represent Trump in his Senate impeachment trial—despite a willingness to do so—because he was a “witness” in the case and gave a speech at the rally that preceded Trump supporters’ seizure of the U.S. Capitol building. Giuliani has been sued for defamation twice in recent weeks for spreading unsubstantiated election fraud claims involving voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. He is also reportedly under federal investigation by the Southern District of New York for his business dealings in Ukraine, and an ethics complaint has been filed that seeks to disbar Giuliani in New York.

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Power struggle: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack..”

Trump Unleashes Scathing Statement Blasting Sen. Mitch McConnell (JTN)

Former President Donald Trump issued a scathing statement on Tuesday in which he excoriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in the fiery statement. “McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.”

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” the former president said elsewhere in his statement. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.” The nation’s 45th commander-in-chief also attacked Republicans Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the Peach State’s GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the statement.

“Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race,” Trump said. “It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will,” Trump declared.

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In a functioning society, there would be an investigation.

Comey Told Clapper FBI Unable To ‘Sufficiently Corroborate’ Steele (JTN)

The very day in January 2017 that then-FBI Director James Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified,” he wrote President Obama’s outgoing intelligence community chief with a very different assessment of the British spy’s intelligence on Russia collusion, a newly released memo shows. “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting,” Comey wrote in a Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that was declassified and made public through an open records lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation. The memo recounts an internal debate inside the U.S. intelligence community during one of the most delicate moments in the FBI’s then six-month old Crossfire Hurricane probe.

CIA officials had already informed Comey’s FBI that the target of the FISA warrant, Carter Page, wasn’t a Russian spy but rather an asset helping U.S. intelligence. The bureau had received warnings about Steele and the reliability of his source network, including that it might have been compromised by Russian disinformation. Agents had also just recommended on Jan. 4, 2017 shutting down the probe’s inquiry into incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lack of evidence. The FBI had been warned the previous summer that Hillary Clinton’s campaign may have planted the false Russia collusion story as a way to “vilify” Trump and distract from her email scandal, and agents were about to interview Steele’s primary sub-source, who would discount much of the information in the dossier attributed to him as bar talk and unconfirmed rumor not worthy of official intelligence.

And the larger intelligence community had decided it did not want to vouch for the Steele dossier in its official Intelligence Community Assessment about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. It was in that environment in the final days of the Obama administration that Clapper had written Comey earlier on Jan. 12, 2017 to inform the FBI that Clapper had decided to release a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey tried to push back, suggesting Steele was deemed reliable (he actually had been terminated by the FBI for leaking by that time) and that his network included sources that might be in a position to know things (although the key source had already disavowed the information attributed to him in the dossier).

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“Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.”

New Comey Email Raises More Questions About Steele Dossier (Turley)

Justthenews has released a previously undisclosed email from former FBI Director James Comey that raises additional questions about his role in using the now discredited Steele dossier as part of the FBI Russian investigation. The email on Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper falsely claims that Christopher Steele was found to be “reliable” but then states that the FBI could not “sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” The email went out the same day that Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring that content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified.” We are still waiting for the results of the John Durham investigation but this email raised additional questions about Comey’s role.

Comey has testified that he would not have approved such surveillance if he knew then what he knew now about the Steele dossier. Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” Yet, he also did not tell Clapper what the FBI had already knew about Steele and Carter Page. While Comey later insisted that he was unaware of basic information, he was signing applications for secret surveillance and advising Clapper without either confirming or disclosing information. The CIA had already told the FBI that Page was a U.S. intelligence asset, not a Russian spy. It had also been warned that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was trying to plant a false Russian collusion story in the media.(The Clinton campaign and its attorney Marc Elias had reportedly denied that the campaign funded the dossier until after the election)

It was also told that Steele’s primary source was a suspected Russian agent and that is network was compromised by Russian intelligence. Steele had also been reportedly terminated by the FBI as a source because of his efforts to plant stories in the media. Comey mentioned none of this and instead cautioned Clapper against a statement saying that there was no judgment on the reliability of the Steele dossier. He was opposed to a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey insisted her was reliable:

“I just had a chance to review the proposed talking points on this for today. Perhaps it is a nit, but I worry that it may not be best to say ‘the IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.’ I say that because we HAVE concluded that the source is reliable and has a track record with us of reporting reliable information; we have some visibility into his source network, some of which we have determined to be sub-sources in a position to report on such things; and much of what he reports in the current document is consistent with and corroborative of other reporting included in the body of the main IC report.” So Comey worked to preserve the public narrative in support of the Steele dossier, which was being widely disseminated and fueled what was later found to be an unsupported conspiracy theory. He did so while admitting later “That said, we are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting to include it in the body of the report.”

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“The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018.”

Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson Raised $64G For Anti-Trump Film (Fox)

Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project PAC, raised nearly $65,000 for a film called “Everything Trump Touches Dies” that has yet to be released. Wilson raised $64,766 from around 1,400 donors for the film – based on his book under the same title – on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, though donations have since been paused for the project. The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018. But a January 2018 update from Wilson said filmmakers were still working on its “first round of interviews” and asked people to give more money to the project.

“Team Trump won’t like this, but we’re in the home stretch in this fundraising effort for [the film],” Wilson wrote. “Your support is more vital and appreciated than ever.”Wilson provided no updates for nearly two months, when he said in March 2018 that the film was in “final production” and again asked for more money. Nearly a year later in February 2019, Wilson insisted that the project was “still happening” and that he needed to “expand the scope of the project to truly tell the story.” “We will endeavor to keep our community more informed as the project goes forward,” he wrote, but no update has been posted to the page since then. [..] Ben Howe, who is listed as the project’s director and producer, told Fox News Tuesday that the film is still in production.

“Delays have caused issues, the primary one in the last year being the difficulty of filming the remaining interviews with location shooting being so limited due to quarantine,” Howe said, “An issue that’s affecting filming across all film-related industries – including Hollywood – so certainly not limited to this.” “The issue now is that, in almost every way imaginable, the world looks very different than when Rick first asked me to direct,” Howe continued. “So, what an interviewee might’ve offered as analysis at the end of 2019 is almost certainly different today and that has to be accommodated for the film to offer any value.”

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GBOAT.

Is This the Greatest Bubble of All Time? (CHS)

[..] what’s the greatest bubble of all time (GBOAT)? The easiest way to measure speculative bubbles is the starting price and the peak price, but that may not do justice to the question. Perhaps the number of people drawn into the speculative frenzy is a better measure of GBOAT: after all, if only a handful of speculators lose their shirts, how that can be the greatest bubble of all time? To even qualify, a bubble must drawn the masses into the euphoria and then slaughter them as mercilessly as Hammurabi massacred the goat profiteers. Another qualifying factor is the scale of disconnect from reality. Even if you overpaid for a goat in a speculative mania, at least you can still milk the goat and make cheese. But tulips, which drove the remarkably excessive speculative Tulip Mania in 1636 Holland, are not even edible.

At least tulips offer a bit of beauty in a world besmirched by speculative ugliness, but the shares of the South Seas Company that sucked in the best and brightest in 1720 Britain and proceeded to lay waste to their wealth did not even have that saving grace. Another qualifying factor is the power of the delusion driving the bubble. To qualify as a contender for GBOAT, the mania has to be utterly convincing and persuasive to everyone involved. In other words, it isn’t even speculation to invest all your money in the bubble, it’s simply common sense due to the dead certainty of the proposition fueling the mania.

The 1999-2000 Dot-Com Bubble is a good example of the universality of belief in the obviousness of the gains to be reaped: the Internet was changing the world and would expand for decades, so obviously the companies involved would grow for decades, too, as would their profits (obviously!). The chart of the dot-com bubble offers a textbook example of how a bubble gathers momentum, spikes to insane heights, falters as the smart money exits but soars to a lower high as true believers buy the dip. Once the buying is exhausted, the bubble collapses back to its starting level.

But not all bubbles follow this trajectory. Here is a current chart of IWM, the Russell 2000 index, courtesy of NorthmanTrader.com. (I added the black box and the red line in the center panel to indicate the previous bubble top.) The violence and amplitude of this speculative mania over the past year makes the dot-com bubble appear quaintly staid in comparison.

So let’s make the case that we’re experiencing the greatest bubble of all time in real time. The magnitude of the price movement is extreme: check. The number of people sucked into the mania is extreme: check. The power of the delusion is extreme: check. (The Fed will print trillions forever, federal government will borrow and blow trillions forever, the world is about to enter Roaring 20s, technology is changing the world, etc. etc. etc.) The gains to be reaped are extremely obvious: check.

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Much more in the article.

Who Bought the $4.5 Trillion Added in One Year to US National Debt? (WS)

Driven by stimulus and bailouts, and fired up by the tax cuts and by grease and pork, the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt has skyrocketed by $4.55 trillion in 12 months, to $27.86 trillion, after having already spiked by $1.4 trillion in the prior 12 months, which had been the Good Times. These trillions are all Treasury securities that form the US national debt, and someone had to buy every single one of these securities:

So we’ll piece together who bought those trillions of dollars in Treasury Securities that have whooshed by over the past 12 months. Tuesday afternoon, the Treasury Department released the Treasury International Capital data through December 31 which shows the foreign holders of the US debt. From the Fed’s balance sheet, we can see what the Fed bought. From the Federal Reserve Board of Governors bank balance-sheet data, we can see what the banks bought. And from the Treasury Department’s data on Treasury securities, we can see what US government entities bought. In the fourth quarter, foreign central banks, foreign government entities, and foreign private-sector entities such as companies, banks, bond funds, and individuals, reduced their holdings by $35 billion from the third quarter, to $7.04 trillion. This was still up from a year ago by $192 billion (blue line, right scale in the chart below). But their share of the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt fell to 25.4%, the lowest since 2007 (red line, right scale):

Japan (blue line), the largest foreign creditor of the US, reduced its holdings in Q4 by $20 billion, to $1.26 trillion. But compared to a year earlier, its holdings were still up by $102 billion. China (red line) continued on trend, gradually reducing its holdings. In Q4, its holdings ticked down just a tad, and over the 12-month period fell by $8 billion, to $1.06 trillion:

[..] All these holders of the monstrous US Treasury debt, combined into one mountain, and color-coded for your amusement by category of holder as of December 31:

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Go AMLO!

