Jan 112021
 


René Magritte Youth 1924

 

A Fond Farewell To Donald Trump’s Twitter Feed (Stone)
A Masterclass In Media Control For Dictators Around The World (Dockery)
The “Crisis” is Corporate Liberal Authoritarianism (Tracey)
PGA Strips Major Golf Championship From Donald Trump’s Bedminster Course (G.)
Payment Processor Stripe Cuts Ties With Trump Campaign (Hill)
Whispers In The Wind (Robinson)
Trump Said ‘Cheer On Congress… Peacefully’ At Morning White House Rally (NP)
House Democrat’s Resolution To Expel Republicans Who Challenged Election (JTN)
War Of The -Financial- Worlds (Nomi Prins)
25 Organizations Say Victoria Nuland Should Be Rejected (CN)
Britain Set To Outlaw Chinese Imports With Links To Human Rights Abuse (Sun)
Vietnam And China Buy Indian Rice For First Time In Decades (ZH)
Does Vitamin D Combat Covid? (G.)

 

 

We’ll have to live through the mudslinging for a while longer. Will it stop on the 20th? Not very likely. The crowds smell blood.

 

 

Arnold

 

 

Hotep

 

 

“..his first ever tweet on May 4, 2009 was “Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!”

A Fond Farewell To Donald Trump’s Twitter Feed (Stone)

The president has lost both the Oval Office and his beloved Twitter account. His posts were hilarious, mad, and occasionally dangerous – but, God, it’s been a helluva ride. @realDonaldTrump, we’ll miss you. Donald Trump governed by social media. Tweeting from bed in his teddy bear pyjamas or on his sofa in front of a huge TV screen, sometimes from a buggy on his golf course. It was never gonna end well, and now it’s all over. Twitter permanently suspended his account yesterday, and he has been indefinitely hoofed off Facebook and Instagram. There are only so many teenage temper tantrums you can have until an adult takes away your smartphone.

Plenty of people say the dumbest things on social media, but they’re not usually the 74-year-old president of the most powerful country in the world, with more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1.3 million active duty troops ready to go. Their words don’t rock stock markets. Trump’s Twitter journey all started in pretty limp fashion; his first ever tweet on May 4, 2009 was “Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!” Just some bland, promotional pap selling the Trump brand. Seven years later, and he was about to be elected president – who’d have thought? That chubby orange-faced dude off ‘The Apprentice’, that serial bankrupt who erected gaudy apartment blocks and casinos and had a steady stream of pneumatic looking wives?

Nah. Don’t be ridiculous. That’s never gonna happen. His first tweet as president was: “I am honered to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th President of the United States!” The typo proved it was really him, and not some public relations drone. He later explained: “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” Righto. He has sent thousands of tweets – and retweets such as “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Which, uncharacteristically, he deleted. In early June 2020, during the police brutality protests, he sent exactly 200 tweets and retweets in a single day. This being Donald Trump, he didn’t get the irony that this tweet storm came shortly after he’d signed an executive order to regulate the platform after it fact checked one of his tweets. His previous record had been 142, during his impeachment trial in January 2020.

Read more …

The risks of censorship.

A Masterclass In Media Control For Dictators Around The World (Dockery)

Cutting off an opponent’s access to the media is step one in the regime change playbook, and the US government would know, having written several of them. When US-sponsored protesters deposed Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, the first building they seized after parliament was a TV station. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoided a communications blackout by using FaceTime to address the public during an attempted coup against him in 2016. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak cut off internet access as protesters organized against him in 2011. Every coup or counter-coup hinges on media control, and the only difference between the deplatforming of Trump and the examples above are that for the first time, foreign regime-change strategies are being openly deployed by Americans, against Americans, in America.

As the country’s most despicable journalists and pundits cheer for the unaccountable tech tyrants, budding dictators abroad are surely taking notes. Building relationships with the tech titans is the modern equivalent of seizing a television studio, and popular movements can be easily suppressed with their cooperation. If the world’s loudest and proudest democracy is doing it, why can’t they? And who’s to say Silicon Valley’s giants themselves would stop at the US border? What is to stop them taking a dislike to some politician overseas and snuffing them out like Donald Trump? After all if the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth can be deleted, what chance do the rest of them have?

Back in the US, Trump has far more supporters than the mob who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday. He has 75 million of them, more than the population of the UK. Denied the opportunity to speak freely online and with their views branded as “extremist,” would anyone be surprised if they decided to take more drastic action? After all, the regime change manual closes with a warning: an attempted coup only ever addresses “immediate issues and short-term, rather than longer-term, interests.” For the US, these long-term consequences could have the political class pining for a return to Wednesday’s hooliganism.

Read more …

I’m not in favor of big words like that.

The “Crisis” is Corporate Liberal Authoritarianism (Tracey)

The mob that barged into the Capitol Building on Wednesday accomplished a few things. First, it cemented the electoral demise of Donald Trump, whose termination from the presidency was merely delayed for a few hours by the chaos. Second, it put forward a public perception of Trump’s most ardent supporters as a collection of conspiracy-addled violent loons. Third, it humiliated and discredited Trump, who meekly conceded defeat the following day. There was no real “coup attempt,” despite incessant politician and media histrionics to that effect. Just a pitiful outburst that was quickly dispersed. It was clear within about ten minutes of the intrusion that the most severe consequences would stem not from the incident itself, but the deliberately-stoked over-reaction.

The bipartisan political and media class, whether cynically or sincerely, is broadcasting their steadfast conviction that this was something like a “MAGA Terrorist Insurrection” — which is literally how it’s being described on CNN. Under such allegedly extreme circumstances, of course extreme remedial action is going to be demanded. Few entities capitulate to upswells of political hysteria more reliably than the tech companies. Knowing that there will soon be a Democratic presidential administration and Congress to appease, they launched this week what is the most drastic corporate censorship offensive in modern history. Not only was Trump banished from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — the latter being his primary communications platform (for better or worse) — multiple high-profile Trump allies were likewise purged.

Steve Bannon was nuked from YouTube. Trump and his supporters are being neutralized online not because he currently poses any kind of bonafide “threat” to the Republic, but because his enemies are desperate for revenge. And they have been gifted with a perfect “crisis” that will justify their getting it. The expulsion of Trump from Twitter was celebrated rapturously by journalists whose conception of the job has markedly shifted away from anything to do with the preservation of protected speech. Instead, they are far more interested in asserting their political and cultural dominance, punishing those perceived to be undesirables, and functioning almost like a collective Human Resources social pressure department. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter — collectively more powerful than most nation states — have become willing partners in this endeavor.

Read more …

The rats and the ship.

PGA Strips Major Golf Championship From Donald Trump’s Bedminster Course (G.)

The PGA of America has announced that it has moved the 2022 PGA Championship from Donald Trump’s Bedminster course in the wake of the invasion of the US Capitol. “The PGA of America Board of Directors voted tonight to exercise the right to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster,’’ said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America. Bedminster, located in New Jersey, had been awarded the tournament in 2012, before Trump’s run for the presidency. It was the first time one of his courses had been chosen to host a men’s major although Bedminster hosted the women’s PGA in 2017. The tournament is due to be played in May 2022, and alternative venues include Bethpage Black, Southern Hills and Valhalla.


“We find ourselves in a political situation note of our making,’’ said Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.” The Trump Organization said they were disappointed with the decision. “This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement,” a spokesperson told ABC on Sunday. “As an organization we have invested many, many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster. We will continue to promote the game of golf on every level and remain focused on operating the finest golf courses anywhere in the world.”

Read more …

Can’t catch a break.

Payment Processor Stripe Cuts Ties With Trump Campaign (Hill)

Payment processing company Stripe cut ties with President Trump’s campaign after his supporters rioted at the Capitol last week, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill on Sunday. Stripe, a San Francisco-based company that manages online card payments for several businesses, will stop processing payments to the campaign, saying the campaign violated its policies against encouraging violence after a pro-Trump mob stormed and vandalized the Capitol. The company requests that users not collect payments for “high risk” activities, including for any business or organization that “engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property,” according to its website.

Read more …

“Neither Trump of Biden would save that baby and the many others like it. The Saudi kingdom, is a profitable friend.”

Whispers In The Wind (Robinson)

Millions of humans lead their lives despite the petty and often pathetic self importance of US partisan politics and yet somehow, the American empire finds them. Whether it is a drone hovering high above, visiting with random murder or a blockade of warships enforcing an almost ancient embargo, it is the American prevalence in all of our lives that seems to be destroying not only the US itself, but the wider world. And when a victor emerges, the world still gets war. Mostly American wars. These are not civil riots protests that waved a fist against state led bigotry, nor are they anti conscription riots over government forcing individuals to fight overseas in another war. Such past riots, have had limited impact in quelling the growth of government or in tempering its destructive might.

Journalist Julian Assange is held captive in legal purgatory, punished for revealing the crimes of war mongers and lifting the up the skirt of many governments. Ross Ulbricht a prisoner because he created a website, the details of his conviction would make for an unbelievable fiction and yet it was all too real. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are pariah patriots, believers in the religious texts that most Americans claim to uphold and yet most of the voting public and voted for rulers disregard the details of such a constitution and Bill of Rights. And millions of poor and desperate foreigners live and die in the frontiers of foreign policy, their homes and day to day ruined so that macho sounding politicians can profit by propping up tyrannies of maniacal madness. Inside the prisons of the US itself are thousands of convicts punished for victimless crimes, the prohibitions and regulations of a cancerous government that claims to be for freedom, when in fact it dissolves it at every chance. The protests are not for any of them.

A small child, perhaps now dead, coiled in infant agony, starved as its innocent eyes bulged in anguish fronted recent articles covering the desperate situation in Yemen. A situation that would be impossible if not for the aid and assistance of the US and it’s imperial allies. Neither Trump of Biden would save that baby and the many others like it. The Saudi kingdom, is a profitable friend. The protesters that support the two coins of US partisan politics do not care about the children of Yemen either. One needs not look too far to find the victims of foreign policy, recent and distant to see the true outcome of such actions, but it seems few actually care to. And should they be presented with such facts and terrible images, a religious fog washes across their eyes, allowing them to either dismiss or contextualize the murder and suffering. But a slob tweeting from the toilet or a hair sniffing buffoon are both credible enough to lead, and be despised because they are not the other.

Read more …

Not a popular POV these days.

Trump Said ‘Cheer On Congress… Peacefully’ At Morning White House Rally (NP)

Despite insistence from the mainstream media, Democratic Party, and establishment Republicans that President Trump incited violence at the U.S. Capitol, his morning speech at the White House did precisely the opposite.
As the final speaker of the Save America March in Washington, D.C., President Trump insisted his supporters would “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” at the Capitol following his speech. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women,” he outlined – never calling for protestors to breach the building or use physical force. In full his remarks read:

“And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down anyone you want, but I think right here. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity.”

Read more …

Even if it’s true that the challenges contributed to the riots, don’t they have the right to challenge?

House Democrat’s Resolution To Expel Republicans Who Challenged Election (JTN)

A freshman House Democrat is preparing a resolution to introduce Monday to expel Republican lawmakers who supported challenges to the 2020 election results. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), said Sunday in a tweet she believes the election challenges contributed to the deadly riot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. “Tomorrow, I’m introducing my resolution to expel the members of Congress who tried to overturn the election and incited a white supremacist coup attempt that has left people dead,” Bush tweeted. “They have violated the 14th Amendment. We can’t have unity without accountability,” she wrote.

Read more …

Robber barons.

War Of The -Financial- Worlds (Nomi Prins)

In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells evokes a species — humanity — rendered helpless in the face of a force greater than itself and beyond its control. His depiction of the grim relationship between the Martians and the humans they were suppressing (meant to remind readers of the relationship between British imperialists and those they suppressed in distant lands) cast an eerie light on the power and wealth gap in Great Britain and around the world at the turn of the twentieth century. The book was written in the Gilded Age, when rapid economic growth, particularly in the United States, bred a new class of “robber barons.” Like the twenty-first-century version of such beings, they, too, made money from their money, while the economic status of workers slipped ever lower.

It was an early version of a zero-sum game in which the spoils of the system were increasingly beyond the reach of so many. Those at the top ferociously accumulated wealth, while the majority of the rest of the population barely got by or drowned. A crisis of inequality had been sparked by the Industrial Revolution itself, which started in England and then crossed the Atlantic. By the late nineteenth century, America’s “robber barons” were insanely wealthy. As economist Thomas Piketty wrote, there was a steeper increase in wealth inequality during the Gilded Age than ever before in American history. In 1810, the top 1% of Americans held 25% of the country’s total wealth; between 1870 and 1910 that share leapt to 45%. Today, the top 1% of Americans possess more wealth than the whole of the middle class, a phenomenon first true in 2010 and still the reality of our moment.

By 2018, about 75% of the $113 trillion in aggregate U.S. household assets were financial ones; that is, tied up in stocks, ETF’s, 401Ks, IRAs, mutual funds, and similar investments. The majority of nonfinancial assets in that mix was in real estate. Even before the pandemic, only the richest 20% of American households had recovered fully (or, in the case of the truly wealthy, more than fully) from the financial crisis. That’s mostly because since that crisis, fewer households had participated in the stock market or owned real estate and so had no chance to capitalize on increases in the values of either. Much of the appreciation in stock market and real-estate values has been directly or indirectly related to the Fed’s actions. By the end of December 2020, its balance sheet had increased by $3.164 trillion, reaching a total of $7.35 trillion, 63% more than its book at the height of the decade following the 2008 disaster.

Read more …

Shill.

25 Organizations Say Victoria Nuland Should Be Rejected (CN)

Victoria Nuland, former foreign policy adviser to vice president Dick Cheney, should not be nominated for undersecretary of state [for political affairs], and if nominated should be rejected by the Senate. Nuland played a key role in facilitating a coup in Ukraine that created a civil war costing 10,000 lives and displacing over a million people. She played a key role in arming Ukraine as well. She advocates radically increased military spending, NATO expansion, hostility toward Russia, and efforts to overthrow the Russian government. The United States invested $5 billion in shaping Ukrainian politics, including overthrowing a democratically elected president who had refused to join NATO. Then-Assistant Secretary of State Nuland is on video talking about the U.S. investment and on audiotape planning to install Ukraine’s next leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was subsequently installed.

The Maidan protests, at which Nuland handed out cookies to protesters, were violently escalated by neo-Nazis and by snipers who opened fire on police. When Poland, Germany, and France negotiated a deal for the Maidan demands and an early election, neo-Nazis instead attacked the government and took over. The U.S. State Department immediately recognized the coup government, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk was installed as Prime Minister. Nuland has worked with the openly pro-Nazi Svoboda Party in Ukraine. She was long a leading proponent of arming Ukraine. She was also an advocate for removing from office the prosecutor general of Ukraine, whom then-Vice President Joe Biden pushed the president to remove.

Nuland wrote this past year that “The challenge for the United States in 2021 will be to lead the democracies of the world in crafting a more effective approach to Russia—one that builds on their strengths and puts stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She added: “…Moscow should also see that Washington and its allies are taking concrete steps to shore up their security and raise the cost of Russian confrontation and militarization. That includes maintaining robust defense budgets, continuing to modernize U.S. and allied nuclear weapons systems, and deploying new conventional missiles and missile defenses, . . . establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border, and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Read more …

Oh, yes, our moral standards.

Britain Set To Outlaw Chinese Imports With Links To Human Rights Abuse (Sun)

Britain is to square up to China — by outlawing imports with any links to human rights abuse. Dominic Raab will use the Modern Slavery Act to make firms root out items which are made using forced labour. The Foreign Secretary will also toughen up laws around exporting British goods or technology to China that could be used for repression. The plans will be outlined to MPs tomorrow. Britain’s diplomatic ties with Beijing have been strained since claims China tried to cover up the Covid outbreak and following attacks on democracy campaigners in Hong Kong. The Foreign Office has spoken of “deeply troubling” evidence of Uyghur Muslims forced to produce cotton.


There are fears the textile industry is doing too little due diligence on goods from Xinjiang Province where the Uyghurs are forced to live in “re-education camps”. But to the dismay of some MPs and campaigners, it is understood Britain will not sanction Communist officials linked to camps and forced sterilization programmes. Officials from Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea have been banned from entering Britain or using UK banks. But Whitehall insiders said the so-called Magnitsky powers are not expected to be deployed in China — although it is believed ministers have them in their sights.

Read more …

What comes after central banks go nuts.

Vietnam And China Buy Indian Rice For First Time In Decades (ZH)

One month ago, we reported that SocGen’s bearish analyst Albert Edwards, who is traditionally well ahead of the curve, looked at charts of soaring food prices and was starting to “panic.” Edwards’ research report concluded by urging his readers to “keep a very close eye as to whether we see a repeat of the 2010/11 surge in food prices” because “on the 10th anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring, and with poverty having already been made much worse by the pandemic, another food price bubble could well be the straw to break the very angry camel’s back.” And while it’s not quite the spring of 2011 just yet (give it a few months) it’s getting dangerously close.

As Rithesh Jain from the World out of Whack blog writes, citing an article in the Reuters, “Vietnam, the world’s third biggest exporter of rice, has started buying the grain from rival India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their highest in nine years amid limited domestic supplies.” “For the first time we are exporting to Vietnam,” B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters on Monday. “Indian prices are very attractive. The huge price difference is making exports possible.” Dwindling supplies and continued Philippine buying have lifted Vietnamese rice export prices to a fresh nine-year high.


Vietnam’s 5% broken rice is offered around $500-$505 per tonne, significantly higher compared to Indian prices of $381-$387. This means that, as we have been warning for the past few months, food inflation is indeed back with a vengeance: The purchases underscore tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India – the world’s biggest exporter of the grain.

Read more …

Study after study being required. But not for the vaccines.

Does Vitamin D Combat Covid? (G.)

In March, the government’s scientific advisers examined existing evidence and decided there wasn’t enough to act upon. But in April, dozens of doctors wrote to the British Medical Journal describing the correction of vitamin D deficiencies as “a safe, simple step” that “convincingly holds out a potential, significant, feasible Covid-19 mitigation remedy”. In the Newcastle hospitals, patients found to be vitamin D-deficient were given extremely high oral doses of the nutrient, often up to 750 times the daily measure recommended by Public Health England. In July, clinicians wrote to the journal Clinical Endocrinology to share their initial outcomes. Of the first 134 coronavirus patients given vitamin D, 94 had been discharged, 24 were still receiving inpatient care, and 16 had died. The clinicians hadn’t clearly associated vitamin D levels with overall death rates, but only three patients with high levels of the nutrient died, and all of them were frail and in their 90s.

Increasingly, others followed the lead of the Newcastle doctors and began taking the vitamin themselves. During the first months of the pandemic, up to 1,000 NHS staff received free wellness packs – including vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc – from a voluntary initiative called the Frontline Immune Support Team, after informal demand from clinicians. And as sales of vitamin D supplements significantly increased, some doctors informally recommended it to patients. In a letter, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin advised its members to take the nutrient, though it was not made official policy. “We believe that vitamin D3 deficiency is a major risk factor for severe coronavirus infection, for which there is accumulating evidence,” the letter said.

[..] In 1940, when Churchill’s government feared people were particularly at risk of the musculoskeletal condition rickets, margarine companies were ordered to fortify their products with vitamin D “to safeguard the nutritional status of the nation”. (Back then, the nutrient was universally thought only to impact bone and muscle health, rather than having any effect on immune or metabolic health.) Margarine was fortified with vitamin D until 2013, when the government decided that fortification was unnecessary “gold-plating”. It became industry standard to include the nutrient within other fat spreads, but for six years there has been no legal obligation to do so.

To the former Brexit secretary David Davis, the failure to fortify a wider group of foods seems unacceptable. Like clinicians at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, he couldn’t understand why vitamin D wasn’t being pursued as a viable coronavirus treatment. Davis is a Conservative MP with a molecular science degree. In May, he urged the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to review the evidence and consider a free supplement scheme to reverse vitamin D deficiencies, citing the letter sent to the BMJ. Up to 40% of the population is estimated to be vitamin D-deficient this winter.

