May 022021
 


Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Triumph of Death c1562

 

People In England Urged To Be Patient; Hugging May Soon Be Allowed (G.)
12 Million Possible Adverse Events After Vaccination in UK, Europe, US (BOOM)
Its Your Fear, Nobody Elses (Denninger)
Pfizer Developing Pill To Treat Covid-19, May Hit Market By End Of 2021 (RT)
The Biggest Vaccine Deal in History: EU to Scoop 1.8 Billion Pfizer Shots (GR)
Obesity Increases Risk Of Severe Covid-19, Particularly In Young People (RT)
Ike’s 1950s America Beat The ‘Asian Flu’ With Science & Common Sense (NF)
Covid Lockdowns Cost Countless Jobs, Don’t Appear To Have Saved Lives (NYP)
Florida To Impose Hefty Fines On Tech Giants That Deplatform Politicians (RT)
Twitter Censors Accounts To Spoon-Feed The World Establishment Narratives (RT)
Victoria Nuland Is Now Highest-Ranking Member of US Foreign Service
US Interferes in Mexico’s Phaseout of Glyphosate and GMO Corn (CD)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything that’s wrong in the world today in one headline. If a government pretends it can “allow” hugging, or not, fire it.

People In England Urged To Be Patient; Hugging May Soon Be Allowed (G.)

People are being urged to remain patient before the next relaxation of Covid lockdown restrictions as there is still a possibility for coronavirus cases to “reignite”, amid reports that family and friends in England could be allowed to hug in just over a fortnight. The success of the vaccine rollout and sharp reduction in coronavirus cases and deaths has led ministers to support the move, according to the Times. If approved, this would mark the first time that people in England have been allowed to have physical contact outside of their household or bubble for more than a year. The government had said it would keep hugging under review as England approaches the third stage of the roadmap out of lockdown on 17 May. It has not yet made a formal announcement on the decision.


However, the former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport warned that “the virus has not gone away” because many UK adults have still not had their first vaccine jab. “We are on the cusp of being able to move to the next step of relaxation; it’s absolutely right that vaccines have been spectacularly successful but not everybody is protected,” Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We’ve got 35% of adults who are not vaccinated and 60% who have only had one dose and the truth is the virus has not gone away.” “The mistake that has been made repeatedly, really, is relaxing just slightly too early. What we need to do is get the numbers right down. It’s important that we don’t act as an incubator for variant cases that might be able to resist immunity.”

Read more …

Extrapolation.

12 Million Possible Adverse Events After Vaccination in UK, Europe, US (BOOM)

Total Adverse Events reported in the US now number 118,800

Total Adverse Events Reported in the UK now number 725,079

Total Adverse Events Reported in Europe now number 354,177

Total Adverse Events Reported in those three regions = 1,198,056

It is clear that the UK reported numbers of adverse events is far greater proportional to population than those reported in the US and in Europe. If we assume that the UK numbers are, in fact, more accurate as a representation of reported events on a population basis and then extrapolate from those UK rates, then we can guess at the total numbers that may be mis-reported in the US and in Europe. UK Population is 68 Million. Thus the Adverse Events per Million population there is 10,662. BOOM advises readers to sit down now to avoid shock. Such extrapolations reveal a (theoretically possible) Total Adverse Events number to date of almost 8 Million in Europe (where the population is estimated at 741 million) and 3.5 Million in the United States (population 332 million).

This generates a theoretically possible total of over 12 MILLION adverse events in the UK, Europe and the US combined to date. And this is after only 4 – 5 months of so-called “vaccination rollouts”. The Total Adverse Events worldwide may be greater than 20 MILLION already using the same theoretical methodology. Total Deaths worldwide may be of the order 20,000 already (or more). It is estimated that 90% of adverse events are not officially reported. Thus, those numbers may be TEN times higher in reality. The theoretical number of 200 million possible adverse events including deaths is staggering in such a short time frame. Approval for these pharmaceutical products by the US FDA is for emergency use only. The clinical trials conducted in late 2020 were conducted over just a few months.

Thus, they arguably have the status of an experimental vaccine with long term side effect rates unknown. The Nuremberg Code requires an individual’s informed consent before receiving experimental medical interventions. And that principle is in the 1964 Helsinki Declaration, which has been codified at Federal and State level in the USA. Australia has also ratified this declaration as have many other nations. The Declaration of Helsinki is an international document that influences how research is conducted in all countries. The Declaration of Helsinki was born from the history of abuses of human research subjects. Informed consent is one of the hallmarks of ethical research and ensures that individuals can make decisions that are in their best interests. Are people being adequately informed?

Read more …

Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine

“..what none of them care about is relative and absolute risk of both Covid-19 and the shots yet you have to be insane to accept a risk from a shot that is greater than the risk from the disease itself.”

Its Your Fear, Nobody Elses (Denninger)

We knew in March of last year that not everyone was susceptible to severe disease and death. We knew it because a cruise ship full of old, fat, morbid people, of which nearly every cruise ship is on a wildly over-represented basis didn’t have everyone on board drop like flies. Yes, some people got sick and a few died. But nowhere near everyone got sick, and even fewer died. Indeed, only about one in five got sick. We didn’t know why everyone wasn’t susceptible to clinical disease or worse but we knew this factually in March of 2020 yet Fauci, the CDC and indeed many other so-called “experts” intentionally lied and called this a “novel virus” to which everyone was at severe risk of serious disease and death. Nope.

Now we know why; 81% of the population of the planet has cross-immunity which is at least partially protective. None of these “advocates” and so-called “experts” care about how we got that immunity and in fact they deny it exists despite hard, scientific proof. It’s why every single one of us is alive and why we’ve all survived thus far both individually and as a species. Adaptive cross-immunity only comes from your immune system fighting off some infection. We all have done it since we were infants; indeed, the reason breast milk is a superior means of feeding a baby is that the mother passes to her infant a wildly-effective and supercharged bolster of antibodies, a “primer” if you will, in the first feedings which are called “colostrum.” It’s so important that we’ve documented over the years that children fed from the breast are wildly less-likely to get sick, including diseases that can be and sometimes are fatal to said children.

Do these “advocates and experts” propose that we jail, shun, bar from employment or even jail any woman who refuses to feed her child from the breast, or who fails to put in sufficient effort to do so if she finds it difficult or simply inconvenient? Or do we consider it a valid personal choice to reach for the Similac? These people point out that the shots claim to be 90% effective and it sucks if you’re in the 10%. Well, true enough. But what none of them care about is relative and absolute risk of both Covid-19 and the shots yet you have to be insane to accept a risk from a shot that is greater than the risk from the disease itself. That is, VAERS says there are 3,607 deaths associated with these vaccines over four months time, while the next-largest set is for the HIBV vaccine with 1,363.

But the HIB vaccine has been given routinely to children since 1987, a period of 34 years, meaning that said 1,363 associated deaths come to just 40 annually and it is the most-dangerous “next in line”; all others are less so! Note that HIB, prior to vaccination, was approximately three to five times as deadly as Covid-19 generally, killing between 3-6% of all who got it and virtually everyone who got it and died of it was a young child with decades of life ahead of them, not someone in a nursing home where the average life expectancy at admission is six months. Yes, it sucks if you die in a nursing home of Covid-19 but this does not change the fact that 53% of the time if you’re admitted to a nursing home you’re dead of something within the next six months. Dead is dead when you get down to it and we all die exactly once.

If my risk of death over six months time is 53% I’m not especially scared of a virus; yeah, it might get me but the odds are that something will cause my demise over the next 180 days one way or another. Put this up against the Covid shots which are carrying roughly 100 times the risk of associated death for a disease that, if you catch it, is much less likely to kill you in the general sense. Indeed, among healthy persons the risk of death is not 1/5th that of HIB which carries a risk of 1/25 (~4%) but rather approximately 1/50,000, including specifically among children under 18. That is among healthy people Covid-19 is two thousand times less likely to kill you than HIB is to kill a healthy baby.

Read more …

Stop the vaccines, there’s no need for them. Or wait: what’s in these pills? Is it ivermectin? With mRNA thrown in? We’ll never know, they’ll claim patent or something.

Pfizer Developing Pill To Treat Covid-19, May Hit Market By End Of 2021 (RT)

Pfizer announced this week that, if development of its pill to treat Covid-19 infection continues at the current pace, and if regulatory approval is quick, the medication could be on the market in the US by the end of 2021.
Pfizer launched an early trial in March of the oral antiviral which tackles Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, by limiting the availability of the enzyme protease which the virus needs to replicate. “If all goes well, and we implement the same speed that we are, and if regulators do the same, and they are, I hope that (it will be available) by the end of the year,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. By limiting the coronavirus’ capacity to self-replicate, the drug would theoretically be able to stave off the worst effects of Covid-19, the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ which overwhelms the human body’s immune system and lands people in the intensive care unit.


With a severely weakened viral enemy, thanks to the Pfizer medication, the human immune system should be able to fight off the infection on its own. According to Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of worldwide research, development, and medical, the new drug could be prescribed “at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care.” The only available antiviral drug authorized for treating Covid-19 at present is Remdesivir, but this must be administered via injection by a healthcare professional. Were Pfizer’s new oral medication to gain regulatory approval, it could be administered at a patient’s local pharmacy, thus freeing up medical resources and reducing hospital visits in the process. “You could get it at home, and that could be a game-changer,” Bourla added. The oral treatment may also be effective against emerging mutations and variants, though more testing is needed to definitively prove this.

Read more …

Von der Leyen screwed up bigly so she goes biglier.

The Biggest Vaccine Deal in History: EU to Scoop 1.8 Billion Pfizer Shots (GR)

On Thursday, the European Union is working to finalize a deal with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer-BioNTech for what is called the biggest COVID 19 vaccine deal in the world. The New York Times reports that the deal, which has not been signed just yet, will provide the EU with 1.8 billion vaccines through 2023. This would be the largest vaccine deal in history and it may go a long way in relieving the bloc’s struggling vaccination campaign. Already Pfizer had agreed to provide 300 million doses that the pharmaceutical giant has already promised the EU in a previous agreement. Pfizer and BioNTech agreed to supply an additional 200 million doses of their vaccine in February as well. The process began through extensive personal diplomacy between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla.

According to the Times report, von der Leyen and Bourla exchanged countless texts and phone calls for a month before the deal was drafted. The two first came into serious contact in January 2020 before the pace of their interaction picked up in February. Bourla explained in an interview that such conversations with a high ranking government official were not at all uncommon for him Bourla said he and von der Leyen had “developed a deep trust, because we got into deep discussions.” Previously, the EU was reliant on the British drug company AstraZeneca for its supply of vaccines. However, the bloc initiated a lawsuit this week against the company for delays in delivery of the vaccine. AstraZeneca had at one time committed to deliver 120 million vaccine doses by the end of March but in actuality only delivered 29.7 million inoculations by that deadline.

The EU has almost 448 million residents — more than one hundred million more than the US population of 328 million. The relationship hit another snag when it was reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine may be linked to some recipients suffering from blood clots. After the use of the vaccine had been paused by the EU after reports of thrombosis and death in those receiving the vaccine, the drug regulator admitted that it found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder.

Read more …

Chronic inflammation.

Obesity Increases Risk Of Severe Covid-19, Particularly In Young People (RT)

People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from serious cases of coronavirus, with the associated risk especially prevalent among those younger than 40, according to a new study. Researchers from Oxford University used data from a database of nearly seven million English patients aged 20 years and older to examine whether there was a correlation between body mass index (BMI) and severe cases of the virus. They found that the likelihood of Covid-19 leading to hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death increased with weight. However, the risk was far greater for overweight patients between the ages of 20 and 39. On the other hand, high BMI did not appear to affect whether those aged 80 to 100 suffered from serious cases of the virus.

People with a BMI above 23 – the upper limit of the health range – are at risk of a more serious infection, while each one-point increase in BMI raises the chances of hospitalization by 5% and of ICU admission by 10%, the study concluded. The findings were published on Thursday in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, and represent one of the largest studies to date on how body weight affects Covid outcomes. The study’s lead author, Carmen Piernas, said that it’s possible that body fat may potentially cause a higher viral load for younger patients, but that more research was needed into the matter. Severe cases among the elderly are likely linked to weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions, making weight a less noticeable factor.

Piernas and her colleagues noted that their observations could be used to guide public health initiatives aimed at curtailing serious cases of the disease. “Excess weight is a modifiable risk factor, and investment in the treatment of overweight and obesity and long-term preventive strategies could help reduce the severity of Covid-19 disease,” they wrote. Paul Aveyard, a co-author of the study, said that it was “highly plausible” that weight loss reduces the risk of serious coronavirus infection. The research adds to a growing list of scientific literature pointing to a correlation between weight and likelihood of severe Covid-19. A study published last year in Nature found that obesity significantly increased the risk of coronavirus-linked death. People with a BMI over 40 were at 92% higher risk of dying from the virus compared with people with a healthy BMI between 18.5-25.

Read more …

Adapted from Niall Ferguson’s new book, “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe,”

Ike’s 1950s America Beat The ‘Asian Flu’ With Science & Common Sense (NF)

The first cases of Asian flu in the U.S. occurred early in June 1957, among the crews of ships berthed at Newport, R.I. Cases also appeared among the 53,000 boys attending the Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge, Penn. As Scout troops traveled around the country in July and August, they spread the flu. In July there was a massive outbreak in Tangipahoa Parish, La. By the end of the summer, cases had also appeared in California, Ohio, Kentucky and Utah. It was the start of the school year that made the Asian flu an epidemic. The Communicable Disease Center, as the CDC was then called, estimated that approximately 45 million people—about 25% of the population—became infected with the new virus in October and November 1957. Younger people experienced the highest infection rates, from school-age children up to adults age 35-40.

Adults over 65 accounted for 60% of influenza deaths, an abnormally low share. Why were young Americans disproportionately vulnerable to the Asian flu? Part of the explanation is that they had not been as exposed as older Americans to earlier strains of influenza. But the scale and incidence of any contagion are functions of both the properties of the pathogen itself and the structure of the social network that it attacks. The year 1957 was in many ways the dawn of the American teenager. The first baby boomers born after the end of World War II turned 13 the following year. Summer camps, school buses and unprecedented social mingling after school ensured that between September 1957 and March 1958 the proportion of teenagers infected with the virus rose from 5% to 75%.

The policy response of President Dwight Eisenhower could hardly have been more different from the response of 2020. Eisenhower did not declare a state of emergency. There were no state lockdowns and, despite the first wave of teenage illness, no school closures. Sick students simply stayed at home, as they usually did. Work continued more or less uninterrupted. With workplaces open, the Eisenhower administration saw no need to borrow to the hilt to fund transfers and loans to citizens and businesses. The president asked Congress for a mere $2.5 million ($23 million in today’s inflation-adjusted terms) to provide additional support to the Public Health Service. There was a recession that year, but it had little if anything to do with the pandemic. The Congressional Budget Office has described the Asian flu as an event that “might not be distinguishable from the normal variation in economic activity.”

President Eisenhower’s decision to keep the country open in 1957-58 was based on expert advice. When the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) concluded in August 1957 that “there is no practical advantage in the closing of schools or the curtailment of public gatherings as it relates to the spread of this disease,” Eisenhower listened. As a CDC official later recalled: “Measures were generally not taken to close schools, restrict travel, close borders or recommend wearing masks….ASTHO encouraged home care for uncomplicated influenza cases to reduce the hospital burden and recommended limitations on hospital admissions to the sickest patients….Most were advised simply to stay home, rest and drink plenty of water and fruit juices.”