Bayer, US Officials Pressured Mexico To Drop Glyphosate Ban (G.)

Internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killers. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based products.

The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weed killer, but reversed course after US threats about trade disruption. So far the collaborative campaign to get the Mexican government to reverse its policy does not appear to be working.

The Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has given farmers until 2024 to stop using glyphosate. On 31 December, the country published a “final decree” calling not only for the end of the use of glyphosate but also a phase-out of the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, which farmers often spray with glyphosate, a practice that often leaves residues of the pesticide in finished food products. The moves are for the “purpose of contributing to food security and sovereignty” and “the health of Mexican men and women”, according to the Mexican government. But Mexico’s concern for the health of its citizens has triggered fear in the United States for the health of agricultural exports, especially Bayer’s glyphosate products.

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Feb 162021
 
 February 16, 2021  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Snowy landscape with Arles in the background 1888

 

How to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (NC)
Aiming For Zero Covid-19: Europe Needs To Take Action (Rep.)
Millions of Texans Left Shivering In Arctic Cold Without Power (NBC)
“Unity” (Jim Kunstler)
Cuomo Blames ‘Politics,’ Fails To Address Nursing Home Cover-Up (NYP)
Democrats Slam ‘Lying’ Cuomo Over COVID-19 Nursing Home ‘Cover-Up’ (NYP)
Bipartisan Support For 9/11-Style Commission To Investigate Capitol Riot (PFW)
How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir (Turley)
What Comes Next in HNA Group’s Bankruptcy in China (Barron’s)
Fauci Awarded $1m Israeli Prize For ‘Speaking Truth To Power’ (Ind.)
WHO Adviser: Wuhan Lab Probe Was Conducted By ‘Chinese Authorities’ (SAC)
Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die (Chris Hedges)

 

 

CNN is trying to compete with The Onion.

 

 

The obvious.

How to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (NC)

If we’re going to rely on COVID-19 vaccines to bring an end to the pandemic, we need to maximise their effects. But one thing that risks undermining their protectiveness is nutritional deficiency, particularly in the elderly. Older people have weaker immune responses and are known to respond less well than younger adults to many vaccines, including the seasonal influenza vaccine. This is partly down to frailty, which cannot be easily remedied, but can also be due to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals – known as micronutrients. For the immune system to fight off infection or generate good protection against a disease following vaccination, it needs a variety of micronutrients. This is likely to be just as true for COVID-19 as for other diseases. Given that malnutrition is common among elderly people, raising their vitamin and mineral levels before they get vaccinated could be a way of boosting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

As the European Food Safety Authority notes, the vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C and D and the minerals zinc, selenium, iron and copper are all needed for the immune system to function as it should. Each of these micronutrients – as well as vitamin E – has been shown to play multiple roles in supporting immune function and reducing the risk of infection. Research has found a link between having an impaired immune system and having low amounts of many vitamins and minerals. When the immune system isn’t properly fuelled and is impaired, this can then lead to poor vaccine responses. For example, a review of nine studies – together involving 2,367 people – found that individuals deficient in vitamin D were less well protected against two strains of flu after having been vaccinated compared to those who had adequate vitamin D levels.

By contrast, randomised controlled trials of micronutrient supplements (such as vitamin B6, vitamin E, zinc and selenium) in older people have been shown to increase the ability of the immune system to respond to challenges. Furthermore, it appears that to work at its best the immune system needs vitamins C, D and E together with zinc and selenium in excess of amounts that can usually be achieved through diet alone. For example, selenium levels above those typically regarded as optimal have been associated with a better cure rate for COVID-19. Trials in older people have also shown that responses to vaccination are better after actions are taken to improve nutrition.

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Letter published in several European newspapers.

For me, personally, three pillars: “Vaccination, green zones, and test, trace and isolate strategies”, is not enough. Not without boosting people’s health.

Aiming For Zero Covid-19: Europe Needs To Take Action (Rep.)

Vaccination is a critical element for our way out of the pandemic. But the hope to reach herd immunity in Europe by the end of the summer is fading, as the roll-out of vaccines proves to be a major challenge. In addition, the emergence of new variants from Brazil, the UK, and South Africa is a warning signal that we may be confronted with lower protection from vaccines. Furthermore, history demonstrates that vaccination cannot single-handedly control a virus: it needs concerted efforts and a combination of public health measures. A global exit from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 seems unlikely if not impossible. To avoid lockdown cycles as experienced over the past and present year, we need to curb the spread of the virus as soon as possible, and choose the path of sustainable recovery.

The European strategy needs to markedly shift its focus from long-term and nationwide lockdowns due to high numbers of non-traceable community transmission and high death tolls, to having the virus under control. We thus call on politicians and the public to jointly commit to a European elimination strategy that builds on three pillars: Vaccination, green zones, and test, trace and isolate strategies. Importantly, this needs to be accompanied by clear, coherent and transparent communication. We are part of a group of international scientists ranging from epidemiologists, virologists, and mathematicians, to political scientists, and economists who support the strategy, some of whom have recently signed a call in The Lancet. In addition, No Covid – an approach suggested by a group of German scientists – is actively developing tools to render elimination successful.

While controlling the virus across Europe seems to be a daunting task, it can be achieved by defining common public health measures and standards that aim at achieving and then protecting green zones. The smaller the zones and the less mobility between them, the faster the exit can be reached and worst-in-class measures avoided. However, as the zoning needs to be politically and socially acceptable, and locally enforceable, each country should make its own pragmatic choice. For example, Italy could opt for regions, Germany could opt for Landkreise or Länder, and a small country like Lithuania could opt to be considered as one zone. Even more granularly, single cities could be considered a zone if feasible.

A zone is labelled green once the origin of every transmission is known, such that test, trace and isolate strategies can prevent further uncontrolled spreading of the remaining few infections. Green zones can progressively return to normal life: schools, restaurants, tourism and other businesses can fully reopen, and travellers freely move within and between green zones. Once a green zone is established, the priority then shifts from contact-inhibiting measures to avoid the reintroduction of the virus via travel regulations and testing, and the preparedness to implement fast, decisive and targeted containment measures should infections flare up locally again.

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“Midnight electricity price went up by more than 20000% in the past 4 days in Texas.”

Millions of Texans Left Shivering In Arctic Cold Without Power (NBC)

As a record winter storm slammed across the country Monday, millions of people in Texas found themselves shivering in the dark. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the power grid for 26 million customers, called for rolling outages to conserve power as arctic weather froze wind turbines, pushed several power plants offline and drove up demand from home heating systems. Outages affecting more than 2 million people were initially expected to be brief, lasting 15 to 20 minutes, but many Texans reported losing power for hours.


“The blackout just kept on going, and as the night progressed, the temperatures just started getting lower,” said Esteban Ramirez, 19, a college student from Del Rio, west of San Antonio, on the Mexican border. He huddled with his mother and his grandparents on a sofa to stay warm after they lost power at 2:30 a.m. At one point, he said, the temperature outside was 6 degrees. “It was scary,” he said. Power was out except for a couple of brief spurts for most of the day. His pipes froze, cutting off running water to the house, and the dim light made it difficult for his grandfather to get his medication, he said. “It was my first time experiencing something like this,” he said. “I was afraid of not making it through the night.”

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“Address me as Mr. President or President Biden,” Biden said. “I will not, and you can go fuck yourself,” DeSantis said before hanging up.

“Unity” (Jim Kunstler)

This played out dramatically last week in a telephone parley between Mr. Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the governor’s refusal to lockdown his state. The world-famous Dr. Fauci was also on the call, in which Mr. Biden threatened to curtail American citizens travel to Florida by road and air — since an offshoot of Covid-19 policy has been to drive a huge demographic exodus from economically failing states of New York, Illinois, and California down there. He also threatened to withhold federal funding to Florida and deny the state access to Covid-19 vaccines. Dr. Fauci chimed in, “Governor, do you want to be responsible for reinfecting the nation? Truth is, we don’t even know how effective current vaccines are against the UK strain.”

DeSantis told Dr. Fauci he trusted his own state health authorities over financially incentivized federal officials. The conclusion of the conference call went like this: “How much do you stand to earn from these vaccines, Dr. Fauci? And, Joe, if you continue with this course of action, I will authorize the state National Guard to protect the movement of Floridians,” DeSantis said. “Address me as Mr. President or President Biden,” Biden said. “I will not, and you can go fuck yourself,” DeSantis said before hanging up. Hmmm. Now, that got right to the point, didn’t it? And consider this was not just Citizen Joe Blow mouthing off to alleged President Joe B, but the governor of a populous state. And what if it suggests a trend?

Another obvious and disconcerting irony in that affair was, of course, that Mr. Biden seeks to restrict the movement of people across Florida’s borders for fear of spreading new strains of Covid-19, while he insolently authorizes thousands of illegal aliens to cross our border with Mexico daily, with no testing for the virus. Could Mr. Biden’s intentions look any worse?

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Let him go.

Cuomo Blames ‘Politics,’ Fails To Address Nursing Home Cover-Up (NYP)

An unapologetic Gov. Cuomo doubled down on a litany of past excuses Monday as he blamed “politics” for the spiraling scandal that’s engulfed his administration since The Post revealed his top aide admitted they hid from elected officials and the public the true number of nursing-home residents killed by COVID-19. During a virtual news conference at which he declined to take a question from The Post, Cuomo claimed that “there’s nothing to investigate” regarding the cover-up to which Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa confessed during a video conference call with Democratic lawmakers last week. Cuomo never directly addressed DeRosa’s recorded remarks in which she admitted “we froze” over whether to come clean to the Legislature — or the public — about nursing home deaths in the face of a Justice Department inquiry.

“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said in the Wednesday evening conference call. Cuomo once again claimed that the state had always reported the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 — even though it only began releasing figures on those who died in hospitals after a damning report last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat. As of Saturday, official figures show, 13,407 nursing home residents died of COVID-19, including 4,181 — more than 31 percent — in hospitals. “This past year, there is a toxic political environment and everything is political,” Cuomo said during the news conference in Albany.