[..] it is only a Spanish study, conducted in early September, that came close to incontrovertibly proving low vitamin D levels have a pivotal role in causing increased death rates. There, 50 patients with Covid-19 were given a high dose of vitamin D, while another 26 patients did not receive the nutrient. Half of patients who weren’t given vitamin D had to be placed in intensive care, and two later died. Only one patient who received vitamin D required ICU admission, and they were later released with no further complications.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 102021
 
 January 10, 2021  Posted by at 10:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  51 Responses »


Salvator Rosa Lucrezia as poetry c.1641

 

An Unlikely Nation Is Kicking This Pandemic. Guess Which. Then Why. (TS)
Covid-19 Forces Swedish Hospitals To Delay ‘Necessary Surgery’ (Local)
Rapid Covid Testing Across England Will Help Identify Symptomless Carriers (G.)
Assange Saga – Real Journalism Is Criminally Insane (Escobar)
The American Empire Has Fallen, Though Washington May Not Know It Yet (Malic)
Parler Kicked Off Amazon Servers And Apple Store (JTN)
Elon Musk Blames Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg For Capitol Riot (Ob.)
Big Short’s Michael Burry: Tesla Will Collapse Like The Housing Bubble (BI)
Bee-Killing Pesticide Banned By EU Can Be Used In England (G.)

 

 

What strikes me more than anything today is the amount of negativity everywhere I look, the antagonism and self-righteousness, which culminate in handing Big Tech the power to determine our own personal liberty. Not a Constitution, or even a law, not a judge or a court, but large corporations.

The problem with that is you’re not going to get it back. Be very careful what you wish for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn Greenwald, like Julian Assange, has warned against the increasing power of Big Tech for a long time.

Greenwald Tucker

 

 

 

 

India and ivermectin.

An Unlikely Nation Is Kicking This Pandemic. Guess Which. Then Why. (TS)

Ten months into its battle with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, India is on track to become an unexpected warrior in the fight against this global pandemic. Although the densely populated nation has four times the population of the U.S., India has less than half the U.S. COVID deaths. And India isn’t just beating the poorly performing U.S. In all, 98 nations have higher death rates than India. It may be tempting to attribute this startling news to imperfect data from a developing country. But doctors in India, Indian press reports, and even the Wall Street Journal have taken note of a sea change in COVID there. “In September, India was reporting almost 100,000 COVID-19 cases a day, with many predicting it would soon pass the U.S. in overall cases,” the WSJ wrote on Dec. 30. “Instead, its infections dropped and are now at one-fourth that level.”

Dr. Anil K. Chaurasia, a physician in Lucknow, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, watched this trend unfold. Starting about mid-September, “a clear decline in COVID cases and fatalities in India was noticeable,” he told me in a text message. The “steep decline in cases and fatalities is still continuing.” Like a lot of western reporting, the WSJ article held fast to an accepted COVID theme. The Indian miracle was due to masks, it asserted, since they are worn by 88 to 95 percent of a population “bombarded” with public-service reminders. The article cited German research that showed masks work. Fair enough. However, many factors are likely at play in India, including its painful yet supported national shutdown and individual state efforts at contact tracing and testing. But a pivotal role in any illness is surely the availability of treatments to resolve illness before crisis.

Late last March, as the U.S. argued over the merits of Trump-endorsed hydroxychloroquine and studies failed in late-stage patients, India decided to recommend the drug in its national guidelines. HCQ “should be used as early in the disease course as possible…and should be avoided in patients with severe disease,” the directives wisely state. As a precaution, authorities suggested an EKG to monitor for a rare heart arrhythmia that several COVID studies have since shown to be minimal. But a crucial turn for India may have come in August when the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recommended use of another drug: Ivermectin, which is coming on fast as a leading COVID treatment — without the baggage of at-turns effective but vilified hydroxychloroquine.

This was no small move. Were it a country, U.P.’s more than 230 million citizens would rank it fifth worldwide. As India’s largest state, its embrace of ivermectin may have changed the treatment landscape across India. “This authentication of ivermectin revived the faith of people,” Dr. Chaurasia told me, “and net result was a massive inclination to take these drugs” — both ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. By the end of 2020, Uttar Pradesh — which distributed free ivermectin for home care — had the second-lowest fatality rate in India at 0.26 per 100,000 residents in December. Only the state of Bihar, with 128 million residents, was lower, and it, too, recommends ivermectin.

But Uttar Pradesh did more than treat 300,000 mild cases at home through 2020; it also opted to use ivermectin to prevent infection. It seems a young health officer’s COVID response teams had taken the drug and remained well – something prophylaxis studies support. U.P. then had contacts of COVID patients take it, with similar success. “Recognizing the sense of urgency,” Amit Mohan Prasad, a U.P. health official, wrote in a Dec. 30 article, “we decided to go ahead.”

Read more …

Spare a thought for the doctors making these decisions.

Covid-19 Forces Swedish Hospitals To Delay ‘Necessary Surgery’ (Local)

Hospitals across Sweden are now postponing urgent operations to make room for coronavirus patients, a survey by Sweden’s state broadcaster SR has found. Every one of the country’s 21 regional healthcare authorities reported being in a “strained” or “very strained” situation, with the regions of Jönköping and Uppsala telling SR that they were having to postpone urgent operations on cancer or heart patients. “It may actually be cancer surgery that has to wait for a bit right now,” Uppsala’s health and medical care director, Mikael Köhler, told the broadcaster. “We need to do everything we can to prevent harm that could have been avoided, and, in the long run, deaths. We really shouldn’t end up in that kind of situation, but we are starting to get close to it.”


Jönköping, like Uppsala, said that it was delaying urgent cancer surgery and heart operations, with the region’s medical director Mats Bojestig telling SR that it plans to trigger the crisis clause agreed with unions which will allow it to increase health personnel’s working hours. “This feels absolutely necessary if we’re going to be able to carry out more operations than before, because otherwise we think local residents are going to harmed,” he said. Uppsala has already triggered the crisis clause. In Skåne, urgent operations have had to be moved between hospitals, delaying procedures.

Read more …

We should have had this discussion at least 9 months ago. Choose between various rapid tests, and get it going.

Rapid Covid Testing Across England Will Help Identify Symptomless Carriers (G.)

Rapid testing to find symptomless carriers of Covid-19 is to be launched in England this week. The aim of the programme is to identify some of the tens of thousands of infected people who are unwittingly spreading the virus across the country. The dramatic escalation of the programme – which uses detectors known as lateral flow devices – comes as Covid death rates have continued to soar and hospitals have reported alarming numbers of patients needing intensive care. On Saturday it was revealed a further 1,035 Covid deaths had occurred in the UK, bringing the nation’s total to 80,868. In addition, the daily number of those testing positive increased by 59,937.

Under the new, expanded testing scheme, local authorities will be encouraged to identify more positive cases of Covid and ensure those who are infected isolate. The use of lateral flow devices, which can confirm if a person is infected in under 30 minutes, will allow quick detection of infected individuals at test centres. Lateral-flow devices are accurate at pinpointing infected individuals but have been criticised for generating large numbers of false negatives. Nevertheless, many experts have welcomed the expansion of the testing programme, which 131 local authorities have already agreed to implement. Professor Adam Finn, of Bristol University, described the expanded programme as a vitally important measure. “Added to the measures already in place, this provides an important new tool to help to reduce the rapid rise in cases that is paralysing in our country,” he added.

Professor Lawrence Young of Warwick Medical School agreed. “This is good news. Testing individuals during the current lockdown will help to restrict the spread of infection as long as we ensure folk who test positive appropriately isolate and their contacts are traced and also isolate.” Other scientists were more cautious. “Here, In Liverpool, a trial using lateral flow tests had a good uptake: 25% of the population were tested and 900 cases identified,” said Tom Wingfield, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “However, an interim report later showed this testing missed 60% of cases and provided no clear evidence the strategy led to a reduction of cases.

Read more …

“The real power in the Assange case is Lady Emma Arbuthnot, forced out of a visible role because of very compromising, direct ties she and her husband Lord Arbuthnot maintain with British intelligence and military..”

Assange Saga – Real Journalism Is Criminally Insane (Escobar)

The invaluable Craig Murray, from inside Westminster Magistrates Court No. 1 in London, meticulously presented the full contours of the insanity this Wednesday. Read it in conjunction with the positively terrifying judgment delivered on Monday in the United States government case against Julian Assange. The defining issue, for all those who practice real journalism all across the world, is that the judgment affirms, conclusively, that any journalist can be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act. Since a 1961 amendment, the Espionage Act carries universal jurisdiction. The great John Pilger memorably describes “judge” Vanessa Baraitser as “that Gothic woman”. She is in fact an obscure public servant, not a jurist. Her judgment walks and talks like it was written by a mediocre rookie hack. Or, better yet, entirely lifted from the US Department of Justice indictment.

Julian Assange was – at the last minute – discharged on theoretically humanitarian grounds. So the case had, in effect, ended. Not really. Two days later, he was sent back to Belmarsh, a squalid maximum security prison rife with Covid-19. So the case is ongoing. WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnnson correctly noted, “It is unjust and unfair and illogical when you consider her ruling of two days ago about Julian’s health in large part because he is in Belmarsh prison (…) To send him back there doesn’t make any sense.” It does when one considers the real role of Baraitser – at a loss to juggle between the imperatives of the imperial agenda and the necessity of saving the face of British justice.

Baraitser is a mere, lowly foot soldier punching way above her weight. The real power in the Assange case is Lady Emma Arbuthnot, forced out of a visible role because of very compromising, direct ties she and her husband Lord Arbuthnot maintain with British intelligence and military, first revealed by – who else – WikiLeaks. It was Arbuthnot who picked up obscure Baraitser – who dutifully follows her road map. In court, as Murray has detailed in a series of searing reports, Baraitser essentially covers her incompetence with glaring vindictiveness. Baraitser discharged Julian Assange, according to her own reasoning, because she was not convinced the appalling American gulag would prevent him from committing suicide.

But the key issue is that before reaching this conclusion, she agreed and reinforced virtually every point of the US indictment. So at this point, on Monday, the “Gothic woman” was performing a contortion to save the US from the profound global embarrassment of prosecuting a de facto journalist and publisher for revealing imperial war crimes, not United States government secrets. Two days later, the full picture became crystal clear. There was nothing “humanitarian” about that judgment. Political dissent was equaled with mental illness. Julian Assange was branded as criminally insane. Once again, practicing journalism was criminalized.

Read more …

“..exploding the myths that maintained US hegemony, both at home and abroad.”

The American Empire Has Fallen, Though Washington May Not Know It Yet (Malic)

[..] here’s Ishan Tharoor, a columnist for the notoriously pro-establishment Washington Post, declaring on Thursday that for “many abroad,” the vision of the US as a shining city on a hill with global moral influence and authority “has already died a thousand deaths.” For some of these people, Tharoor argued, this narrative was “always an illusion to obscure the Washington-engineered coups and client military regimes.” Indeed. Democrats and their neocon allies have spent the past four years blaming Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, lamenting that he was acting unilaterally, antagonizing “allies” and creating a “leadership vacuum” in the world. Those are the talking points of the incoming administration as well.

Except they’ve clearly forgotten the events of January 2020, when Trump ordered the drone assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. There were no protests from US “allies” – or should we say vassals? Instead, they fell in line with amazing alacrity. Trump actually embraced the American Empire, he simply dispensed with the polite fictions it had used to dress up as something else over the years. Ironically, it was the mobilization of the entire US political establishment to get rid of Trump – starting with ‘Russiagate’ and the impeachment circus over the phone call to Ukraine, with nationwide riots about “racial justice” and the politically weaponized coronavirus lockdowns along the way – that did the lion’s share of exploding the myths that maintained US hegemony, both at home and abroad.

Remember the ‘Deep State’ that was supposedly a Trumpian conspiracy theory? Yet its existence was confirmed in the impeachment hearings, a former CIA director openly praised it, and the eventual revelations of a FBI plot to frame General Flynn removed any vestiges of doubt. The mainstream media’s war on Trump, later joined by social media platforms – censorship of the legitimate and accurate Hunter Biden laptop story just before the election being just the most egregious example – also played out for the world to see. In the end, they banned Trump from every social media platform while he was still in office, even as he said he would leave peacefully.

Read more …

Parler was at no. 1 in the AppStore.

Parler Kicked Off Amazon Servers And Apple Store (JTN)

Parler’s chief executive said Saturday night that the social media app was suspended from Apple’s store and will be thrown off Amazon’s servers in a standoff over censoring content. CEO John Matze said Parler would not bend to Apple’s demands for increased surveillance and moderation of content and was exploring “many options.” He said the decision by Amazon could result in a weeklong interruption of it service. “Sunday (tomorrow) at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet. There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch,” he said.

“This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace. We were too successful too fast. You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out,” Matze added. The dual announcements came a day after Google kicked Parler out of its App Store. “Apple will be banning Parler until we give up free speech, institute broad and invasive policies like Twitter and Facebook and we become a surveillance platform by pursuing guilt of those who use Parler before innocence,” Matze said in a statement posted on the platform. “They claim it is due to violence on the platform. The community disagrees as we hit number 1 on their store today.”

Matze accused Apple of a double standard by allowing Twitter to have its users post offensive content while shutting down Parler. ”The same day ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ a disgusting violent suggestion, was trending nationally on Twitter. Displaying the horrible double standard Apple and their big tech pack apply to the community,” he said. “Apple, a software monopoly, provides no alternatives to installing apps on your phone other then their store. We do not own our phones, Apple simply rents them to us.

Read more …

“The shocking rampage on Wednesday was the culmination of years of political and ideological polarization fueled by social media platforms, primarily Facebook.”

Elon Musk Blames Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg For Capitol Riot (Ob.)

In times of social crises in America, big tech billionaires are often amongst the first to speak up—though how they do so varies. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, unlike many of his peers, didn’t directly speak about the riot that erupted in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon. But the second-richest man in the world did make it clear that he was watching the news and indeed had a strong opinion about the surreal events that transpired at the U.S. Capitol. Late Wednesday night, after police had cleared protestors from the Capital ground to allow Congress to resume vote counting and certifying election results, Musk tweeted a meme showing bricks lining up like dominoes.


The smallest front brick was labeled “a website to rate women on campus”—a reference to the early version of Facebook—and the largest tile in the back was superimposed with a tweet by The New York Times Magazine correspondent Mark Leibovich that read: “The Capitol seems to be under the control of a man in a viking hat.” His message was clear: The shocking rampage on Wednesday was the culmination of years of political and ideological polarization fueled by social media platforms, primarily Facebook. “This is called the domino effect,” Musk tweeted alongside the meme. It’s not the first time the Tesla CEO openly expressed his dislike for Facebook. In February, he called Facebook “lame” in a tweet and urged people to delete their accounts. Three months later, he tweeted “Facebook sucks” after the company’s artificial intelligence lead criticized his lack of knowledge about A.I.

Read more …

“Tesla’s stock price jumped 8% that day alone, adding $60 billion to its market capitalization – equivalent to “1 GM, 2 Hersheys, 3 Etsys, 4 Dominos, 10 Vornados..”

Big Short’s Michael Burry: Tesla Will Collapse Like The Housing Bubble (BI)

Michael Burry, the investor whose billion-dollar bet against the US housing market was immortalized in Michael Lewis’ book “The Big Short,” predicted that Tesla stock would suffer a similar downfall. “Well, my last Big Short got bigger and bigger and BIGGER too,” Burry tweeted on Thursday. Tesla’s stock price jumped 8% that day alone, adding $60 billion to its market capitalization – equivalent to “1 GM, 2 Hersheys, 3 Etsys, 4 Dominos, 10 Vornados,” he continued. “Enjoy it while it lasts,” the Scion Asset Management founder and boss added. Burry disclosed in December that he was shorting Tesla, and he called for CEO Elon Musk to capitalize on his electric-vehicle company’s “current ridiculous price” by issuing shares.


“Sell that #TeslaSouffle,” he added. Tesla stock skyrocketed about 740% in 2020 and has climbed 16% already this year, granting the automaker a bigger market cap than Facebook and making Musk the richest man in the world. [..] Burry was almost universally dismissed when he predicted that the housing bubble would burst and began snapping up credit-default swaps on subprime-mortgage bonds in May 2005. He weathered immense pressure from investors to return their money. A wave of mortgage defaults eventually tanked the housing market in 2007, and Burry personally raked in $100 million and made $750 million in profits for his investors.

Read more …

Tears and fears.

Bee-Killing Pesticide Banned By EU Can Be Used In England (G.)

A pesticide believed to kill bees has been authorised for use in England despite an EU-wide ban two years ago and an explicit government pledge to keep the restrictions. Following lobbying from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and British Sugar, a product containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was sanctioned for emergency use on sugar beet seeds this year because of the threat posed by a virus. Conservationists have described the decision as regressive and called for safeguards to prevent the pollution of rivers with rainwater containing the chemical at a time when British insects are in serious decline.

The decision by 11 countries to allow emergency use of the product comes amid a growing awareness of the harmful role played by refined sugar in the development of long-term health problems. Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of the invertebrate conservation group Buglife, said it was an “environmentally regressive” decision that would destroy wildflowers and add to an “onslaught” on insects. “In addition, no action is proposed to prevent the pollution of rivers with insecticides applied to sugar beet,” he said. “Nothing has changed scientifically since the decision to ban neonics from use on sugar beet in 2018. They are still going to harm the environment.”

Michael Sly, the chairman of the NFU sugar board, said he was relieved the application had been granted and that the sector was working to find long-term solutions to virus yellows disease. “Any treatment will be used in a limited and controlled way on sugar beet, a non-flowering crop, and only when the scientific threshold has been independently judged to have been met,” he said. “Virus yellows disease is having an unprecedented impact on Britain’s sugar beet crop, with some growers experiencing yield losses of up to 80%, and this authorisation is desperately needed to fight this disease. It will be crucial in ensuring that Britain’s sugar beet growers continue to have viable farm businesses.”

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

“Some people have no idea what they’re doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.”
– George Carlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 092021
 
 January 9, 2021  Posted by at 4:32 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Blue Trees (Your Turn Will Come, My Beauty!) 1888

 

 

You would think that if there’s one group of people who’d recognize a coup if they saw one, it would be the American people. Because their intelligence services have been involved in almost all coups in the world for many decades; let’s say since WWII, to keep it simple.

Just in the most recent past, they staged and conducted coups in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela and many other places (think Bolivia). Libya was the only real “successful” one, thanks to Gaddafi being sodomized with a bayonet, leading to Hillary’s giddy We Came, We Saw, He Died, the by far ugliest face of the US by a mile. That and the open-air slave markets that resulted from sodomizing to death the man who led Africa’s wealthiest country and gave his people benefits that Americans can only dream of.

And now Hillary’s crew are about to be handed the reins again. Or as Michael Tracey put it”: The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless – and in 12 days it is merging with the state. This [is] only the beginning. Duck for cover.

The screwed-up coups in Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela etc. would appear to signal that the CIA is not very adept (anymore?!) at organizing coups, or maybe they just chronically overestimate their skills at it. Whichever way it may be, they have done more damage to America and its standing in the world than Donald Trump could ever have dreamt of doing.

So you would think Americans would recognize a coup, but instead they’re the last group of people on the planet who would. Because their media doesn’t present them as coups. They’re labeled as spreading democracy, freedom etc., as standing up against the bad guys, and liberating innocent people -even if many of them die in the process. People dying is a feature of these coups, not a bug. People get shot, bombed, disappeared, in a word: killed.

 

Anyway, it’s way more and better than ironic that all these very deadly CIA-led operations are not labeled coups, but then the clowns and actors spectacle that took place in Washington DC this week, is. Which is possible only because they never told people what a coup actually is. Only then can you make them believe that some wanker in a furry viking helmet outfit is trying to overthrow the government. At the initiative of the democratically elected president, no less.