Read more …

“By March 8, 2021, for example, New Jersey had recorded 2,656 deaths per 1 million residents, while New York had 2,500 per 1 million residents. South Dakota had 2,149 deaths per 1 million residents, but loose-rules Utah had just 617.”

Covid Lockdowns Cost Countless Jobs, Don’t Appear To Have Saved Lives (NYP)

We’ve locked down the economy instead of the virus. Jobs are recovering slower in New York and other states holding on to stringent COVID-19 restrictions than in states that fully reopened their economies, even though continued lockdown measures don’t appear to be saving lives, an ongoing study by WalletHub shows. Measures like limiting travel, keeping restaurants operating below capacity and leaving non-essential businesses closed have kept unemployment in New York State among the highest in the nation, while states with fewer restrictions are seeing jobs bounce back faster from the pandemic-induced recession, the study shows. Tragically, the data also suggests lockdowns didn’t do much to help save lives throughout the pandemic, while it’s clear that they sent millions to the unemployment line.

WalletHub started ranking states’ lockdowns in May 2020, using a formula that assigns a numerical value to mask mandates, large-gathering limits, school closings, “shelter in place” requirements and other measures put in place to try to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The rankings did not account for things like population density, the close quarters in urban households or use of public transportation, all of which play a role in virus transmission. At the beginning of the pandemic, with the metro area besieged by the virus, WalletHub scored New Jersey’s lockdown measures the strictest in the country, followed closely by New York.

On the other end of the rankings, South Dakota, which imposed almost no restrictions, sat on top of the openness ranking, with Utah second. Over the course of the year, states imposed and eased a variety of restrictions in response to the level of virus cases and COVID-19 deaths. Where lockdowns were lifted, unemployment fell, but the restrictions didn’t seem to nudge death rates. By March 8, 2021, for example, New Jersey had recorded 2,656 deaths per 1 million residents, while New York had 2,500 per 1 million residents, according to the Covid Tracking Project. South Dakota had 2,149 deaths per 1 million residents, but loose-rules Utah had just 617.

Read more …

“[T]he Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected..”

Florida To Impose Hefty Fines On Tech Giants That Deplatform Politicians (RT)

Florida is expected to become the first state to penalize social media companies for banning politicians from their platforms. Proponents have hailed the bill as a victory for free speech, while critics call it a political ploy. Under SB 7072, tech giants like Facebook and Twitter will be prohibited from “permanently” blacklisting a candidate running for political office. Fines of $250,000 per day will be issued for knowingly deplatforming a candidate for statewide office, while $25,000-per-day fines will be imposed for banning other office-seekers. The bill only applies to platforms with more than 100 million monthly users, and companies will still be allowed to sanction politicians with 14-day suspensions. Individual posts can also be removed if they violate the platform’s guidelines.


The bill passed both houses of Florida’s legislature on Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in the coming days. DeSantis advocated for the new law as part of a pledge to take on the “Big Tech cartel.” In February, he called for measures to be taken against the “monopoly of communications platforms” that “monitor and control” Floridians. State lawmakers who backed the legislation echoed similar sentiments. Republican state Rep. John Snyder said the bill would make it clear to Silicon Valley that they are not the “absolute arbiters of truth.” “[T]he Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected,” he said.

Read more …

“I was put into Twitter jail for citing a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Cancel science is real.”

Twitter Censors Accounts To Spoon-Feed The World Establishment Narratives (RT)

It’s one thing to have policies against violence, abuse, and harassment. But in “protecting” users, Twitter is hell-bent on censoring voices that rock the boat, even when all they have tweeted is a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Last week, Simon Goddek, who has a PhD in biotechnology and researches system dynamics, tweeted a link to a scientific study titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?” Some time later, his account was frozen and he received a notice from Twitter that it would remain frozen until he deleted the offending tweet, and for the 12 hours following that. In his Telegram group, he wrote: “I was put into Twitter jail for citing a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Cancel science is real.

“What’s especially concerning is that I didn’t make any personal comment on the paper’s content. I only said that regarding that paper, masks CAN lead to massive health damages. It’s the conclusion of a scientific piece of work that has been peer-reviewed by at least 2 experts in the field.” According to Twitter, Goddek violated their policy on, “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.” The article in question wasn’t even as risqué as others and merely addressed undesirable side effects of mask wearing. How is that “misinformation”? [..] On April 17, Naomi Wolf tweeted she had been locked out of Twitter for the fourth time for sharing a Stanford study, “proving the lack of efficacy of masks.” That study was also peer-reviewed.

This isn’t merely a case of Twitter deciding that Goddek and Wolf were not in the position to be discussing the efficacy or dangers of masks. Twitter is censoring pretty much anything about Covid that doesn’t match the narrative promoted by the WHO, CDC, and other such bodies. Even a well-known epidemiologist has faced Twitter’s wrath. An article in the American Institute for Economic Research noted: “Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff and co-creator of the Great Barrington Declaration, one of the most cited epidemiologists and infectious -disease experts in the world has been censored by Twitter. His tweet on how not everyone needs a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was not taken down. He had a warning slapped on it and users have been prevented from liking or retweeting the post.”

Read more …

One scary girl.

Victoria Nuland Is Now Highest-Ranking Member of US Foreign Service

On Thursday the US Senate confirmed Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, which has been described as the fourth most important position in the State Department. Though as the first three are filled by political appointees and the other by a career foreign service officer, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs is the highest-ranking member of the US Foreign Service. In an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April as part of her confirmation process, she reflected on her thirty-two years in the Foreign Service working for five presidents of both parties and nine secretaries of state. She retailed some of her “historic moments” in that career, among them “working on tough arms control problems and conflicts from Rwanda to Haiti to Bosnia and Kosovo.”

But what she expressed as her last-listed and perhaps proudest moment was, while she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at NATO, the military bloc for the first time activating its Article 5 collective defense clause, which contributed to the now twenty-year-old war in Afghanistan, a comprehensive naval interdiction mission in the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Active Endeavor) and European AWACS flights over the U.S. along with several other missions. A major part of her career has been spent at NATO headquarters: she was Deputy Permanent Representative (ambassador) to NATO from 2000-2003 and Permanent Representative from 2005-2008. In both positions she was instrumental in recruiting military forces from NATO allies and partners for the war in Afghanistan, with NATO military personnel also stationed in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

At one point 130,000 of the 150,000 foreign troops in the country served under NATO command in the International Security Assistance Force: service members from 54 countries. Never before or since have troops from so many nations fought in a war, much less in one theater of war or one country. She also worked on promoting seven nations to NATO membership at the historic Istanbul, Turkey summit in 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. All are in Eastern Europe; all but Slovenia were members of the defunct Warsaw Pact; three – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – were Soviet republics. Bulgaria and Romania provided the U.S. and NATO with eight military bases in the following two years. NATO has flown fighter jets from air bases in Latvia and Lithuania for years, in the case of the second nation since 2004.

[..] Yesterday no doubt there was rejoicing and exultation in Kiev. There should have been weeping and gnashing of teeth in the Donbass and Crimea. And grave concern in Moscow. Nuland like her boss Joe Biden may have unfinished business in Ukraine.

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“It is completely unacceptable for U.S. public agencies to be doing the bidding of pesticide corporations like Bayer, who are solely concerned with maintaining their bottom-line profits.”

US Interferes in Mexico’s Phaseout of Glyphosate and GMO Corn (CD)

A coalition of 80 U.S. agricultural, consumer, environmental, public health, and worker groups sent a letter Thursday to key figures in the Biden administration calling for them to “respect Mexico’s sovereignty and refrain from interfering with its right to enact health-protective policies”—specifically, the phaseout of the herbicide glyphosate and the cultivation of genetically modified corn. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador quietly rocked the agribusiness world with his New Year’s Eve decree,” Timothy A. Wise of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (ITAP) noted earlier this year. “His administration sent an even stronger aftershock two weeks later, clarifying that the government would also phase out GM corn imports in three years and the ban would include not just corn for human consumption but yellow corn destined primarily for livestock.”

“Mexico imports about 30% of its corn each year, overwhelmingly from the United States,” Wise added. “Almost all of that is yellow corn for animal feed and industrial uses. López Obrador’s commitment to reducing and, by 2024, eliminating such imports reflects his administration’s plan to ramp up Mexican production as part of the campaign to increase self-sufficiency in corn and other key food crops.” The groups’ letter on the Mexican policies and U.S. interference is addressed to recently confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Its lead author is Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). “We call on Secretary Vilsack and Trade Representative Tai, as key leaders in the new administration, to respect Mexico’s decision to protect both public health and the integrity of Mexican farming,” Schafer said in a statement.

Read more …

 

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Apr 262021
 
 April 26, 2021  Posted by at 8:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  59 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Field with Irises near Arles 1888

 

EU, UK and US Offer Support As Covid-19 ‘Swallowing’ People In India (EN)
Global Pledges Of Help For Covid-stricken India (Y!)
US To Give India Raw Materials For Vaccines, Medical Supplies (CNBC)
Twitter Admits To Censoring Criticism of The Indian Government (Turley)
Thai Public Health Miister Defies Calls To Quit Health Post (BKP)
Dr. Harvey Risch: 60% of New Covid Patients Have Been Vaccinated (WR)
Vaccinated Americans Will Reportedly Be Allowed Back In Europe This Summer (F.)
US Set To Be Included On Russia’s New List Of ‘Unfriendly Countries’ (RT)
Tories Are Reaping The Rewards Of An Economy Built On Rising House Prices (G.)
The True Costs Of Our Cheap Food And The American Diet (G.)
Wealthy, Privileged Gather To Lecture Nation On Evils Of Wealth, Privilege (BBee)

 

 

This was Saturday. The very next day, the US supposedly led the world in supporting India.

 

 

 

And did we make this connection?

 

 

 

You use it when it’s useful. When it’s not, why bother?

 

 

 

If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.
– Thomas Jefferson

 

 

“The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster..”

EU, UK and US Offer Support As Covid-19 ‘Swallowing’ People In India (EN)

The European Union, UK and the United States have pledged to help India as the country battles a devastating surge of COVID-19 infections. For the fourth straight day, India on Sunday set a global daily record of new cases, spurred by an insidious new variant that emerged here. The surge has undermined the government’s premature claims of victory over the pandemic. The 349,691 new infections brought India’s total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s fatalities to 192,311. The death toll could be a huge undercount, as suspected cases are not included, and many COVID-19 deaths are being attributed to underlying conditions.

The crisis is compounded by short supplies of oxygen with families left on their own to ferry people sick with COVID-19 from hospital to hospital in search of treatment. On social media and in television footage, desperate relatives plead for oxygen outside hospitals or weep in the street for loved ones who died waiting for treatment. In response to the spiralling situation in the southeast Asian country, the European Union has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism, which is coordinating with member states to ship oxygen and medicine rapidly.Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she was “alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support.” “The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance,” she added.

[..] The unfolding crisis is most visceral in India’s overwhelmed graveyards and crematoriums, and in heartbreaking images of gasping patients dying on their way to hospitals due to lack of oxygen. Burial grounds in the capital New Delhi are running out of space. Bright, glowing funeral pyres light up the night sky in other badly hit cities. In the central city of Bhopal, some crematoriums have increased their capacity from dozens of pyres to more than 50. Yet there are still hours-long waits. At the city’s Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium, workers said they cremated more than 110 people on Saturday, even as government figures in the entire city of 1.8 million put the total number of virus deaths at just 10. “The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster,” said Mamtesh Sharma, an official at the site.

Read more …

“The United States on Sunday led international pledges of support for India..” Bwa ha ha!

Global Pledges Of Help For Covid-stricken India (Y!)

The United States on Sunday led international pledges of support for India as the country grappled with worsening Covid-19 crisis with record daily death rates and severe medical shortages. The Indian healthcare system has struggled to cope with a huge surge in cases, leaving patients’ families begging for help on social media and the capital New Delhi forced to extend its strict lockdown. Creaking health facilities in poorer countries were also exposed on Sunday when more than 80 people died as fire ripped through a Baghdad hospital for Covid-19 patients, sparking outrage and the suspension of top Iraqi officials. Covid-19 has now killed more than three million people worldwide since emerging in China in December 2019.

India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, has driven increases in global case numbers in recent days, recording 349,691 new infections and 2,767 deaths on Sunday — the highest since the start of the pandemic. Delhi on Sunday reported more than one-quarter of those tested were positive. President Joe Biden said the United States was “determined to help India in its time of need,” immediately making available supplies of vaccine-production material, therapeutics, tests, ventilators and protective equipment. Western nations including Britain, France and Germany have also pledged help. “The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” a White House statement said, referring to the India-produced version of the AstraZeneca shot.

But it did not mention whether the US would send millions of surplus AstraZeneca vaccine doses to India, after top US pandemic adviser Anthony Fauci said Sunday that would be considered.

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“Sullivan “affirmed America’s solidarity with India..”

US To Give India Raw Materials For Vaccines, Medical Supplies (CNBC)

The Biden administration said that it will immediately make raw materials needed for India’s coronavirus vaccine production available as the country works to counter the surge of Covid-19 infections. In recent weeks, India has grappled with a staggering rise in new coronavirus infections. Over the weekend, India set another global record for daily cases, bringing the nation’s cumulative total to 16,960,172 cases, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins. “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement on Sunday.

Horne added that the United States would send raw materials required for India to manufacture the Covishield vaccine, as well as therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment. “The U.S. Development Finance Corporation is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022,” Horne wrote, adding that the U.S. would also send a team of public health advisors from the Center for Disease Control and USAID to India. The announcement comes on the heels of a Sunday call between Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Sullivan “affirmed America’s solidarity with India, the two countries with the greatest number of Covid-19 cases in the world,” according to a readout of the call. The U.S. response comes after Britain, France and Germany pledged aid to India over the weekend. On Sunday, Biden wrote on Twitter that his administration was “determined to help India in its time of need.”

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“On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from viewing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the administration’s handling of the pandemic. ”

Twitter Admits To Censoring Criticism of The Indian Government (Turley)

On Saturday, Twitter admitted that it is actively working with the Indian government to censor criticism of its handling of the pandemic as the number of cases and deaths continues to skyrocket. There are widespread reports that the Indian government has misrepresented the number of deaths and the true rate of cases could be as much as 30 times higher than reported. The country has a shortage of beds, oxygen, and other essentials due to a failure to adequately prepare for a new surge. Not surprisingly, the Indian government has moved to crackdown on criticism. This included a call to Twitter to censor such information and Twitter has, of course, complied.

With the support of many Democratic leaders in the United States, Twitter now regularly censors viewpoints in the United States and India had no trouble in enlisting it to crackdown on those raising the alarm over the government handling of the crisis. Buried in an Associated Press story on the raging pandemic and failures of the Indian government are these two lines: “On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from viewing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the administration’s handling of the pandemic. The targeted posts include tweets from opposition ministers critical of Modi, journalists and ordinary Indians.”

The article quotes Twitter as saying that it had powers to “withhold access to the content in India only” if the company determined the content to be “illegal in a particular jurisdiction.” Thus, criticism of the government in this context is illegal so Twitter has agreed to become an arm of the government in censoring information. Keep in mind that that some of this information could be true and actually protect lives. It is not “fake news” but efforts by journalists and others to disclose failures by the government that could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

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Et tu Thailand…

Thai Public Health Miister Defies Calls To Quit Health Post (BKP)

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is facing down calls to resign over his failure to contain the Covid-19 crisis. The opposition Move Forward Party on Sunday spoke out on the government’s handling of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, alleging negligence of duty by government officials and the absence of preparations to deal with a resurgence of the virus. The party also slammed the national vaccination drive, saying the government was slow to purchase the required doses. It also criticised the government’s inability to assign beds to Covid-19 patients in a timely manner, after several patients died at home while waiting to be assigned to a treatment facility. All three waves of Covid-19 infections in the country were caused by the government’s complacency and discrimination in enforcing disease control measures, the party said.