[..] Left unsaid was that Cuomo had enough spare time to publish a self-serving memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which made the Times “Best Sellers” list with the help of the self-proclaimed “Cuomosexuals” who turned his daily briefings into must-see TV, also garnering him a special Emmy Award. But Cuomo pushed back against a bipartisan move to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers in the wake of DeRosa’s remarks. And Cuomo insisted state pols should have known about the DOJ probe, despite his not telling them, because The Post broke a story about it in October. “Emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes,” Cuomo said. Cuomo said legislators “can reverse any action I take.” “They have never reversed a single action,” Cuomo said. “These are public health decisions, not local political decisions.”

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“She implicated all of us in the cover-up.”

Democrats Slam ‘Lying’ Cuomo Over COVID-19 Nursing Home ‘Cover-Up’ (NYP)

Fellow Democratic legislators in New York weren’t buying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation Monday as to why he refused for months to release a true accounting of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus. Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), whose uncle died from COVID-19, bluntly said, “all of it is BS” and a cover-up. “They could have given us the information back in May and June of last year. They chose not to,” Kim said, when hearing Cuomo was blaming the DOJ probe for delays in releasing the accurate coronavirus death tally of nursing home residents. Cuomo cited an exclusive Aug.26, 2020 story in The Post that broke the news about the Department of Justice inquiry into his administration’s nursing home admission policy and the undercounting of deaths, claiming Albany legislators should have known about the probe based on that report.


Kim said lawmakers could have passed laws to tighten up accountability and liability in nursing homes to save lives if they had the information sooner. Kim also said Cuomo’s comments Monday don’t square with what top aide Melissa DeRosa told him and other legislators during a private meeting last week, when she said former President Donald Trump made the issue a “political football” and claimed that as an excuse for withholding the nursing home data. The Post first reported on her explosive remarks after obtaining an audio recording of the meeting. “And basically, we froze,” DeRosa said. “She talked about the potential that the information would be weaponized against them. DeRosa needs to be accountable for what she said,” Kim insisted. “She implicated all of us in the cover-up.”

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It’s all still about Trump.

Bipartisan Support For 9/11-Style Commission To Investigate Capitol Riot (PFW)

Bipartisan support for a 9/11-style commission to further investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has grown bipartisan support with lawmakers urging such a body to get to the root cause of the events that day. “I’d like to know, did the Capitol Hill police inform the House sergeant at arms and the Senate sergeant at arms the day before the attack that they needed more troops?” Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Sunday after mentioning he believed there was a preplanned element to the highly publicized actions that took place. “We need to look at did Nancy Pelosi know on January 5 that there was a threat to the Capitol… What did President Trump do after the attack… We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” he continued.

Graham would add that the preplanned element had no connection to former president Donald Trump’s speech during a rally earlier that day. Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, who unlike Graham, voted to convict the former president during the impeachment trial, also called for a 9/11-style commission, telling ABC over the weekend that “there should be a complete investigation about what happened.” “I think there should be a complete investigation about what happened on Jan. 6. Why was there not more law enforcement, National Guard already mobilized, what was known, who knew it, and when they knew it, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again in the future,” Cassidy said.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Senator Dennis Coons also vocalized support for such a commission, telling ABC “there’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear.” “A 9/11 commission is a way that we make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath president Trump really was,” Coons said on Sunday.

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“We do not afford due process to people simply because we have to. It is like decency, civility and other values. They are not observed because they are mandatory but because they are right.”

How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir (Turley)

In the 1946 movie “Gilda,” Rita Hayworth delivered perhaps the ultimate film noir line. Looking at her former lover, she declared, “I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me.” Hayworth made self-destruction sound positively alluring. That line came to mind as I watched House impeachment managers and Democratic senators systematically discard basic values that once defined fair trials — and American values — under the Constitution. When Donald Trump’s defense counsel objected that he was not afforded due process in the House, the managers shrugged and said due process was not required. When the defense objected that Trump’s Jan. 6 speech was protected under the First Amendment, the House scoffed that free speech is not only inapplicable but “frivolous” in an impeachment.

Nothing, it seems, is so sacred that it cannot be discarded in pursuit of Trump. Over and over, it was made clear that his trial is about the verdict, not about our constitutional values. Even with acquittal all but ensured, there was no room for constitutional niceties like free speech or due process. There was only one issue — the same one that has driven our media and politics for four years: Trump. Through that time, some of us have objected that extreme legal interpretations and biased coverage destroy our legal and journalistic values. It was not done out of love for Trump: I voted against him in two elections and have regularly denounced his actions and rhetoric, including his Jan. 6 speech. However, I cherish our values more than I dislike him.

That is why the second Trump impeachment trial played out with a film noir flourish, featuring the same “lost innocence,” “hard-edged cynicism” and “desperate desire” of that movie genre — most obviously when House managers dismissed any due process in an impeachment proceeding. Indisputably, the House could have held at least a couple days of hearings and still impeached Trump before he left office. It knew the Senate would not hold a trial before the end of his term, so it had until Jan. 20 to impeach him. It did so on Jan. 13. A hearing would have given Trump a formal opportunity to respond to the allegation against him; no one has ever been impeached without such an opportunity. It would have allowed witnesses to be called (including many who already were speaking publicly), to create even a minimal record for the trial.

Yet the House refused, and then declined for more than four weeks to call a dozen witnesses with direct evidence to create a record even after its snap impeachment. So the House could have afforded basic due process but chose not to do so simply because it does not have to. When confronted about this in the Senate, one House manager scoffed at the notion that Trump should be afforded more due process. Representative Ted Lieu said, “Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due.” A chilling answer, since Trump received none in the House. There was a time when denying due process would have been shocking. Even if you believe that due process is not required in an impeachment, it is expected. We do not afford due process to people simply because we have to. It is like decency, civility and other values. They are not observed because they are mandatory but because they are right.

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It’s Xi’s casino now.

What Comes Next in HNA Group’s Bankruptcy in China (Barron’s)

Conglomerate HNA Group encapsulates at least three facets that have defined many overly-acquisitive Chinese firms in recent years. Those include origins in a defined sector with attempts to become a player in dozens of unrelated areas; an appetite for loose credit that backfired when Beijing decided too much was too much; and a meteoric rise and fall from a lack of discipline. Between 2015 and 2017 the then-airline firm’s $40 billion acquisition spree included stakes in the Hilton hotel chain and Deutsche Bank, bringing its total assets to more than $150 billion. It spent $6 billion to acquire California-based electronics firm Ingram Micro.

But debt piled up faster, and creditors and Beijing swooped in, demanding accountability, and forcing a massive asset selloff to pay down its arrears—which as of its last filing, in 2019, were roughly $109 billion. The saga seemed all but over after the Hainan provincial government last year essentially took control of the indebted behemoth, with plans for further asset sales and restructuring. But more bad news came crashing in. The Hainan government investigation concluded some 500 companies connected to HNA may be forced into bankruptcy restructuring, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported. Creditors then filed for HNA itself to be placed into bankruptcy and restructuring.

“HNA Group will comply with the court’s instructions of judicial review in accordance with law, promote the debts disposition actively, support the court to protect the legal rights and interests of creditors in accordance with law, and safeguard our normal business to be operated successfully,” the company said in a statement. HNA’s main creditor and head of the creditor committee is China Development Bank, one of the country’s three cabinet-led policy lenders. The head of the bank from 2013 to 2018, Hu Huaibang, led numerous underwritings for HNA acquisitions during its meteoric rise. Last year, Hu was arrested and charged with “suspected serious violations of discipline”—meaning corruption. How much of that, if any, is related to HNA deals is unclear.

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Yeah, give him another million.

Fauci Awarded $1m Israeli Prize For ‘Speaking Truth To Power’ (Ind.)

Dr Anthony Fauci was among recipients of the Dan David Prize, recognising his career in public health and “speaking truth to power” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the awards organisation. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health “is the consummate model of leadership and impact in public health,” the awards committee said in a statement. The prize, associated with Tel Aviv University, awards three $1 million prizes for “achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.” Ten per cent of the prize money is set aside for academic scholarships in each winner’s field. [..]


The nation’s leading infectious disease expert emerged as a face of the US response to the public health crisis amid a turbulent and insufficient federal effort under Donald Trump’s administration. After the former president sidelined or removed him from the foreground of the federal response in the final months of his administration, Dr Fauci has returned to the White House under President Joe Biden, who enlisted him as a chief medical adviser. Within hours of the president’s inauguration, Dr Fauci addressed the World Health Organisation to assure the agency that the US will honour its partnership and funding commitments, after Mr Trump antagonised the United Nations group and pledged to isolate the US from its global health efforts.

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This son’t make the WHO happy.

WHO Adviser: Wuhan Lab Probe Was Conducted By ‘Chinese Authorities’ (SAC)

World Health Organization adviser Jamie Metzl revealed that the WHO’s investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducted “by Chinese autorities,” during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.” The WHO announced earlier this week that the investigation had ended because investigators had found it a “very unlikely” source of the COVID-19 virus. It has been alleged that the virus may have leaked from the lab. Such accidents, however, were dismissed by the WHO as “extremely rare.” It is the global organization’s belief that the virus was first transmitted from animal to human. “Well, the investigation itself was very short. It was two weeks of quarantine and two weeks of meetings, but the actual investigation was done by Chinese authorities.

And so, the W.H.O. investigators were basically receiving reports from the Chinese officials,” Metzl told Ingraham. “And as I see it, the big failure is that they outlined four possible ways that COVID could have begun. One was direct bat to human. Second, bat through an animal intermediate host. Third, through shipping or some kind of frozen food from somewhere else. And four, the accidental lab leak. As you know, Laura, for more than a year, I’ve been one of the leading advocates saying we have to look very, very seriously at option four.”

“But rather than saying, alright, let’s look more deeply at all of those possibilities, the W.H.O. investigators said we should look at the first three, but not at the accidental lab leak,” Metzl said. “And I’m just miffed that this has happened and I think it’s really terrible.” The U.S. State Department in January detailed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting dangerous research on coronaviruses and couldn’t be ruled out completely as a possible source of the virus outbreak. In fact, the report mentioned that in the fall of 2019, researchers at the lab became sick and exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms. Further, the State Department said the lab was being operated by the Chinese military.

Read more …

The Rev. Will Campbell was a wise man.

Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die (Chris Hedges)

The Rev. Will Campbell was forced out of his position as director of religious life at the University of Mississippi in 1956 because of his calls for integration. He escorted Black children through a hostile mob in 1957 to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. He was the only white person that was invited to be part of the group that founded Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped integrate Nashville’s lunch counters and organize the Freedom Rides. But Campbell was also, despite a slew of death threats he received from white segregationists, an unofficial chaplain to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

He denounced and publicly fought the Klan’s racism, acts of terror and violence and marched with Black civil rights protestors in his native Mississippi, but he steadfastly refused to “cancel” white racists out of his life. He refused to demonize them as less than human. He insisted that this form of racism, while evil, was not as insidious as a capitalist system that perpetuated the economic misery and instability that pushed whites into the ranks of violent, racist organizations. “During the civil rights movement, when we were developing strategies, someone usually said, ‘Call Will Campbell. Check with Will,’” Rep. John Lewis wrote in the introduction to the new edition of Campbell’s memoir Brother to a Dragonfly, one of the most important books I read as a seminarian.

“Will knew that the tragedy of Southern history had fallen on our opponents as well as our allies … on George Wallace and Bull Connor as well as Rosa Parks and Fred Shuttlesworth. He saw that it had created the Ku Klux Klan as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That insight led Will to see racial healing and equity, pursued through courage, love, and faith as the path to spiritual liberation for all.” Jimmy Carter wrote of Campbell that he “tore down the walls that separated white and black Southerners.” And because the Black Panther organizer Fred Hampton was doing the same thing in Chicago, the FBI — which, along with the CIA, is the de facto ally of the liberal elites in their war against Trump and his supporters — assassinated him.

When the town Campbell lived in decided the Klan should not be permitted to have a float in the Fourth of July parade Campbell did not object, as long as the gas and electric company was also barred. It was not only white racists who inflicted suffering on the innocent and the vulnerable, but institutions that place the sanctity of profit before human life. “People can’t pay their gas and electric bills, the heat gets turned off and they freeze and sometimes die, especially if they are elderly,” he said. “This, too, is an act of terrorism.” “Theirs you could see and deal with, and if they broke the law, you could punish them,” he said of the Klan. “But the larger culture that was, and still is, racist to the core is much more difficult to deal with and has a more sinister influence.”

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 142021
 
 February 14, 2021  Posted by at 3:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Jean-Michel Basquiat Warrior 1982

 

 

As the second Trump impeachment circus has come to an end, which it seems to have done last night, we have to try and map what lies ahead, not just in politics, but also in the media. Which for the past 5 years have run almost exclusively on banging the Trump drum. This is not true only for the MSM, it also includes other media, including the Automatic Earth.

What are we all going to report on going forward? Trump has been acting like a kind of black hole in “news”, sucking up all the light and matter that came close to him. We ourselves didn’t get close enough to be annihilated by the black hole, like CNN and New York Times did, but its gravity pull did shape -and distort- our universe as well.

Last week I ran a graph depicting US cable TV viewer numbers, and said: “Here’s what will determine US politics in the next 4 years. Lack of clickbait. War would be good for ratings.” The graph is devastating for CNN, which lost over 40% of viewers in just one week, before and after the Biden inauguration. The network that is most anti-Trump got hammered once he was gone. The irony is palpable. It was also entirely predictable.

 

 

What will CNN and NYT and WaPo turn to now? Not Joe Biden, that’s for sure. No energy there, hence no news. Or rather, no clickbait. Of course over the past few days they were fully focused on the second impeachment, but that was the worst dud ever, sucking blood out of a stone. Did anyone ever have the idea that the Dems even tried to win this?

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley wrote well before the acquittal vote that he thought they were “tanking” it, an American football term for losing on purpose:

 

Did The Democrats “Tank” The Second Trump Trial?

In the last impeachment, I criticized the House leadership for impeaching Trump on the thinnest record in the shortest time in history. It then outdid itself by impeaching him a second time with no record and no hearing. Even a day of hearings would have reduced the serious prudential concerns of senators, but the House pushed through a snap impeachment on a muscle vote. That left the House with no record despite being denied witnesses in the prior impeachment by the Senate

The greatest indication of tanking was the language of the article itself. Even a single day of hearings would have allowed experts to discuss the potential impeachable conduct and the crafting of articles of impeachment. There was credible impeachable offenses in Trump’s conduct on January 6th and its aftermath. Instead, the House leadership insisted on impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.” The House is not alleging reckless or negligent conduct leading to a riot. It is alleging incitement to actually seek rebellion or overthrow of the country.

The article specifically refers to section 3 of the 14th Amendment in its prohibition of anyone holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States. Even moderate senators who condemned Trump for his speech would be highly unlikely to convict on such an article. The House made it easy on those seeking acquittal. It could have crafted an article that would appeal to broader bipartisan support. Instead, it sought the most extreme language alleging incitement to an actual insurrection — virtually guaranteeing a partisan vote and likely acquittal.

 

And then yesterday what seemed to happen was that Nancy Pelosi, as soon as she understood she would be called as a witness if any were allowed, fumbled the ball and would not allow any witnesses. Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen turned on the MSM media for their coverage of the trial, but only after his home was vandalized and he received 100 death threats. Shame he wasn’t wearing a Viking helmet.

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1360815669294596096

 

But okay, for now it’s over. Trump has made some noise about ‘this is only the beginning’, exactly what the MSM have wet dreams about, but for the near future, it’ll be Biden all the way. Sure, they will try and pin Ol’ Joe’s mishaps on Trump, but at some point they must blame his errors on him. The end of a perfectly beautiful friendship. Joe is Kryptonite for the MSM.

How many Americans have died of COVID-related issues since Inauguration Day? Oh, but that’s all Trump’s fault. OK, so how many will die from today on? Also Trump’s fault? Till when does that last? Question: why did Biden keep Dr. Fauci in his job after so many people died? Because he was heroically battling Trump? Nothing was Fauci’s fault?

That leads me to another topic that, like Trump, we have written so much about that I sometimes don’t see what more there is to say. Well, perhaps other than: why doesn’t your government do everything in its power to keep its citizens from dying, and instead only locks them down and puts facemasks on their weakened immune systems? (This is not only true for the US, of course).

They can boost those immune systems, it’s very easy even, and they know about it. So why does it continue to (not) happen? And when will the MSM finally find out about it and start reporting on it?

In a Twitter thread, British MP David Davis points to a recent study linked to the Lancet named Calcifediol Treatment and COVID-19-Related Outcomes , and says:

This is a very important study on vitamin D and Covid-19. Its findings are incredibly clear. An 80% reduction in need for ICU and a 60% reduction in deaths, simply by giving a very cheap and very safe therapy – calcifediol, or activated vitamin D. The findings of this large and well conducted study should result in this therapy being administered to every Covid patient in every hospital in the temperate latitudes.


Furthermore, since the study demonstrates that the clear relationship between vitamin D and Covid mortality is causal, the UK government should increase the dose and availability of free vitamin D to all the vulnerable groups. These approaches will save many thousands of lives. They are overdue and should be started immediately.

Calcifediol is what your body turns vit. D into, and the study doesn’t appear to mention that adequate vit. D levels reduce risk of infection by some 50% to begin with. If an MP knows this, and talks about it, can the rest of government plead ignorance?

Then, there are 38 published trials for ivermectin as a COVID treatment. Are these being ignored by the west because they took place in countries such as Israel, Peru, Mexico, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Argentina, Iran? What say you, Fauci? What say your friends in the industry?

 

 

And of course just a few days ago we had our own resident MD, John Day, explaining how to Treat Your Own COVID. So the information is out there, even if Fauci and/or the MSM won’t give it to you. And it’s information that may well save your lives, or those of people close to you.

Anyway, the premise of this article was what the MSM are going to do now that their Golden Trump Goose can no longer deliver the desired clickbait. Will they be desperate enough to tell people how to save their own lives? I must say, I don’t really see that happening. It appears much more likely that they start banging war drums, their tried and tested MO.

Thing is, can you really send troops to far away deserts while your own health care systems are imploding? And before you give people the $2,000 $1,400 $600 checks that some pundits claim will allow them to pay all their bills until July? I’d almost wish you would try, but I don’t actually want more people to die.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the MSM soon being back to where they were before Trump entered stage right: on the verge of bankruptcy. But I’m not a betting man, and I’m not always right. Still, if I were Trump I’d lay low for a while and let them draw their terminal breaths. But I’m not Trump either.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

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Feb 142021
 
 February 14, 2021  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Edward Hopper Christmas card 1928

 

Only Seven GOP Senators Vote To Convict Trump (F.)
Trump’s Philly Lawyers Are Facing A Backlash At Home (Inq.)
Statement on Senate Impeachment Acquittal of Trump (Nader/Fein)
Newsom Recall Effort Has Enough Signatures To Trigger Special Election (JTN)
How To Understand The Rage Economy (IC)
Cuomo Didn’t Protect Seniors. But it Was the Media That Covered it Up (NW)
Patent For Secret Bat Cages At Wuhan Lab (DM)
India Finally Bans Cryptocurrencies (BTCPeers)
State Clears First Three Foreign Military Sales Of Biden Administration
Why Russia Is Driving The West Crazy (Escobar)
Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms (Edward Curtin)

 

 

 

 

As I said to friends earlier: A circus in which even the clowns are not funny. The Dems never really tried to win. When they all agreed on witnesses, the Dems reneged as soon as it was clear that Pelosi would be called.

Only Seven GOP Senators Vote To Convict Trump (F.)

The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with just 7 Senate Republicans siding with Democrats in voting to convict him. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) voted with all Democrats to convict Trump on one article of impeachment. The article alleges the ex-president “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” The result comes after a particularly tumultuous final day of an already chaotic trial in which senators voted to approve debates on calling witnesses, only to backtrack and swiftly conclude the proceedings hours later.

Trump’s acquittal was widely seen as a foregone conclusion, cemented further by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement to Republican colleagues on Saturday that he would vote to let off the ex-president he has publicly condemned. “Whatever you came to Washington to do… This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, had told senators before the vote. Trump became the first president to be impeached twice last month when the House passed the article of impeachment 232-197, with a historic 10 House Republicans breaking with their party and voting to impeach.