Are these people extremists and terrorists or are they clowns and actors? I would lean towards the latter option. A coup requires a plan, a playbook, most often elites who think they have a shot at taking over a country, which in turn requires support from at least part of an army. The best these folks could think of was sitting in Pelosi’s office and take selfies.

 

 

That doesn’t make the march on the Capitol a good thing, far from it, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t like the way the president they elected in 2016 has been treated by the MSM, his political opponents, and US intelligence. And after the theater that has been Russiagate, the Mueller debacle and the Zelensky call-based impeachment, maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising.

The main problem for Trump lately would appear to have been his legal representation. I’ve said all along: let the dice roll where they may, there are many questions surrounding the election and they have the right to go looking for answers to these questions.

But if you look at what the status is today of what the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have come up with, you think they might as well have been working for the other side. Still, we’ve at least seen the dice roll, and they came up they way they did. The process was allowed to proceed, and this is the outcome. This has misled Trump as well as his followers. They thought there was something substantial -and tanglible- there, because that’s what they were told all along.

This doesn’t mean the US should continue using voting machines, however. There are many countries that hold elections, and there are very few that either use those machines and/or see their elections contested. There’s a reason for that combination. These things can be manipulated, and they will be if they’re used. Get rid of them or this chapter will be repeated endlessly.

 

Then again, it all plays out well for anyone but Trump. And perhaps a few GOP’ers who stood by him. You could say, Trump entered the swamp and drowned in it, it swallowed him whole. Which is not to say that he’s such a perfect character, hell no, but he was the one and only chance to get rid of the power cabal that is DC. Which is a much bigger danger than he could ever be.

Where career politicians like Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell and Joe Biden can reside for decades, and be handed ever more handsome amounts of money by the lobbyists who write their laws, which benefit the corporations they work for. Trump was the chance to do at least something about this. They ate him alive.

Now the story is that Trump is/was the main danger, and that he was attempting a coup against his own government. To finish off the job, after being hunted down by the MSM for 4+ years, social media, for whom unceremoniously dumping Trump, after he was their main attraction for years -at least for clickbait-, was just a business decision dressed in some vague set of moral principles, are now simply deleting him.

And people cheer that. They don’t understand that from now on, as US president you serve at the behest, grace and kindness of the CIA, New York Times and WaPo, but even more that of @jack and Zuckerberg, and not that of the American people. As the noise about an attempted coup allows Team Biden to slip in Sally Yates, Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland and their whole gang of neocon warmongers.

The entire media focus on Trump served to hide what those people were doing behind the scenes all along. And now it’s time to duck for cover. They’re going to try and impeach him again, and then prosecute him, and erase everything he’s done, cheered on by the same media who never told you what a coup actually is. Because they are a big club, and he’s not in it, and neither are you.

And if you think you can vent an opinion on social media in the future that doesn’t coincide with that of the big club, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 092021
 
 January 9, 2021  Posted by at 10:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Rembrandt Old man with a beard 1630

 

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)
Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)
Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)
Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)
Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)
Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)
Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)
The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)
How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)
Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

 

 

That was fast. And furious. What a little coordination can do.

 

 

 

 


William Copley Model for American Flag 1961

 

 

“No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster..”

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)

Big Tech’s moves to muscle President Donald Trump off social media have been heralded by some as victory. But a corporate-run state with politicians serving as mere figureheads amounts to the very fascism they claim to oppose. The smug, palpable air of ‘mission accomplished’ emanating from Facebook, Twitter and Google in the weeks after the media called November’s election for Democrat Joe Biden has been hard to ignore. Thanks to an iron grip on the political narrative and the heavy-handed suppression of any influential dissenting voices, these insanely wealthy companies and their partners in the media establishment have managed to successfully upend what was left of the US’ democratic process.

In short, they have reason to celebrate, having pulled off the first successful national-level coup-by-media in US history. And better yet — for them at least — having helped the ‘right’ guy win, they won’t have to answer to any bogus charges of Russian collusion this time around. Indeed, no less than the Department of Homeland Security came forward to declare the vote the most secure in US history — a baffling claim at best, given the same officials have spent months insisting foreign infiltration supposedly had democracy hanging by a thread. The epic pearl-clutching that followed Wednesday’s march on the Capitol is almost guaranteed to result in further restrictions on online speech — and as many observers noted, that’s just how Big Tech and Big Brother want it.

No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster, just the sort of spectacle a clever Big Business-Big Tech axis needs to terrify the masses into believing a full-on insurrection is afoot. The only real surprise in Wednesday’s events is that more people weren’t killed — but that’s where the media came in, wielding luridly detailed descriptions and photographing the most bizarrely-attired figures in the group.

Ultimately, the narrative diverges from reality just enough to make its point, fingering social media as the culprit, and duping the average American into supporting further incursions on their First Amendment freedoms. The moral of the story becomes “Stop thinking, before someone gets hurt.”

Read more …

They’re pretty thorough, and they’re doing it together.

Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)

Tech companies on Friday night made significant moves against conservative presences on their respective servers, with Twitter purging major high-profile conservative accounts including President Donald Trump, who received a permanent ban.. Apple, meanwhile, threatened to blacklist Parler in its app store over the company’s content moderation policies, while Google outright banned the app from its own software-sharing system. Twitter on Friday officially banned Trump from its platform, citing his two recent tweets stating his intent to skip Joe Biden’s inauguration and offering praise to his his millions of supporters, which the company said constituted violations of its “glorification of violence” policy.


“[O]ur determination,” the company wrote, “is that the two Tweets … are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.” Twitter on Friday also banned the accounts of Trump attorney Sidney Powell and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, arguing that the two had spread false information related to the QAnon conspiracy theory and had thus violated the company’s content rules. The alternative social media app Parler, meanwhile — which has billed itself as a free-speech alternative to Twitter’s content moderation policies and which has attracted a growing number of conservative users in recent months — faced major pressure from tech giants Apple and Google to rewrite its content rules.

Read more …

Arbitrary rules. No matter what side you’re on, that’s what they are.

Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)

Twitter banned President Donald Trump’s account Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The social platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Trump following the Wednesday violence.

On Thursday, Facebook suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20 and possibly indefinitely. Twitter merely suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Trump’s Twitter persona has long functioned as a mix of policy announcements, often out of the blue; complaints about the media; disparagement of women, minorities and his perceived enemies; and praise for his supporters, replete with exclamation marks, all-caps, and one-word declarations such as “Sad!” He has fired numerous officials on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, are a torrent of misinformation. [..]

The official account for the President of the United States, @POTUS, remains live. In fact, Trump, who issued a statement Friday evening that denounced Twitter as an enemy of free speech and floated the idea that he might build his own “platform,” also posted it on the @POTUS account, where it was quickly deleted. Twitter says using another account to evade a suspension is against its rules, and that while it won’t ban government accounts like @POTUS or @WhiteHouse, it will “take action to limit their use.”

Read more …

Yes, thorough.

Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)

The Trump campaign is now blocked from emailing their millions of supporters after being suspended by their email service provider. The suspension comes shortly after President Donald Trump and his campaign were permanently banned from Twitter. The email service, Campaign Monitor, confirmed the suspension of the account to Financial Times’ Dave Lee. The Nationalist Review reports “the move effectively cuts off communication between his team and his core supporters. What is not clear however, is what other services have banned his team. The Trump campaign sends out a massive amount of emails—33 in January so far. But, it has been 48 hours since the campaign has reached out to its supporters via email, prompting most journalists to speculate that other providers have shut off access as well.”


In a statement, Campaign Monitor claimed that the campaign probably has other methods of sending emails to supporters. “The self-service account associated with the Donald Trump Campaign has been suspended as of today, January 7th, 2021. Typically, political campaigns use multiple email service providers to send campaign, fundraising and other emails,” Campaign Monitor said in a statement about the ban. “Based on the low volume of emails that had been sent from the Campaign Monitor account, this is likely a very small portion of total email activity from the campaign.”

Read more …

Julian Assange saw today’s developments coming years ago.

Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)

The rise of Wikileaks introduced an uncontrollable variable into our drift toward authoritarianism. The WMD episode had shown again that our press, the supposed first line of defense against abuses, could not be relied upon. For every expose like Abu Ghraib, there were a hundred stories that either went uncovered or advanced official deceptions. Wikileaks anticipated a future in which the press would not only be pliant accomplices to power in this way, but where information itself would be tightly controlled by governments using far-reaching and probably extralegal new technological concepts, deploying misleading excuses for clampdowns.

One of the first Wikileaks document dumps involved the Thai government’s blacklist of Internet sites, which was billed as a way to stop child pornography but had in fact been used to remove as many as 1200 sites critical of the Thai royal family, among other things. “The Thai system was used to censor Australia reportage about the imprisoned Australian writer Harry Nicolaides,” Assange noted, in 2009. Wikileaks also released the Camp Manual for Guantanamo Bay, which among other things revealed that children as young as 15 were being held, along with 900+ other files about a place essentially closed off to even theoretical press review. Another early dump involved the Minton report, about toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast by the firm Trafigura, which in yet another preview of a future of information control had obtained a court order to prevent The Guardian from printing.

In the 2010 Collateral Murder video, an Apache helicopter crew falsely claims to have encountered a firefight and lights up a Baghdad street, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters employees. Somehow even more disturbing than the killing is the dialogue captured between pilots and base. They’re laughing in parts, saying things like, “Just fuckin’ once you get on ‘em, just open ‘em up,” “All right, hahaha, I hit em,” and “Hey, you shoot, I’ll talk.” For all the talk about the madness of Donald Trump — and I wrote one of those pieces — this was something more dangerous, i.e. institutional insanity.

We were factory-producing sociopathic murder, by air, in a process that would become more depersonalized. As early as 2011 we learned the Pentagon was working on a software-based system for identifying and eliminating targets by drone, in an effort to remove the potentially complicating variable of human conscience. The implications of this are the stuff of sci-fi movies: outsourcing feeling, judgment, and responsibility to machines, which incidentally would eventually use similar software to determine how much about these questions could be disclosed to human audiences.

Read more …

Cookies.

Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)

Describing it as “one of the darkest days in American history,” President-elect Joe Biden denounced Wednesday’s spectacular assault on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a coup attempt fomented by Donald Trump. “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said. The last four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but a culmination … of that attack.” “This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos,” he added, calling the events an “unprecedented assault” on the very fabric of U.S. democracy.

Yet, almost at the same time as the future president was denouncing Trump’s coup attempt, he was appointing Victoria Nuland — the driving force behind the 2014 insurrection that overthrew the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych — as his new Under Secretary for Political Affairs. The United States and NATO had been making overtures to Ukraine for some time before the coup, hoping that the country would become the latest post-Soviet state to fall into their fold as they continued to expand eastwards. Yanukovych, however, was in favor of steering Ukraine in a more Russia-friendly direction. The decision spurred demonstrations across the country from pro-E.U. forces. The Obama administration immediately sensed an opportunity, sending Nuland across the world to lead and support the movement, the senior diplomat rallying protestors, and was even photographed handing out cookies in the streets.

While in the West, the revolt was presented as being led by tech-savvy, forward-thinking students. In reality, most of the muscle was supplied by neo-Nazi militias who helped force through Yanukovych’s downfall and continue to hold an oversized role in Ukrainian politics and society. In December, the United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations measure (passed 130-2), “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.” This was done as they felt the resolution could be used to target the Ukrainian government and the U.S.’ continued funding of it. Leaked phone calls show that Nuland and American Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt had long conversations about who should make up the post-coup government.

Read more …

Not for long.

Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)

The Rasmussen poll, one of the most accurate polls of the 2020 election, finds President Trump’s approval is actually rising after Wednesday‘s protests. As Democrats move to impeachment and some establishment Republicans call for the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, the poll finds 48% approve of the President’s job performance. A source close to the polling firm tells Newsmax that the rolling survey saw Trump’s approval soar to 51% on Thursday night. Trump’s approval has been up overall, jumping from 45% just before Christmas. “Americans are disgusted that cities burned for months and Washington and the media did nothing,” our source says, “But they still like Trump.”

Read more …

How many coups have there been in the past decades that did not involve the CIA?

The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)

On Wednesday, a mob apparently composed of Trump supporters forced its way past US Capitol security guards and briefly moved unrestrained through much of the capitol building. They displayed virtually no organization and no clear goals. Five people reportedly died during the events – one apparently unarmed female protester died of a gunshot wound, three other protesters “suffered medical emergencies” that resulted in their deaths (one crushed, one heart attack, and one stroke); and a police officer died from a blood clot on his brain reportedly triggered while physically engaging with protesters. Yet, the media response has been to act as if the event constituted a coup d’etat. This was “A Very American Coup” according to a headline at The New Republic.

“This is a Coup” insists a writer at Foreign Policy. The Atlantic presented photos purported to be “Scenes From an American Coup.” But this wasn’t a coup, and what happened on Wednesday is conceptually very different from a coup. Coups nearly always are acts committed by elites against the sitting executive power using the tools of the elites. This isn’t at all what happened on Wednesday. A gang of disorganized, powerless mechanics, janitors, and insurance agents running through the capitol isn’t a coup. And if it was a coup attempt, it was so far from anything that might hope to succeed as a coup that it should not be taken seriously as such. So how do we know a coup when we see one?

In their article “Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition: “A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” There are two key components of this definition. The first is that it is illegal. Powell and Thyne note this “illegal” qualifier is important to include “because it differentiates coups from political pressure, which is common whenever people have freedom to organize.” In other words, protests, or threats of protest don’t count as coups. Neither do legal efforts such as a vote of no confidence or an impeachment. But an even more critical aspect of Powell’s and Thyne’s definition is that it requires the involvement of elites.

This can be seen in any stereotypical example of a coup d’etat. This generally involves a renegade military detachment, military officers, and others from within the state apparatus who can employ knowledge, skills, influence, coercive tools gained through membership in the regime’s elite circles. The attempted coup in Japan in 1937, for example, was carried out by more than 1,500 officers and men of the Japanese imperial army. They nonetheless failed, likely because they miscalculated the amount of support they enjoyed among other officers. More recently, in the 2009 Honduran coup, the bulk of the Honduran Army turned on the president Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile. That was a successful coup. More famously, Chile’s 1973 coup was successfully led by Agusto Pinochet, the commander-in-chief of the Army, and this enabled him to shell the Chilean executive palace with military hardware.

Read more …

Semantics rule.

How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)

The Associated Press, meanwhile, appeared in its coverage of the riot to depart from a new stylistic approach it adopted last year. Informing readers that it would be “us[ing] care” in describing civil unrest, the news organization in September wrote on Twitter: “A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium.” The AP argued that “focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s.”


Suggesting an alternative, the AP wrote: “Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.” The news wire appeared to utilize that standard in its coverage of last summer’s violent demonstrations, when in the late spring it described violent looting, arson, flag-burning and clashes with police as “unrest.” It similarly described as “unrest” sustained chaos in Minneapolis that involved the burning of a police station and multiple other buildings, some of which firefighters were unable to access due to ongoing violence. Yet the Associated Press in multiple stories this week described the Capitol crisis as a “riot,” making it unclear just how the news service applies the standards it appears to have developed in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

Read more …

“Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.”

Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter today, being a crazy fringe extremist who also happens to be the president of the United States. But the ever-clever Trump, always known as the smartest man in the room, has managed to get back on the social network by disguising himself as one Chongald Xrump, PR specialist for the Chinese Communist Party. Trump is reportedly attempting to build a following by tweeting about how good Uighur concentration camps are and how nice the Chinese government is, since those things are not banned under Twitter’s terms of service.

Once he has enough followers, he’ll remove his Asian rice hat and false Fu Manchu mustache and begin tweeting about the rigged election once again. “Hello good sirs, I am here today to tell you how great our concentration camps are! Very clean and humane!” he wrote. The tweet was not flagged for inciting violence or being, you know, the tweet of a communist country that has killed tens of millions of its own citizens. In fact, people who replied and questioned the legitimacy of his tweet were suspended for hate speech. Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 082021
 
 January 8, 2021  Posted by at 9:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  56 Responses »


Joan Miro The tilled field 1924

 

Only In Your Imagination Was That An Attempted “Coup” (Tracey)
Violence in the Capitol, Dangers in the Aftermath (Greenwald)
Enough With The Outrage (PL)
Facebook, Twitter Finally Do Slightly More Than Nothing About Trump (IC)
US Capitol Police Say Reports Of Officer Death Not Accurate (R.)
Donald Trump’s Ruinous Legacy (Tracey)
The US and UK May Not Will Assange’s Death, But … (Cook)
Biden’s One-Two Stimulus Punch (Axios)
There Are So Many Covid Patients, Younger This Time (Anon)
Very Risky To Delay 2nd Dose Of COVID19 Vaccine – Former FDA Director (Hill)
British Scientists Develop World’s First Covid-19 Vaccine Smart Patch (Unilad)
Americans Need Federal Commission To Look Into The 2020 Election (Turley)

 

 

 

 

All I saw was a bunch of clowns.

Only In Your Imagination Was That An Attempted “Coup” (Tracey)

We are being told that a “coup attempt” no longer needs to be understood as constituting an “attempt” to seize control of the government — as had generally been the common understanding of the term before the events of yesterday, which have caused the entire political and media establishment to go completely haywire Is it unusual for a mob to breach the Capitol Building — ransacking offices, taking goofy selfies, and disrupting the proceedings of Congress for a few hours? Yes, that’s unusual. But the idea that this was a real attempt at a “coup” — meaning an attempt to seize by force the reins of the most powerful state in world history — is so preposterous that you really have to be a special kind of deluded in order to believe it.

Or if not deluded, you have to believe that using such terminology serves some other political purpose. Such as, perhaps, imposing even more stringent censorship on social media, where the “coup” is reported to have been organized. Or inflicting punishment on the man who is accused of “inciting” the coup, which you’ve spent four years desperately craving to do anyway. He’s already been effectively banned from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — a rubicon-crossing event in the suppression of political speech which, of course, is being cheered by all the usual suspects who otherwise claim to be stalwart defenders of enlightened liberal values. At no point yesterday was the American government at risk of being “overthrown,” as members of Congress have laughably suggested.

Per usual, our guardians of consensus can’t bring themselves to describe what unfolded with any degree of dispassion or calm. Instead we’re told by the incoming Senate Majority Leader, for example, that January 6, 2021 will now “live in infamy” right alongside December 7, 1941. Elected officials issued emotional notices that they were “okay,” like they had just narrowly avoided being crushed in an earthquake, or escaped the World Trade Center on 9/11. This is made all the more odd because the only person upon whom lethal force was committed appears to have been a Trump-supporting woman who was shot point-blank in the throat by a Capitol Hill police officer. She’s now dead. Congress was temporarily inconvenienced.

Journalists and pundits, glorying in their natural state — which is to peddle as much free-flowing hysteria as possible — eagerly invoke all the same rhetoric that they’d abhor in other circumstances on civil libertarian grounds. “Domestic terrorism,” “insurrection,” and other such terms now being promoted by the corporate media will nicely advance the upcoming project of “making sure something like this never happens again.” Use your imagination as to what kind of remedial measures that will entail. Trump’s promotion of election fraud fantasies has been a disaster not just for him, but for his “movement” — such as it exists — and it’s obvious that a large segment of the population actively wants to be deceived about such matters.

But the notion that Trump has “incited” a violent insurrection is laughable. His speech Monday afternoon that preceded the march to the Capitol was another standard-fare Trump grievance fest, except without the humor that used to make them kind of entertaining. Trump didn’t command that his followers physically breach the Capitol Building. In fact, after previously saying he would join the march, he seems to just have gone home to tweet and watch TV. So, basically his normal routine on a typical day, minus a trip to the golf course.

Read more …

“..striking at cherished national symbols — the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Capitol — ensures rage and terror far beyond body counts or other concrete harms.”

It’s about cliockbait, Glenn. Not reason.