The party demanded the minister’s immediate resignation and called on the government to consider its suggestions on the Covid-19 situation.One patient who died at home while waiting to be transferred was an 85-year-old woman living in a shophouse in Bang Kholaem district, where in total six elderly residents were found to be infected. Mr Anutin said he was sorry for the death and promising the ministry will work harder to find beds for those who need them the most. Many experts have warned that unless action is taken, home deaths could follow the same sharp upward trajectory seen in other countries during similar stages of the outbreak. This comes amid reports that some people with Covid are choosing to stay at home rather than seek outside help, possibly endangering other members of the household.

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That’s quite something if true.

Dr. Harvey Risch: 60% of New Covid Patients Have Been Vaccinated (WR)

Dr. Risch reveals a bombshell: 60 percent of new covid patients have been vaccinated.

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“..individual countries may be able keep tougher guidelines in for tourists..”

Vaccinated Americans Will Reportedly Be Allowed Back In Europe This Summer (F.)

American holidaymakers who have received a coronavirus vaccine will be permitted to enter the European Union in time for summer vacation thanks to the success of the U.S. vaccine rollout, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times Sunday.The timing of the imminent policy change is still unclear, and will depend on the spread of the virus in both the U.S. and Europe over the next few months, Von der Leyen said told the newspaper.The U.S. has made “huge progress” in their vaccine rollout, she noted, and added she hopes the epidemiological situation in Europe will also improve. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the three that are being distributed within the U.S., have all been approved by the European agency, which Von der Leyen said means they’ll be accepted at European borders.


Discussions between Washington, D.C. and Brussels regarding how travelers will demonstrate they’ve been vaccinated are still ongoing, the Times reported. Transatlantic travel has largely been barred since March 2020, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of society. In recent weeks, countries like France and Greece have hinted they will permit vaccinated American travelers to return to their countries this summer for a much-needed tourism boost. The Times reported that while Von de Leyen is onboard for Americans traveling within the EU, individual countries may be able keep tougher guidelines in for tourists, like mandatory quarantine periods or blocking international travelers altogether.

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“..the states that are declared unfriendly “won’t be able to hire Russian citizens to work at their diplomatic and consular missions..”

US Set To Be Included On Russia’s New List Of ‘Unfriendly Countries’ (RT)

Moscow is putting together a list of unfriendly nations and the US is “obviously” going to be on it, the foreign ministry has revealed. The blacklist is in response to the recent unfriendly moves by the Americans and their allies. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained on Sunday that work on the schedule of states considered to be hostile began after “another round of unfriendly actions by the US. “What are those unfriendly states? The list is being compiled now,” she outlined in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel. “As you understand, and I can confirm it, the US is, obviously, present” on it, Zakharova said, without naming any other countries involved.

In accordance with a decree recently signed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the states that are declared unfriendly “won’t be able to hire Russian citizens to work at their diplomatic and consular missions,” Zakharova added. A fresh diplomatic standoff between Moscow and Washington erupted in mid-April after US President Joe Biden ordered the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, accusing the Kremlin of interference in the 2020 US presidential election and of involvement in last year’s SolarWinds cyber-espionage incident. More than 30 Russian individuals and organizations were also sanctioned, while American companies were barred from directly buying shares in Russia’s national debt.

Moscow denied all of Washington’s claims and came up with a tit-for-tat response, asking ten American diplomats to leave and promising measures that would bar US funds and NGOs from interfering in Russian internal affairs.

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“There may be no better symbol of our new national priorities than the “Stanley Johnson clause” in the Covid travel rules announced last month, which allows visits to property overseas but not family.”

Tories Are Reaping The Rewards Of An Economy Built On Rising House Prices (G.)

It was 14 years ago, in the summer of 2007, that the first signs of the global financial crisis appeared: the liquidation of two hedge funds heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities, and the start of the collapse of Northern Rock. This is more than enough time for a new economic model to take shape. After all, 14 years after Richard Nixon signalled the end of the “Keynesian” era by disbanding the fixed exchange rates system that shaped the post-1945 economy, Margaret Thatcher was on the cusp of her third election victory, and London was awash with “yuppies” making fast money out of the stock market. The picture of Britain’s post-crash economic settlement was clear even before the dramatic impact of Covid. To put it bluntly, the proceeds of economic growth in the UK now flow entirely to asset-owners – including homeowners.

Study after study has shown that in the decade after the financial crisis, average real wages simply stopped rising – something that had never happened in two centuries of industrial capitalism. And yet, Britain’s housing market defies all economic threats and shocks. While wages have stagnated, the average British house price is now approximately 50% higher than it was in January 2009, and in London around double. While the economic crisis of 2007-9 was accompanied by a housing crash, the first year of Covid-19 saw a boom in property prices. In 2020, London overtook Hong Kong and New York for the number of “super-luxury” properties (costing more than $10m) sold. There may be no better symbol of our new national priorities than the “Stanley Johnson clause” in the Covid travel rules announced last month, which allows visits to property overseas but not family.

The UK’s ratio of housing wealth to GDP is now above the level seen in Japan before its historic crash in 1991 – but there is no sign that policymakers wish to alter the place of housing wealth in the UK economy, or indeed its dominant imprint on our politics. George Osborne’s refusal to use fiscal policy to support the economy after 2010 meant that the UK became even more dependent on monetary policy – very low interest rates and quantitative easing – which simply allowed more money to be poured into assets, hugely enriching asset-owners at the expense of everyone else.

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Interview with bestselling food writer Oliver Milman about his new book Animal, Vegetable, Junk.

“if you look at a chart of health care costs versus food costs, it’s perfect like this. As food costs go up, healthcare costs go down. And as food costs go down, health care costs go up.”

The True Costs Of Our Cheap Food And The American Diet (G.)

There was a time that almost everyone farmed and grew food for themselves and their neighbors and or trade, local trade and so on. But at some point, surplus became more important than feeding people. Growing food, or growing crops in order to sell them and make money became more important than growing crops to feed people. And that process accelerated since 1500, or whenever you want to say capitalism began. To the point where, in the States at least, 95% of crops are basically grown as cash crops. And the question is almost never ‘What is the land telling us we want to grow? What can we grow that will be most beneficial for our community? What can I grow that’s most nutritious that will damage the land as little as possible?’ Those are not questions that are being asked.

The questions that are being asked or the question that’s being asked is ‘How can I make the most money possible with this land?’ Sometimes that means just selling the land for development. But often, it means growing one crop at a time. And it’s a crop that’s either directly or indirectly subsidized, like corn or soybeans. And it’s a crop that mostly goes into junk food or animal feed, or even ethanol, which is obviously not food at all. I really think the enclosure of the commons was a big deal. When the nobility started dictating to peasants what should be grown and how it should be sold and to whom it should be sold. And peasants began to run out of land to grow food for themselves and their families. That was one of the driving factors in the industrial revolution. And we’ve just seen that accelerate.

[..] One of the most damning statistics is that close to 50% of the food that’s available is in the form of ultra processed food. So ultra processed food is what I call junk food. What many of us call junk food. And it means food that contains non-food ingredients; food that your grandmother, great grandmother, maybe at this point wouldn’t have recognized as food. Food that you can’t cook yourself. Food that you don’t find in your own kitchen in the normal course of cooking and eating. A food that didn’t exist before the 20th century. [..] if you look at a chart of health care costs versus food costs, it’s perfect like this. As food costs go up, healthcare costs go down. And as food costs go down, health care costs go up. So cheap food, that’s a direct correlation. Cheap food has had a terrible impact on public health. As every country switches from a traditional diet to a more American diet, their rates of chronic disease go up. In every single instance. And yet we cannot get government to consider this a crisis.

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Oscars.

Wealthy, Privileged Gather To Lecture Nation On Evils Of Wealth, Privilege (BBee)

According to sources at the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony this evening, the nation’s wealthy, privileged elite gathered to lecture the nation on the horrendous evils of wealth and privilege. The wealthiest 0.00001% of the nation arrived at the exclusive, walled-off, high-security event in limos and luxury cars driven by servants in order to spend a few hours telling the nation’s poor and middle-class citizens how they need to throw off the yoke of oppression put on them by the wealthy elite.


“It’s the white, privileged, wealth hoarders that are ruining America,” said one white, privileged man whose net worth is estimated at $160 million. “All you people in the cheap seats at home: you need to do better.” “America is just a terrible nation with no opportunity,” said one woman who made $100 million wearing costumes and reading words someone else wrote off a page. “We must stop the 1% from hoarding all the wealth.” Upon being informed she was well within the 1%, she clarified that it was actually the 0.000001% who are the problem. Unfortunately, it looks like the event will proceed as planned next year as well.

Read more …

 

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– Carl Sagan, May 27th, 1996

 

 

 

 

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Mar 312021
 
 March 31, 2021  Posted by at 8:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  65 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The old fisherman 1895

 

Amazon’s Twitter Army Was Handpicked For “Great Sense Of Humor” (IC)
Twitter Censors Famed Epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff (AIER)
The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different. (Atl.)
It’s Time To Talk About Ivermectin (NC)
The “Unvaccinated” Question (CJ Hopkins)
In Germany, AstraZeneca Vaccine Only For People Over 60 After 9 Deaths (RT)
‘Concerns’ Over Lack Of Data In WHO Report on Covid-19 Origins (RT)
Tanzania’s Late President Magufuli: ‘Science Denier’ or Threat to Empire? (UH)
New Minimum Wage Legislation: Millions Of Europeans Will Earn More (AD)
A Fourth Stimulus Check? Momentum Grows For Recurring Payments (Fox32)
Biden To Unveil $2 Trillion Infrastructure Proposal (Hill)
Many Capitol Rioters Unlikely To Serve Jail Time (Pol.)
Matt Gaetz Claims Former DOJ Lawyer Was Extorting Him (CTH)

 

 

Wall-E after Ever Given

 

 

Collateral Crucifixion. See video at the bottom of this post.

 

 

Lacy Hunt

 

 

An army to protect Bezos.

Amazon’s Twitter Army Was Handpicked For “Great Sense Of Humor” (IC)

Amazon’s small twitter army of “ambassadors” was quietly conceived in 2018 under the codename “Veritas,” which sought to train and dispatch select employees to the social media trenches to defend Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, according to an internal description of the program obtained exclusively by The Intercept. Amazon ambassadors drew attention this week as they responded to a wave of online criticism for the company’s treatment of workers amid a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Anticipating criticisms of worker conditions at their fulfillment centers in particular, Amazon designed Veritas to train fulfillment center workers chosen for their “great sense of humor” to confront critics — including policymakers — on Twitter in a “blunt” manner.

The document, produced as part of the pilot program in 2018 and marked “Amazon.com Confidential,” also includes examples of how its ambassadors can snarkily respond to criticisms of the company and its CEO. Several examples involve Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime critic of the $1 trillion firm who has been targeted by it in recent days. It also provides examples of how to defend Bezos. “To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC [Fulfillment Center] associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in a polite—but blunt—way to every untruth,” the project description reads. “FC Ambassadors (‘FCA’) will respond to all posts and comments from customers, influencers (including policymakers), and media questioning the FC associate experience.”

Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said via email: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience — the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide.” In 2018, Amazon admitted that the ambassadors were employees paid to “honestly share the facts” about what working in its fulfillment centers is like. Many Twitter users had at first believed the ambassadors were automated “bot” accounts due to the nearly identical format of their account bios, all of which feature the Amazon smile logo and begin with the handle “@AmazonFC.” But that format was specifically mandated by Amazon, The Intercept’s document shows. “We could also add an emoji to the username to give personality, for example a small box emoji,” the document suggests.

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And Amazon is not alone: this is what the Twitter “Great Sense Of Humor” army does.

Twitter Censors Famed Epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff (AIER)

We’ve been witness to Twitter censorship for more than a year, beginning with obviously objectionable extremists then gradually moving to silence people based on merely having an opinion that contradicts lockdown orthodoxy. There have been days when I wondered whether I would cross the invisible line and even whether AIER would itself be silenced. Stanford public health expert Scott Atlas has been censored, and Naomi Wolf, visiting senior fellow at AIER, was put in Twitter jail for a week for landing on the wrong side of the high priests of allowable content. Well, a new line has been crossed. Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff and co-creator of the Great Barrington Declaration, one of the most cited epidemiologists and infectious -disease experts in the world (latest count of citations: 25,290) has been censored by Twitter. His tweet on how not everyone needs a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was not taken down. He had a warning slapped on it and users have been prevented from liking or retweeting the post.

Keep in mind, too, that Dr. Kulldorff serves on the Covid-19 vaccine safety subgroup that the CDC, NIH, and FDA rely upon for technical expertise on this very subject..

So here we have some geeks at Twitter curating science, in areas totally outside the specialization of web nerds, in a way that skews public understanding of the scientific debate. Dr. Kulldorff’s censorship directly coincides with Anthony Fauci making a political push to retain social distancing and mask restrictions and forced separation for children until they are vaccinated. He was all over Sunday TV shows doing that. This attempt to silence accredited experts completely distorts the process of scientific inquiry, discovery, and public opinion. And to what end? Twitter has generally been biased in a lockdown direction. If you want to be cynical about it, you could observe that everyone who works there can get by on laptops and houseshoes for the duration.


Its stock price has more than doubled in the course of lockdowns and user engagement has risen dramatically. It would appear that with this latest act of censorship – we are not talking about political extremism or anything else that violates normal terms of use – we have entered into a new realm. Twitter is now curating the scientific debate in ways that exclude alternative points of view, particularly those that raise doubts about the need for universalized vaccines and vaccine passports. To be sure, Dr. Kulldorff is not an anti-vaxxer (why should I have to say that?) but instead has a nuanced position in light of his professional understanding of the demographics of risk of this virus.

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Zeynep Tufekci with an unabashed promo piece on vaccines. She says 100 million Americans may have been infected, and therefore developed the same antibodies a vaccination might provide, but let’s inject them all regardless.

The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different. (Atl.)

the United States has had one of the largest outbreaks in the world. This has caused us immense suffering and loss, but it also means that we are now less vulnerable to future waves. So far, 30 million people in the United States have had a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, although the real (unmeasured) number is perhaps as high as 100 million. As expected, those people retain some level of immunity for a substantial amount of time. It’s hard to know exactly how long, because the virus is so new, but for SARS (the related coronavirus that almost sparked a pandemic in 2003), people who were infected retained an antibody response, and thus protection, for an average of two years. Though amazingly, the vaccines appear to provide better immunity than natural infection, those previously infected also gain defenses.

Carefully done studies on large populations show a very low rate of reinfection for this coronavirus: less than 1 percent. Plus, many documented reinfections tend to be mild or asymptomatic, an unsurprising outcome given that in these cases the virus is no longer totally novel for the immune system, and thus not as catastrophic in its consequences. It’s pretty clear that large numbers of people in the U.S. already are, or will soon be, protected from COVID-19’s more severe outcomes, such as death and hospitalization, which the vaccines reduce so close to zero that clinical trials have reported hardly any such cases. And it gets better: Yesterday, the CDC released real-life data showing that, just two weeks after even a single dose, the two mRNA vaccines were 80 percent effective in preventing infection. The effectiveness rose to 90 percent after the second, booster dose.