[..] Trump is not out of the woods yet, as he is facing legal scrutiny from prosecutors in several states. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is probing his finances and business practices, while prosecutors in Georgia have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he urged Georgia election officials to “find” votes for him.

Read more …

Mostly peaceful.

“Michael van der Veen hired 24-hour private security for his family after vandals smashed windows & spray-painted “TRAITOR” on the driveway of his..home Friday night. He told reporters Saturday he received more than 100 death threats.”

Trump’s Philly Lawyers Are Facing A Backlash At Home (Inq.)

If Donald Trump’s team of Philadelphia lawyers thought they’d get a reputational bump from defending a former president on the biggest stage of their careers, it hasn’t turned out that way. They won his acquittal Saturday at his second impeachment trial. But the backlash could end up following them for years. Members of the team described the five-day trial as a trying experience, from infighting between attorneys and second-guessing by Republican advisers in Washington, to derision hurled their way online and at their homes and offices. Michael van der Veen hired 24-hour private security for his family after vandals smashed windows and spray-painted “TRAITOR” on the driveway of his suburban Philadelphia home Friday night. He told reporters Saturday he received more than 100 death threats.

And they acknowledged being caught off guard by the level of rancor from Trump’s critics and supporters alike — even given the country’s fiercely divided politics and how other lawyers in his orbit have fared. “I’ve been representing controversial clients for 30 years, and I’ve never experienced this type of vitriol,” said William J. Brennan, another local member of the team whose past clients include priests accused of sexual abuse and judges facing corruption charges. “We had no political agenda here. We are not partisan warriors. We are criminal defense lawyers who represented a client.” Bruce L. Castor Jr., the former Montgomery County commissioner and district attorney, entered the week as the nominal leader of Trump’s team — a high-profile job that had some back home wondering if it could bolster a future run for statewide office.

Instead, his rocky, rambling opening performance Tuesday drew his client’s ire and turned him into an internet punchline. Conservative TV hosts, like Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, called him “terrible.” Sean Hannity responded: “You’re way too charitable.” Everything from his verbose delivery to his pin-striped suit became targets for social media mockery. Some used his performance to question the aptness of the term Philadelphia lawyer — a phrase inspired by Colonial-era attorney Andrew Hamilton that has long characterized an exceptionally shrewd attorney. Van der Veen — the head of Castor’s law firm, who took over the defense presentation Friday after Castor was sidelined — fared little better.

He delivered a more combative, incendiary performance, attacking Democrats for “hypocrisy” and what he described as “constitutional cancel culture.” His style was reportedly more to his client’s liking. But his testy, hectoring demeanor at the lectern turned him into a target, too. On Saturday, a small group of protesters gathered outside his Center City law firm. They left “VAN DER VEEN = LIAR” scrawled in chalk on the street. On Facebook, the firm’s page turned into a toxic stew of invective. “Michael van der Veen is ranting on my television screen — the new shame of Philadelphia,” one commenter wrote, as another added: “This entire firm should be shut down and every single one of you should lose your license.”

 

 

MVDV: “What happened at the Capitol on January 6 is absolutely horrific. But what happened at the Capitol during this trial was not too far away from that.”

Read more …

Pelosi didn’t want to be called, so no-one was?!

Tweet: “The Democrats went for cover when they found out that the Defense was going to call DC Mayor and Pelosi to testify. What are they hiding?”

Statement on Senate Impeachment Acquittal of Trump (Nader/Fein)

Donald J. Trump has once again circumvented justice, but not because of a want of facts or law. His life preserver was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to refrain from calling critical witnesses possessing “smoking gun” incriminating evidence at Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial. Her plan to abandon an Ace of Spades for a Two of Clubs to prove Mr. Trump’s guilt was upset by Republican freshman Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler (Wash.) who gave the Democrats an opportunity to subpoenas witnesses to testify under oath to fortify the video evidence introduced during the House Managers’ case in chief.

Ms. Butler’s disclosing a conversation with House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) proving President Trump’s endorsement of his mob’s resort to lethal force and violence to unconstitutionally prevent a peaceful transfer of presidential power precipitated a surprise 55-45 Senate vote this morning, including several Republicans, to entertain live witnesses. Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin (Maryland) appeared on NPR shortly before the Senate reconvened from a recess at 12:30 pm. The Senator declared that the impeachment trial would be continued for two weeks; and, that the only issue remaining for resolution between the prosecution and defense (then in private negotiations) was whether five witnesses for each side would be named or left open for later identification in a Senate witness resolution.

Mr. Cardin was clueless of the Democratic capitulation, snaring defeat from the jaws of victory. The House Managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team agreed to a stipulation to admit into the record a mere written statement by Congresswoman Butler, not delivered in person under oath or via a deposition. Not a single witness would be called.

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Schwarzenegger redux.

Newsom Recall Effort Has Enough Signatures To Trigger Special Election (JTN)

The growing effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom has reportedly secured enough signatures to trigger a special election, potentially setting up the first gubernatorial recall in that state in nearly two decades. Organizers have obtained 1.5 million signatures, more than enough to mandate a special election, Fox News reported on Saturday. The number was allegedly hit earlier this week. The state secretary will have to process the signatures first to ensure they are valid.


Newsom has faced extended criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—particularly his shutdown orders, which have at times been among the strictest in the nation—as well as a disastrous PR blunder last year when he was spotted mask-less and at a crowded dinner table in an indoor restaurant. The last California recall election took place in 2003; in that instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully won the election after voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

Read more …

“..the fragmentation of the American public into a multitude of angry factions, radicalized in different ways online and holding completely different baseline perceptions of reality.”

How To Understand The Rage Economy (IC)

The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 underlined a disturbing phenomenon that has become undeniable at this point: the fragmentation of the American public into a multitude of angry factions, radicalized in different ways online and holding completely different baseline perceptions of reality. The problem of deliberate misinformation undermining democracy has received lots of attention, but in many ways, the power of fantastic lies to grab people’s allegiance is also a byproduct of a deeper problem: extreme polarization driven by news media monetizing anger in order to survive.

This phenomenon is at the core of what media ecologist and author Andrey Mir in a new book calls “postjournalism.” Mir’s book, titled “Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers,” is a sweeping look at how the news media evolved and shaped the world over hundreds of years, from newsletters for traders published in medieval Venice, Italy, to modern print newspapers, television, and finally the internet. For pretty much everyone, the news media is the major force that shapes how they perceive the world outside their direct experience. During an era when the main technology for producing and disseminating information changes, the world changes as well. For better or worse, we are living through one of those eras now.

The collective psychological impact of new technologies like social media has been written about in a wave of books over the past few years. Equally significant has been the underlying economic shift that has gradually transformed even traditional media outlets into something wholly different. Journalism traditionally relied on an advertising-based revenue model, and that economy also subtly incentivized a particular lens through which the world was depicted: an upbeat-as-possible, unifying worldview that made advertisers happy and promoted the needs of consumerism, even as it often overlooked or suppressed stories that fell outside its parameters.

When advertisers suddenly flocked to social media, the traditional economic model that underpinned the media and allowed even smaller papers to afford luxuries like foreign correspondents suddenly collapsed. Today established news outlets not only struggle to find advertisers after Facebook and Google swallowed up the market, but they must also compete with a seemingly infinite number of other websites, companies, and even individuals committing “acts of journalism” or just putting out entertainment, thus forcing them to battle for a finite slice of an attention economy that they cannot possibly corner.

The loss of the old advertising paradigm simply killed many local news outlets, which have shuttered at an incredible rate over the past decade. The surviving large organizations have sought desperately for a new model to support themselves. A lucky few have been able to rely on the patronage of philanthropists supporting journalism as a pure social good. But many others have been forced to do something not seen since the era of mass-produced penny tabloids: relying primarily on readers to support them through subscription and membership fees. As Mir argues, this change in the economic structure of the news media has quietly transformed what journalism itself is about, turning it from a theoretically neutral means of “manufacturing consent” into a political cause that people are rallied into supporting, usually by inciting them to some form of outrage.

Read more …

“It would prove a death sentence for thousands of seniors.”

Cuomo Didn’t Protect Seniors. But it Was the Media That Covered it Up (NW)

Things are not looking good for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. After receiving an Emmy “in recognition of his leadership” and writing a bestselling book called American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the toll Cuomo’s leadership has taken is finally emerging. On Thursday, the New York Post broke the story that Melissa DeRosa, one of the governor’s top aides, apologized to Democratic lawmakers for fudging the number of nursing home deaths from COVID for fear of being investigated.

Such an investigation was long overdue. One of the biggest scandals of the pandemic has been the number of nursing home deaths in New York City, many of them possibly linked to a March 25 directive from the Cuomo administration forcing nursing homes to take in people even if they had tested positive for COVID-19. It would prove a death sentence for thousands of seniors. And to fend off an investigation, the Cuomo administration underestimated the number of nursing home deaths by 40%. The true number was 15,000, not 9,056.

But this isn’t just a government scandal. It’s a media scandal. For while the Cuomo administration was sentencing seniors to death, the media was busy fawning over Cuomo in a series of softball interviews, many of them conducted by his own brother. Cuomo has been a television mainstay throughout the crisis, particularly on CNN where his brother, Chris Cuomo, is a host. But it wasn’t just his brother who fawned. A June interview with CNN’s Chris Cilizza provided Cuomo an opportunity to tout his performance while criticizing that of then-president Donald Trump and Republican governors who had not gone along with economy-crushing lockdowns. Cilizza was more than happy to assist.

“We tested both theories,” Cuomo told Cilizza. “We have the evidence. It’s numbers. It’s irrefutable. Why don’t we pause and recognize the undeniable reality of the situation?” “On the numbers, it’s hard to disagree,” Cilizza dutifully wrote. “On April 9, New York had almost 10,000 coronavirus cases in a single day, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, it had just 673 cases statewide.” There would be no follow-up article when New York would hit over 14,000 cases in January. No review of what went wrong in Cuomo’s “undeniable reality.” No comparison to states that found a different “undeniable reality of the situation” and have objectively handled the COVID crisis better.

Read more …

What does the WHO hold back?