Violence in the Capitol, Dangers in the Aftermath (Greenwald)

The U.S. Capitol remains a potent and cherished symbol even for Americans who are deeply cynical about the ruling class and political system. Its nobility is something continually engrained deep into our collective psyche since childhood, and that meaning endures even when our rational faculties reject it. It is therefore not hard to understand why watching a marauding band of hooligans invade and deface both the House and the Senate, without any identifiable objective other than venting grievances, reflexively engenders a patriotic disgust across the political spectrum. It is unhinged to the point of being obscene to compare yesterday’s incursion to the 9/11 attack or (as Sen. Chuck Schumer did last night) to Pearl Harbor. By every metric, the magnitude and destructiveness of those two events are in an entirely different universe.

But that does not mean there are no applicable lessons to be drawn from those prior attacks. One is that striking at cherished national symbols — the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Capitol — ensures rage and terror far beyond body counts or other concrete harms. That is one major reason that yesterday’s event received far more attention and commentary, and will likely produce far greater consequences, than much deadlier incidents, such as the still-motive-unknown 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 59 or the 2016 Orlando shooting that left 49 dead at the Pulse nightclub. Unlike even horrific indiscriminate shooting sprees, an attack on a symbol of national power will be perceived as an attack on the state or even the society itself.

There are other, more important historical lessons to draw not only from the 9/11 attack but subsequent terrorism on U.S. soil. One is the importance of resisting the coercive framework that demands everyone choose one of two extremes: that the incident is either (a) insignificant or even justifiable, or (b) is an earth-shattering, radically transformative event that demands radical, transformative state responses. This reductive, binary framework is anti-intellectual and dangerous. One can condemn a particular act while resisting the attempt to inflate the dangers it poses. One can acknowledge the very real existence of a threat while also warning of the harms, often far greater, from proposed solutions.

Read more …

“They’re not gonna stop. And everyone beware because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop before Election Day and they’re not going to stop after Election Day. And everyone should take note of that. They’re not gonna let up and they should not.”

Enough With The Outrage (PL)

Like pretty much all conservatives, I have consistently criticized riots and other forms of political violence for many years. That includes yesterday’s Washington, D.C. riot. You can’t say the same about liberals, however. Until yesterday, one might have thought that liberals consider rioting and other forms of political violence to be as American as apple pie. You could write a book in support of that proposition, but for now let’s cite just a few examples. Do you remember when President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017? Leftist Democrats rioted in Washington that day. That riot was arguably worse, more violent and more destructive, than what happened in D.C. yesterday. The liberal rioters destroyed stores, set vehicles on fire and battled with the police. Six police officers were wounded.

I don’t recall a single Democratic office-holder denouncing the Democrats’ Inauguration Day riot, and the Associated Press came perilously close to praising the rioters. Over the ensuing four years, Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioted countless times, bringing devastation to cities like Portland, Seattle, Kenosha and Minneapolis. Did any Democrats denounce these riots? Not that I remember. Many Democrats endorsed them, or seemed to do so. Kamala Harris, for example, said about the riots in June: “They’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop. This is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not gonna stop. And everyone beware because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop before Election Day and they’re not going to stop after Election Day. And everyone should take note of that. They’re not gonna let up and they should not.”

This was after 12 people had been killed in Democrat-sanctioned rioting, and billions of dollars in destruction committed. Have any Democrats denounced Black Lives Matter for its role in the riots? Not one. Has any Democrat denounced Antifa? Not that I know of, and some, like Keith Ellison, have specifically endorsed Antifa’s political violence. Democratic Party journalists have joined the party’s politicians in excusing riots. The New York Times, for example, published an admiring profile of Antifa. The Washington Post, likewise, has carried water for Antifa. The litany could go on for a long time. Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol was outrageous, but let’s not forget that last time out-of-control demonstrators interrupted business at the Capitol, shouted down senators and pounded on the doors of the Supreme Court, it was Democrats objecting to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

And speaking of assaults on capitols, did any Democrats object when leftists occupied the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison for four months, destroying property, impeding public business and violently assaulting conservatives? Not a peep.

Read more …

Are we going to celebrate corporate power in politics now? Are we inviting censorship in through the front door?

Facebook, Twitter Finally Do Slightly More Than Nothing About Trump (IC)

The advertising industry is generally acknowledged as one of the most risk-averse and craven industries on the planet, with decision-making guided largely by attempting to be as inoffensive as possible to as many people as possible, taking a position on an issue only in the weakest, safest, most carefully hedged terms available. Though companies like Facebook and Twitter hold the unfathomable power to control the distribution of information to billions of people around the world and like to think of themselves as helping bring humankind to some next level of consciousness, they are still very much in the advertising business.

As advertising companies, cowardice runs deep in the souls of Twitter, Facebook, and Google, companies that have spent the past four years looking the other way, equivocating, and contorting themselves into pretzels in an attempt to justify Trump’s unfettered access to the most powerful information distribution system in world history. Despite perennial speculation in the press as to what might psychologically or ideologically explain Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey’s total unwillingness to meaningfully act, there is just one factor: money. Twitter and Facebook are only worth anything as businesses if they can boast to advertisers of their access to an enormous swath of the American market, across political and ideological lines, and fear of a right-wing backlash has been enough to keep Peter Thiel on Facebook’s board and Trump’s voter suppression dispatches on Twitter’s servers.

According to a Facebook moderator who spoke to The Intercept on the condition of anonymity for fear of employer retaliation, watching the company drag its feet, yesterday in particular, has been excruciating. According to internal communications reviewed by The Intercept, the Capitol break-in is now considered, for purposes of Facebook’s willy-nilly application of the rules, “a violating event,” and any “praise,” “support,” or even friendly “representation” is banned on the basis of the company’s “Dangerous Organizations” policies, which this moderator explained is typically applied to posts celebrating terrorist attacks, drug cartel murders, and Aryan street gangs.

Read more …

Not sure what is going on with this.

US Capitol Police Say Reports Of Officer Death Not Accurate (R.)

U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement on Thursday that media reports that an officer had died after the storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump were inaccurate. The agency said that several officers were injured and some hospitalized after the unrest Wednesday, but that no officers had died as a result. Four people had died after Trump’s supporters swarmed the building on Wednesday in a failed attempt to disrupt efforts to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Read more …

“..he can rest easy knowing that he successfully used Trump as a vehicle to achieve the generations-long dream of the conservative donor class — a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court..”

Donald Trump’s Ruinous Legacy (Tracey)

The stultification of Republican electoral strategy stems fundamentally from the fact that there has been no substantial intra-party public debate about the reasons for Trump’s loss. Even now, more than two months later, to merely state that Trump lost provokes profound rage among a large segment of the party’s voters. You can be mercilessly attacked online and threatened with career-ending repudiation for doing so; Purdue and Loeffler couldn’t deviate from this line, for fear of alienating fraud-believing Trump supporters in Georgia. But Republican turnout dipped anyway, most probably because conservative media had been completely inundated with accusations that the Republican-led state government of Georgia was complicit in a conspiracy to oust Trump. It turns out “fraud-pilling” one’s own voters might not be the most reliable path to victory.

The manic Trump-induced obsession with purported fraud thereby delayed any thoroughgoing public discussion of how Congressional Republicans over-performed in November, across many metrics, even as Trump went down to defeat. So instead of capitalising on those gains, Republicans jettisoned them. As for McConnell, it was one of the more astounding moves in recent political history to sacrifice his own Senate majority, which most of his professional life has been structured around preserving at all costs, because he was dead-set against sending out the $2,000 cheques. A figure which in the grand scheme of things, as Trump would say, is “peanuts”.

But even with the majority vanquished, McConnell will maintain a fair amount of power as minority leader. As of 20 January the Senate will stand as split 50-50 with future Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. The possibility of a few Democratic defections here and there means McConnell will have plenty of opportunities to exert legislative influence. And he can rest easy knowing that he successfully used Trump as a vehicle to achieve the generations-long dream of the conservative donor class — a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, as well as some corporate tax cuts.

Read more …

Where is the next appeal? And when?

The US and UK May Not Will Assange’s Death, But … (Cook)

[..] while denying the extradition claim, she supported all the arguments advanced by the US accruing to itself the right to prosecute Assange – and any other journalist – for the crime of doing journalism. She ignored the facts, the expert testimony presented in court and the legal arguments – all of which favoured Assange – and backed instead what amounted to a purely political case made by the US. She disregarded warnings from Assange’s legal team that acceptance of the political rationale for extradition amounted to an all-out attack on fundamental journalistic freedoms. She established a terrifying legal precedent for the US to seize foreign journalists and prosecute them for “espionage” if they expose Washington’s crimes. Her ruling will inevitably have a profoundly chilling effect on any publication trying to dig out the truth about the US national-security state, with terrifying consequences for us all.

But while she enthusiastically backed the political case for Assange’s extradition and trial, Baraitser at the same time got the Wikileaks founder off the hook by accepting the humanitarian concerns raised by medical and prison experts. They had counselled that extradition to the US could be expected to lead to Assange spending the rest of his life in a barbaric US super-max prison, exacerbating mental health problems and the risk of suicide. Her ruling, while deeply disturbing in its political and legal implications, did at least suggest that Baraitser was ready to take a compassionate approach in regard to Assange’s health, even if not his journalistic exposure of western war crimes. He should have walked free there and then, had the US not immediately said it would appeal her decision.

Given Assange’s discharge by Baraitser, his team hoped that bail – his release from a high-security prison while the lengthy appeals process unfolds – would prove a formality. They hurried to make such an application after the extradition ruling on Monday, assuming that the legal logic of her decision dictated his release. Baraitser demurred, suggesting that they prepare their case and make it to her more fully on Wednesday. It now seems clear the judge manipulated Assange’s defence team. Apparently like Assange’s lawyers, former British ambassador Craig Murray, who has attended and reported on the hearings in detail, was lulled by Baraitser into assuming that she wanted a cast-iron case from the defence to justify a decision to release Assange on bail.

There were good reasons for their confidence. Any move to prevent his release would look perverse given that she had decided Assange should not be extradited or stand trial in the US. They were deceived. Baraitser denied bail, effectively signalling that she thinks her ruling might be wrong and overturned in a higher court. That is extraordinary. It suggests that she has no confidence in her own judgment of the facts of the case. As Murray has noted: “There was little or no precedent for the High Court overturning any ruling against extradition on Section 91 health grounds.”

Read more …

$4 trillion. Green.

Biden’s One-Two Stimulus Punch (Axios)

Joe Biden is considering asking Congress to help suffering Americans in two steps: give them the balance of their coveted $2,000 coronavirus payments, followed by a $3 trillion tax and infrastructure package. Biden is confident he can get multiple packages through Congress after Democrats won both Georgia Senate elections. The president-elect’s team also wants to get cash in Americans’ hands as quickly as possible, according to people familiar with the matter. In July Biden rolled out his Build Back Better plan, which includes billions of dollars for caregivers, incentives for manufacturers and some $4 trillion for green jobs and infrastructure spending.

He proposed paying for this plan with a series of tax increases on the wealthy, including taxing capital gains as regular income and increasing the marginal tax rate for top earners to almost 40%. Democrats are concerned that if they miss early opportunities to combat COVID and reverse its broader effect on the economy, the twin problems could cripple the rest of Biden’s presidency. The first bite would come in the form of $1,400 payments that would be added to the $600 in cash Congress approved last month. Also included in this quick-hit package would be money for state and local aid, as well as funding for vaccine distribution. Biden’s push for a tax and infrastructure plan, which is part of his “Build Back Better” program, will slide to later in the spring and be considered under budget reconciliation rules.

They allow the Senate to pass measures with a simple majority, instead of a more challenging filibuster-proof 60 votes. Biden is essentially dusting off his pre-election plans, back when many of his economic and political advisers assumed that if he won the presidency, he would carry the Senate along with him. Those ambitions were thrown into doubt when Republicans ran strong in the Senate on Election Day and Democrats’ only hope for regaining the majority was if they won the two uphill runoff elections held Tuesday. Biden’s blitz for a quick spending measure could allow him to build goodwill with Senate Republicans for a bigger package in the spring, especially if it includes liability protection the GOP wants for businesses fearing coronavirus lawsuits.

Read more …

Britain is brutal. How much of the healthcare system has been budgeted away in the past 20 years?

There Are So Many Covid Patients, Younger This Time (Anon)

Truly, I never imagined it would be this bad. Once again Covid has spread out along the hospital, the disease greedily taking over ward after ward. Surgical, paediatric, obstetric, orthopaedic; this virus does not discriminate between specialities. Outbreaks bloom even in our “clean” areas and the disease is even more ferociously infectious. Although our local tests do not differentiate strains, I presume this is the new variant. The patients are younger this time around too, and there are so many of them. They are sick. We are full. There can be no debate: this is much, much worse than the first surge. We start the morning with 10 new patients to be concerned about. These are just the worst of them; we cannot worry about those who, though less unwell, would have had us scared in days gone by.

They are scattered on general wards around the hospital, being given as much oxygen as possible through a standard mask. Most are lying prone on their fronts, breathing rapid, shallow breaths, too breathless to talk, blood oxygen saturations alarmingly low. The eldest is in his 70s but most are much younger. All urgently need respiratory support. This is ideally given non-invasively using a Cpap mask or very high oxygen flows through the nose. Like most hospitals we have set up a new respiratory-led breathing support unit for this purpose, but it filled up with patients weeks ago. Our intensive care unit, able to deliver these therapies as well as invasive ventilation for the very sickest, is also full despite being stretched and pushed way beyond its previous capacity.

Our neighbouring hospitals are under the same pressures, or worse; even if patients were well enough to transfer out safely there is no space to receive them. We divide and conquer. Some of us rush through the morning ward rounds on the breathing support and intensive care units, desperately hoping to find patients that have improved enough to step down on to a normal ward or could be swapped between the two units according to their needs. Some of us go to assess the new referrals. We make sure that everything possible has been done to avoid the need for more support but our colleagues have already been thorough. They need to come to us, and soon. We initiate difficult conversations with some patients who were frailer before catching Covid and would therefore have less chance of benefit from additional breathing therapy.

We no longer have the luxury of “giving it a go”; we have to ensure that we select only those with the best chance of survival. Getting it wrong may occupy a precious high dependency bed for many days, often ending in a difficult and symptomatic death while preventing other patients from receiving the correct therapy. Conversely, identifying those who will not survive will allow us to ensure better symptom control and a kinder end to life. These conversations, often barely intelligible through our PPE, are draining, fraught, brutal. We must justify to patients and their families, and often our colleagues too, why we cannot offer these therapies to everyone.

Read more …

All on red. Casino.

Very Risky To Delay 2nd Dose Of COVID19 Vaccine – Former FDA Director (Hill)

Questions surrounding the deployment and quantity of available COVID-19 vaccine doses linger as inoculations continue, with vaccine reticence and concerns about dose availability dominating the conversation. For the current approved vaccines, two separate shots are required, and some European countries have opted to delay the administration of the second dose in a bid to cultivate broader immunity. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two shots administered intramuscularly roughly three weeks apart, which the U.S. is currently undertaking. As for whether or not the U.S. should follow the lead of countries like the U.K. and Denmark, Norman Baylor, former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), called the plan “very risky” on CNBC.

“I understand some of the rationale to do this, but again, it’s not really data driven,” Baylor said. “It’s a very risky venture because if it fails, you’re in worse shape.” Baylor, who previously headed the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, further elaborated that there isn’t enough data to fully illustrate the immunity benefits just one dose with a prolonged second dose will bring. While more people would receive a vaccination by increasing the time between when the administration of both doses, immunity may be different from what promising clinical trials suggest. “The concern though is that space, that time, and how vulnerable you are, because…we don’t have all the data in that will indicate what the duration of protection is,” Baylor said. “If it fails, you’re in worse shape.”

The need to vaccinate more people comes as a more contagious COVID-19 strain makes its rounds through countries including the U.K. and the U.S. The U.K. in particular has seen record new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 403,914 new cases recorded over the past week, per national data. This represents a 42.6 percent increase.

Read more …

In 3 years time.

British Scientists Develop World’s First Covid-19 Vaccine Smart Patch (Unilad)

Scientists from Swansea University in Wales are striving to develop the first coronavirus vaccine ‘smart patch’. The patch will use microneedles to both administer the coronavirus vaccine and monitor its efficacy for the patient by tracking the body’s immune response. The research team plans to develop a prototype by the end of March, in the hope it can be put forward for clinical trials and ultimately released to the public, as part of the effort to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Scientists at Swansea’s IMPACT research centre hope to carry out human clinical studies in partnership with Imperial College London with the aim of making the device commercially available within three years.


Using polycarbonate or silicon millimetre-long microneedles, the smart patch can penetrate the skin to administer a vaccine. It can be held in place with a strap or tape for up to 24 hours, during which time it simultaneously measures a patient’s inflammatory response to the vaccination by monitoring biomarkers in the skin. Once the vaccine has been administered, the device is scanned to produce a data reading that can provide an understanding about the efficacy of the vaccine and the body’s response to it.

Read more …

What are the odds?

Americans Need Federal Commission To Look Into The 2020 Election (Turley)

First, and most important, this was an unprecedented election in the reliance of mail-in voting and the use of new voting systems and procedures. We need to review how that worked down to the smallest precincts and hamlets. Second, possibly tens of millions of voters believe that this election was rigged and stolen. I am not one of them. However, the integrity of our elections depends on the faith of the electorate. Roughly 40% of that electorate have lingering doubts about whether their votes actually matter. Most of the cases challenging the election were not decided on the merits. Indeed, it seems they haven’t even been allowed for discovery. Instead, they were largely dismissed on jurisdictional or standing groups or under the “laches” doctrine that they were brought too late.

Those allegations need to be conclusively proven or disproven in the interests of the country. Third, there were problems. There was not proof of systemic fraud or irregularities, but there were problems of uncounted votes, loss of key custodial information and key differences in the rules governing voting and tabulations. We have spent billions to achieve greater security and reliability after prior election controversies. Indeed, we had a prior election commission that failed to achieve those fundamental goals. A real commission will take a couple years to fully address these allegations. It will be meaningless if it’s stacked by the same reliable political cutouts used historically in federal commissions. It should be formed on a commitment of absolute transparency with public hearings and public archiving of underlying material before the issuance of any final report. That way, the public at large can analyze and contribute to the review of this evidence.

[..] The main challenge, however, remains the same: Whether Congress can appoint a real federal commission without rigging the result by appointing partisan members. In 1877, to quote from a speech of Ohio Sen. Allen Granberry Thurman, “It was perfectly clear that any bill that gave the least advantage, ay, the weight of the dust in the balance, to either party, could not become the law of the land.” Nothing has changed. The stakes are too high to allow even a dust particle to tip the difference on the ultimate findings. The dust-free option requires a dependent, not independent, commission. Otherwise, the public will be the loser.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

“Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.”
– G.K. Chesterton

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 072021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Manhattan 1932

 

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)
Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)
Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)
US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)
GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)
Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)
Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)
China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

 

 

Well, that was fun. It was also entirely predictable. There are far too many questions surrounding the US election, even if Trump’s legal teams botched the job of presenting them. You would expect people to swear never to use another voting machine, but nobody does it. The principle is simple: if these machines can be manipulated, they will be. Ditch them.

Of course last night’s events are presented as insurrection, a coup, treason. But come on. 3 people died of medical emergencies, and the one person who was shot was a female Air Force veteran protesting for Trump. No politician was hurt.

There are quite a few pictures of the anti-Kavanaugh crew protesting inside the Capitol in 2018, and none of them are described as depicting a coup. Calm down. And learn: if this is how you are going to run elections, you should not be surprised if these are the reactions you get. Count yourself lucky that they weren’t much worse.

 

 

 

 

Craig Murray’s optimism was hammered. Time for a higher court.

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)

All of Julian’s team were optimistic before this hearing and it seems perverse that, a judgement against extradition having been made, Julian should continue to be held in high security prison pending the US government appeal. He has already been in jail for over 14 months just in the extradition matter, after the expiry of his unprecedentedly harsh sentence for bail-jumping. In effect, having already served that sentence, Julian is now being punished again for the same offence, spending years in extreme prison conditions purely because he once jumped bail, for which he already served the full sentence. The logic of holding Julian now is simply not there, given the current legal position is that he is not being extradited. Furthermore this continuing raising and lowering of his spirits, and never-ending incarceration with no fixed limit, is destroying his fragile health.