People in the study were routinely tested regardless of whether they had symptoms, so we know that vaccines prevented not just symptomatic illness—the vaccine-efficacy rate reported in the trials—but any infection. People who are not infected by a virus cannot transmit it at all, and even people who have a breakthrough case despite vaccination have been shown to have lower viral loads compared with unvaccinated people, and so are likely much less contagious. All of this doesn’t mean that there will be zero deaths or illnesses among the vaccinated. The elderly, who tend to have weaker immune systems, are especially prone to having vaccines fail. In nursing homes, even the common cold can cause deadly outbreaks. But for the vaccinated, the risk from COVID-19 clearly has become comparable to “baseline risk”—it’s not zero, but just like the risks presented by the flu and other viruses, it’s not something for which most of us would put our lives on hold.

How do we square all this good news with what happened during a White House briefing yesterday, when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky interrupted the flow, saying, “I’m going to lose the script,” and talked of “the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.” She was visibly emotional and her voice cracked as she said was “scared,” and pleaded with Americans to “hold on a little longer.” I can’t read her mind, but if I were Walensky, I’d be scared because those who are not protected through vaccination or past infection are still at grave risk, a fact that may be overshadowed by all the good news. Even as our vaccines continue to work very well against it, the particular variant we’re facing in this surge is both more transmissible and more deadly for the unvaccinated.

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Has been for a long time.

It’s Time To Talk About Ivermectin (NC)

On December 29th of last year, Mexico’s Institute of Socal Security (IMSS) allowed ivermectin to be prescribed to outpatients with Covid. On the same day the Secretariat of Health of Mexico City and the State of Mexico decided to adopt a protocol in which anyone testing positive at any one of the city’s 250 rapid testing sites would be given ivermectin. As you can see in the graphs below, courtesy of Juan Chamie, a data scientist from EAFIT University in Colombia, based on data provided by Mexico City authorities, the number of hospitalizations due to Covid and excess deaths peaked shortly after the New Year and have been falling sharply ever since. They are now almost back to their prior base line.


Mexico City is the first major global city to adopt what amounts to a test-and-treat approach to covid-19 involving ivermectin. But it was the largely indigenous southern state of Chiapas that led the way last summer. In July 2020, as Mexico was buckling under its first wave of the pandemic, the state decided to distribute ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment, having already deployed the medicine in its battle against mosquito-borne RNA viruses such as Zika and Chikungunya. Since October Chiapas has consistently occupied the lowest risk level on the federal government’s coronavirus stoplight map. Thanks to ivermectin’s apparent success in Chiapas, IMSS allowed the medicine to be prescribed nationwide. It also helped launch the pilot program in Mexico City, for which it received a barrage of criticism.

An official group of health experts argued that there’s no scientific evidence that the drug is effective, and called for the immediate repeal of its use. To their credit, both the Secretariat and IMSS have stuck to their guns. Of course, there’s no way of definitively proving that the rapid falloff in hospitalizations and deaths, first in Chiapas and then Mexico City, is due to the use of ivermectin. Correlation, as we well know, is not causation. It’s also true that Mexico City authorities have introduced tougher social distancing measures and travel restrictions since December. But similar dramatic drop offs have been witnessed in other regions and countries where ivermectin has been used widely, including across the length and breadth of Peru and Iran as well as parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and India.

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“You can positive-PCR-test a pawpaw fruit … but you might want to be careful who you tell if you do that.”

The “Unvaccinated” Question (CJ Hopkins)

Here in Germany, the government is considering banning us from working outside our homes. We are already banned from flying on commercial airlines. (We can still use the trains, if we dress up like New Normals.) In the village of Potsdam, just down the road from Wannsee (which name you might recall from your 20th-Century history lessons), we are banned from entering shops and restaurants. (I’m not sure whether we can still use the sidewalks, or whether we have to walk in the gutters.) In Saxony, we are forbidden from attending schools. At the Berliner Ensemble (the theater founded by Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel, lifelong opponents of totalitarianism and fascism), we are banned from attending New Normal performances.

In the USA, we are being banned by universities. Our children are being banned from public schools. In New York, the new “Excelsior Pass” will allow New Normals to attend cultural and sports events (and patronize bars and restaurants, eventually) secure in the knowledge that the Unvaccinated have been prevented from entering or segregated in an “Unvaccinated Only” section. The pass system, designed by IBM, which, if history is any guide, is pretty good at designing such systems (OK, technically, it was Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, IBM’s Nazi-Germany subsidiary), was launched this past weekend to considerable fanfare. And this is only the very beginning. Israel’s “Green Pass” is the model for the future, which makes sense, in a sick, fascistic kind of way. When you’re already an apartheid state, what’s a little more apartheid?

OK, I know what the New Normals are thinking. They’re thinking I’m “misleading” people again. That I’m exaggerating. That this isn’t really segregation, and certainly nothing like “medical apartheid.” After all (as the New Normals will sternly remind me), no one is forcing us to get “vaccinated.” If we choose not to, or can’t for medical reasons, all we have to do is submit to a “test” — you know, the one where they ram that 9-inch swab up into your sinus cavities — within 24 hours before we want to go out to dinner, or attend the theater or a sports event, or visit a museum, or attend a university, or take our children to school or a playground, and our test results will serve as our “vaccine passports!” We just present them to the appropriate Covid Compliance Officer, and (assuming the results are negative, of course) we will be allowed to take part in New Normal society just as if we’d been “vaccinated.”

Either way, “vaccine” or “test,” the New Normal officials will be satisfied, because the tests and passes are really just stage props. The point is the display of mindless obedience. Even if you take the New Normals at their word, if you are under 65 and in relatively good health, getting “vaccinated” is more or less pointless, except as a public display of compliance and belief in the official Covid-19 narrative (the foundation stone of the New Normal ideology). Even the high priests of their “Science” confess that it doesn’t prevent you spreading the “plague.” And the PCR tests are virtually meaningless, as even the WHO finally admitted. (You can positive-PCR-test a pawpaw fruit … but you might want to be careful who you tell if you do that.)

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Canada: under 55. Germany: under 60. How many people will now say: thanks, but no, thank you?

In Germany, AstraZeneca Vaccine Only For People Over 60 After 9 Deaths (RT)

Germany has restricted the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure amid reports the jab is being linked to more cases of suspected adverse effects, some resulting in death. The country’s Standing Vaccination Commission recommended on Tuesday that AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria only be given to men and women over the age of 60, or in exceptional cases. The decision was made due to “available, albeit limited, evidence” concerning the drug’s safety. The commission announced its recommendation hours after the city of Berlin introduced an identical policy. Earlier, two state-owned clinics in the city halted AstraZeneca shots for women under 55 years of age. Munich followed suit with its own rule banning the shot for people under 60.

Health Minister Jens Spahn was scheduled to speak with regional counterparts about the AstraZeneca drug later on Tuesday, a ministry spokesperson announced. Germany had suspended emergency use of the AstraZeneca shot earlier this month, but then lifted the temporary ban after EU regulators deemed it to be safe. The latest restrictions placed on the drug come after Germany’s vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, disclosed that as of March 29, the country has recorded 31 cases of cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT), nine of which resulted in death, after people were given the Vaxzevria injection. CSVT is a rare form of blood clot that forms in the brain.

Of the 31 cases of CSVT, all except two involved women between the ages of 20 and 63. Before the new guidelines were issued in Berlin, a district in North Rhine-Westphalia state suspended shots for women under 55 after two women suffered from blood clots. Nearly 2.7 million first doses of Vaxzevria have been administered in Germany. According to official figures, women under the age of 70 make up two-thirds of those vaccinated with the AstraZeneca drug. It’s believed that more women than men have received the shot because nurses were among the first group in Germany to take the jab.

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“Two months earlier, the WHO chief praised China’s response to the pandemic..”

‘Concerns’ Over Lack Of Data In WHO Report on Covid-19 Origins (RT)

Fourteen countries including the US and UK have expressed “concerns” over a new report into the origins of Covid-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) after the agency’s own chief also highlighted data-access issues. “It is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples,” a joint statement from the nations read. The signatories included the governments of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, South Korea, Slovenia, the UK and US. The statement also called for a further analysis of the outbreak of Covid-19 that is “transparent”,”free from interference” and “unimpeded.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China had “offered necessary facilitation for the team’s work”, and warned against “politicizing” efforts to identify the origins of Covid-19. The joint statement echoes comments made by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that the UN health agency’s scientists had trouble “accessing raw data” while in China. “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing,” he said during a news briefing on Tuesday, adding he did not believe the report was “extensive enough.” Two months earlier, the WHO chief praised China’s response to the pandemic, adding that President Xi Jinping had “encouraged and impressed” him with his knowledge of the coronavirus.

The 120-page WHO report was published on Tuesday after a team of international scientists visited the Chinese city of Wuhan between January 14 and February 10, 2021. The scientists visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the virus is believed to have spread from. The team did not find the source of Covid-19, but their report effectively ruled out its origin from a laboratory accident, saying it was “extremely unlikely,” while the virus’s introduction through frozen food chains was considered “possible.”

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Jeremy Loffredo and Whitney Webb on a virtually unknown Covid story.

Tanzania’s Late President Magufuli: ‘Science Denier’ or Threat to Empire? (UH)

Less than 2 weeks ago, Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan delivered the news that her country’s president, John Pombe Magufuli, had died of heart failure. President Magufuli had been described as missing since the end of February, with several anti-government parties circulating stories that he had fallen ill with COVID-19. During his presidency, Magufuli had consistently challenged neocolonialism in Tanzania, whether it manifested through the exploitation of his country’s natural resources by predatory multinationals or the West’s influence over his country’s food supply. In the months leading up to his death, Magufuli had become better known and particularly demonized in the West for opposing the authority of international organizations like the WHO in determining his government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, Magufuli had spurned many of the same interests and organizations angered by his response to COVID for years, having kicked out Bill Gates-funded trials of genetically-modified crops and more recently angering some of the most powerful mining companies in the West, companies with ties to the World Economic Forum and the Forum’s efforts to guide the course of the 4th industrial revolution. Indeed, more threatening than his recent COVID controversies was the threat Magufuli posed to foreign control over the world’s largest, ready-to-develop nickel deposit, a metal essential to electric car batteries and thus the current effort to usher in an electric, autonomous vehicle revolution. For instance, just a month before he disappeared, Magufuli had signed an agreement to begin developing that nickel deposit, a deposit that had been previously co-owned by Barrick Gold and Glencore, the commodity giant deeply tied to Israel’s Mossad, until Magufuli revoked their licenses for the project in 2018.

Running afoul of the most powerful corporate and banking cartels followed then by the mysterious onset of sudden regime change would normally garner considerable coverage from anti-imperialist independent media outlets, which recently covered similar events in Bolivia that led to the removal of Evo Morales from power. However, the very outlets that have extensively covered Western-backed regime change efforts for years have been entirely silent on the very convenient death of Magufuli. Presumably, their silence is related to Magufuli’s flouting of COVID-19 narrative orthodoxy, as these same outlets have largely promoted the official narrative of the pandemic.

[..] In contrast to Magufuli, who routinely stood up to predatory corporations and imperialist designs on his country, Samia Suhulhu and Tanzanian opposition politician Tundu Lissu are poised to offer up their country’s resources, and their population, on the altar of the Western elite-driven 4th industrial revolution.

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Google translate. It’s not just the US. “..minimum hourly wage to 14 euros. Now that is 9.72 euros (40-hour working week) or 10.80 euros (for 36 hours)”

New Minimum Wage Legislation: Millions Of Europeans Will Earn More (AD)

At least 24 million employees in 25 of the 27 EU member states will earn more in one punch in two years at the latest. That’s because all of Europe will have a decent minimum wage by then. The two largest groups in Europe, of Christian and Social Democrats, have reached an agreement on this, which they are sending to the rest of the European Parliament today. The Member States, led by the Portuguese socialist António Costa, are also in a hurry. Prime Minister Costa wants to align the member states before handing over his presidency to his Slovenian colleague, the conservative Janez Jansa, on 1 July. The two Parliament rapporteurs, Agnes Jongerius (PvdA) and her German colleague Dennis Radtke (EPP), assume a minimum wage that meets a double threshold across Europe: at least 60 percent of the median (half is lower, half higher) and 50 percent of the average wage.

For the Netherlands, according to Jongerius, this means an increase of the minimum hourly wage to 14 euros. Now that is 9.72 euros (40-hour working week) or 10.80 euros (for 36 hours). The intervention must end a period of thirty years in which the minimum wage has only deteriorated. “Costa has already shown after the banking crisis that the economy will benefit if you increase the minimum wage,” says Jongerius. “Greece went the other way under pressure from Europe and only got extra misery.” She wants a minimum wage “of which you can normally support your family with the occasional extra: a laptop for the children or a vacation”. But we are still a long way from that.

In at least nine Member States, minimum wages fall through the poverty threshold, in many more Member States entire groups are excluded. Jongerius: ,, Corona has made that even worse, especially in low-paid sectors such as retail and tourism. The youths who kept running for us in supermarkets were grossly underpaid. “”

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“The measure could include as much as $3 trillion in new taxes and $4 trillion in new spending.”

A Fourth Stimulus Check? Momentum Grows For Recurring Payments (Fox32)

A growing number of Democrats are calling on President Joe Biden to send recurring stimulus checks for low-income Americans as part of his sweeping infrastructure package, arguing the cash payments are necessary until the U.S. economy fully recovers from the pandemic. In a Tuesday letter addressed to the president, 21 senators – led by Ron Wyden of Oregon – asked the administration to automatically extend unemployment insurance benefits and send recurring direct checks that would be tied to certain economic conditions. Text of the letter first emerged at the beginning of March, but the lawmakers waited until they had received additional support to officially send it to the White House.

In the span of one month, the coalition secured the backing of another 11 Democrats, including Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin and moderates like Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I. “This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” the lawmakers wrote. “Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.” The senators did not mention many specifics, including the size and frequency of the payments, the income eligibility level for recipients or the economic conditions that would cause the federal government to cut off the money.

The proposal garnered the support of Democrats across the ideological spectrum, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. The expanded financial assistance would be part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, a wide-ranging plan that aims to make massive investments in infrastructure, revive domestic manufacturing and combat climate change, among other issues. Biden is planning to unveil details of the first part of the package on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, including how he intends to pay for it. The measure could include as much as $3 trillion in new taxes and $4 trillion in new spending.

The senators are pairing their request with a grassroots push from the left-leaning Progressive Change Institute and Economic Security Project, which is calling on other lawmakers to sign the proposal. “These 21 senators have joined the overwhelming majority of the American people in calling for more checks,” Greg Nasif, a spokesperson with Humanity Forward, said in a statement to FOX Business. “This is about more than giving families the support they need. This is about protecting our economy and securing an equitable future.”

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Only $2 trillion?