Patent For Secret Bat Cages At Wuhan Lab (DM)

The Chinese laboratory at the centre of suspicion over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic was awarded a patent for cages to hold live bats for testing just months before the virus started spreading. The revelation comes after the World Health Organisation last week backed Beijing’s line, saying that a leak from the institute was ‘highly unlikely’, while giving credence to theories that the virus had entered the country via frozen meat. The team included Peter Daszak, a British-born zoologist whose organisation EcoHealth Alliance has studied bat-borne viruses with Wuhan lab scientists for 15 years, and who has categorically denied that researchers keep the mammals for testing.

However, The Mail on Sunday has established that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) filed an application in June 2018 to patent ‘bat rearing cages’ which would be ‘capable of healthy growth and breeding under artificial conditions’. The patent, which has been seen by this newspaper, was granted in January 2019 – 11 months before Beijing reported that the first cases of the virus in the city had broken out just a few miles from the institute. A separate patent, filed by the institute on October 16, 2020, relates to the ‘artificial breeding method of wild bat’. The patent discusses cross- species transmission of SARS- CoV from bat to humans and other animals, saying: ‘Bats infected with the virus naturally or artificially have no obvious clinical symptoms, and the mechanism is unknown’.

It explicitly states that the method is for breeding bats for scientific experiments: ‘The invention aims to provide an artificial breeding method of wild bat predators, which aims at overcoming the defects in the prior art, and the wild bat predators are artificially domesticated, bred and passaged to establish an artificial breeding group, thereby providing a brand-new model experimental animal for scientific research.’ Responding to a question over whether researchers were keeping live bats, Mr Daszak tweeted in April last year: ‘The researchers don’t keep the bats, nor do they kill them. ‘All bats are released back to their cave site after sampling. It’s a conservation measure and is much safer in terms of disease spread than killing them or trying to keep them in a lab.’

Read more …

6 months to liquidate your assets.

India Finally Bans Cryptocurrencies (BTCPeers)

India has become the second country to outrightly ban Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This is coming after the Central Bank of Nigeria instructed all financial institutions in the country to block the accounts of all individuals and entities linked to cryptocurrency transactions. There has been a lot of drama surrounding India’s cryptocurrency stance. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India issued a ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. The ban was lifted by the country’s Supreme Court in March 2020. In December 2020, government officials hinted that they were considering taxing Bitcoin transactions by up to 18%. Barely a month later and there were rumors that the country was mulling over banning all private cryptocurrencies.


Apparently, officials were serious about banning cryptocurrencies. Citing an unnamed senior finance ministry official, BloombergQuint disclosed the government’s move. However, according to the official, the ban would not be imposed overnight, as in the case of Nigeria. Instead, investors would be given three to six months to liquidate their investments. As per the report, India’s Parliament will proceed to introduce a law that bans the usage of cryptocurrencies in all forms, including restricting trading via foreign exchanges. On the flip side of India’s ban is Kenya, an East-African country that has proposed to make Bitcoin its base currency.

Read more …

BAU

State Clears First Three Foreign Military Sales Of Biden Administration

The Biden administration has approved three Foreign Military Sales requests for Jordan, Chile and a NATO agency, with a combined potential price tag of more than $200 million.] The approvals mark the first FMS cases moved since President Joe Biden took office. The last FMS cases approved by the State Department came in late December; the Biden team has since announced a pause and review of a number of weapon sales approved by the Trump administration, most notably on weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The three approvals were announced on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA announcements mean that the State Department has decided the potential FMS cases meet its standards, but this does not guarantee the sales will happen in their announced forms.

If the U.S. Congress does not object, the foreign customer begins to negotiate on price and quantity, both of which can change during the final negotiations. Jordan was approved for an F-16 Air Combat Training Center and related equipment, with an estimated cost of $60 million. That package would include “mission trainers, combat tactics trainers, instructor/operator stations, tactical environment simulators, brief/debrief stations, scenario generation stations, database generation stations, mission observation centers, and other training center equipment and support,” per the DSCA notice. The center would “enhance” Jordan’s pilot training for their fleet of F-16s, the oldest of which entered service in 1997. Work will primarily be done at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary & Mission Systems center in Orlando, Fla.

Chile was approved to purchase up to 16 Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA missiles, along with support equipment and contractor assistance, with an estimate price tag of $85 million. The anti-air weapons are slated to be used aboard two recently transferred former Adelaide-class frigates to the Chilean Navy. Work would be preformed by Raytheon Missiles and Defense in Tucson, Ariz. The NATO alliance’s Communications and Information Agency to buy 517 AN/PRC-158 Manpack UHF SATCOM radio systems, worth an estimated $65 million. Also included in the package would be “crypto fill devices, man-portable ancillaries, vehicular ancillaries, deployed Headquarter ancillaries, power support, and operator and maintenance training,” per the DSCA notice.

Read more …

“The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.”

Why Russia Is Driving The West Crazy (Escobar)

Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough: “We are getting used to the fact that the European Union is trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner”. Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin. Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.” He was referring to the EU summit of heads of state and government at the European Council next month, where they will discuss Russia.

Lavrov harbors no illusions the “unreliable partners” will behave like adults. Yet something immensely intriguing can be found in Lavrov’s opening remarks in his meeting with Borrell: “The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.” The two largest players in the Eurasian space. Let that sink in. We’ll be back to it in a moment. As it stands, the EU seems irretrievably addicted to worsening the “unhealthy situation”. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen memorably botched the Brussels vaccine game. Essentially, she sent Borrell to Moscow to ask for licensing rights for European firms to produce the Sputnik V vaccine – which will soon be approved by the EU.

And yet Eurocrats prefer to dabble in hysteria, promoting the antics of NATO asset and convicted fraudster Navalny – the Russian Guaido. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, under the cover of “strategic deterrence”, the head of the US STRATCOM, Admiral Charles Richard, casually let it slip that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.” So the blame for the next – and final – war is already apportioned to the “destabilizing” behavior of Russia and China. It’s assumed they will be “losing” – and then, in a fit of rage, will go nuclear. The Pentagon will be no more than a victim; after all, claims Mr. STRATCOM, we are not “stuck in the Cold War”.

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RFK, Jr.

Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms (Edward Curtin)

With the rise of alternate media and a wide array of dissenting voices on the internet, the establishment felt threatened and went on the defensive. It, therefore, should come as no surprise that those same elite corporate media are now leading the charge for increased censorship and the denial of free speech to those they deem dangerous, whether that involves wars, rigged elections, foreign coups, COVID-19, vaccinations, or the lies of the corporate media themselves. Having already banned critics from writing in their pages and or talking on their screens, these media giants want to make the quieting of dissenting voices complete. Just the other day The New York Times had this headline: “Robert Kennedy Jr. Barred From Instagram Over False Virus Claims.” Notice the lack of the word alleged before “false virus claims.” This is guilt by headline.

It is a perfect piece of propaganda posing as reporting, since it accuses Kennedy, a brilliant and honorable man, of falsity and stupidity, thus justifying Instagram’s ban, and it is an inducement to further censorship of Mr. Kennedy by Facebook, Instagram’s parent company. That ban should follow soon, as the Times’ reporter Jennifer Jett hopes, since she accusingly writes that RFK, Jr. “makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers” at Facebook. Jett made sure her report also went to msn.com and The Boston Globe. This is one example of the censorship underway with much, much more to follow. What was once done under the cover of omission is now done openly and brazenly, cheered on by those who, in an act of bad faith, claim to be upholders of the First Amendment and the importance of free debate in a democracy.

We are quickly slipping into an unreal totalitarian social order. Which brings me to the recent work of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, both of whom have strongly and rightly decried this censorship. As I understand their arguments, they go like this. First, the corporate media have today divided up the territory and speak only to their own audiences in echo chambers: liberal to liberals (read: the “allegedly” liberal Democratic Party), such as The New York Times, NBC, etc., and conservative to conservatives (read” the “allegedly” conservative Donald Trump), such as Fox News, Breitbart, etc. They have abandoned old school journalism that, despite its shortcomings, involved objectivity and the reporting of disparate facts and perspectives, but within limits.

Since the digitization of news, their new business models are geared to these separate audiences since they are highly lucrative choices. It’s business-driven since electronic media have replaced paper as advertising revenues have shifted and people’s ability to focus on complicated issues has diminished drastically. Old school journalism is suffering as a result and thus writers such as Greenwald and Taibbi and Chris Hedges have taken their work to the internet to escape such restrictive categories and the accompanying censorship.

Secondly, the great call for censorship is not something the Silicon Valley companies want because they want more people using their media since it means more money for them, but they are being pressured to do it by the traditional old school media, such as The New York Times, who now employ “tattletales and censors,” people who are power-hungry jerks, to sniff out dissenting voices that they can recommend should be banned. Greenwald says, They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous ‘disinformation.’”

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Feb 132021
 
 February 13, 2021  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


James Karales Selma to Montgomery March Alabama 1965

 

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)
South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)
The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)
Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)
NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)
Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)
Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)
Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)
Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)
MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)
Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)
Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)
The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

 

 

When you open Pandora’s box, things tend to come out.

@AceSix4
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360063639894507520

 

 

One of the stranger arguments. But sure, let’s inject some controversy.

 

 

 

 

Russia to the rescue.

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)

The Gamaleya Institute behind Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said it’s working on a technology that will lead to an effective jab against several coronavirus variants and which could also be swiftly updated to tackle new mutations.
The multiplying variants of Covid-19, which could turn out to be resistant to current vaccines and prolong the pandemic even further, have recently become a source of major concern for governments and medics around the globe. But the solution to the problem may be just around the corner, as the Gamaleya Institute’s director, Alexander Gintsburg, revealed that the Moscow-based research body “has developed a technology that allows to quickly and efficiently create vaccine agents that will include antigens not from one, but two, three, four or five different coronavirus variants.”


Such a vaccine should be able to provide immunity from all coronavirus strains that could threaten a population at any given time, Gintsburg said, in an interview with the Rossiya 24 channel. So far, all of the known mutations appear to be covered by the vaccines, but that may well change as RNA viruses like Covid-19 are the most rapidly changing objects in the world, he pointed out. The Russian multi-variant vaccine is currently in its research phase, with clinical trials scheduled to begin by the end of the year. The finished drug will likely be made available to customers in 2022, Gintsburg estimated. Numerous strains of coronavirus have been already discovered by scientists, but three of them are causing the most worries at the moment. The so-called UK, South Africa and Brazil variants have shown multiple changes in their spike protein, through which the virus attaches itself to human cells.