Baraitser has played cat and mouse this week. Julian is living his life in conditions both torturous and tortuous. It is ironic to hear Baraitser declare in condemnatory tones, without equivocation, that Julian only entered the Embassy to escape extradition to the USA. This is of course perfectly true. But I remember the many years when the Establishment line, from the government and repeated in several hundred Guardian columns, was that this truth was a fiction. They claimed there was never any intention to extradite to the USA, and actually he was avoiding extradition to Sweden, on allegations that never had any basis and which disappeared like mist when the time actually came. I suppose we should be grateful for at least this much truth in proceedings.

Today’s judgement makes plain that whatever is happening with Monday’s judgement, it is not genuinely motivated by concern for Julian’s health. Yanis Varoufakis yesterday stated that the ultimate aim is still to kill Julian through the penal system. Nothing that happened today would contradict him. The extraordinary figure of only 3 Covid infections in Belmarsh is very hard to believe and contradicts all previous information. Plainly Covid is less of a risk than anywhere else in London, and perhaps we should all break in to improve our isolation and safety. The only explanation that occurs to me is that the vast majority of prisoners are denied access to testing and are therefore not confirmed cases. or that the prison has chosen to give testing results for a single day and chosen to misrepresent the meaning of the statistic.

In fact the point is not central to the bail application, but as a possible example of yet further malfeasance by the Belmarsh medical team, it is particularly intriguing. The decision not to grant bail can be appealed to the High Court. I expect that will happen (there has been no chance yet to consult Julian’s wishes), and happen in about a fortnight.

Read more …

“Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020..”

Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)

A British district judge denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a hearing in which the prosecution argued he had helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “flee justice” and would abscond if released from the Belmarsh high-security prison. “As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared. She said the United States government “must be allowed to challenge [her] decision.” Baraitser referred to the lengthy history of the case and how he “jumped bail” and entered the Ecuador Embassy to obtain asylum in 2012. She went on to highlight the “huge support networks” he still has “should he again choose to go to ground,” and Baraitser agreed with the prosecution that WikiLeaks’ assistance of Snowden made Assange a flight risk.

Assange has been confined at Belmarsh since he was arrested and expelled from the Ecuador embassy in April 2019. All along, Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk. “Mr. Assange’s past conduct shows the lengths he is prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings. If I released him today, he would not return to face these extradition proceedings,” Baraitser declared during a hearing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was initially intensifying worldwide. In her ruling on bail, despite evidence of a recent outbreak at Belmarsh, the judge maintained that the facility was properly caring for prisoners and Assange would be safe.

Edward Fitzgerald, an attorney for Assange, argued the extradition decision changed any motive Assange would have to flee London before the case was resolved. In fact, the extradition decision came with an order of discharge for Assange. “The logical outcome of the ruling would be he regains liberty at least conditionally,” Fitzgerald stated. Fitzgerald questioned whether the Justice Department is even serious about an appeal, given recent reporting on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. Although Fitzgerald indicated Assange would be willing to wear a GPS tracking device while under house arrest, the judge gave no reasoning why this would not be enough to prevent him from absconding before the date of his appeal. Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020, and Belmarsh has suspended social visits. It is widely recognized that physical contact would alleviate the mental distress that factored into the judge’s decision against extradition.

Read more …

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th..”

Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)

President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged that he would leave office on January 20 for the first time Thursday, pledging an orderly transfer of power after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement, repeating false claims he has made throughout the last two months. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”


Trump, who has refused to concede the election, had on Wednesday egged on supporters who would later storm the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes. The riot left four people dead — one woman was shot and three others had medical emergencies, according to police — and left some in Trump’s Cabinet holding preliminary talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, according to a well-placed GOP source. After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed both the House and Senate floor and Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death.

Read more …

“Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so!”

US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)

A crowd of protesters stormed Congress protesting a presidential election they claimed had been fraudulent. When this happened in Serbia in 2000, the US called it democracy. When it happened in Washington, DC – not so much. Scenes from the US Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters backing President Donald Trump disrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify the election of Democrat Joe Biden, looked very much like Belgrade in October 2000. The sight was later repeated in Ukraine – twice, in 2004 and 2014 – Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and several Central Asian former Soviet republics. On every occasion, the US backed the “people power,” because American NGOs and embassies were supporting what became known as “color revolutions.”

Same thing happened in 2011 with the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia and then burned its way across North Africa to the Persian Gulf. In some places it “succeeded,” overthrowing decades-old governments. In others it failed, setting off wars in Libya and Syria and blood on the streets of Bahrain. Again, the US cheered this on as democracy – except for Bahrain, which hosts a major naval base. More recently, the US denounced as illegitimate the presidential elections in Belarus, Bolivia and Venezuela. While Minsk and Caracas managed to resist – and got sanctioned for it – the “democrats” in La Paz were successful for a while, but ended up losing the vote last year.

Way back in 2004, the Guardian wrote approvingly about how the US has created a “slick” operation of “engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience,” developing since Belgrade a “template for winning other people’s elections.” Now the same mainstream media that slavishly followed the State Department line in denouncing elections elsewhere as “rigged” and color revolutions as spontaneous democracy are clutching their pearls when Americans who believe their election was stolen take to the streets and storm their Capitol. Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so! And Joe Biden won the most votes in history while hardly leaving his basement.

Whether you believe this official narrative about the US election or not doesn’t really matter, however. Partisan myopia simply won’t let people understand the magnitude of what is on display here: utter moral bankruptcy of the entire US political and media establishment.

Read more …

Obviously.

GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress resoundingly rejected an objection to the election results in Arizona. The votes came after protesters breached security and swarmed the U.S. Capitol building earlier on Wednesday. The Senate rejected the objection by a 93-6 vote while the House vote was 303-121, with greater than half of the GOP House conference seeking to reject the state’s electoral slate. Congress reconvened in a joint session to certify the election results in other states. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks objected to the Nebraska results but did not have a signature from a U.S. senator.


Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry objected to certifying Pennsylvania and had Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s signature. Republican lawmakers like Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson have argued that the state government circumvented the legislature to make last minute changes to election law. The House and Senate then entered into separate sessions to debate the objection. The Senate rejected the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes with a 92-7 vote.

Read more …

The amounts are amazing. Are you sure you want your elections to be for sale?

Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)

In order to beat GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate elections, Democrats had to spend big, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. The two Georgia Senate elections — called today for the Democrats — were easily the most costly in history, amounting to nearly $830 million in total ($468 million for the race between Democrat Joey Ossoff and Republican David Perdue and more than $361 million for the special election between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler.

The Democrats’ massive war chest came in no small part from hefty contributions from corporate America. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies rallied around the Democratic challengers, plying the two campaigns with millions of dollars. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent organization, was the largest single source of funds, their PACs, shareholders, or employees donating almost $1 million to Ossoff’s campaign alone with other big tech companies cracking his top ten, all with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations from the like of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and AT&T. The rest of the top ten were made up by universities.

The Republican candidates also relied on large corporations for much of their funding. Perdue’s biggest donors included Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, while Loeffler was generously supported by oil and chemical giant Koch Industries as well as a number of financial institutions like Ryan LLC and Blackstone Group. However, Democrats decisively outraised their opponents, giving them a critical edge. Ossoff outraised Perdue by $138 million to $89 million while Warnock received $124 million to Loeffler’s $92 million. With over 98% of the votes counted, Warnock has been declared the winner, with 50.6% of the vote. Ossoff, meanwhile, is all but assured of winning as well, and has already declared victory.

Read more …

Trump’s Midas touch.

Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)

For many legal analysts, President Trump remains a type of criminal Midas figure: everything he says or does turns instantly into a crime. This pattern is continuing to the very end of the Trump administration. Within minutes of the leaking of a Saturday call between Trump and Georgia election officials, the same experts were declaring yet another clear crime. The loudest was Andrew Weissmann, whose desire to find a crime to use against Trump appears to be moving from the obsessional to the delusional. Since his departure as the top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Weissmann (now an MSNBC analyst) seems intent on proving his critics correct about his profound bias against President Trump.

Weissmann recently called for prosecutors to use grand juries to pursue Trump and others in an unrelenting campaign based on unfounded legal theories. Now he is claiming that the president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is clear evidence of a criminal act. While I clearly come to these questions from the counter perspective of a criminal defense attorney, the claim is legally absurd. When the tape was released, many of us immediately criticized the statement of the president that “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” However, experts immediately declared this yet another clear criminal act and some people even called for a type of twilight impeachment in the last couple weeks of the Trump administration. Weissmann declared that the tape showed “criminal intent” as well as “proof of his motive and his pattern of similar activity.”

The problem is that Weissmann again left the criminal code and controlling case law behind in his blind pursuit of Trump. As with the obstruction allegations investigated by Mueller and the Ukrainian call that was the basis for Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, this comes down to a question of intent. While most experts are notably vague on the specific criminal provision, one possibility would be election fraud under 52 U.S. 20511. However, such an interpretation comes to a full stop at intent — a required showing of “knowingly and willfully” acting to subvert voting. The call Trump participated in was a settlement discussion over election challenges with a variety of lawyers present, not some backroom at the Bada Bing club. The entire stated purpose of the challenges was to count what the Trump campaign alleged were uncounted votes that far surpassed the 11,780 deficit.

Read more …

We only had one year!

China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

Beijing has said its health authorities are not yet in a position to receive a delegation from the WHO, after the world health body’s boss said he was “very disappointed” China hasn’t granted entry to Covid experts. Speaking on Wednesday during a regular press briefing, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the authorities were still preparing themselves for the visit by the ten World Health Organization (WHO) experts. The WHO disease team was scheduled to visit Wuhan in early January to trace the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have not had their visas issued. “China still overcomes difficulties, accelerates internal preparatory work, and tries its best to create good conditions for international expert groups to come to China to carry out traceability cooperation,” Hua told reporters.

“In order to ensure the smooth progress of the international expert group’s work in China, it is necessary to perform necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements.” The spokeswoman claimed that China has always adopted an open, transparent and responsible attitude to promoting international traceability research, and had previously invited a WHO team to visit the country. Hua added that Chinese experts have frequently shared honest evidence with global bodies and they remain in regular communication with the WHO. The comments come as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that Beijing had still not authorized the entry of his team of experts.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. I am very disappointed with this news,” Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news briefing on Tuesday. It was reported that two members of the ten-man team had already commenced their journeys to China on Tuesday before being informed that their visas had not yet been granted.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 062021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Street of New York II 1926

 

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)
Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)
2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)
Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)
Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)
Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)
Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)
China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)
The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)
Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles
Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)
Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)
More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)
US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

 

 

If Julian Assange’s bail is denied today, that will be a huge disappointment for many people. Craig Murray doesn’t think it will be denied, because the US appeal risks opening can of worms for them.

 

 

Big day for Assange, big day also for Trump?!

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

 

 

Murray remains very optimistic.

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet. Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so.

Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk. On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday: “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised.

In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened. Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court.

Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal. If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen. An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

Read more …

Not sure the DOJ has much say in this.

Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)

The federal prosecutor seeking to try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges said he’s uncertain about whether the administration of President-elect Joe Biden would continue the extradition effort. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, pointed out that the Assange case had already consumed years of work by line prosecutors and other officials. A judge in the United Kingdom dealt American prosecutors a blow Monday by rejecting their efforts to transfer Assange to the United States, citing his mental health troubles. The Justice Department pledged that it would appeal — a process that could drag on for months, if not longer. That means the issue of how to handle Assange, accused in one of the largest compromises of classified information in history, will be one of many questions for the new leadership team at the Justice Department.


“It will be very interesting to see what happens with this case,” Terwilliger said. “There’ll be some decisions to be made. Some of this does come down to resources and where you’re going to focus your energies.” For its part, the Biden transition didn’t comment directly on what position it would take in the Assange matter. But a spokesperson pointed out that Biden has called for an independent Justice Department in his administration. Terwilliger spoke to NPR on one of his final days in government service. Later this month, he’s set to join the law firm Vinson & Elkins. Terwilliger, 39, will beef up the firm’s white collar crime practice, after spending his entire career –a dozen years — on the other side of the courtroom as a career prosecutor and political appointee at the Justice Department.

Read more …

These reports keep coming in.

2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has announced that two nursing home residents passed away days after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and that an investigation has been launched into the deaths. “We have to assess whether the vaccine is the cause of death, or if it is a coincidence that it happened soon after vaccination,” Medical Director Steiner Madsen said in a statement about the deaths. He also noted that, because people of advanced age are receiving the vaccine first, it is entirely possible the deaths could be coincidental. Around 400 people die every week in Norwegian nursing homes.


The agency, along with the National Institute of Public Health, are looking into the deaths. Reported side effects from the vaccine have been minor and temporary, although there have been reports of allergic reactions in the US and UK among people who had a history of such. Numerous government officials have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including US Vice President Mike Pence. Vaccinations with the drug began in Norway on December 27.

Read more …

That’s a lot.

Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)

With reports this morning of another otherwise-healthy patient dying suddenly after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many skeptics in both Europe and the US still have serious reservations about the jabs, even as big pharma and their allies in the US and British governments insist that they are 100% safe. Everyone claiming otherwise is not only wrongheaded, but acting in a deliberately malicious manner. This is why commentary like a video posted by DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach where he questions the sky-high efficacy numbers published after the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials has elicited such vehement repudiation.

However, as new questions about efficacy and timing arise, independent journalist Alex Berenson, one of the most prominent skeptics of lockdowns and masks in the US, noted in a twitter thread earlier on Tuesday that the percentage of patients experiencing severe or potentially life-threatening reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines could be much higher than the data collected by the CDC are letting on. The CDC’s VAERS reporting system was set up to track vaccine-related injury, Most patients can expect to experience some kind of adverse reaction, but for the vast majority of patients, symptoms will be relatively mild and clear up within a couple of days.

But amid a rush of reports about patient deaths, Berenson points out that the number of patients seeing serious complications per the number of doses distributed is roughly 50x higher than the rate of ‘adverse’ reactions caused by the flu vaccine. Berenson also speculated that this number might be even higher due to possible delays in updating the CDC’s data sets. This would seemingly confirm rates of adverse reactions seen during clinical trials. What’s more, clinical trials, generally speaking, tend to “UNDERSTATE” unpleasant or unwanted side effects, while they “OVERSTATE” the drug’s efficacy.

Read more …

“it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.”

Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)

Peru has reached an impasse with Pfizer as it negotiates a deal for a Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health minister said, citing a conflict over legal immunity for the pharma firm that could undermine Peru’s sovereignty. While officials have remained in “constant contact” with Pfizer since the summer, the talks ran into trouble last month amid “controversy” over some clauses of the agreement, including those linked to pricing and delivery, as well as legal immunities for the pharmaceutical giant in the case its inoculation leads to death or injury, health minister Pilar Mazzetti told lawmakers on Tuesday. “With Pfizer there are some details where there is no agreement,” Mazzetti said, adding “This has to do with prices and the delivery schedule” as well as “the waiving of important elements such as … jurisdictional immunity.”

“It is true that one needs the vaccine but it is also true that there are aspects related to aspects of our sovereignty that the country has to protect … it has to do with risk for future generations.” The health chief noted that since most aspects of the negotiations are protected under a confidentiality agreement, she could not offer further detail on the ongoing row, but assured that the talks continue. “We hope that the controversy will be resolved so we will be able to determine when the vaccine will arrive,” she went on. Though the country announced a final deal with Pfizer for nearly 10 million vaccine doses in late November, Mazzetti said the process stalled after some clauses in the agreement required “more in-depth analysis” to determine whether they are compatible with Peruvian law.

The Latin American nation is not the first to voice concerns about legal liability waivers in their talks with the pharma firm, with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro observing last month that “it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.” Officials in Argentina have raised similar worries. As the liability concerns become a major obstacle for some nations, the World Bank said on Tuesday that it is working with over 100 countries to address the issue, whether through local legislative efforts or other processes. The World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass, also noted that the agency aims to distribute $160 billion in resources by June to help developing countries obtain immunizations and fight the pandemic.

Read more …

Surprised?

Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)

Roughly half a million residents of Wuhan—the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated—may have been infected with the virus, a figure that is about ten times higher than what was initially reported. The study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than thirty-four thousand people in April, and it eventually discovered that 4.4 percent of those tested were found to be carrying the antibodies for the coronavirus. The presence of antibodies means that individuals, at one point in time, had been carriers of the virus. As of Sunday, Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.


The Chinese CDC noted that the study was conducted a month after China “contained the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.” The study also indicated that the infection rate in Wuhan was significantly higher than in other major cities and provinces. For example, it revealed that only 0.44 percent of Hubei residents were found to be carrying the antibodies. “Exactly how much we have missed we don’t exactly know, but this gives us an idea that we have missed quite a bit,” Ian Mackay, an associated professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the South China Morning Post. Song Fujian, of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told the paper that “given the chaotic situation and limited testing capability during the early phase of the epidemic in Wuhan,” the serological survey results might be “more accurate than the reported number of confirmed cases.”

Read more …

It’s only been a year.

Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)

The Australian government has called on China to allow a visit by World Health Organization experts investigating how the coronavirus pandemic started, insisting the country should grant them visas “without delay”. Canberra raised its concerns on Wednesday over reports that Chinese authorities had blocked the arrival of a WHO team investigating the early cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. With China arguing the team’s visas had not yet been approved, even as some members of the group were on their way to the country, the development has heightened fears among Australian politicians about whether the WHO mission will be able to uncover answers needed to better prepare the world for the next pandemic.


The Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said she hoped “that the necessary permissions for the WHO team’s travel to China can be issued without delay”. Speaking after months of rocky relations between the two countries, partly triggered by Australia’s calls for such an investigation, Payne said Australia had “consistently sought transparency in relation to the origins of, and responses to the coronavirus, as have other countries”. “The WHO-convened scientific study is an important part of this work and we look forward to the findings from the international field mission to China,” she said. “During this global pandemic that has affected all countries, international cooperation and partnerships will maximise our ability to respond, and to equip us for the next pandemic.”

Read more …

53 arrests reported. Including activists’ lawyers.

China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)

Update 11:00pm ET: In what would be a shocking development, Bloomberg reports that during its “massive crackdown” purging countless local activists and politicians, the Hong Kong police – i.e. China – has arrested American Lawyer, John Clancey, using as a pretext the National Security Law, which everyone warned China would use as strawman to crack down on Hong Kong citizens and activists. Well, it now appears that the emboldened Beijing – which is delighted by the ascent of pro-China pushover Joe Biden to the White House – is also using that law to arrest American citizens.

H.K. ARRESTS AMERICAN LAWYER JOHN CLANCEY, COLLEAGUE SAYS
CLANCEY ARRESTED UNDER NATIONAL SECURITY LAW: COLLEAGUE

In response, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent out a harshly worded tweet, warning China that the “Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.” We eagerly await to see just what the Blinken Biden administration will do, besides tweeting angrily in China’s general direction, to secure release of an American citizen unjustly arrested by Chinese proxies in Hong Kong.

Earlier: “Massive Crackdown”: Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens Of Politicians & Activists 2021 is less than a week old and already Beijing is ramping up its efforts to suppress what’s left of the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Right now, China hawks are preoccupied right now by a number of issues: the disappearance of Jack Ma (note: CNBC claims the Alibaba founder is just “laying low”), Beijing’s refusal to allow international investigators inside the Wuhan Institue of Virology and, finally, the CCP’s abusive treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. Now, less than two months after the last 19 members of the HK LegCo’s pro-democracy opposition quit en masse over Beijing’s demands that they swear a loyalty oath to uphold the new national security law and the supremacy of the CCP, Hong Kong police have rounded up dozens of pro-democracy activists.