Biden To Unveil $2 Trillion Infrastructure Proposal (Hill)

President Biden will unveil a $2 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday as he prepares to pitch his next big-ticket agenda item. Details of the forthcoming plans were shared with lawmakers during a conference call with White House staff on Tuesday. The plan will be funded by raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the current level of 21 percent as well as creating a global tax on corporate earnings, a source familiar with the call confirmed to The Hill. Biden will travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to formally unveil the plan, which is expected to include funding for roads, bridges and broadband, as well addressing manufacturing, among other things. The plan is part of a larger two-part package.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News Tuesday that Biden will unveil the second part, which will deal with child care and health care, in April. “What the American people will hear from him this week is that part of his plan — the first step of his plan towards recovery — which will include an investment in infrastructure. We shouldn’t be 13th in the world; I don’t think anyone believes that [of] the wealthiest, most innovative country in the world,” Psaki said. Though infrastructure attracts broad bipartisan support, Republicans are likely to balk at raising corporate taxes to pay for a plan. Democrats have said they want the final product to be bipartisan, but have acknowledged that they are likely to have to go it alone through reconciliation, a budget process that allows certain bills to bypass the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is exploring if Democrats could use the Congressional Budget Act to pass at least three bills under reconciliation, instead of the two Democrats expect to be limited to. They’ve already used one of their opportunities to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. Schumer’s staff recently made a case to the Senate parliamentarian that they could use Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act, which green lights the use of reconciliation, to tee up passing at least a third bill this year by a simple majority, an aide for the New York Democrat confirmed on Monday. “Schumer wants to maximize his options to allow Senate Democrats multiple pathways to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda if Senate Republicans try to obstruct or water down a bipartisan agreement,” the majority leader’s aide said.

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“..as long as the people who are trying to express their view do not engage in violence, misdemeanors may be more appropriate than felonies.”

Many Capitol Rioters Unlikely To Serve Jail Time (Pol.)

Americans outraged by the storming of Capitol Hill are in for a jarring reality check: Many of those who invaded the halls of Congress on Jan. 6 are likely to get little or no jail time. While public and media attention in recent weeks has been focused on high-profile conspiracy cases against right-wing, paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, the most urgent decisions for prosecutors involve resolving scores of lower-level cases that have clogged D.C.’s federal district court. A POLITICO analysis of the Capitol riot-related cases shows that almost a quarter of the more than 230 defendants formally and publicly charged so far face only misdemeanors. Dozens of those arrested are awaiting formal charges, even as new cases are being unsealed nearly every day.

In recent days, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys have all indicated that they expect few of these “MAGA tourists” to face harsh sentences. There are two main reasons: Although prosecutors have loaded up their charging documents with language about the existential threat of the insurrection to the republic, the actions of many of the individual rioters often boiled down to trespassing. And judges have wrestled with how aggressively to lump those cases in with those of the more sinister suspects. “My bet is a lot of these cases will get resolved and probably without prison time or jail time,” said Erica Hashimoto, a former federal public defender who is now a law professor at Georgetown.

“One of the core values of this country is that we can protest if we disagree with our government. Of course, some protests involve criminal acts, but as long as the people who are trying to express their view do not engage in violence, misdemeanors may be more appropriate than felonies.” The prospect of dozens of Jan. 6 rioters cutting deals for minor sentences could be hard to explain for the Biden administration, which has characterized the Capitol Hill mob as a uniquely dangerous threat. Before assuming office, Biden said the rioters’ attempt to overturn the election results by force “borders on sedition”; Attorney General Merrick Garland has called the prosecutions his top early priority, describing the storming of Congress as “a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

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What an insane story.

Matt Gaetz Claims Former DOJ Lawyer Was Extorting Him (CTH)

Two people inside the DOJ leaked a story about Matt Gaetz (R-FL) being under DOJ/FBI investigation to the New York Times. The essential elements of the article are that Gaetz had a relationship with a 17-year-old woman, and paid for her to travel; ergo the DOJ/FBI is investigating “sex trafficking.” Presumably AG Bill Barr opened the investigation. However, Matt Gaetz vehemently denies everything about the claims, and instead says the FBI and DOJ were recently conducting a sting operation -with his cooperation- against a former DOJ lawyer named David McGee who was extorting Gaetz for $25 million. According to Gaetz his father was contacted by McGee in March of this year and told he would release the details of a relationship with the woman if Gaetz did not pay $25 million.


Gaetz contacted the FBI, and his father wore a wire in his conversation with McGee where the FBI were recording the extortion attempt. Now that someone has leaked the erroneous background of the investigation to the New York Times, Gaetz is demanding the DOJ release the tapes of the extortion attempt. Tonight Matt Gaetz appeared on Tucker Carlson to discuss the details of the situation. Apparently there was an FBI sting operation underway which included a payment tomorrow. The New York Times article tipped-off McGee to the sting. Congressman Gaetz denies any wrongdoing, legal or otherwise, and denies paying for a minor to cross state lines to meet him. When Carlson asked Gaetz who was the former DOJ official attempting extortion, Gaetz named David McGee, a former DOJ lawyer currently working for Beggs and Lane lawfirm.

Read more …

 

 

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Collateral Crucifixion

 

 

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Mar 252021
 


Mayfair Theater, Broadway, New York 1954

 

India Discovers First “Double-Mutant” COVID Strain (ZH)
“Follow The Science,” They Said… (Hanson)
Cuomo’s Relatives Prioritized For COVID Testing (TU)
Why Were More People Dying In The UK Even Before Covid-19? (NS)
Boris Johnson Green Lights Pubs to Mandate Vaccine Passports (SN)
British Gov’t Plans to Shape Public Opinion Fundamentally ‘Undemocratic’ (Sp.)
Guidance On Policing Protests May Breach Human Rights (G.)
Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against Trump Twitter Ban (Turley)
Bellingcaught (Maté)
Unnamed Western Officials Spread Dubious Claims About Iran (Antiwar)
Saudi-Led Coalition Intensifies Yemen Air Raids, Hits Grains Port (AlJ)
Trouble With The Ghislaine Maxwell Case? (TF)
Authorities ‘Working To Refloat’ Ever Given Blocking Suez Channel (Sky)

 

 

Today is the 200th anniversary of the start of the fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman empire.

 

 

Ron Paul on Lockdown

 

 

These will keep appearing. The virus is endemic.

India Discovers First “Double-Mutant” COVID Strain (ZH)

Following a series of reports warning about mutated COVID strains first identified in Brazil, the US and elsewhere spreading across Latin America, the US and Europe, scientists in India are one-upping them by identifying what they described as “a double-mutant” strain of the ubiquitous virus. The ‘double-mutant’ was identified, along with 770 other strains, gleaned from samples collected across 18 Indian states. Of the 10,787 samples collected, 736 tested positive for the UK variant, 34 for the South African variant and one for the Brazilian variant. The report comes as COVID cases in India are climbing once again after the nation managed to bring numbers close to zero. The country has reported a total of 11.7MM cases, and 160.4K deaths.


While the Indian government insists there’s no link between the variants and the surge in cases (India rolled back most of its virus-inspired restrictions on business and movement months ago). India became the fifth country in the world to sequence the COVID virus’s genome last January. Still, a consortium of 10 national laboratories working with India’s government said this week they would monitor the new double-variant, which was traced to Mahahrashtra state. Although scientists said none of the variants appeared to be circulating widely enough yet to be causing the surge in cases, they called on authorities to ramp up testing and ensure new cases caused by the variant are swiftly isolated. In response, the government is ramping up certain restrictions, along with its vaccination drive.

As far as the remaining COVID restrictions are concerned, hundreds of thousands of Indians ignored them last week when they came out to celebrate Holi, a week-long affair commemorating the advent of spring. But what, exactly, is a “double-mutant”? A scientist who spoke with the BBC explained why the double-mutation could make the strain more infectious, and more virulent. “A double mutation, virologist Shahid Jameel explains, is “two mutations coming together in the same virus” “A double mutation in the key areas of the virus’s spike protein may increase these risks and allow the virus to escape the immune system and make it more infectious,” he adds. Spike protein is the part of the virus that it uses to penetrate human cells.


The government said that an analysis of the samples collected from India’s western Maharashtra state shows “an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations” compared with December last year. “Such [double] mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. Dr Jameel added that “there may be a separate lineage developing in India with the L452R and E484Q mutations coming together”. But the government denied that the rise in case numbers was linked to the mutations. “Though VOCs [variants of concern] and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states.”

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“Little need be said of Cuomo other than the applicable Roman dictum he created a desert and called it peace.”

“Follow The Science,” They Said… (Hanson)

The medical pandemic godhead of the Left has been octogenarian Dr. Anthony Fauci. His twin chief public relations explainer has been liberal darling New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Both were always supposed to be on top of “the science.” Dr. Fauci has not just been flat-out wrong on the science of COVID – in his assessments of the origins and possible dangers of COVID-19, of when we can get back to normal, of when the vaccinations would appear, and of which particular governors have been doing the most or least effective management of the disease. He has also, by his own admission, deliberately lied. That is, Fauci has rejected science, as he knew it, to mislead the public. For our own interests, he adopted the Platonic “noble lie” on occasion.

So, for example, he conceded that he had downplayed the value of masks (he now seems to approve of wearing one on top of another) in order to prevent too many wearing them, and thus the public shorting the supply available to more important health care workers. Fauci also proverbially moved the goal posts on herd immunity, from the high 60s to the low 90s as a percent of the population, either vaccinated or with antibodies, necessary to achieve a de facto end of the pandemic. Again, Fauci defied the science on the theory he knew better, in assuming that the childish public would become too lax when and if it believed herd immunity was on the horizon. Unspoken, is that Fauci usually errs on the side of what is deemed progressive orthodoxy. In contrast, Dr. Scott Atlas warned us that extended and complete lockdowns in any cost-benefit analyses might well inflict more human and economic damage than the virus.

And he added that an opened-up Florida and Texas might do no worse virally than a locked-down California or New York, while avoiding the severe recessionary collateral damage. Yet Atlas was damned for “not following the science” for the crime of working for Trump and for following the science: while targeted wearing of masks and social distancing and quarantining of vulnerable populations are necessary, complete quarantines of the entire population and extended closing schools are counterproductive. Little need be said of Cuomo other than the applicable Roman dictum he created a desert and called it peace. When the federal government delivered a tent-hospital and a huge hospital ship, they went unused. When it sent ventilators, Cuomo raged that they were too little, too late.

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Drip.

Cuomo’s Relatives Prioritized For COVID Testing (TU)

High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times, the sources said. The medical officials enlisted to do the testing, which often took place at private residences, included Dr. Eleanor Adams, an epidemiologist who graduated from Harvard Medical School and in August became a special adviser to Zucker.


Adams conducted testing on Cuomo’s brother Chris at his residence on Long Island, according to the two people. “If their job was to go test an old lady down in New Rochelle, that’s one thing — that’s actually good,” one of the people with knowledge of the matter said. “This was not that.” Others who were given priority testing include Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife, as well as Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Members of the media, state legislators and their staff also were tested in similar fashion, although there is no indication those tests were done by high-level health department officials. Foye and Cotton both announced last March they had tested positive for coronavirus. Foye was tested after exhibiting symptoms, according to a spokesman for the MTA.

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Austerity killed the cat.

Why Were More People Dying In The UK Even Before Covid-19? (NS)

On 12 January, one of the grimmest findings of the Covid-19 pandemic was published: “excess deaths” in England and Wales were reported to have risen to their highest level since the Second World War. In 2020, 608,002 deaths were registered, the largest number since the 1918 Spanish flu and 75,925 more deaths than occurred on average over the preceding five years (the technical definition of excess deaths). But few noticed another disquieting trend on the viral graphs: even before the pandemic, excess deaths were rising – by 2,911 in 2012, 11,314 in 2013, 6,408 in 2014, 32,624 in 2015, 20,735 in 2016, 20,803 in 2017, 22,355 in 2018 and 4,647 in 2019. By contrast, over the preceding 20 years, excess deaths fell in all but two years (1993 and 1995).


The pandemic and the UK’s Covid death toll of 126,284 – one of the highest in the world – have raised the salience of mortality. Rarely have the political choices that influence who lives and who dies been clearer. The UK’s prodigious death toll was not inevitable or an act of God. But this thought prompts another: why were more people dying in the years before the pandemic, and how many lives could have been saved? In May 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government embarked on a radical experiment that still reverberates today: austerity. Over the New Labour years spending on public services had risen, but it would now be cut in an attempt to reduce the budget deficit and to reshape the state.

After David Cameron assumed office, more than £20bn of welfare cuts were imposed, departmental budgets were reduced by an average of more than 20 per cent and local government funding was cut by 49 per cent (with baleful consequences for social care). When George Osborne delivered his first austerity budget in 2010, he declared: “When we say that we are all in this together, we mean it.” But the reality was otherwise. In February 2020, before Covid-19 monopolised attention, the landmark Marmot Review found that, for the first time in more than 100 years, life expectancy in England had stalled and even declined for women in the poorest 10 per cent of areas.

“England has lost a decade,” lamented Michael Marmot, the University College London professor who led the review. “If you ask me if [austerity] is the reason for the worsening health picture, I’d say it is highly likely.” Marmot was not alone in concluding that the UK government had presided over avoidable deaths or, more radically, what Friedrich Engels called “social murder”. In his book The Condition of the Working-Class in England (1845), Engels wrote of how “the class which at present holds social and political control” places “hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet”.

[..] During the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK has suffered one of the highest excess death rates in Europe. But at the close of our conversation, Dorling explained why the picture is even grimmer than it appears: “All these excess death calculations that are being made, we’re comparing ourselves in 2020 with five truly awful years, whereas other countries are comparing themselves with the best years they’ve ever had.” The social ills that Covid-19 has newly exposed – entrenched poverty, loneliness, dilapidated housing and inadequate welfare support – preceded the pandemic and will likely outlast it. As Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet medical journal, has argued, the UK is enduring a “syndemic” – a synthesis of epidemics. Coronavirus interacted with pre-existing inequalities to lethal effect.

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“Pubs can’t open with any sort of normality until June. So on top of having to take on extra staff to serve people at tables, the idea pubs can take on staff to act as door staff for vaccine passports is absurd.”

Boris Johnson Green Lights Pubs to Mandate Vaccine Passports (SN)

Despite repeatedly assuring the public that domestic vaccine passports to enter pubs would be discouraged, Prime Minister Boris Johnson today signaled that landlords could mandate them when pubs begin to open next month. While speaking to MPs on the Commons’ liaison committee, Johnson indicated that the government wouldn’t stand in the way of pub owners demanding customers show proof they’ve taken the COVID-19 jab before entering the premises. Asked if such a certificate would be required, Johnson responded, “I think that that’s the kind of thing – it may be up to individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord.” “I do think that the basic concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us,” he added.

Outdoor areas and beer gardens are set to re-open on April 17th, with indoor spaces to follow on May 17th. Johnson’s attitude to the issue represents a change from previous government rhetoric, which assured the public that there would be no domestic vaccine passport. Back in December, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi declared that any form of vaccine passport would be ‘discriminatory’. Although many pub owners won’t insist on proof of having had the vaccine, polls in the UK routinely show high support for lockdown measures and restrictions. Creating such a system, where people have to show digital proof of vaccination to engage in normal everyday activities, would also virtually guarantee they’ll be introduced at other venues.

Greg Mulholland, chairman of the British Pub Confederation, blasted the move, telling the Sun, “Pubs can’t open with any sort of normality until June. So on top of having to take on extra staff to serve people at tables, the idea pubs can take on staff to act as door staff for vaccine passports is absurd.”

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1984.

British Gov’t Plans to Shape Public Opinion Fundamentally ‘Undemocratic’ (Sp.)

The British state considers there to now be a “grey zone between peace and war” which justifies, they believe, engagement in covert manipulation of public opinion on matters both foreign and domestic, albeit in the name of combating “disinformation”. Dr Piers Robinson researches and writes about propaganda, conflict and war. He is co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies and convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. Robinson, who completed his PhD on the role of media and foreign policy — the so-called CNN effect — at the University of Bristol, examined revelations contained within the UK government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, which appears to promote the idea of using propaganda to shape British public opinion.

Robinson warns that increasing hostility being directed towards countries like Russia and China threatens “super-power conflict” which would affect current and future generations profoundly. “Now is not the time for propaganda”, he insists, but rather, “it is time for greater transparency and scrutiny”.