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“substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19..”

South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)

Some people in South Africa have been re-infected with variants of Covid-19 after they had already recovered from the virus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said on Friday.
“We are now getting reports of people getting re-infected with the new variant of the virus, and there have been some initial reports from South Africa suggesting that people who have had prior infection could get infected again,” she told a WHO news briefing. Swaminathan did not specify the number of people re-infected in South Africa, but said that ongoing scientific studies are looking at how long antibodies protect people after they have contracted the virus.

The scientist did say that a recent UK study of health workers found that 85 percent of the cohort had developed protection against being re-infected with Covid-19 six to eight months after they first caught the virus. One study from South Africa published in pre-print format last month found the country’s indigenous mutation, 501Y.V2, showed “substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19. “These data highlight the prospect of re-infection” and may “foreshadow reduced efficacy” of vaccines, according to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Another larger, more generalized study of 43,000 people with Covid-19 antibodies in Qatar concluded that re-infection is “rare,” and that natural infection elicited strong protection against the virus for at least seven months. The South African variant features more genetic mutations than previous forms of the virus, including the E484K mutation, which appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response, potentially increasing the likelihood of re-infection. It accounts for more than 80 percent of cases in South Africa, and has spread to at least 32 countries worldwide.

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“This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work.”

The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)

News in the Trump years became a narrative drama, with each day advancing a tale of worsening political emergency, driven by subplots involving familiar casts of characters, in the manner of episodic television. It worked, but news directors and editors hit a stumbling block. If you cover everything like there’s no tomorrow, what happens when there is, in fact, a tomorrow? The innovation was to use banner headlines to saturate news cycles, often to the exclusion of nearly any other news, before moving to the next controversy so quickly that mistakes, errors, or rhetorical letdowns were memory-holed. The American Napoleon generated controversies at such a fantastic rate that stations like CNN and MSNBC (and Fox too) were able to keep ratings high by moving from mania to mania, hyping stories on the way up but not always following them down.

The moment the narrative premise of any bombshell started to fray, the next story in line was bumped to the front. News outlets paid off old editorial promises with new headlines: Ponzi journalism. This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work. As surveys by organizations like the Pew Center showed, the different target demographics in Trump’s America increasingly did not communicate with one another. Democrats by 2020 were 91 percent of the New York Times audience and 95 percent of MSNBC’s, while Republicans were 93 percent of Fox viewers. When outlets overreached factually, it was possible, if not likely, that the original target audience would never learn the difference.

This reduced the incentive to be careful. Audiences devoured bombshells even when aware on a subconscious level that they might not hold up to scrutiny. If a story turned out to be incorrect, that was okay. News was now more about underlying narratives audiences felt were true and important. For conservatives, Trump was saving America from a conspiracy of elites. For “liberal” audiences, Trump was trying to assume dictatorial power, and the defenders of democracy were trying to stop him. A symbiosis developed. Where audiences once punished media companies for mistakes, now they rewarded them for serving up the pure heroin of shaky, first-draft-like blockbusters. They wanted to be in the trenches of information discovery. Audiences were choosing powerful highs over lasting ones.

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View from the left.

Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)

In the chaos of 2020, the national press corps used all of its magical mythmaking and storytelling powers to conjure two towering political heroes for a country in crisis. From the maw of the media machine, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Lincoln Project emerged as our alleged sentinels bravely battling a deadly pandemic and an authoritarian president — and supposedly leading us with principles and morality into a new era of accountability and integrity. For millions of credulous liberals already binging on West Wing reruns, the twin tales conjured some more of that good old-fashioned hope-and-change nostalgia, and seemed to serve as a cheeky reminder that not all heroes wear capes.


But in the last 24 hours, the entire façade has collapsed, revealing that those bravely trying to sound the alarm for months were right all along — and those benefiting from the media-driven fraud were attempting to evade accountability and self-servingly cover up a grotesquerie of mismanagement, corruption, and abuse. Will the wrongdoers face any consequences or accountability? Or will they be treated like the purveyors of previous frauds, like the Iraq War and the financial crisis, and continue to be platformed and valorized by the press corps? And will our media overlords engage in any self-reflection about the monsters they manufactured? The details of the two tales vary, but the narrative arcs are eerily similar. That they crescendoed in the same single news cycle makes their cautionary tales all the more poignant.

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About a year too late.

NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reprimanded on Friday by a group of New York Democrats who are demanding that the governor be stripped of his emergency powers that he has exercised in response to the coronavirus pandemic in New York state. The reprimand came in a statement from 14 lawmakers who were acting following the news that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had admitted during a video conference call with Democratic leaders that the administration covered up the true extent of nursing home deaths in 2020 because they were concerned about a possible federal investigation by the Trump administration. The New York Post broke the story of DeRosa’s confession to the group of Democratic lawmakers who were thought to be put in a difficult situation as result of the coverup.


“While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state — and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments,” the prepared statement from the 14 Democratic state senators said — “it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.” “While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”

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Very toxic. Tucker’s take is dead on.

Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)

The Lincoln Project’s founders were some of the highest-profile players in Republican politics before they rejected Trump and became apostates within their own party. There was George Conway, a high-profile conservative lawyer who is married to Kellyanne Conway, who was a top adviser to Trump. Weaver worked on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns, as did Galen and Schmidt. Mike Madrid is a strategist specializing in Latinx voting trends. Jennifer Horn is a former GOP chair in New Hampshire. Wilson worked on Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral and Senate campaigns. Ron Steslow started his own consulting firm after working at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Conway was the first to leave in August, citing family obligations. Weaver took medical leave around the same time.

A three-person board — Galen, Madrid and Steslow — was created without input from some of the other co-founders. Eventually, disputes over that board, and its scope, led to bitter infighting that involved individual co-founders lawyering up and threatening one another with “oppo” research, Washington speak for the type of negative information amassed by a political campaign or organization to use against a rival. In late 2020, Conway stepped in to help mediate what was quickly becoming a civil war within the organization. Madrid and Steslow departed in December after signing nondisclosure agreements and receiving separation packages that those familiar with the negotiations describe as lucrative.

On December 21, the Lincoln Project paid Madrid’s firm, Grassroots Lab, two round sum payments of $1.1 million and $300,000. On the same date, it paid Steslow’s firm, TUSK Digital, $900,000. All of the payments were described as for “political strategy consulting” on campaign finance filings. The Lincoln Project was organized as a super PAC, meaning it could raise and spend unlimited sums of money but had to disclose only basic details about where the money was going. The firms that some of the co-founders brought with them to the Lincoln Project’s work became a source of internal frustration, as more than half of the nearly $90 million raised by the project flowed to firms controlled by its various founders. Once it was there, there was usually no way to track how they spent or kept it.

As of late January, Galen’s firm, Summit Strategic Communications, had received roughly $27.5 million from the Lincoln Project, with the bulk of that going to “independent expenditures” such as television or Internet advertisements and nearly $7 million to consulting. Steslow’s firm, TUSK, received $22.4 million, with $7.1 million for consulting. Schmidt’s firm, SES Strategies, received $1.5 million for consulting, but he told the Chicago Tribune he returned it. Madrid’s Grassroots Lab received nearly $2.2 million for consulting services. The Lincoln Project paid Horn directly in amounts of $5,000 or $10,000 per month, campaign finance filings show. In the fall, she began receiving additional payments from LPTV, but in all, her annual compensation was approximately $150,000, sources familiar with the situation said.

Tucker Lincoln Project
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360413135144771585

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George Conway. Strange player in all this.

Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)

The group of life-long Republican Party consultants who, under the name “The Lincoln Project,” got very rich in 2020 with anti-Trump online messaging has spent weeks responding to numerous scandals on multiple fronts. Despite the gravity of those scandals, its conduct on Thursday night was in a whole new category of sleaze. It not only infuriated their long-time allies, but also constituted the abuse of Twitter’s platform to commit likely illegal acts. That the primary effect of the Lincoln Project was to personally enrich its key operatives by cynically exploiting the fears of U.S. liberals has long been obvious. Reporting throughout 2020 conclusively demonstrated that the vast majority of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the group was going to firms controlled by its founders.


One of its most prominent founders — GOP consultant Rick Wilson — personally collected $65,000 from liberals through GoFundMe for an anti-Trump film he kept promising but which never came; to this date, he refuses to explain what he did with that money. A study conducted after the 2020 election found that the group’s effect on the election’s outcome was trivial to non-existent — not surprising given its penchant for spending money on ads that aired in electorally irrelevant places such as Washington, D.C. or which circulated almost exclusively in liberal cable news and social media venues, and thus had no purpose other than to enable its consultants to take large commissions from the ad spending. They were producing ads solely for liberals, with the overriding intent not of defeating Trump but inflating their net worth. And it worked: until they were no longer needed.

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Do they ever.

Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)

The Lincoln Project has had a rough couple of weeks. One of its co-founders, John Weaver, was accused of sexual harassment of young men and the Project attacked him as a sexual predator. As co-founders like George Conway denied any real familiarity or interaction with Weaver, others accused of the Project of turning a blind eye to his conduct. Then one of its other co-founders, Jennifer Horn, resigned in protest only to be attacked by other Project members as allegedly trying to get more money out of the organization. Now, the Lincoln Project is having serious questions raised over its compensation for co-founders and an accounting for tens of millions of dollars that may have gone to them or their own firms. Lincoln famously declared “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” but the Lincoln Project is accused of malice towards many but charity for a few.

[..] The latest controversy comes after an Associated Press story that the Project was able to raise over $90 million but only spent a third of that ($27 million) on advertisements during the 2020 campaign. The AP noted “That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group.” It also suggested that the Project was using tactics to hide the money trial and spending decisions. Reporters Steve Peoples and Brian Slodysko said that “[t]he vast majority of the cash was split among consulting firms controlled by its founders, including about $27 million paid to a small firm controlled by Galen and another $21 million paid to a boutique firm run by former Lincoln Project member Ron Steslow, campaign finance disclosures show.”