Read more …

“..more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)

The restaurant industry is in the midst of a complete and total meltdown that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before. If you ask Google how many restaurants there are in the United States, it will tell you that there are 660,755, although that number is a few years old. But for the purposes of this article, that is a good enough estimate. Americans love to eat out, and restaurant workers are some of the hardest working people in the entire country. So it is incredibly sad to see more restaurants constantly going under. In some cases, restaurants that have served their communities for decades are deciding to permanently close their doors. For example, over the weekend Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse in New York City announced that it had finally reached the end of the road…

[..] Unfortunately, Sammy’s is far from alone. In fact, in a recent article that he penned for Fox Business, Adam Piper lamented the fact that more than 100,000 U.S. restaurants have gone out of business during this pandemic… “State and local governments have wielded the coronavirus pandemic as license to steal freedom and opportunity in pursuit of unprecedented omnipotence. Unreasonable, unnecessary and hypocritical actions have forced over 100,000 restaurants to close and endanger countless others.” And according to Bloomberg, the true number of dead restaurants is now over 110,000… “More than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term across the country as the industry grapples with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Just think about that. More than one out of every six restaurants in the U.S. is already gone, and the National Restaurant Association is warning that there will be more carnage in the months ahead because the industry is in “an economic free fall”… “The restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the association, said in a letter to Congress. “What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.” This is what an economic depression looks like. With tens of thousands of restaurants sitting empty, and with tens of thousands of others not paying rent, the stage has been set for a commercial real estate disaster of unprecedented scope and size.

Of course there are millions of square feet of office space and retail space that are not being productive right now as well. In a recent article, Lee Adler referred to this looming commercial real estate nightmare as “a monster in the room”… “I think that if there’s anything that illustrates the head in the sand problem of the banks, it’s this. Commercial real estate (CRE) finance. There’s a monster in the room. All that empty space. No longer income producing.” For now, big financial institutions are doing their best to hide their coming losses, but according to Adler for certain sectors the losses will simply be unavoidable… “Multifamily will take a haircut but will survive. My guess is that industrial, while overpriced and overvalued, will produce enough income to get by. Office and retail? Kiss it goodbye. It’s done. Over. Kaput.”

Read more …

Victoria Nuland is the worst America has to offer.

Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles

President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team have begun to fill out top positions on the incoming National Security Council and at the State Department, with key roles like deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State going to veterans of the Obama administration. At the State Department, longtime diplomat Wendy Sherman will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State-designee Tony Blinken’s deputy, according to two people close to the transition. Sherman previously served as under secretary of State for political affairs in the Obama administration and was a lead negotiator for the Iran deal. Sherman is currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, the same firm where Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also worked as a senior counselor.

Another veteran diplomat, Victoria Nuland, will be nominated for the role of under secretary of State for political affairs, one of the people said. Nuland also previously served in the Obama administration, as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland and Sherman, who entered academia and the think tank world after leaving the Obama administration, have been outspoken critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy — particularly his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the National Security Council, former State Department official Jon Finer will be named deputy national security adviser, the people said, reporting up to incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Finer, a former journalist, joined the Obama White House as a fellow in 2009 and served in various roles throughout Obama’s tenure, including as a foreign policy speechwriter for Biden and a senior adviser to then-deputy national security adviser Blinken. Finer had been working in political risk and public policy at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which was co-founded by Blinken’s father, since leaving government in 2017. The key NSC role of senior director for European Affairs will go to Amanda Sloat, a Brookings Institution fellow who served as deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration.

Read more …

And Nuland’s co-conspirator Geoffrey Pyatt is now US ambassador here in Greece.

Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)

According to a report from Politico, Joe Biden’s transition team is expected to nominate Victoria Nuland to be the under secretary of state for political affairs for the incoming administration’s State Department. Nuland, who is married to neoconservative Robert Kagan, is known for her role in orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine while she was the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration. A recording of a phone call between Nuland and then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked and released on YouTube on February 4th, 2014. In the call, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should replace the government of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to step down on February 22nd, 2014.

The US-backed coup sparked the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and led to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Both regions have a majority ethnic-Russian population who rejected the nationalist, anti-Russian post-coup government that even had neo-Nazis in its midst. In a 2020 column for Foreign Affairs titled, “Pinning Down Putin,” Nuland said Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized” on the 2014 coup and other “democratic struggles” to “fuel the perception at home of Russian interests under siege by external enemies.” She also cited the war in the Donbas and annexation of Crimea as examples of Russian aggression, as most in Washington do.

Currently, Nuland is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and works for the Albright Stonebridge Group. She is also a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US-taxpayer funded nonprofit that funds “pro-democracy” movements across the world.

Read more …

“..the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all…”

Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)

As a naturally optimistic person, it vexes me that the word catastrophe has echoed in my mind since early March 2020. It’s the word the great smallpox eradicator Donald Henderson used in his 2006 prediction of the consequences of lockdown, a word that wasn’t around then. His masterful article addressed the idea of travel restrictions, forced human separation, business and school closings, mask mandates, limits on public gatherings, quarantines, and the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all. This is not how you deal with disease, he said; at a minimum society needs to function so that medical professionals can do their work.

Diseases are managed one person at a time, not with grand central plans. That was the old wisdom in any case. Under the influence of vainglorious modelers, ideological resetters, and politicians hoping to make names for themselves, most of the world tried the lockdown experiment anyway. Here we are nearly a year since I wrote my first article warning that governments presumed themselves to possess the quarantine power. They could use it if they wanted to. I didn’t expect they would. I wrote this piece as a “for your information” public service just to let people know how terrible governments could be.

I had no idea that quarantines would be only the beginning. At this point we know what we did not know then. They are capable – by they I mean even governments in presumably civilized countries with functioning democracies – of the unthinkable, and they are capable of persisting in the unthinkable for an appalling amount of time. Now the lockdowns are our life in the US, unless you are lucky enough to live in Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, and perhaps a few other places. Here in these outposts of what we used to call civilization, life seems normal. Our readers in these states don’t even think about the virus much, and they read my articles and find them overwrought, like I’m describing life on another planet.

Read more …

Externalities.

More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)

More than 1.5 billion disposable face masks will wind up in the world’s oceans this year — polluting the water with tons of plastic and endangering marine wildlife, according to a Hong Kong-based environmental group. A report by OceansAsia cites a global market research report that estimates 52 billion masks were made this year to meet the demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It also says that a “conservative” calculation means at least 3 percent of them will be washed out to sea. “Single-use face masks are made from a variety of meltblown plastics and are difficult to recycle due to both composition and risk of contamination and infection,” the report says.


“These masks enter our oceans when they are littered or otherwise improperly discarded, when waste management systems are inadequate or non-existent, or when these systems become overwhelmed due to increased volumes of waste.” With each mask weighing three to four grams, the situation could lead to 6,800-plus tons of plastic pollution that “will take as long as 450 years to break down,” according to the report. In addition to the harmful effects of micro-plastic and nano-plastic particles, elastic ear loops pose a “possible entanglement risk for wildlife,” the report says. The report cites several examples of marine animals killed by masks, including a “dead bloated pufferfish” found tangled in the loops of a disposable blue mask by volunteers cleaning a Miami beach in August.

Read more …

And sometimes you look up from whatever it is you’re doing and suddenly you see life.

US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay. Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business. He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased. “Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America. “So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.” Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans.


He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff,” Dr Atiq said, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He said the outstanding bills from about 200 patients totalled nearly $650,000 (£480,000). In his Christmas greeting card to patients, he wrote: “The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 042021
 


Vincent van Gogh Boulevard de Clichy, Paris 1887

 

Killing Julian Assange (AlJ)
Docs Urge Early Outpatient Treatment For COVID-19 (France Soir)
New Zealand Tightens Border Again Amid Fears Over New Covid Strain (G.)
Fauci Says He Did Not Expect COVID19 Death Toll To Climb To 350,000 (JTN)
Trump Call Actually Reveals A President Deep Into Detail (Kassam)
McCarthy Supports Electoral Challenge In House, Deputy Cheney Opposes It (JTN)
The Dark Past of Biden’s Nominee for National Intelligence Director (Kiriakou)
Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Suspected Missing (Y!)
Breadlines Stretch Across America (ZH)
The American System Is One Big Grift (van Buren)

 

 

Assange hearing due any moment. Not sure it makes sense to wait for the outcome. It will be appealed no matter which way it goes. And then move to a higher court.

A big moment for sure, but more to gauge how lawless the UK will allow itself to look.

 

UPDATE: UK judge rules against extradition of Assange to US

That was unexpected. She says he must be discharged from Belmarsh for health reasons.

 

Other big theme today: the Trump call to Georgia, leaked to the WaPo, which edited the transcript. Two entirely different interpretations of what it says.

It’s the Zelensky call all over again.

 

 

“..the act of exposing US crimes of torture and killing abroad can at times get you tortured and killed yourself. Call it poetic injustice.”

Killing Julian Assange (AlJ)

On Monday, January 4, a London court will decide whether to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, the whistle-blower will face a prison sentence of up to 175 years in everyone’s favourite “land of the free”. The Australian citizen is accused of having harmed the US and its allies by publishing classified documents. Assange collaborated with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who has already been put through the horror show of the so-called US justice system for leaking classified documents related to, inter alia, the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Among the most notorious material published by WikiLeaks is the “Collateral Murder” video, released in 2010. It depicts a 2007 episode in Baghdad in which US Apache helicopter personnel enthusiastically slaughtered a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters staffers – a fitting hint, perhaps, as to the existential perils of journalistic efforts to document the truth.

In Assange’s case, his crime is just that: telling the truth in contravention of an official narrative of heroic, world-saving interventions by the US military. Indeed, according to the perverse perspective of the US, it is absolutely fine to massacre Iraqi civilians – just not to talk about it. In the end, after all, what is imperial war if not sustained butchery and devastation of civilian populations? Yet pointing out the bleeding obvious is apparently enough to land you in jail for 175 years. And not just any jail. Charles Glass, veteran journalist and former chief Middle East correspondent for ABC News – who has himself visited the imprisoned Assange in London – writes in The Intercept that, if extradited, Assange risks internment in the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”, a federal supermax prison in Colorado that houses Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Oklahoma City co-bomber Terry Nichols.

There, Assange’s life would consist of “permanent solitary confinement in a concrete box cell with a window four inches wide, with six bed checks a day and one hour of exercise in an outdoor cage”. Similar punishment is of course also meted out to all of the US soldiers who kill and rape with abandon, and to the politicians who dispatch them to do so. (Just kidding.) In the meantime, as Assange awaits the extradition verdict, the British are doing a fine job maintaining a regimen of “denial of access to healthcare and prolonged psychological torture” – as 117 doctors have affirmed in a letter to the medical journal The Lancet. Back in November of 2019, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, had already warned that the psychological torture and abuse to which Assange was being subjected in the UK – at the behest of the US – could ultimately cost him his life.

It seems, then, that the act of exposing US crimes of torture and killing abroad can at times get you tortured and killed yourself. Call it poetic injustice. In an email to me, Julie Wark, author of The Human Rights Manifesto, recalled the special rapporteur’s observations, emphasising that “a gang of so-called democratic states has deliberately demonised and abused a single individual with almost zero regard for human rights and rule of law”. She continued: “The official leviathan turned against Assange and other whistleblowers is a measure of the crimes these states want covered up.” Obviously, the precedent of extraditing an Australian citizen from the UK to the US for the “crime” of exposing reality would be a disastrous blow to journalism worldwide – although it would certainly assist in further exposing a reality in the world’s self-proclaimed “greatest democracy”, where, as it turns out, freedom of the press is not actually a thing. Ditto for other cool stuff like freedom of speech and thought.

Read more …

France goes its own way in virustime.

Docs Urge Early Outpatient Treatment For COVID-19 (France Soir)

The year 2020 will have been marked by a series of studies on treatments against COVID-19 and associated controversies. All will remember the declarations of the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister that ” there is no treatment against Covid-19 ” despite the studies published by the IHU of Prof. Raoult. In December, the Italian Council of State rehabilitated the early-phase treatment based on hydroxychloroquine, proving the doctors right and recalling the principle that no national agency should interfere in the privileged relationship between a doctor and his patient. In the United States in October, under the influence of Senator Johnson , Professors Peter McCullough , Harvey Risch, and doctor Pierre Kory testified under oath to the Senate commission of inquiry into early stage treatments.

The latter recalled the fundamental basis of a response to a viral epidemic with the 4 pillars: the control of contagion by various measures such as barrier gestures, early phase treatment, hospital care, and the vaccine or group immunity. A peer-reviewed study published in the Reviews of Cardiovascular Medicine (Reviews of Cardiovascular Medicine) on December 30, 2020 by a group of 57 doctors, including Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Harvey Risch, many of whom have treated the disease in the early phase, includes all the elements to show that there is no cure for Covid-19, but that a combination of drugs and other supplements can significantly reduce the risk of worsening the disease . This also leads to a reduction in hospitalization needs, thus reducing the pressure on the use of intensive care or resuscitation beds. The question of risk benefit for the need for a vaccine therefore arises.

The study summary states: “The SARS-CoV-2 virus that is spreading across the world has resulted in epidemic peaks of COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations and deaths. The complex and multifaceted pathophysiology of COVID-19 is life threatening to those infected (including damage to organs mediating the virus, cytokine storm and thrombosis). This therefore justifies early interventions to treat all facets of the disease . In countries where therapeutic nihilism is prevalent, patients experience escalating symptoms and without early treatment, patients may succumb to complications of delayed hospitalization, resulting in death. Early and rapid initiation of Combination Sequence Therapy (SMDT) is a widely and currently available solution to stem the tide of hospitalizations and deaths.”

A multi-pronged therapeutic approach includes 1) adjuvant nutraceuticals, 2) combined intracellular anti-infective therapy, 3) inhaled / oral corticosteroids, 4) antiplatelet / anticoagulant agents, 5) supportive care, including supplemental oxygen, monitoring and telemedicine. Randomized trials of new individual oral therapies have failed to provide doctors with the tools they need to fight the pandemic. No single treatment option so far has been fully effective and therefore a combination is required at this time. An urgent immediate transition from single drug therapy to SMDT regimens should be used as a critical strategy to treat the large number of patients with acute COVID-19 with the goal of reducing the intensity and duration of symptoms and avoiding hospitalization and death.

The risk of complications and death increases if there is no early phase treatment as soon as the first symptoms appear. This study therefore supports the approach advocated by Professor Raoult since the start of the year: treatment in the early phase helps reduce the risk of complications linked to the disease. It also confirms all the work done in the United States by Dr. Zelenko as well as all the doctors who have worked for the early phase treatment against thick and thin, too often ignored by health agencies and medical authorities.

The ANSM (National Agency for Health and Medicines), the Minister of Health and the various administrative bodies will undoubtedly have to explain their decisions to the French. The benefit-risk analysis as described by the Italian Council of State (in the absence of specific treatment, there is no reason that health agencies interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, especially for drugs that have proven to be safe over several decades) makes sense in the light of this new study. The abandonment of hydroxychloroquine in the arm of various studies when the signs were positive (Hycovid study), overdose in other studies, media silence on ivermectin will undoubtedly need to be addressed by those with comprehensive legal expertise.

Read more …

6 cases in New Zealand, 6 cases in Greece.

New Zealand Tightens Border Again Amid Fears Over New Covid Strain (G.)

New Zealand has further tightened border controls amid mounting anxiety about the new strain of coronavirus driving up infections overseas. Six cases of the new variant of the virus – five in arrivals from the UK and one from South Africa – were recorded in managed isolation facilities in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Travellers to New Zealand from the US and UK will now be required to show a negative test for Covid-19 before departure, as well as taking a test on their arrival in quarantine in addition to those on days three and 12. The border remains mostly closed to non-citizens. The Ministry of Health said in a statement on Sunday that these were “extra precautionary steps [to] provide another layer of protection” against the new strain of coronavirus, recorded in more than 30 countries.


Though there has been no community transmission of coronavirus in New Zealand since 18 November, Auckland University microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said the new variant – which is reported to be more infectious – would challenge the country’s safeguards. “If there are any chinks in the chain, it will find them,” she told Stuff. For New Zealanders in the UK and the US wanting to come home, the new requirement to obtain a test is an additional barrier on top of flight cancellations and the long wait for a vacancy in quarantine. The vast majority of the 5,800 spots in the 32 managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities across New Zealand were occupied over Christmas and New Year in Kiwis’ rush to return. Stuff reports that the earliest available vacancy was in mid-March.

Read more …

But he gets to keep his job…

Fauci Says He Did Not Expect COVID19 Death Toll To Climb To 350,000 (JTN)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci on ABC This Week said that he had not expected the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. to rise to 350,000. “Did you ever expect it to be that high?” host Martha Raddatz asked. “No Martha, I did not,” Fauci responded. “But you know that’s what happens when you’re in a situation where you have surges related to so many factors: Inconsistent adhering to the public health measures, the winter months coming in right now with the cold allowing people or essentially forcing people to do most of their things indoors as opposed to outdoors and then the traveling associated with the holiday season is all of the ingredients that unfortunately make for a situation that is really terrible.”


Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University indicates that the U.S. coronavirus death count exceeds 350,000. President Trump on Sunday tweeted: “The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low. ‘When in doubt, call it Covid.’ Fake News!” Asked about the president’s tweet, Fauci responded: “Well, the deaths are real deaths. I mean, all you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now. That’s real. That’s not fake. That’s real.”

Read more …

1 phone call. 2 completely different stories.

Trump Call Actually Reveals A President Deep Into Detail (Kassam)

“I don’t know about that… I don’t have it in front of me… we’re looking into that…” These weren’t the vague, non-committal words of the President of the United States on the phone call leaked by theWashington Post newspaper – which has recently taken millions of dollars from the Chinese Communist Party – this Sunday. They were the statements of the establishment Republicans on the call: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Ryan Germany, and Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs on the January 2nd call. Despite the partisan framing from the Washington Post – that the call somehow reflected Trump making demands for votes from his Republican colleagues – the President actually does no such thing. Throughout the call, the President makes clear that his calls are for election transparency, full and transparent audits, and public access.

At no point does the President imply he wants votes invented or confected, as the establishment media is portraying. He even offers to recuse himself from parts of the conversation and ends by asking for “the truth… it’s just that simple.” In fact the President begins the call by ripping through specifics that are never addressed by their opponents on the call: the establishment Republicans. Trump states: “We have at least 2 or 3 — anywhere from 250 to 300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls. Much of that had to do with Fulton County, which hasn’t been checked. We think that if you check the signatures — a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County — you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged.”

He continues: “We had, I believe it’s about 4,502 voters who voted but who weren’t on the voter registration list, so it’s 4,502 who voted, but they weren’t on the voter registration roll, which they had to be. You had 18,325 vacant address voters. The address was vacant, and they’re not allowed to be counted. That’s 18,325.” And the President went on: “You had out-of-state voters. They voted in Georgia, but they were from out of state, of 4,925. You had absentee ballots sent to vacant, they were absentee ballots sent to vacant addresses. They had nothing on them about addresses, that’s 2,326.” The level of granularity was actually remarkable, especially for a President that the media continues to allege is not concerned with details.

Read more …

Dice roll.

McCarthy Supports Electoral Challenge In House, Deputy Cheney Opposes It (JTN)

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threw his support Sunday behind an effort in his caucus to oppose Joe Biden’s electors even as one of his deputies sent a memo opposing the movement. “I think it’s right that we have the debate. I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object — how else do we have a way to change the election problems?” McCarthy told The Hill newspaper in an interview. McCarthy made the commons as at least two dozen House members and a dozen senators, all Republicans, announced plans this weekend to oppose Biden’s electoral victory when Congress certifies electors on Wednesday.


While McCarthy endorsed the effort, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a frequent Trump opponent, sent a memo to GOP caucus members opposing the effort as a danger to democracy “Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress,” she wrote. “This is directly at odds with the Constitution’s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans.”

Read more …

John Kiriakou is a former CIA agent.