Dr Piers Robinson: From what is being reported it appears that the British government is openly stating that it intends to employ propaganda within the UK public sphere. Reference to the use of ‘social science expertise, horizon-scanning and strategic communications’ are all euphemisms for propaganda. Propaganda is primarily about organising conduct and beliefs through means that are ‘non-consensual’. By non-consensual I mean influence techniques that might use a variety of strategies aimed at getting people to act and think in ways that are not freely chosen. For example, the technique of deception, where information is manipulated, can lead to people thinking something is true but that belief is not freely chosen precisely because deception has been involved.

Other propaganda techniques involve incentivisation and coercion: here it is more obvious that behaviour and beliefs are not freely chosen as people are being either tempted or forced. The bottom line is that all these propaganda techniques are undemocratic. They run roughshod over notions of freedom, free choice and freedom of speech. Ultimately, widespread uses of such techniques means that a democratic public sphere is increasingly replaced by a propagandised public sphere.

Dr Piers Robinson: The rational for the use of propaganda against the domestic population appears to be based on ideas that there are now grey areas between ‘foreign’ and ‘domestic’ and between ‘war’ and ‘peace’. Underlying these ideas is the claim that people’s opinions are now part of the ’21st century battlefield’. As such, the government appears to be claiming that the British public are now involved in a war and that the only way that war can be fought is through attempts to influence, even control, their thoughts and behaviour. The assumption underpinning this rational for domestic propaganda is that Britain faces significant military (and other) threats.

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All your base are belong to us.

Guidance On Policing Protests May Breach Human Rights (G.)

Guidance on policing protests circulated to all forces in England and Wales may breach human rights obligations, according to campaigners. The guidance, produced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (the NPCC) and the College of Policing (COP), also appears to use a definition of unlawful protest activity that could include boycotting a shop or silently taking a knee. In a joint letter seen by the Guardian, the Good Law Project and Stop Funding Hate have urged the guidance to be made public amid “serious concerns” regarding the extent it considers and protects the human rights of protesters. According to a recent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) on how the police respond to protest, police chiefs have produced a “comprehensive and detailed document giving operational advice”.

It criticised some of the legal explanations in the document, which is used to train public order commanders and advisers, highlighting a “material risk of commanders failing to fulfil their obligations under human rights law”. The report noted that the NPCC and CoP were revising the document in response to these concerns. The report also revealed that police chiefs use a definition of “aggravated activism” as “activity that seeks to bring about political or social change but does so in a way that involves unlawful behaviour or criminality, has a negative impact upon community tensions, or causes an adverse economic impact to businesses”.

The letter by campaigners raises concerns that this definition could include a wide array of activity that is not criminal, such as campaigning for advertisers to withdraw their products from media outlets that have divisive content or calling for a boycott of a shop that sells products made from animal fur. “What’s really worrying here is the embedded value judgment that it’s wrong to target economic activity”, said Jolyon Maugham, director of the legal campaigning organisation, Good Law Project.

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“Tomorrow It Could Be Somebody Else”

Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against Trump Twitter Ban (Turley)

Sen Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) came out against the Twitter ban of former president Donald Trump yesterday. Sanders expressed his discomfort with the role of Big Tech in censorship viewpoints, a sharp departure from his Democratic colleagues who have demanded more such corporate censorship. In an interview on Tuesday with New York Times columnist Ezra Klein, Sanders stated that he didn’t feel “particularly comfortable” with the ban despite his view that Trump is “a racist, sexist, xenophobe, pathological liar, an authoritarian … a bad news guy.” He stated “if you’re asking me do I feel particularly comfortable that the then president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”

I would hope that Sanders would take the same view of a non-sitting president or an average citizen. They should all be able to speak freely. Sanders does not go as far as that “Internet originalist” position, but he at least is recognizing the danger of such censorship. He noted that “we have got to be thinking about, because if anybody who thinks yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.” He stated that it is a danger to have a “handful of high tech people” controlling speech in America. I have long praised Sanders for his principled take on many issues and this dissenting view is most welcomed by those in the free speech community. It is in sharp contrast to his Democratic colleagues who celebrated the ban and called for more censorship.

One of the leading voices of censorship in the Senate is Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) chastised Big Tech for waiting so long to issue such bans: “The question isn’t why Facebook & Twitter acted, it’s what took so long & why haven’t others?” As we have previously discussed, Democrats have abandoned long-held free speech values in favor of corporate censorship. They clearly has a different “comfort zone” than Sanders. What discomforts many Democratic members is the ability of people to speak freely on these platforms and spread what they view as “disinformation.” When Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey came before the Senate to apologize for blocking the Hunter Biden story before the election as a mistake, senators pressed him and other Big Tech executive for more censorship.

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Bellingcat is evil.

Bellingcaught (Maté)

The website Bellingcat promotes itself as a collective of digital sleuths who “pledge allegiance to truth and evidence and abide by the principles of transparency and accountability.” Its self-described “groundbreaking investigations,” especially those aimed at Russia and Syria, have led to fawning Western media endorsements of its claim to be an “intelligence agency for the people.” But Bellingcat’s carefully crafted public image as an “open source” outlet is belied by its extensive NATO government ties and a conspicuous pattern of conduct in line with its state sponsors’ interests. Bellingcat has hauled in grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government-funded CIA cutout. Leaked documents reported by The Grayzone revealed that Bellingcat has collaborated with a UK Foreign Office operation that aims to “weaken Russia.”

Bellingcat has also been a regular source of interventionist material on Syria, the target of a decade-long, multi-billion dollar proxy war waged by the US, UK, and their allies. This includes participating in a nearly two-year campaign to whitewash a scandal at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — one of the most shocking and well-documented pro-war deceptions since the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A series of leaks has exposed how top OPCW officials censored findings which undermined US-led allegations of a Syrian government chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Together with its NATO state sponsors, Bellingcat has worked to bury the cover-up and denigrate two OPCW whistleblowers who challenged it from the inside.

Bellingcat’s disinformation efforts resulted in an embarrassing debacle late last year, when the outlet was caught publishing fraudulent material about one of the dissenting OPCW scientists. Now, emails obtained by The Grayzone reveal that Bellingcat has engaged in more subterfuge than was previously known. Messages sent months before the “Bellingcat Investigation Team” released its bogus article show that Bellingcat was not the sole author of the now-discredited piece published in its name. It also was not the first one. The communications show that someone outside the Bellingcat organization composed portions of the fraudulent material that ultimately appeared on Bellingcat’s website. An external author even drafted questions that Bellingcat sent to multiple recipients.

Bellingcat’s duplicitous conduct took place in the midst of a poorly coordinated effort involving HuffPost UK and the BBC – two outlets that also enjoy close ties to the British state. The target of the Bellingcat-led smear campaign is Dr. Brendan Whelan, a 16-year OPCW veteran and member of the mission that deployed to Syria in April 2018 to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

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“I have a security clearance. And they have yet to show me any classified evidence.”

Unnamed Western Officials Spread Dubious Claims About Iran (Antiwar)

With a possible revival of the Iran nuclear deal on the table, there are many forces at work opposing a US return to the accord, known as the JCPOA. One form this opposition takes is through anonymous leaks to Western media outlets that are happy to publish whatever intelligence officials tell them to. This week, two dubiously-sourced reports came out that accused Iran of plotting an attack in Washington and operating a secret nuclear program. Missing from the stories was any evidence to back up the claims. On Sunday, The Associated Press published a story that cited “two senior US intelligence officials” who claimed that Iran made threats against Fort McNair, a waterfront Army base in Washington DC.

The officials said the NSA intercepted communications of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps discussing possible “USS Cole-style attacks” on Fort McNair, referring to the 2000 attack on a US Navy destroyer off Yemen that was launched using a small explosive-laden boat. The AP story offers no other evidence to back up the claim besides the word of the unnamed officials. Iran hawks benefit from such stories since it gives the US more reasons not to return to the JCPOA. But another reason to hype a threat to Fort McNair was explained in the AP story. The US Army wants to create a security buffer zone extending 250 to 500 feet into the water of the Washington Channel, the busy waterway that Fort McNair sits on.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s representative to Congress, has been fighting this buffer zone and said the military has shown her no evidence that constitutes a threat big enough to justify it. “I have asked the Department of Defense to withdraw the rule because I’ve seen no evidence of a credible threat that would support the proposed restriction,” Norton said. “I have a security clearance. And they have yet to show me any classified evidence.” The AP doesn’t explain these doubts until a few paragraphs into the story, so most readers with faith in the outlet that read the headline and skimmed a few paragraphs are left believing Iran is considering attacking Washington.

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Bombing grains facilities where millions are starving. This is our coalition.

Saudi-Led Coalition Intensifies Yemen Air Raids, Hits Grains Port (AlJ)

The Saudi-led military coalition has carried out dozens of air raids against what it said were Houthi military targets in Yemen’s north, including the capital Sanaa and the port of Salif on the Red Sea coast. The coalition, which intervened militarily in 2015 months after the Iran-aligned Houthi group captured large parts of northern Yemen including Sanaa, said it struck a missile and drone assembly plant in the Yemeni capital. The United Nations said air raids also hit the Houthi-controlled Salif grains port, north of Hodeidah, and two projectiles hit a warehouse and the living quarters of a food production company.


“Local authorities and company management stated that six injured workers were transferred to local medical facilities for treatment,” the UN mission in Hodeidah, UNMHA, said in a statement on Monday. The port of Salif is part of a UN-brokered neutral zone on the Red Sea, according to an agreement signed in 2018 in Stockholm between Yemen’s warring parties. Nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s nearly 30 million people depend on foreign aid as large parts of the country have been devastated by the six years of violence that have resulted in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The Houthi-controlled ministry of commerce and industry said attacks on the port were part of the “economic warfare against the Yemeni people”.

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Whitney Webb: “The government case against Ghislaine was set up to fail from the beginning. I said that right after the arrest and got shit for it, but here we are. The government is trying to cover the Epstein scandal up, not investigate it.”

Trouble With The Ghislaine Maxwell Case? (TF)

Today a motion was unsealed in the Ghislaine Maxwell case that give us serious concerns about the government’s case against Maxwell. I’ll make this brief. The unsealed motion had to do with Maxwell’s recently rejected motion for release on bail. It had been sealed because it references documents that are still under seal. You can read the full motion for release on bail here. I won’t go through the whole motion – only the parts that stand out. First, Maxwell makes the accusation that “the government concedes it cannot establish that either Ms. Maxwell or Epstein ever caused, or sought to cause, Accuser-3 to travel while she was a minor or that she was underage when she allegedly engaged in sex acts with Epstein.”


In support of this claim, Maxwell’s lawyers cite to the still-sealed filing by the government. Maxwell’s attorneys explain that this matters because victim’s “allegations cannot support the conspiracies charged in the Indictment, leaving the government with only two witnesses to prove the charges against Ms. Maxwell.” Second, Maxwell alleges that the government “produced documents indicating that government prosecutors misled a federal judge to obtain evidence against Ms. Maxwell.” This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York get into trouble. Recently, they were found to have failed to disclose evidence against a criminal defendant and then lying about their failure to disclose the evidence.

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Perfect.

Authorities ‘Working To Refloat’ Ever Given Blocking Suez Channel (Sky)

Authorities are still “working to refloat” a container ship which ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the Egyptian waterway, officials have said. Ten tug boats have been helping with the operation to free one of the world’s largest container ships from the vital waterway. Photos showed a digger removing earth and rock from the bank of the canal around the ship’s bow, while satellite images showed its diagonal position across the channel. Professor Jasper Graham-Jones, a mechanical marine engineer from Plymouth University said: “They would try to be removing anything that is easy to remove, but the location where they are stuck is not near a port, it’s actually quite a distance away from anything.


the Ever Given stranded in the Suez Canal. Pic: Planet Labs Inc via Reuters

“This is where the clear option is lots and lots of tug boats and digging around the sides.” Reports earlier on Wednesday from marine agent GAC that the Ever Given had been partially refloated were inaccurate, Ahmed Mekawy, an assistant manager at GAC’s Egypt office, said. Mr Mekawy blamed it on “inaccurate information” that the Dubai-based agent had received. It could take up to two days to move it, an official reportedly told local news outlet Cairo24, but Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie was more optimistic. He said: “Once we get this boat out, then that’s it, things will go back to normal. God willing, we’ll be done today.”


A southbound convoy was on the move, he told local media, adding that the authority was trying to keep traffic flowing between waiting areas as best it could, while salvage efforts continued. Dr Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University, said: “A prolonged closure would mean that there would be ships stacking up in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, riding at anchor, waiting for the canal to open.” Dozens of ships carrying crude, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and retail goods were unable to sail through the canal on Wednesday. At least 30 ships were blocked to the north of the Ever Given, and three to the south, local sources said. Several dozen ships could also be seen grouped around the northern and southern entrances to the canal.

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Mar 112021
 


Edgar Degas Danseuse au Tutu Vert 1887

 

Mass Vaccinaton Amidst A Pandemic Creates An Irrepressible Monster (VDB)
UK Covid-19 Variant Has Significantly Higher Mortality Rate Than Others (RT)
Scientists Accuse CDC Of Misinterpreting Their Research (F.)
Digital Health Pass: IBM and Moderna to Capitalize on COVID Reset (MPN)
2 Separate Studies Debunk Theory That Vitamin D Protects Against Covid-19 (RT)
France Faces Challenge To Persuade Millions Of Vaccine Sceptics (Sky)
ECB To Signal Faster Money Printing To Combat Yield Rise (R.)
Putin Warns Against US ‘Retaliation’ For SolarWinds Hack (ZH)
Russia Begins Slowing Down Twitter, Warns It Could Block Service Altogether (RT)
Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuits (F.)
Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers (WS)

 

 


 

 

Excellent. We need many more alternative voices in the debate. Thinking of posting the whole letter, but it’s an editor’s nightmare, looks as if the “i” on his keyboard is AWOL half the time.

Geert Vanden Bossche, DMV, PhD, independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundaton.

Mass Vaccinaton Amidst A Pandemic Creates An Irrepressible Monster (VDB)

As stated, I am not against vaccinaton. On the contrary, I can assure you that each of the current vaccines have been designed, developed and manufactured by brilliant and competent scientsts. However, this type of prophylactc vaccines are completely inappropriate, and even highly dangerous, when used in mass vaccinaton campaigns during a viral pandemic. Vaccinologists, scientsts and clinicians are blinded by the positve short-term efects in individual patents, but don’t seem to bother about the disastrous consequences for global health. Unless I am scientfcally proven wrong, it is difficult to understand how current human interventons will prevent circulating variants from turning into a wild monster.

Racing against the clock, I am completing my scientfc manuscript, the publicaton of which is, unfortunately, likely to come too late given the ever increasing threat from rapidly spreading, highly infectous variants. This is why I decided to already post a summary of my fndings as well as my keynote speech at the recent Vaccine Summit in Ohio on LinkedIn. Last Monday, I provided internatonal health organizatons, including the WHO, with my analysis of the current pandemic as based on scientfcally informed insights in the immune biology of Covid-19. Given the level of emergency, I urged them to consider my concerns and to initate a debate on the detrimental consequences of further ‘viral immune escape’. For those who are no experts in this feld, I am attaching below a more accessible and comprehensible version of the science behind this insidious phenomenon.