I have been critical of some of the Lincoln Project commercials and advertisements. However, my main objection was its role in harassing and even doxxing lawyers who represented the Trump campaign or the Republican party. That effort was funded by thousands of lawyers as well as Democratic donors. At first, I thought the Lincoln Project could serve a useful role in establishing a Republican opposition base to Trump and add greater diversity in the party. Instead, it adopted increasingly juvenile and vicious ads that seemed to pander to the lowest common denominator in politics. This week the Lincoln Project ad features a chicken and taunts Trump for declining to testify despite the fact that presidents traditionally have not testified and such a decision should not be treated as evidence of guilt.

Yet, such commercials play well to donors and bring in more money. The question is whether the windfall of money was the byproduct or the purpose of the Project’s founding. The AP story suggests that the Project has used accounting systems that make it difficult to track payments. The Project can easily make this all transparent. While no one is going to run ads showing the founders juxtaposed with chickens, a few donors may want to know if the founders enriched themselves and their firms as part of the 2020 campaign.

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Pandora’s box.

Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)

Attorney David Schoen argued the impeachment managers relied heavily on media reports to make their case against Trump rather than actual evidence. He said people get more “due process” fighting a parking ticket than Trump did in this trial. Schoen also questioned why the House managers held the “never-before-seen” Capitol security footage and did not release it to the public or Trump himself ahead of the trial. Schoen also argued that the House impeachment managers “manipulated” Trump’s words when playing a clip of him saying there were “fine people on both sides” after the Charlottesville protest. The full remarks included Trump denouncing white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

The House impeachment managers focused heavily on Trump’s “fight like hell” comment during his Jan. 6 speech. Schoen showed video clips of Democrats using rhetoric that could be interpreted as violent. His video montage included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Democrats have to learn how to “throw a punch” and former Vice President Joe Biden saying he would “beat the hell” out of Trump in high school. He also played clips of Democrats like then-Sen. Kamala Harris saying Democrats have to “fight” in the Trump era. “We like a good fight,” Harris said.

House impeachment managers argued that Trump’s “stop the steal” message was unprecedented. To respond to that argument, Schoen showed video of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton saying that you could be a major political party’s presidential nominee and have the election “stolen” from you. He also played Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown saying Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial election was “stolen” from her. Van der Veen played additional video of “robust” rhetoric from Democrats about punching Trump in the face and said the First Amendment should be applied “evenly.” “All robust speech should be protected and it should be protected evenly for all of us,” he said. “The Senate cannot ignore the First Amendment.”

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“..when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off.”

MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)

As their dishonest narrative collapses around them, mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians are trying to hold together their latest bid to destroy Donald Trump, but some of the lies are getting too big to shrug off. I’m reminded of the media-speak popularized during the Trump era – lightly used words or phrases that became ubiquitous in the talking points, like “violating norms” – especially the term “debunked.” In the eyes of MSM and their controllers, Trump was a president who needed to be debunked thousands of times. Whether it was about the size of his Inauguration Day crowd, the animal-like savagery of MS-13 gang-bangers or the fact that Haiti is “a s**thole”, any Trump claim had to be debunked, false or not.

When an obnoxious loudmouth constantly blurts out things that lift the skirt on the ruling class’ treachery, his voice must be discredited. And even if just part of his story can be attacked, the rest will be forgotten. It’s like a Jenga game where all the pieces automatically fall down when one is removed. But the same standard doesn’t apply to the media’s own story lines. No matter how many times MSM and establishment politicians are exposed as liars — from the MLK bust in the Oval Office to the Russia collusion hoax — the people are supposed to keep believing the gist of their arguments. The Jenga tower can be levitating with entire floors missing, but the con artists insist that it’s still standing. We’re seeing it again in Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial. Giant holes have been blown in the MSM-DNC narrative about the January 6 “insurrection” at the US Capitol, but that’s not supposed to matter.

For instance, when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off. “This is much ado about nothing because it’s not critical in any way to our case,” he said. Never mind that the point was apparently considered important enough to submit as evidence. Raskin was essentially allowed to wriggle out as if he said, “The fact that we’re lying about this doesn’t reflect whatsoever on the veracity of anything else we’re telling you.” A far bigger and more central piece of the impeachment Jenga tower shouldn’t be sloughed off so easily. In fact, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick is so central to the narrative that his cremated remains were displayed in honor at the Capitol Rotunda to remind everyone of the viciousness of the alleged Trump domestic-terrorism army.

The tale of the brutal Trump mob is always punctuated with the fact that five people were “killed” during the riot, er, “white-supremacist insurrection.” One of those people was Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters, who was fatally shot by a law enforcement officer. Three others were election-fraud protesters who died from health crises – a heart attack, a stroke and an unidentified medical emergency – during the January 6 demonstration and riot. The talking heads who wish Trump supporters dead in every other case are counting Trump supporters in the death toll from an incident perpetrated primarily by Trump supporters. It’s as if they’re leading a story on a hostage crisis by saying that 30 people were killed without mentioning that 25 of those were hostage takers, including 22 who died of food poisoning.

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hypothetical

Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)

A lawyer for former president Donald Trump said the current impeachment drive is a partisan effort that could backfire on Democrats if they lose leverage, suggesting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton could also be impeached. Responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) during Friday’s impeachment hearing, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen argued that the Obama-era secretary could face similar impeachment proceedings sometime in the future. “Is it not true that under this new precedent, a future House – facing partisan pressure to ‘lock her up’ – could impeach a former secretary of state, and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify her from any future office?” Rubio asked.

“If you see it their way, yes,” van der Veen said, referring to the Democratic impeachment managers. “If you do this the way they want it done, that could happen to the example there – a former secretary of state – but it could happen to a lot of people. And that’s not the way this is supposed to work.” The lead impeachment manager in the House, Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), pushed back, however, insisting Rubio’s hypothetical had “no bearing on this case,” as Clinton “was not impeached in office for conduct while in office.” At Friday’s hearing, the Trump lawyer also argued that the ex-president’s statements leading up to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill – which he is accused of “inciting” as the basis of the impeachment effort – were “virtually indistinguishable” from rhetoric used by American politicians for “hundreds of years.”

“Countless politicians have spoken of ‘fighting for our principles.’ Joe Biden’s campaign slogan was ‘Battle for the Soul of America.’ No human being seriously believes that the use of such metaphorical terminology is incitement to political violence,” van der Veen said. He added that while Trump at no point engaged in “language of incitement,” many Democrats in Washington have themselves resorted to “profoundly reckless, dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric in recent years,” singling out Clinton, who he said “ridiculously declared the [2016] election [was] stolen by Russia.”

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“Do you understand what you have done?”

Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)

Did you happen to catch the most important political speech of the last six years? It would have been easy to miss given everything going on. In fact, I almost did, and this speech sits at the intersection of nearly all of my areas of intense study. The annual World Economic Forum took place last week via teleconference, what I’m calling Virtual Davos, and at this year’s event, of course, the signature topic was their project called the Great Reset. But if the WEF was so intent on presenting the best face for the Great Reset to the world it wouldn’t have invited either Chinese Premier Xi Jinping or, more importantly, Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it was Putin’s speech that brought down the house of cards that is the agenda of the WEF.

The last time someone walked into a major international forum and issued such a scathing critique of the current geopolitical landscape was Putin’s speech to the United Nations on September 29th, 2015, two days before he sent a small contingency of Russian air support to Syria. There he excoriated not only the U.N. by name but most importantly the U.S. and its NATO allies by inference asking the most salient question, “Do you understand what you have done?” having unleashed chaos in an already chaotic part of the world? As important as that speech was it was Putin’s actions after that which defined the current era of geopolitical chess across the Eurasian continent. Syria became the nexus around which the resistance to the “ISIS is invincible” narrative unraveled

And the mystery of who was behind ISIS, namely the Obama administration, was revealed to anyone paying attention. President Trump may have taken credit for beating ISIS, but it was mostly Putin and Russia’s forces retaking the Western part of Syria which allowed that to happen, while our globalist generals, like James Mattis, did as much damage to Syria itself and as little to ISIS as possible, hoping to use them again another day. And regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the U.S.’s policy in Syria, which I most definitely do not, it is hard to argue that Russia’s intervention there fundamentally changed the regional politics and conflicts for the foreseeable future.

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Jim needs some time to re-focus.

The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

How do you like the party you supposedly voted into power so far? Or is it perhaps too much to say they were actually voted into anything? And if so — if there was something, let’s say, a little irregular with the ballot tabulation, maybe even more than a little — have they not succeeded splendidly in pissing-off more than half the people across the land? And then attempted to rub that half’s faces into the squishy, fetid loam of the DC Swamp? I’d say that every move they make, every breath they take, seems calculated to spark a new civil war. Yesterday’s spiteful exercise in cognitive dissonance was a humdinger: Mr. Biden threatened to cut off travel to Florida for flouting his regime’s policy on Covid-19 lockdowns, while over in Texas (and several other states), he ordered a general unlocking-down of the border with Mexico, permitting the unchecked illegal ingress of thousands of possible Covid-19 carriers a day. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, responded, saying — if I may paraphrase — see you in court, asshole.

Meanwhile, the cancellation reign-of-terror among the regime’s self-appointed guardians of Wokeness rages on. In the name of diversity and inclusion, no one in the USA is allowed to publicly question the Woke narrative of the moment, or else be deprived of your livelihood. The New York Times fired forty-year veteran science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr., for using the freighted word “n*gg*r” while answering a student’s question about the history of the word’s usage, just as I am explaining his use of it in the incident at issue — that is, academically.

Though Mr. McNeil’s intent was incontrovertibly innocent as viewed by persons not insane — including, only briefly, the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet — the decision to not sack Mr. McNeil provoked a reflexive uproar among the Times’s staff, as something in the wind might provoke a flight of grasshoppers transforming into a swarm of locusts, and Mr. Baquet reversed himself, forcing Mr. McNeil to choose demotion or resignation. Then, to make matters worse, the Times’s publisher, AG Sulzberger, spiked a column by nominally “conservative” op-ed writer Bret Stephens that attempted to argue some legalistic points about intent in the conduct of a witch hunt, an apparent affront to the Times’s witch-hunters, who seem to prefer their witch-hunting as a straight-up blood sport.

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