The Dark Past of Biden’s Nominee for National Intelligence Director (Kiriakou)

Former acting CIA Director Mike Morell, who has disingenuously argued for years that he had nothing to do with the agency’s torture program, but who continued to defend it, has taken himself out of the running to be President-elect Joe Biden’s new CIA director. The decision is a victory for the peace group Code Pink, which spearheaded the Stop Morell movement, and it’s a great thing for all Americans. Now, though, we have to turn our attention to Biden’s nominee to be director of national intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines. Haines is certainly qualified on paper to lead the Intelligence Community. A longtime Biden aide, she has the president-elect’s confidence. But that’s not good enough. Haines is exactly the kind of person who shouldn’t be in a position of authority in intelligence.

She is the kind of neoliberal intelligence apologist whom so many of us have opposed for so many years. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Look at her record. Haines first began working for Biden when she served as deputy general counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was its chairman. When Biden became vice president in 2009, Haines moved to the State Department, where she was the assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs. After only a year, she moved to the White House, where she became deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president for national security affairs, the National Security Council’s chief attorney.

That’s quite a position. What it means was that her job was to legally justify President Barack Obama’s decisions on such intelligence issues as drone strikes and whether to release the CIA Torture Report. She served there under CIA Director John Brennan. Obama apparently liked the job she did for him because in 2013, he named Haines deputy director of the CIA (DD/CIA). Haines was the first woman to be named DD/CIA, and she served again under Brennan, who proved time and again that he was no fan of congressional oversight. Haines’s attitude was similar to Brennan’s: The CIA was going to do what it was going to do, and she would make no apologies for it.

Read more …

Ma got too big.

Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Suspected Missing (Y!)

Speculation has swirled around Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s whereabouts after reports surfaced that the high-profile businessman has not made a public appearance in more than two months. The Alibaba founder also failed to appear as scheduled in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, which gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million. Ma was supposed to be part of the judging, but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final, UK’s Telegraph reported. His picture was also taken off the website. An Alibaba spokesperson said Ma was unable to take part on the judging panel “due to a schedule conflict”, according to Financial Times.

Ma’s business empire, Ant Group, has been under scrutiny by Beijing ever since Ma delivered a controversial speech in Shanghai on 24 October that criticised China’s regulation system for stifling innovation and likened global banking rules to an “old people’s club”. “Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age,” Ma said in the speech. “We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.” Little over a week later, Ant’s IPO (valued at a record-setting US $37 billion or AU $48 billion), which had already received the green light from China’s securities watchdog, was suspended, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange saying Ant had reported “significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment”.

But US veteran investor Mark Mobius said the move was designed to curtail financial institutions from getting too big. “I believe the Chinese government stepped in because they realised that they had to regulate these companies, so that they don’t … get too big,” he told CNBC. “The Chinese government is waking up to the fact that they cannot allow these companies that dominate a particular sector and particularly the financial sector.”

Read more …

“..8 million Americans joining the ranks of the poor since June..”

Breadlines Stretch Across America (ZH)

The economic collapse of 2020 has undeniably widened the wealth gap. Now, our country is essentially divided between those who patiently wait for some food in breadlines – after losing their ability to provide for themselves and, oftentimes, the roof over their heads – and those who sit comfortably at their own homes waiting for the meltdown to be over while discovering the joy of baking bread. Breadlines vs. Bread makers, that’s the ominous picture of an increasingly unequal America. That’s what Epic Economist exposes in the following video: The collapse has laid bare just how unequal our system is. As euphoria on Wall Street sends stock prices to astronomical heights, Main Street remains in crisis, with roughly 8 million Americans joining the ranks of the poor since June. The numbers are even letting some billionaires worried that the enormous inequality may lead to mass conflicts in months ahead. And even the establishment is showing it’s afraid that things could suddenly get out of hand, because much more turbulence is about to emerge.

Read more …

The Clintons and Bidens are bit players.

The American System Is One Big Grift (van Buren)

The first bribe I ever paid was to an Indonesian immigration officer, who noticed some small defect on my passport. Of course, he said, it could be resolved. Between us. With a fine (so many euphemisms). Off to the side. In cash. It was all of $20 to save a vacation but I felt filthy, cheated, a chump. But I learned the rules. In New York we use the euphemism “tip,” and it is as required as oxygen to get through the day. A restaurant table pre-COVID. A last minute anything. A friendlier handling by a doorman. Timely attention to fix-it requests. My, um, friend, used to pay a lot of money for better hotel rooms until he learned $20 at check in with a friendly “anything you can do” often got him upgraded to the same thing at a fraction of the price. What, you still paying retail, bro?

I used to think it was all small stuff, maybe with the odd mafia king bribing a judge with real money or something else Netflix-worthy. In America we were ultimately… fair, right? But things started to add up. We have our petty corruption like anywhere, but our souls are filthy on a much larger scale. America goes big or it goes home. Things like the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from the Saudis to help with women’s empowerment, an issue of course dear to the heart of the Kingdom. When it looked like his wife was going to be president, Bill made six-figure speeches to businesses seeking influence within the U.S. government, earning $50 million during his wife’s term as secretary of pay-for-play state. The Foundation, now mostly out of business, was at its peak a two-billion-dollar financial dangle.

It spent in 2013 the same on travel expenses for Hillary and her family as it did on charitable grants. The media, forever big Clinton fans, told us we should be used to it. Hey, Nixon was so much worse. Trump refused to be very specific about who his charity donated to. We know its offshoot, the Eric Trump charity, donated to a wine industry association, a plastic surgeon supposedly gifting nose jobs to kids, and an artist who painted a portrait of Donald. Trump-owned resorts received $880,000 for hosting Trump-sponsored charity events. Trump donated money from his foundation to conservative influencers ahead of his presidential bid.

With Joe as vice president, the Bidens made $396,000 in 2016. But in just the four years since leaving the Obama White House, Joe and Jill made more than $15 million. In fact, as his prospects for election improved, Joe and his wife made nearly twice as much in one year as they did in the previous 19 years combined. Joe scored $10 million alone for a book no one read. Jill was paid more than $3 million for her book in 2018. Joe has a tax-dodge S Corporation that donated money back to his own political PAC. Then of course there was Hunter, who scored millions in Chinese and Ukrainian money for doing nothing but being Joe’s son.

About half the nation got very twisted over Trump’s corruption and actively avoided noticing the Clintons and Bidens, and vice-versa, to the point of covering their ears NYANYANAYNYA. Yeah, politicians are corrupt, but does anyone think the donors in all three cases didn’t know what they were buying? What, you still voting retail, bro? But even all those millions, measured in Epsteins (a unit of influence buying I just made up) are petty cash. Real corruption scales. Pre-COVID America’s 614 billionaires were worth $2.95 trillion. As the Dow hit record highs this month, there are now 650 billionaires and their combined wealth is $4 trillion. The 400 richest Americans own 64 percent of the country’s wealth. Where’d all their money come from? You.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 292020
 


Juan Gris Portrait of the artist’s mother 1912

 

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)
WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)
UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)
House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)
Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)
House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)
Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)
McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)
Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)
Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)
In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)
The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

 

 

Entirely useless? Someone better do a risk/reward analysis.

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)

Once again, the WHO has stepped in to offer some confusing comments about the coronavirus vaccine, warning that there is “no evidence to be confident shots prevent transmission” and that people who receive the vaccine should continue wearing masks and following all social distancing and travel guidelines. The comments were made by WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan during what appears to have been a virtual press conference held Monday. A clip of the offending line has begun circulating on social media. “At the moment, I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines, to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from getting the infection and passing it on,”

WHO chief scientist
https://twitter.com/i/status/1343620091695538179

Of course, a close look at the research released by Pfizer and Moderna shows the studies haven’t actually tested whether the vaccines actually prevent transmission of the virus; the goal of the trials was to see whether vaccinated patients presented with COVID symptoms at a rate that was substantially less frequent than individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated. That’s pretty much it. Though the data might hint at lowering transmission rates, that’s still tbd, apparently. The doctor went on to explain that there’s no evidence to suggest that those who have been vaccinated wouldn’t be a risk if they traveled to a foreign country, say Australia, with relatively low COVID rates.


At this point, it might be helpful for the WHO to produce some kind of clarification that either offers substantially more context to explain this remark. But we suspect they won’t. Why? Well, perhaps because that context might undermine certain government officials’ insistence that there’s absolutely no reason to question the efficacy, and potential side effects (both long-term, and short) tied to the new COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more …

“..newspeak doublethink nonsense..”

WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)

The World Health Organization has changed the definition of “herd immunity” on the Covid section of their website, inserting the claim that it is a “concept used in vaccination”, and requires a vaccine to be achieved. Both of these statements are total falsehoods, which is demonstrated by the WHO’s own website back in June, and every dictionary definition of “herd immunity” you can find. To quote the WHO’s own original definition: “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or a natural immunity developed through previous infection.” This definition was posted on the WHO’s website on June 9th of this year, and conforms with the general usage of the term for generations.


Then, on October 15th, we woke up to find the words on the side of the barn had changed. The definition has been altered to this: “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” No explanation is offered for the change, in fact [no] note of the change is made on the website at all. Indeed all the previous versions of the website have been totally wiped from the wayback machine. A telling thing to do, in and of itself. We’re only aware of the change because screencaps of the original exist:

The new definition, aside from being inaccurate and off-handedly disposing of decades of epidemiological research, is also contradictory. It includes the phrase: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.” Which is newspeak doublethink nonsense. The entire point of vaccination IS “exposing” people to the virus. This revised, inaccurate and contradictory definition of “herd immunity” was first expressed in a speech by WHO Director General Thedros Adhanom on October 12th. Within three days that speech had been added, word for word, to the website. And within a month of the change, the UK had approved the first commercial vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 infection.

Read more …

Forget the vaccine, I’ll get the Neanderthal gene.

UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)

The highly infectious COVID-19 coronavirus variant that has been circulating in Britain is linked to higher loads of the virus in the blood, according to a research report published on medRxiv on Sunday ahead of peer review. Around 35% of patients infected by the variant form had very high levels of the virus in their samples, compared to 10% of patients without the variant, study leader Michael Kidd of Public Health England and Birmingham University told Reuters. Higher viral loads have been linked with worse COVID-19 outcomes. The tests were conducted at the Birmingham Turnkey Lab. Kidd said additional study was needed to confirm or refute the findings. If confirmed, he hopes scientists will investigate how this particular variant manages to make more copies of itself in infected patients.

[..] A specific form of a protein passed down from Neanderthals protects against severe COVID-19, and medications that boost levels of this protein could potentially help treat the disease, according to a study reported on medRxiv on Thursday ahead of peer review. The protein, called OAS1, is involved in the body’s response to viruses. People with higher levels of the Neanderthal-related form of OAS1 are less susceptible to COVID-19, and if they do become infected, they are at lower risk for hospitalization, intubation and death, the researchers found. “This protective form of OAS1 is present in sub-Saharan Africans but was lost when the ancestors of modern-day Europeans migrated out of Africa. It was then re-introduced into the European population through mating with Neanderthals” who lived more than 40,000 years ago, said coauthor Brent Richards from the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal. An earlier study linked a cluster of genes inherited from Neanderthals to higher risks of hospitalization from COVID-19. “These findings further implicate Neanderthal ancestry in COVID-19 severity,” Richards said.

[..] The speed of patients’ antibody production – rather than the volume of antibodies they produce to fight the new coronavirus – determines whether they will survive COVID-19, new data suggest. Researchers who studied more than 200 COVID-19 patients, including 179 who were hospitalized, found those who produced so-called neutralizing antibodies within 14 days of developing symptoms eventually recovered, while those who did not produce neutralizing antibodies until more than 14 days had elapsed developed higher viral loads and more severe disease. “It is unclear why antibodies generated after this time point are unable to promote viral clearance and recovery in COVID-19 patients,” the researchers said in a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Study leader Akiko Iwasaki of the Yale University School of Medicine tweeted on Saturday, “It’s possible that virus somehow becomes resistant by hiding in inaccessible tissues.” The new findings, she added, suggest therapy with so-called monoclonal antibody drugs – such as those from Regeneron given to U.S. President Donald Trump — is likely to work only if used soon after infection.

Read more …

Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act.

House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted to raise to $2,000 the sum of the one-time direct payment to most Americans, after President Donald Trump demanded it be raised from $600 in the spending bill he signed to avoid shutdown. Dubbed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act, House Resolution 9051 passed on Monday evening, as lawmakers lined up to cast their own and proxy votes, wearing face masks under rules instituted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). The procedural vote requiring two-thirds majority succeeded, with 275 votes in favor. The proposal was opposed by 130 Republicans, two Democrats and two 2 independents.


The resolution now goes to the Senate for approval. Trump initially threatened to veto the nearly 6,000-page omnibus-stimulus behemoth, objecting to the $600 amount and other spending measures. On Sunday, he turned around and signed it, but demanded that the House pass a bill increasing the payout to $2,000 per individual and delete some of the other spending provisions, while asking for several other actions from the Senate as well. Democrats have refused to cut any spending, however, and the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to follow through on Trump’s demands.

Read more …

“an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)

Last week, House Democrats attempted to call President Donald Trump’s bluff and increase the COVID relief bill’s survival checks to $2,000. House Republicans blocked the initial maneuver, and may today prevent the legislation from passing. If it does pass, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could kill the bill. The spectacle of Congress continuing to stall $2,000 survival checks during an economic emergency spotlights Donald Trump’s erratic behavior, Democrats’ persistent austerity ideology and the dysfunctionality of a government waiting until the last minute to hammer out 5,000-page emergency legislation in a matter of hours.

Most important, the antics of House Republicans and McConnell illustrate how — despite all of America’s paens to democracy — lawmakers ostensibly elected to represent us will routinely stomp on their own constituents. Of course, constituents are barely part of the media narrative anymore. Indeed, if you read national news, you will almost never see a mention of whom exactly these Republicans are supposed to be representing. For example, you will not see any mention of the fact that, according to research from AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer, the majority of lawmakers in the House Republican Conference come from districts in the bottom two income quintiles — meaning their constituents would particularly benefit from the $2,000 checks.

Similarly, you will see McConnell depicted only as an all-powerful Republican leader — an omniscient spectre haunting the halls of power, effectively disassociated from time, place and constituency. In this mythology, he is a phantom menace who controls everything but somehow represents nobody. You will not see much mention of the fact that McConnell actually does represent a real, live place — one that illustrates how this standoff is fundamentally a crisis of democratic accountability. McConnell’s role in this debacle cannot be overstated: Had he already signed onto the plan to increase the direct payments in the COVID deal, it would probably be a done deal — but so far he has been reticent, as millions of Americans are struggling to survive.

Among those millions struggling to survive are hundreds of thousands of people in McConnell’s own state of Kentucky — which is one of the poorest in the country. As such, it would particularly benefit from the $2,000 survival checks. As McConnell plays coy in Washington, his state is becoming a Dickensian nightmare. More than 700,000 Kentuckians live below the federal poverty line. During the COVID-19 pandemic, things have become downright dystopian: Louisville’s ABC affiliate recently reported that “an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

Read more …

Bring them home.

House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted for the first time to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740 billion annual military spending bill, which he opposed for limiting his ability to bring US troops home. After aligning with Trump to approve raising the coronavirus stimulus payments to $2,000 per American, the House also voted 322- 87 to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $740 billion military spending bill, which passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month.


Trump objected to the NDAA not addressing his concerns about Section 230 and internet platforms, trying to prevent him from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and including a Democrat proposal to rename US military bases named a century ago after Civil War generals who fought for the Confederacy. If the Senate does the same, that would make it the first – and likely the last – veto override of Trump’s administration, as Democrats are joined by a faction of Republicans all too eager to abandon the president. Amid media reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) planned to hold a vote only on the NDAA override and not the increased payments, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) vowed to hold up the vote and block the Senate from going into recess over the New Year holiday.

Read more …

How things are connected.

Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans. “McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP. The House passed the payment boost sought by Trump and Democratic leaders on Monday evening, and Trump said the Senate has agreed to “start the process” on a stimulus checks vote when he signed the $900 billion relief bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to address the timing of such a vote. Under Senate rules, Sanders has the ability to keep the chamber in during the holiday week and likely mess with the campaign schedules of Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Those two face Jan. 5 runoff races for control of the Senate against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are both campaigning on the $2,000 checks. A source close to Sanders said the Senate races were a factor in his decision — part of a bid to keep Perdue and Loeffler in D.C. and focus the campaign on their position regarding the $2,000 checks. Sanders also threatened to shut down the government earlier this month if the coronavirus relief bill did not include direct payments; ultimately it included checks of up to $600 and the government stayed open, though now Trump wants to go much higher.

Though veto overrides can be filibustered, as Sanders plans to do, it is a rare procedural move because the veto override already requires 67 votes and the filibuster is simply a delay tactic, according to the Congressional Research Service. Sanders said he hopes McConnell allows a vote on the checks on Wednesday. “The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

Read more …

“McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it.”

McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)

One of the enduring mysteries of the 2020 presidential election was Mitch McConnell’s apparent lack of interest in helping to reelect President Donald Trump. From the perspective of the White House, the political press corps, Democrats, and effectively everybody watching the race, there was one major thing they thought would go a long way to delivering four more years for Trump, and that was a major round of stimulus in the weeks before the election, complete with checks destined for voters. Given that a swing of fewer than 100,000 votes in the right states would have flipped the election to Trump, it’s fair to say that such a stimulus could indeed have turned the tide for Trump. Yet McConnell stood in the way. We now know with certainty that the Senate majority leader is well aware of the political value of stimulus checks.

“Kelly and David are getting hammered,” McConnell told his Republican flock, explaining why the party would be agreeing not just to a historic-sized piece of legislation, but also to one that included $600 checks for everybody with under a certain income. “Kelly,” of course, is Kelly Loeffler, the wife of the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, appointed to the Senate to replace the retiring Johnny Isaacson, and “David” is David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General. Both Loeffler and Perdue are facing runoffs in January, and both have used their perch in the Senate to acquire financial information they used to profit on stock trades. But that’s not why they’re getting hammered. They’re getting hammered over checks. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been blasting away for weeks at Perdue and Loeffler for blocking another round of stimulus, and in particular for blocking checks.

And so McConnell bent to political reality, doing what he didn’t want to do in order to keep control of the Senate. But if it was a price he was willing to pay for Kelly and David and control of the Senate, why wouldn’t he pay the same price to keep control of the White House? The option was available to him. Even if Democratic leaders would have preferred to pass the stimulus after the election, their obstruction beforehand would either have been politically untenable or, if held firm, politically suicidal. So McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it. The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that McConnell did not want to help Trump win.

Read more …

Six Eyes?!

Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)

Japan provided intelligence to the United States and Britain last year showing evidence of China’s forceful detainment of Muslim Uighur minority on condition of keeping the source confidential, a person close to Japan-U.S. relations said Monday. Based on the information, the United States stepped up criticism against China’s alleged crackdown on Uighurs in the Xinjiang autonomous region, the source said. The move shows Japan has already been sharing key intelligence with partners behind the scenes amid calls within the government to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to better respond to increasing threats by North Korea and China. The intelligence-sharing network involves Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.


Britain joined the United States in pressing Beijing over its crackdown on Uighurs, but Japan has only said it “is closely watching the situation with concern.” Japan seeks to maintain friendly ties with China — its largest trading partner — without hurting relations with its top security ally, the United States. Given that Tokyo’s relations with Beijing had been improving, it was preparing for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit as a state guest in spring 2020, although the planned visit was later postponed after the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Read more …

Interesting to see how this changes after Jan. 20.

Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)

The Trump administration on Monday strengthened an executive order barring U.S. investors from buying securities of alleged Chinese military-controlled companies, following disagreement among U.S. agencies about how tough to make the directive. The Treasury Department published guidance clarifying that the executive order, released in November, would apply to investors in exchange-traded funds and index funds as well as subsidiaries of Chinese companies designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military. The “frequently asked questions” release, posted on the Treasury website on Monday, came after Reuters and other news outlets reported that a debate was raging within the Trump administration over the guidance.