While there is no tme to spare, I have not received any feedback thus far. Experts and politcians have remained silent while obviously stll eager to talk about relaxing infecton preventon rules and ‘springtme freedom’. My statements are based on nothing else but science. They shall only be contradicted by science. While one can barely make any incorrect scientfc statements without being critcized by peers, it seems like the elite of scientsts who are currently advising our world leaders prefer to stay silent. Sufcient scientfc evidence has been brought to the table. Unfortunately, it remains untouched by those who have the power to act. How long can one ignore the problem when there is at present massive evidence that viral immune escape is now threatening humanity? We can hardly say we didn’t know – or were not warned. In this agonizing leter I put all of my reputaton and credibility at stake. I expect from you, guardians of mankind, at least the same. It is of utmost urgency. Do open the debate. By all means: turn the tide!

 

The key queston is: why does nobody seem to bother about viral immune escape? Let me try to explain this by means of a more easily understood phenomenon: Antimicrobial resistance. One can easily extrapolate this scourge to resistance to our self-made ‘antviral antbiotcs’. Indeed, antibodies (Abs) produced by our own immune system can be considered self-made antviral antibiotcs, regardless of whether they are part of our innate immune system (so-called ‘natural’ Abs’) or elicited in response to specifc pathogens (resulting in so-called ‘acquired’ Abs). Natural Abs are not germ-specifc whereas acquired Abs are specifcally directed at the invading pathogen. At birth, our innate immune system is ‘unexperienced’ but well-established.

It protects us from a multtude of pathogens, thereby preventing these pathogens from causing disease. As the innate immune system cannot remember the pathogens it encountered (innate immunity has no so-called ‘immunological memory’), we can only contnue to rely on it provided we keep it ‘trained’ well enough. Training is achieved by regular exposure to a myriad of environmental agents, including pathogens. However, as we age, we will increasingly face situatons where our innate immunity (often called ‘the frst line of immune defense’) is not strong enough to halt the pathogen at the portal of entry (mostly mucosal barriers like respiratory or intestnal epithelia). When this happens, the immune system has to rely on more specialized effectors of our immune system (i.e., antgen-specifc Abs and T cells) to fght the pathogen.

So, as we grow up, we increasingly mount pathogen-specifc immunity, including highly specifc Abs. As those have stronger affinity for the pathogen (e.g., virus) and can reach high concentratons, they can quite easily outcompete our natural Abs for binding to the pathogen/virus. It is precisely this type of highly specifc, high affinity Abs that current Covid-19 vaccines are inducing. Of course, the noble purpose of these Abs is to protect us against Covid-19. So, why then should there be a major concern using these vaccines to fight Covid-19? Well, similar to the rules applying to classical antimicrobial antibiotcs, it is paramount that our self-made ‘antviral antibiotcs’ are made available in suffficient concentraton and are tailored at the specifc features of our enemy

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This is what the above article addresses. The variants don’t arise despite the vaccines, but because of them.

UK Covid-19 Variant Has Significantly Higher Mortality Rate Than Others (RT)

The strain of Covid-19 originally discovered in Kent, South East England, is associated with a much higher risk of fatality, according to new research carried out by the universities of Exeter and Bristol. A study published on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that the B117 variant, often referred to as the ‘British’ or ‘Kent’ strain, is 30-100 percent more deadly than other Covid-19 variants in circulation. “Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B117 a threat that should be taken seriously,” said Robert Challen, a researcher at Exeter University, who co-led the research. Challen’s team found that the new variant caused 227 deaths in a sample of 54,906 patients, while 141 people died in a sample of the same number of people who had been infected with other Covid-19 strains.


Leon Danon, a senior author of the study and a professor at the University of Bristol, said that “there is a real concern that other variants will arise with resistance to rapidly rolled out vaccines,” and stated that monitoring new variants must be “a key part of the public health response in the future”. Researchers had already estimated that the virus’s mutations meant it was 53 percent more contagious. The strain was first identified in September 2020 along with hundreds of other variants, but it wasn’t until the English lockdown in November that scientists realised it probably associated with surging infection rates in Kent and England’s South East as case numbers decreased in other parts of the country.

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“..science has shown “schools can remain fully open safely.”

Scientists Accuse CDC Of Misinterpreting Their Research (F.)

A group of researchers whose work has been cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is accusing the agency of ignoring their positive findings about low transmission rates in schools and putting out overly stringent school reopening guidelines. The four researchers—Dr. Tara Henderson and Dr. Daniel Johnson of the University of Chicago, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California-San Francisco and Dr. Tracy Tracy Beth Hoeg of the University of California-Davis—labeled the guidelines released last month by the CDC “harmful” in a Tuesday USA Today op-ed, arguing that science has shown “schools can remain fully open safely.”

The researchers say the CDC, which on its website cites one of their studies showing minimal transmission in Wisconsin schools with high community positivity rates, ignored their research, as well as findings from the broader scientific community that have highlighted the low risks associated with Covid-19 for children and the lack of science mandating 6-feet of distance between children wearing masks. “Although the guidance cites the work performed across Wisconsin districts performed by our group,” the researchers said, the CDC guidance does not “take that data and new analyses from that dataset into account.”

They argue keeping schools closed or even partially closed is “unwarranted, is harming children, and has become a human rights issue,” and sought to dispel fears about the impact of variants, arguing Switzerland and Belgium have demonstrated that K-12 schools can remain fully open safely even after the U.K. variant becomes the dominant strain. “President Joe Biden ran on a campaign indicating that science and data would guide his policy,” the researchers wrote. “As we approach the anniversary of the first Covid-19 shut down, this approach is needed more than ever, especially when it comes to schools.”

A study published Tuesday on the partial reopening of public schools in New York City found students did not have a higher prevalence of Covid-19 compared with the general community. Though the transmission rate was higher among teachers and staff, just 191 of the 36,000 students and staffers in schools quarantined after a school virus exposure tested positive for the virus (a 0.5% transmission rate).

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This is scarier than the virus.

Digital Health Pass: IBM and Moderna to Capitalize on COVID Reset (MPN)

IBM is partnering with Covid-19 mRNA vaccine maker Moderna to track vaccine administration in real time through its various blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and hybrid cloud services. According to a company press release, the collaboration will “focus on exploring the utility of IBM capabilities in the U.S.,” such as a recently unveiled pilot program for a Covid-19 Digital Health Pass in the State of New York, which effectively deputizes private businesses to enforce government-imposed Covid-19 regulations. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative, billed as the “Excelsior Pass,” during his 2021 State of the State Address in January and the program’s initial phase was tested at the Barclays Center during an NBA game, followed by another test at Madison Square Garden for an NHL game on March 2.

According to the state’s official website, the trial runs were designed to maximize “return on investment and saving development time” before submitting the “wallet app” to the Google and Apple app stores. “The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way,” said Cuomo, who in February rolled out the state’s reopening guidelines for sports and entertainment venues, which would pave the way “to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal.” Built on IBM’s Digital Health Pass technology, the QR code-based health data tracking app is only one of multiple blockchain ledger applications the company will leverage as part of its partnership with Moderna.

Others include their Blockchain Transparent Supply and Food Trust services, which use the open-source Hyperledger technology to share supply-chain and food sourcing “credibility” data respectively with enterprise customers. IBM’s Blockchain World Wire cross-border payment processing service rounds out the blockchain ecosystem that will serve to “enhance” supply chain visibility and “real-time” vaccine management and administration. Using what have already become clichéd industry buzzwords like “transparency,” “trust,” and even “privacy,” IBM’s Digital Health Pass marketing literature describes the mass tracking app as a “smart way to return to society” that allows people to “return to the activities and things they love.”

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Oh sure.

2 Separate Studies Debunk Theory That Vitamin D Protects Against Covid-19 (RT)

Two separate non-peer-reviewed studies looking into the use and effectiveness of Vitamin D against Covid infection have both reached the same conclusion: there’s no clear benefit to using supplements. In the first study, researchers examined a database of nearly 450,000 mostly white people of European ancestry to understand whether giving them vitamin D supplements would lower the probability of contracting Covid-19. The researchers, from 10 separate universities in Canada, Israel, Japan, Italy and the UK, looked at genetic markers that would leave people predisposed to vitamin D deficiencies. They concluded that “vitamin D supplementation as a means of protecting against worsened Covid outcomes is not supported by genetic evidence,” they wrote in the study.

“Other therapeutic or preventative… avenues should be given higher priority for Covid-19 randomized controlled trials.” In the second study debunking vitamin D’s usefulness against Covid, researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece examined data on vitamin D deficiency from 24 European countries and compared it to data on Covid infections, recoveries and deaths. The researchers, who did not include data from people living in nursing homes, looked at how vitamin D deficiency rates varied across European nations and compared that data to infection rates.

They concluded that the “prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was not significantly associated with either the number of infections, recoveries or mortality rate of Covid-19” across Europe. The two new studies contradict a preprint study released in mid-February by researchers at the University of Barcelona. It suggested that giving high doses of vitamin D to Covid patients in hospital could cut deaths by 60 percent. The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the UK, has since removed the paper from its server after concerns were expressed over the methodology used to support its conclusion.

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Odd mix of anti-vaxxers.

France Faces Challenge To Persuade Millions Of Vaccine Sceptics (Sky)

As much of the world desperately seeks COVID vaccines, there is evidence in France that millions of people are reluctant to have a jab. The most recent polls suggest around half of the adult population may refuse a vaccination – leading health professionals to worry about public safety long term. Vaccine scepticism is high in many European countries and in few places more than France where so-called “anti-vax” websites and platforms have drawn thousands of followers. One of the most active sites is run from a tiny French village by Marie Werbregue who believes her daughter and others developed autism from childhood vaccines – a claim widely disputed by the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies.

She tells us: “I have never, ever been scared of COVID. I know for a fact that it’s simply a nasty flu and that’s not what scares me.” She states she will not have a coronavirus vaccine and when challenged that could put others at risk she says: “If one uses the logic that the vaccine is effective, how does an unvaccinated person affect the life of a vaccinated person? “Let’s say that I get the vaccine, I take the risks. I have the right to choose, when it concerns my life. I’m not going to risk my life, or even die for someone else. Why should I make this sacrifice?” While Marie Werbregue’s view, and her outspoken positions on vaccines and big pharma companies represent an extreme position in France, there is plenty of evidence millions of people lack confidence in inoculations and historically have been much more reluctant to have them.

French health sociologist Dr Caroline De Pauw speaks to us from the University of Lille and says that fear and scepticism are rooted in past health scares especially over the hepatitis B vaccine in the 1990s. “At the time there was the scandal that linked the vaccine with cases of multiple sclerosis. And suddenly, a link was made which has since been denied by all health authorities, including independent medical authorities, because of links with the pharmaceutical industry. “And France has trouble going beyond this issue of hepatitis B and links with the pharmaceutical industry.”

[..] Even many medical professionals have refused to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. And you don’t have to approach too many members of the public to hear the doubts. One man in Lille told us: “I’m against it, especially when we see so much pushback and that even nursing staff do not want to be vaccinated. “There is only a quarter of nursing staff in France who have accepted it, and that raises questions. So, ordinary people like me, we also ask ourselves questions.”

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One more effect of the American Rescue Plan. They can’t let the euro rise too much.

ECB To Signal Faster Money Printing To Combat Yield Rise (R.)

The European Central Bank is likely to signal faster money printing on Thursday to keep a lid on borrowing costs but it will stop short of adding firepower to its already aggressive pandemic-fighting package. Concerned that a steady rise in borrowing costs could derail the bloc’s recovery from a pandemic-fuelled recession, ECB policymakers meeting on Thursday will be keen to calm markets and recommit to rock-bottom rates until well into the recovery. But converting that commitment into specific policy action will be a delicate balancing act. The ECB cannot appear to micro-manage bond yields since that would tie its hands in the future and invite accusations it is shielding governments from market forces.


The euro zone’s central bank will also be keen not to overstate the rise in yields, which are still low by most standards, with the German yield curve, the benchmark for the 19-country bloc, still in negative territory up to 20 years. Having already committed to “maintaining favourable financing conditions”, however, it cannot ignore the rise in borrowing costs, which has not been matched by improving economic prospects and mostly mirrors a move in U.S. Treasuries. Policymakers have already approved all the firepower needed to combat the rise in yields, so technically no decision is required. The ECB still has a 1 trillion euro quota to buy bonds through next March, with flexibility to tailor volumes to market conditions.

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“..the White House is preparing a series of devastating cyberattacks on Russia..”

Putin Warns Against US ‘Retaliation’ For SolarWinds Hack (ZH)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted fiercely to the contents of a report in the The New York Times this week that cited unnamed senior admin officials to say the White House is preparing a series of devastating cyberattacks on Russia as ‘retaliation’ for the SolarWinds hack. A spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Tuesday that the “alarming information” would constitute a “pure international cybercrime” and is thus condemned under international law. “The Russian state has never had anything to do with cybercrimes and cyberterrorism it is being accused of,” Peskov emphasized. Specifically addressing the NY Times report further, Peskov added, “the fact that the newspaper doesn’t rule out that the American state could be involved in cybercrime, is definitely of great concern to us.”


Amazingly, the anonymous Biden admin officials revealed to the Times that a “series of clandestine actions across Russian networks” are expected to start within the next three weeks. The cyber-operations will by design seek to get Putin and Russian intelligence’s attention while being concealed from the broader public when it occurs, the NYT report said. Detailing the Kremlin’s condemnation and warning against any such cyber espionage, US News & World Report writes: “He spoke in response to a series of claims from U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray, that they are considering harsh punishments on Russia for the attack, including overt sanctions and some form of covert salvos in the cyber realm. Wray hinted at the action in testimony before Congress this month, saying the U.S. was preparing cyber “joint sequenced operations.”

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It’s not just Twitter.

Russia Begins Slowing Down Twitter, Warns It Could Block Service Altogether (RT)

Twitter users in Russia are about to find it takes longer to share their thoughts online, as authorities start slowing the service’s connection speeds amid a row over illegal content hosted by the US-based social media giant. Communications regulator Roskomnadzor issued a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the decision, which it says is because Twitter “does not remove content that incites minors to commit suicide, contains child pornography or information about the use of drugs.” The watchdog claims it has sent more than 28,000 requests for posts, links and publications to be deleted or blocked on the platform. However, at present, “3,168 pieces of content containing prohibited information… remain not deleted.”

These reportedly include more than 2,500 calls for children to kill themselves and 450 involving child pornography. Accusing the network of failing to adhere to Russian laws, Roskomnadzor said that “the latest vivid example was the demonstrative disregard for the requirements of the regulator to remove calls to minors to commit mass suicide.” Unlike other social networks, officials claim, “Twitter did not delete the materials.” If the company continues to refuse to comply with the requests, Moscow says, “these measures will continue in line with regulations, up to the point of blocking” the service.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of the Russian Parliament’s information policy committee said that the assembly supported the move, and that “it is a pity that Russian users have become hostages to decisions by Twitter.” But, justifying the slowdown, he said, “the state simply has no other tools to influence the violator.” Senator Alexander Bashkin added that other social media sites should take notice, claiming that “this will act as a wake up call for YouTube and other networks that make gains at the expense of law and order in Russia.”

Read more …

These suits are a decade (too) late.

Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuits (F.)

Facebook asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss two landmark antitrust lawsuits against the company, teeing up what is expected to be a protracted legal battle that could result in the social network being broken up if it loses. Facebook is facing two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., one from the Federal Trade Commission and one from 48 state attorneys general, alleging the company squashed competition through anticompetitive acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook argued in a filing the FTC doesn’t have the authority to challenge acquisitions already approved by the agency, adding that it isn’t a monopoly because the government “cannot establish that Facebook has increased prices or restricted output” without losing market share.