The State Department and the Department of Defense had pushed back against a bid by Treasury Department to water down the executive order, a source said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the announcement “ensures U.S. capital does not contribute to the development and modernization of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military, intelligence, and security services.” “This should allay concerns that U.S. investors might unknowingly support (Chinese military-controlled companies) via direct, indirect, or other passive investments,” he added. Specifically, some media outlets reported that Treasury was seeking to exclude Chinese companies’ subsidiaries from the scope of the White House directive, which bars new purchases of securities of 35 Chinese companies that Washington alleges are backed by the Chinese military, starting in November 2021.

Read more …

“They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes.”

In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)

The signals from the political establishment to Donald Trump ring pretty clear now: get thee hence, thou big-bottomed orange menace to order and sanctity! Has ever a president been lonelier at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in the drear winter months of 1864 seem downright chummy in retrospect and, of course, poor Richard Nixon stayed swozzled on scotch whiskey during the darkest nights of Watergate, when he reputedly wandered the West Wing halls conversing with portraits of his predecessors. The other power centers of America, especially the news media, insist that there is no evidence of fraud in the recent election and it’s time to get on with the hallowed ceremonies of transition.

The post-Christmas suspense is killing them. Mr. Trump will not be moved to declare that he lost the election — probably for the excellent reason that he really didn’t, if there had been anything like an honest tally of the ballots. They hear murmurings of martial law and the Insurrection Act, and it all sounds to them like an imperial Nightmare on Elm Street. They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes. It’s said in the alt.media that the president wishes to exhaust all the formal alternatives before possibly moving onto the novelty steps of contesting this final act of the four-year coup against him, which brings us all the way to January 6, when the electoral college slates are toted up in the House chamber, Vice President Pence presiding. One popular fantasy has the Veep tossing out “certified” votes from states where irregularities were starkest in favor of alt.slates submitted by Republican-majority state legislatures — with Hieronymus Bosch-style Antifa chaos to follow all over the land.

Sounds like a low percentage deal to me, but then… what’s actually at stake here? Not to be too melodramatic, but something kind of like a Manchurian Candidate situation. How okay is it, actually, for Joe Biden, with a record of accepting large sums of money from China’s intel apparatus, to move into the Oval Office, especially after they laid the Covid-19 trip on the world? No problemo, the DNC and its vast network of apparatchiks answer. There’s no evidence of Ol’ Joe colluding for pay!

Read more …

“… and Has Nothing To Do With Trump”

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story: The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday. The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.” Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants which are thriving, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S. A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

[..] What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 252020
 


Juan Gris Man in the café 1912

 

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)
Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)
Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)
Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)
Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)
Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)
One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)
How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)
Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)
Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

 

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Plato

 

 

 

 

Why is everything white Mohammed Ali

 

 

But they still don’t know.

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)

People who build immunity against the coronavirus virus enjoy long-term protection from the illness, researchers in Australia have concluded, suggesting that vaccines could be effective for long periods of time. Melbourne’s Monash University announced that a team of researchers found that antibodies guard against reinfection for at least eight months. Their paper, published in the journal Science Immunology, is the “strongest evidence” yet that coronavirus jabs could be a workable solution to the health crisis, the university said. Previous studies suggested that antibodies to Covid-19 begin disappearing within several weeks or months. However, the new Australian research shows that specific cells within the immune system, called memory B cells, “remember” infection by the virus, and trigger a protective immune response by producing antibodies if re-exposure occurs.

The study examined 25 Covid-19 patients, taking 36 blood samples from them, starting four days after infection. The last samples were taken 242 days post-infection. Researchers saw that antibodies against the virus started to wane after 20 days following infection, but found that memory B cells specific to the Covid-19 virus remained stable for at least eight months. The results are good news for the efficacy of vaccines, and also help explain why there have been so few examples of people being reinfected by the virus, said Associate Professor Menno van Zelm, from the Monash University Department of Immunology and Pathology. This has been a black cloud hanging over the potential protection that could be provided by any COVID-19 vaccine and gives real hope that, once a vaccine or vaccines are developed, they will provide long-term protection.

Although there is a wide range of coronavirus vaccines that have shown to be effective at building immunity against the virus, it’s still unclear how long the protection lasts. However, vaccines will also have to keep up with mutations of the virus. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said earlier this week that the German company would soon have a jab to counter a new strain of Covid-19 that appeared in the UK, but expressed confidence that the current vaccine developed with US firm Pfizer will still be effective for the time being. Russia’s homegrown Sputnik V vaccine is also effective against the new strain of the coronavirus, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which bankrolled the jab’s development.

Read more …

Fauci sells vaccines. It’s not difficult.

Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the epidemiologist revered almost religiously as a hero by mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians, has admitted that he lied to Americans to manipulate their acceptance of a new Covid-19 vaccine. The intentional deception involved estimates for what percentage of the population will need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 and enable a return to normalcy. Earlier this year, Fauci said 60-70 percent – a typical range for such a virus – but he moved the goalposts to 70-75 percent in television interviews about a month ago. Last week, he told CNBC that the magic number would be around “75, 80, 85 percent.” When pressed on the moving target in a New York Times interview, Fauci said he purposely revised his estimates gradually.

The newspaper, which posted the article on Thursday, said Fauci changed his answers partly based on “science” and partly on his hunch “that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci said. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85. Fauci added that he doesn’t know the real number but believes the range is 70-90 percent. He said it may take nearly 90 percent, but he won’t give that number because Americans might be discouraged, knowing that voluntary acceptance won’t be high enough to reach that goal.

The article was published on Fauci’s 80th birthday, which was celebrated in the nation’s capital as “Dr. Anthony Fauci Day” after being proclaimed as such by Washington’s Democrat mayor, Muriel Bowser. CNN and other media outlets covered the occasion glowingly, including Fauci being surprised with a “serenade” by emergency medical workers as he left his office at the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday. A CNN video of the serenade included an audio clip of President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, singing the birthday song. But the doctor’s changing story on herd immunity is only the latest in a series of Covid-19 flip-flops, including 180-degree shifts on such core issues as whether members of the general public should wear masks and whether children should be sent back to school.

Just as his tone on herd immunity changed, his view on prospects for a return to normalcy shifted dramatically. A few days before the November 3 presidential election, he echoed Biden’s gloomy Covid-19 outlook and implied that the Democrat challenger would deal with the crisis more seriously than would President Donald Trump. After the election, he turned far more optimistic.

Read more …

“To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.”

Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)

The University of Miami is investigating the possible effects of the coronavirus vaccine on male fertility. Lead researchers Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, a reproductive urologist with U Health, initiated an earlier study which found the virus was present in the testicles for up to six months following infection. That spurred his team to question the virus’ effect on sperm and reproduction. His team is now looking at the potential impact of the vaccine as well. “We’re evaluating the sperm parameters and quality before the vaccine and after the vaccine. From the biology of the COVID vaccine we believe it shouldn’t affect fertility but we want to do the study to make sure that man who want to have kids in the future to assure them it’s safe to go ahead and get the vaccine,” Ramasamy said. Study participants must have a fertility evaluation before receiving the vaccine. To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.

Read more …

Paralysis.

Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said a bipartisan coronavirus relief and omnibus bill has been enrolled and is on its way to President Trump for his signature. “We urge him to sign this bill into law to give immediate relief to hardworking families,” Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted. The enrollment comes after House Republicans rejected the president’s demand for $2,000 checks for most Americans. The rare Christmas Eve session of the House lasted just minutes, with help for millions of Americans awaiting Trump’s signature on a smaller COVID relief and government funding bill. Trump’s refusal of the $900 billion package, which is linked to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, could spark a federal shutdown at midnight Monday.

His push to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples has gotten support from Democrats but splits the GOP. The Senate cleared the relief package on Monday by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it 359-53. Those vote totals would be enough to override a veto should Trump decide to take that step. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., helped negotiate the year-end deal, a prized bipartisan compromise that won sweeping approval in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boasted that the $600 checks all sides had agreed to for Americans would in the mail in a week. Democrats will recall House lawmakers to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s proposal, with a roll call that would put all members on record as supporting or rejecting the $2,000 checks. They are also considering a Monday vote on a stop-gap measure to at least avert a federal shutdown, keeping the government running until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next month. Even if the House is able to approve Trump’s $2,000 checks on Monday, that measure would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate, which is due back in session on Tuesday.

Read more …

Larry doesn’t need $2,000, thank you very much.

Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)

Larry Summers, a lead player in Democrat financial policies since the 1990s, triggered left-wing outrage by suggesting that sending Americans $2,000 stimulus checks amid the Covid-19 pandemic could cause the economy to overheat. “I’m not even sure I’m so enthusiastic about the $600 checks, and I think taking them to $2,000 would actually be a pretty serious mistake that would risk a temporary overheat,” Summers said Thursday in a Bloomberg TV interview. The former Harvard University president added that he would like to see more money allocated to bail out financially troubled local governments, but promoting consumer spending shouldn’t be a priority.

Summers made his comments as some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked to increase payouts to consumers to $2,000, rather than the $600 called for in the latest Covid-19 relief legislation. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night called the current bill a “disgrace” and said stimulus checks should be $2,000. Conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley and far-left Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders are among the proponents of larger payouts to Americans. “I have to say that when you see the two extremes agreeing, you can almost be certain that something crazy is in the air,” Summers said. “And so when I see a coalition of Josh Hawley, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump getting behind an idea, I think that’s time to run for cover.”

Summers was a World Bank economist before joining President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1993. He was named Clinton’s Treasury secretary in 1999, and he was director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama. “Careful everyone,” a self-described trade unionist tweeted. “This Clinton administration alumnus is worried that the inflation god is going to strike us down all of a sudden. Funny how austerity is firmly back on the Dem agenda immediately when one of them gets into office.”

Read more …

Trump gets criticized because he’s Trump.

Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)

Well this is going to break the mainstream media narrative… As Trump has pardoned some relatively high profile individuals such as Roger Stone, General Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort, the liberalati has got its gender-neutral panties in a bundle over these “digusting”, “corrupt”, “cronyism” actions. It turns out however that, even including the recent surge, PewResearch reports that Trump has used his clemency power less often than any president in modern history (apart from Bush Senior), according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. President Trump has granted clemency or pardoned 98 people in the last four years (76 pardons and 22 commutations). Obama, by comparison, granted clemency 1,927 times during his eight-year tenure, including 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.

In terms of total executive clemency actions, Obama granted the most since Harry S. Truman The only modern president who granted clemency less frequently than Trump is George H.W. Bush, who granted 77 pardons and commutations in his single term. As PewResearch writes, clemency refers to multiple forms of presidential mercy. The two most common forms are pardons, which forgive past crimes and restore civil rights, and commutations, which completely or partially reduce sentences for those in prison or on community supervision. Two less-common forms are remissions, which reduce financial penalties associated with convictions, and respites, which are temporary reprieves that are usually granted to inmates for medical reasons.

The Justice Department’s statistics, it’s important to note, do not count clemency granted through proclamation or executive order, such as the actions taken by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to forgive thousands of Vietnam-era draft dodgers. The DOJ numbers also count some clemency recipients twice – for example, in cases where someone received both a pardon and a commutation. While rare so far, Trump’s use of presidential clemency has caused controversy because of the nature of his pardons and commutations. Many of Trump’s clemency recipients have had a “personal or political connection to the president,” according to a July analysis by the Lawfare blog, and he has often circumvented the formal process through which clemency requests are typically considered.

But Trump is far from the only president who has faced scrutiny over his use of clemency. Obama’s frequent use of commutations, particularly for prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes, prompted criticism from Republicans, who said it benefited “an entire class of offenders” and infringed on the “lawmaking authority” of the legislative branch. And President Bill Clinton drew bipartisan condemnation for pardoning a fugitive commodities trader, Marc Rich, on his last day in office in 2001.

Read more …

“..with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%).”

One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)

About one in four enterprises (23%) is contemplating the possibility of not reopening after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%). This is according to a survey by Opinion Poll for the Athens Professional Chamber (EEA) on December 14-18 on a sample of 1,002 chamber members. Even if they do not decide to shut down for good, a large section of enterprises say they will resort to layoffs: Almost a quarter of companies (24%) say this is a likely or very likely prospect, rising to 49.5% of enterprises in food service. In commerce, the sector that accounts for the highest share of employment in Greece, the rate comes to 22.7%.

The survey has found that the rate of intended layoffs is much higher among enterprises employing more than five people. Therefore 39.8% of companies with six to 10 workers intend to lay off staff, with the rate rising to 41.6% among those with 11-20 people and coming to 40.4% among enterprises with over 20 employees. If these intentions turn into action after the lockdown, they will send unemployment soaring. They stem from the high degree of pessimism among businesses, especially after the start of the second lockdown. One in four companies believe the economic crisis due to the pandemic will last more than two years, and another 27% think it will take a couple of years before normality returns.

Some 34% of corporations expect the crisis to last another year and only 11% are more optimistic, saying the crisis will be over in some six months. “According to our own estimates, one in three enterprises may have opened for the last time and never reopen,” Giorgos Kavvathas, president of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), told Kathimerini. He added that the food service sector he also heads mostly considers that next year will be lost too, as unlike in the financial crisis of the 2010s, tourism will not come to the rescue.

Read more …

Twitter won’t silence WSJ.

How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)

Just days after outgoing AG William Barr said there is “no need” to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden despite revelations about a federal criminal investigation into Biden’s business conduct, we’re seeing the latest “scoop” about the younger Biden’s alleged misdeeds. In a lengthy investigative report, the WSJ has reportedly confirmed that the younger Biden traded on his purported influence and family ties during his business dealings in Ukraine and China (along with his conduct at home in his personal life, where he has seemingly careened from one disaster to the next) to enrich himself – and, importantly, his family as well. Importantly, in the story, WSJ explicitly notes that “none of the Journal’s reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s activities, which mostly took place around the time Obama’s second term was wrapping up.”

Our initial reaction: Of course it wouldn’t. But that doesn’t matter so much right now: What this shows is that the federal agents leading the “criminal tax probe” into the younger Biden are looking into how influence peddling and the Biden family name played into this, which could be very, very bad for Hunter’s father, and the Democrats. But the fact that WSJ is reporting and seemingly confirming that the younger Biden benefited ‘because of his last name and connections’ still has significance. Even though it shares an owner with Fox News, WSJ, with its closet full of Pulitzers, is still “respected” by the mainstream press.

Through reportedly talking with people familiar with Biden’s business dealings, WSJ managed to confirm various that the younger Biden received a discounted stake in a Chinese PE firm that was at the center of the NY Post’s reporting, along with consulting arrangements with a Romanian property magnate which “overall allowed him to maintain a globe-trotting lifestyle, according to interviews, documents and communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.” It even confirmed that Biden receiving a 2.8-carat diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon that has reportedly found its way to the center of the federal investigation into the president’s sons actions. Most of the details were clearly leaked to WSJ by Senate Republicans. But the takeaway here is pretty clear: even if the information is being used for political purposes, the investigation into Biden holds water. After all, federal investigations aren’t opened up for nothing.

By now, as Trump continues with his wave of pardons (he has of course pardoned far fewer people than his predecessor, even adjusted for his shorter time in the saddle), the GOP is ensuring that the investigation into Hunter Biden will be as fraught with leaks and bombshells and “scoops” as any other high profile investigation, including – most obviously – the Mueller probe. Social media could block out the NY Post, but they couldn’t block out WSJ. Though the story wasn’t widely covered, now that WSJ has “moved” on it, how much longer can its rivals – even WaPo and NYT – keep this from becoming an “essential” story after inauguration day. Otherwise, they will lose what little credibility they have left, as critics challenge the press to step up and hold Biden “accountable” like they did Trump.

There also might be an element of payback at play here, as WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch seeks to get back in Trump’s good graces after the president sicced his legions of loyal followers on Fox News, threatening its fat profit margins. Either way, one thing is clear: Leaks like this aren’t going to stop.

Read more …

“..tate officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup…”

Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)

Move over, Europe. Tucked in near the end of the 130-page antitrust lawsuit Texas filed against Google last week are claims that could force the search giant to pay out trillions of dollars in damages, dwarfing previous levies against the company. That would be a serious blow even to a company as large as Google, with its $1.16 trillion market cap. And it gives the states additional leverage to push for the company to agree to a breakup, perhaps in exchange for reduced fines. The lawsuit, which also includes eight other states, accuses Google of rigging online ad auctions to increase its own profits at the expense of website publishers, who have struggled to make the same kind of money from web ads as from television, print and radio.

The states have asked the court to force the company to sell off pieces of its business to take away its power to control such auctions. But there are other allegations that could cut Google even more deeply. Texas also alleges that Google violated state laws that forbid unfair or deceptive business practices — laws that mandate steep fines for each violation. The attorneys general plan to argue that every online bid allegedly manipulated by Google violates state laws, which would lead to a massive pileup of fines. “The potential for the lawsuit is in the trillions of dollars,” said Joe Crews, who served in the Texas attorney general’s office in the 1990s and now has his own firm in Austin. “This is something they are going to have to pay attention to and they are going to have to commit resources to. Even if Google ultimately prevails it’s still going to cost them a whole ton of money.”

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the potential fines, pointing to the company’s statement when the suit was filed calling it “meritless.” The states have used these laws to force major companies to pay out large sums of money in the past. Last month, Apple agreed to pay $113 million to 34 states for slowing down the batteries in older iPhones. Credit reporting agency Equifax paid $175 million to the states as part of a settlement into its 2017 data breach. In Europe, Google has already paid more than $9 billion in fines for violating competition rules. But those penalties are widely considered failures that didn’t result in any long-term changes to Google’s behavior. But the prospect of fines substantially in excess of Google’s $160 billion in annual revenue might have a bigger deterrent effect, individuals close to the case said.

Antitrust experts say the likelihood Google has to shell out trillions in cash is minimal, but state officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup.

Read more …

“..more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience..”

Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

Facebook is currently waging a PR campaign purporting to show that Apple is seriously injuring American small businesses through its iOS privacy features. But at the same time, according to allegations in recently unsealed court documents, Facebook has been selling them ad targeting that is unreliable to the point of being fraudulent. The documents feature internal Facebook communications in which managers appear to admit to major flaws in ad targeting capabilities, including that ads reached the intended audience less than half of the time they were shown and that data behind a targeting criterion was “all crap.” Facebook says the material is presented out of context.

They emerged from a suit currently seeking class-action certification in federal court. The suit was filed by the owner of Investor Village, a small business that operates a message board on financial topics. Investor Village said in court filings that it decided to buy narrowly targeted Facebook ads because it hoped to reach “highly compensated and educated investors” but “had limited resources to spend on advertising.” But nearly 40 percent of the people who saw Investor Village’s ad either lacked a college degree, did not make $250,000 per year, or both, the company claims. In fact, not a single Facebook user it surveyed met all the targeting criteria it had set for Facebook ads, it says.

The complaint features Facebook documents indicating that the company knew its advertising capabilities were overhyped and underperformed. A “February 2016 internal memorandum” sent from an unnamed Facebook manager to Andrew Bosworth, a Zuckerberg confidant and powerful company executive who oversaw ad efforts at the time, reads, “[I]nterest precision in the US is only 41%—that means that more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience. And it is even worse internationally. … We don’t feel we’re meeting advertisers’ interest accuracy expectations today.” The lawsuit goes on to quote unnamed “employees on Facebook’s ad team” discussing their targeting capabilities circa June 2016:

One engineer celebrated that detailed targeting accounted for “18% of total ads revenue,” and $14.8 million on June 17th alone. Using a smiley emoticon, an engineering manager responded, “Love this chart! Although if the most popular option is to combine interest and behavior, and we know for a fact our behavior is almost all crap, does this mean we are misleading advertiser [sic] a bit? :)” That manager proceeded to suggest further examination of top targeting criteria to “see if we are giving advertiser [sic] false hope.”

Read more …

 

 

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.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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