Facebook argued the state lawsuit was grounded in “public policy concerns” instead of antitrust law, pointing to the states’ argument that Facebook froze out competing services that could have offered better privacy protections. Both lawsuits call for remedial action, such as forcing the company to potentially sell off Instagram or WhatsApp and requiring it to get prior approval before future mergers and acquisitions. “Antitrust laws are intended to promote competition and protect consumers. These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The FTC and state lawsuits represent the most significant regulatory action Facebook has ever faced. The social giant has been under fire from both parties in recent years following privacy mishaps in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a growing concern that Facebook’s has too much control over political speech and information due to its sheer size. In October, House Democrats released a report concluding that Facebook and Google wield “monopoly power” and asked Congress to consider legislation breaking them up. House Republicans didn’t sign onto the final report and instead released their report opposing “onerous and burdensome regulation.”

Read more …

Yeah, we’re not the only victims. Looking for alternatives.

Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers (WS)

Other news publications have filed for bankruptcy without ever specifying the real reason for the losses. Big publishers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have gutted their staff without specifying the real reason – the company that is the real reason. But separately, the bad boy of news publishing, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal among many other publications, officially broke the omertà about the existential issue for publishers: Google’s total dominance in multiple layers at the core and all over internet advertising. And its abuse of power in that arena.

Last year, it was reported that News Corp complained to antitrust authorities in the US and other countries that Google was abusing its power and sucking revenues out of the stream that should be going to publishers. And I see what Google is doing to publishers every day on my own site. The US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in October last year, a decade behind the curve, after much of the damage had already been done. The New Media Alliance, which advocates for news publishers, repeated some industry data – a bitter but well-known dose of reality for publishers – in its latest missive of February 21, concerning the antitrust lawsuit:

“News publisher ad revenues have plummeted dramatically over the last two decades; between 2005 and 2018, news organizations saw their ad revenue fall by 70 percent. During that same period, Google’s ad revenue increased from approximately $6 billion to $116 billion, and Google’s market capitalization increased from approximately $100 billion to $1 trillion.” Since the endpoint of this data in 2018, the situation has continued on the same trajectory: Google siphoning out more money that should have gone to publishers, more publishers collapsing, more publishers losing more money and laying off more people, and Google’s advertising revenues rising 26% to $147 billion, and its market cap rising another 40% to $1.4 trillion.

I have seen this for years on my own site: Every year, ad revenues per million Google ads served declined. Via the Google empire, you need to get more and more traffic and serve more and more Google ads, and overall revenues from Google ads might still decline.

Read more …

 

 

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Microeconomics concerns things that economists are specifically wrong about, while macroeconomics concerns things economists are wrong about generally.
~P.J. O’Rourke

 

 

Santorini bird’s eye

 

 

 

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Feb 252021
 
 February 25, 2021  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Anyone seen an explanation?

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

“Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats.”

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Find in your thesaurus under “dysfunctional”.

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Get him under oath.

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Historians are going to think Twitter was a political party.

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

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


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

Read more …

Bubble.

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Sinkhole.

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

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


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

Read more …

Pass it to Nancy and Kamala.

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

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


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

Read more …

Which idiots signed that treaty?

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

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

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


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

Read more …

That graph is downright scary.

California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 122021
 


Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River 1942

 

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)
Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)
‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)
Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)
Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)
Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)
Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)
G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)
Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)
The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)
Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)
Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

 

 

A new insight:

 

 

Myopia.

 

 

Remember the hospital ships Trump set to New York? Cuomo didn’t use them. Because it was Trump.

“Cuomo sent 9000 infected patients into nursing homes instead of the USNS Comfort.”

While he be indicted, along with his helpers? I wouldn’t count on it.

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)

Governor Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned. The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.” In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.” “And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call. “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.” DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”

After dropping the bombshell, DeRosa asked for “a little bit of appreciation of the context” and offered what appears to be the Cuomo administration’s first apology for its handling of nursing homes amid the pandemic. But instead of a mea culpa to the grieving family members of more than 13,000 dead seniors or the critics who say the Health Department spread COVID-19 in the care facilities with a March 25 state Health Department directive that nursing homes admit infected patients, DeRosa tried to make amends with the fellow Democrats for the political inconvenience it caused them. “So we do apologize,” she said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) immediately rejected DeRosa’s expression of remorse, according to the recording. “I don’t have enough time today to explain all the reasons why I don’t give that any credit at all,” said Gottfried, one of the lawmakers who demanded the death-toll data in August. State Senate Aging Committee Chairwoman Rachel May (D-Syracuse) — who was battered during her re-election bid last year over the issue of nursing-home deaths — also ripped into DeRosa, saying her former opponent had launched another broadside earlier in the day. “And the issue for me, the biggest issue of all is feeling like I needed to defend — or at least not attack — an administration that was appearing to be covering something up,” she said.

Read more …

So start sending out the vitamin D. And boost your ivermectin supplies.

Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)

The Kent variant of the coronavirus with a key mutation that enables the South African variant to escape some of the vaccines used against it must be taken very seriously in the UK, according to a leading microbiologist. Prof Ravi Gupta of the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who is a member of the government’s scientific advisory body Nervtag, warned that the mutated variant, at the moment causing just 21 known cases, should be treated with as much concern as the South African variant. The Kent variant B117, which spreads twice as fast as the original coronavirus, is now dominant in the UK and is present in many countries around the world.

But Public Health England has identified 21 cases of B117 that also have the E484K mutation: 14 in the Bristol region, four in Greater Manchester and three elsewhere. E484K is the change to the spike protein in South Africa that scientists believe is chiefly responsible for vaccines triggering a lower antibody response to infection. Nervtag (new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group), which is part of the UK Sage committee of scientists, has designated this a “variant of concern”. This key mutation that had now arisen in the UK has been shown to reduce the efficacy of antibodies in many lab studies, said Gupta. So treating it as we would the South African variant itself is sensible, he said.

“Given that we think this one is responsible for a large knock-off of the effects of vaccine efficacy or even immunity, then, I think it’s wise,” he said. E484K is also found in the Brazilian variant, which it is thought may be infecting people who should be immune because they had previously become ill with the original coronavirus – although the evidence is still anecdotal. “Given all these factors, I think it should be taken very seriously,” he said.

Read more …

“The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom.”

‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)

Legitimate views about the effectiveness of lockdown are being silenced with accusations of Covid ‘denial’. The misuse of this powerful and emotive word, often associated with the Holocaust, is morally wrong and needs to stop. These days, if you want to shut down critical or dissident views, all you need to do is shout ‘denier’. This morally charged scare word is often hurled at anyone who questions the efficacy of the current lockdown or any of the policies associated with it. Consequently, the term denial is used to delegitimise the view of someone who is sceptical about the lockdown. For some time now, scepticism – an attitude associated with a questioning mind – has been targeted by would-be censors and treated as a marker for insidious behaviour. ‘How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous’ warns an academic in the Guardian.

The rhetorical strategy of attributing malevolent intent to scepticism is demonstrated by the decision of the Guardian to update its style guide by changing the usage of the term ‘climate sceptic’ to that of ‘climate denier’. With its long-established religious connotation as an expression of heresy, denial communicates an act of mortal sin. This quasi-religious meaning is still conveyed by 21st century moral entrepreneurs. “I have seen Covid denial up close – it was a chilling experience,” writes a commentator. In recent times, the term denial has mutated from its religious connotations to become an all-purpose secular sin. It has emerged as a turbo-charged moral crime because of its association with the Holocaust. [..] This self-conscious exploitation of the Holocaust was illustrated by a journalist for the online magazine Grist, who wanted to see global warming deniers prosecuted like Nazi war criminals.

With the tone of vitriol characteristic of dogmatic inquisitors, he noted that “we should have war crimes trials for these bastards,” adding “some sort of climate Nuremberg.” During the pandemic, the rhetoric of denial has been frequently used to associate people who are sceptical of government policy with the sins of other types of denials. As one commentator explained: “Denial is pernicious and can have dire impacts. Climate change denial leads to lack of action that would preserve a healthy planet. Mask denial leads to increased spread of and mortality from the Covid virus. Denial of sexual abuse leads to horrific instances where an abuser is allowed to persist in their malfeasance for years because those responsible for the institutions in which they operated – schools, churches, companies, scouts, etc) refused to face the terrible reality that existed under their own roofs.”

From this perspective, denial itself, without regard to any specific object is pernicious. The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom. The alarmist tone used to rebrand anyone sceptical of a lockdown policy as a denier makes it difficult for many people to openly voice their reservations on the predicament they face. A lockdown sceptic is not simply treated as someone with a different point of view but as a threat to the community. They are also condemned for having blood on their hands. They have “deadly beliefs” which constitute a threat to the survival of a community.

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Florida just made the whole thing up?!

Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)

The Biden administration has denied reports that it’s actively considering domestic travel restrictions to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants, telling Reuters Thursday that “no specific decisions are under consideration” after Florida Republicans slammed the suggestion that the White House could restrict travel to the state. An anonymous Biden source told the Miami Herald Wednesday the administration was actively discussing “potential travel restrictions within the United States” as a way to curb emerging coronavirus variants, as the more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom is expected to become the U.S.’s primary strain by March.

Though the official said no particular states were so far being targeted by the potential restrictions and no final decisions had yet been made, the variants are especially prevalent in Florida and California, and the official said “all options are on the table.” Republicans heavily opposed the travel restrictions: in a letter to President Joe Biden quoted by the Herald, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the move would be “an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the possibility of restrictions at a press conference Thursday, saying it “would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida” and “it’s unclear why they would even try talking about that.”

A White House spokesperson denied the report to Reuters Thursday, saying that while the administration is “continuing to discuss” potential travel recommendations, “To be clear, there have been no decisions made around additional public health measures for domestic travel safety.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday that while the administration is “always considering what steps are necessary” for public health, “no decisions have been made” regarding any measures that could affect domestic travel considerations.

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Twitter will go.

Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)

Twitter permanently suspended an account belonging to Project Veritas on Thursday, citing repeat violations of the site’s policies against publishing private information. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the main Project Veritas account was permanently suspended, while founder James O’Keefe had his account temporarily locked. Several recent tweets on O’Keefe’s timeline appeared to have been deleted by Thursday afternoon. [..] Founded in 2010, Project Veritas is a right-wing group that routinely published undercover sting videos, some of which have been accused of deceptive editing. Last October the group was criticized after claiming to have uncovered a witness to voter fraud in Minnesota only for the witness to backtrack on his claims days later and accuse Project Veritas operatives of trying to bribe him, according to multiple reports.

The group, which frequently targets Democratic politicians and media organizations, scored a victory last year when an ABC News correspondent was suspended after a Veritas video showed him claiming that the network does not care about newsworthy issues. They have also published videos of a “Good Morning America” anchor complaining about the network ignoring her story on disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. O’Keefe, in an emailed statement, told The Hill that the content in question was a video of Project Veritas members questioning a Facebook executive, Guy Rosen.

“Late last night, Twitter locked Project Veritas’s and my Twitter accounts, claiming we violated Twitter Guidelines by posting a video of our journalists asking questions of Facebook’s Vice President Guy Rosen which Rosen refused to answer. Twitter claimed the video published private information, which is false. Twitter invited Project Veritas to, and we did, appeal that decision with Twitter. In an apparent act of retaliation for daring to question their authority, Twitter responded to our appeal by suspending our account, continuing to tell us that Project Veritas could delete the tweet and have our account reinstated,” said O’Keefe. “This is nothing new from Twitter – just last fall Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted in Congress his company’s decision to block the New York Post was erroneous while still demanding the Post kneel before them by deleting the tweet,” he continued, adding: “Here we go again – Twitter opting to delete news and demand fealty when their decision is dared to be questioned.”

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This is worse than thought police. Cut them down to size.

Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)

Facebook has taken down the Instagram page of former president John F. Kennedy’s nephew – a prominent vaccine critic with 800,000 subscribers. The tech giant has recently stepped up its offensive on what it deems Covid-19 disinfo Kennedy’s Instagram account with its massive following was erased on Wednesday. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said, confirming the deletion of his hugely popular page. The account was yanked shortly after the Washington Post reported that it had alerted the Facebook-owned social network to Kennedy’s post with the viral clip from “Planet Lockdown.” The video is an interview starring Kennedy’s ally, Catherine Austin Fitts, who served as assistant secretary of housing in the George H.W. Bush administration.


In the clip, which has since been scrapped from YouTube, Facebook, and other established social media, Fitts reportedly argues that the vaccination drive against Covid-19 is a sinister plot masterminded by a global cabal, and that vaccines can change people’s DNA or render them infertile. Kennedy, who was known to be a vocal vaccine skeptic long before the pandemic, reposted the video on December 29. It had reportedly racked up some 900,000 views before it was taken down. He also boasts a sizable 214,000-strong following on Twitter, however his handle there appears to be intact. Kennedy Jr. has drawn stark criticism for his anti-vaccine stance from the mainstream media, with CNN’s Jake Tapper labeling him a “menace” for calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a “very sinister guy who has turned” America over to “Big Pharma.”

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Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage.

Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)

The Trump team is likely to play back similar language used by Democrats in both houses to “fight” for the country and to “retake” Congress. During Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Democrats denounced his legitimacy as riots broke out in Washington involving violent groups. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) later called on people to confront Republicans in public; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) insisted during 2020’s violent protests that “there needs to be unrest in the streets.” Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “protesters should not let up” even as many protests turned violent or deadly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has condemned fellow members as effectively traitors and the “enemy within.” She was criticized last year for stating, in the midst of violent protests, that “I just don’t know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be.”

All of these Democrats insist they meant peaceful acts — and I believe them. But that is the point: Rioters sought to burn federal buildings or occupy state capitals and, in some cases, seized police stations, sections of cities, even a city hall. Democrats’ words did not cause that violence on the left. Yet, this impeachment trial invites the same or similar words to be interpreted subjectively, based on whether you believe or approve of the speaker. Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood in front of the Supreme Court and, citing two justices by name, declared menacingly: “Hey, Gorsuch. Hey, Kavanaugh — you’ve unleashed a whirlwind. And you’re going to pay the price.” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) seemed to defend the recent violent takeover of a St. Louis prison by tweeting the words of Martin Luther King that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Nor is this limited to Washington: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) defended state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D) who called for “soldiers” to “make [Trump supporters] pay” for criticizing and harassing her. Fired FBI director James Comey has been given to reckless rhetoric, too. He recently said: “The Republican Party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Likewise, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin declared that “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb on Jan. 6, would that constitute incitement to arson or violence?

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The final step towards oblivion.

G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)

Group of Seven finance ministers are likely to back a new allocation of the International Monetary Fund’s own currency, or special drawing rights, at an online meeting on Friday to help low-income countries, sources said. A new issuance is similar to when a central bank prints money as the new SDRs give each IMF member more reserves to draw on in proportion to their shareholding in the Fund. Officials from the United States, the IMF’s biggest shareholder, have signalled they are open to a new issuance of $500 billion, sources said – a clear shift in position under the administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden. “We expect Friday’s G7 meeting to take decisions on important initiatives, and for France that is the question of a new allocation of IMF special drawing rights,” a French finance ministry source said.


A consensus among the G7 rich nations would pave the way for a broader agreement among G20 countries next month, which could in turn set the stage for a formal decision at the IMF’s annual spring meeting in April. Two sources familiar with the matter said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had not clearly stated her views on the matter. A third source said Republicans in the U.S. Congress would “have a field day” with the potential boost in funding for China, Iran and Venezuela. Proponents said it would be difficult for countries facing U.S. sanctions to access the cash, however, as they would have to use banks wary of running afoul of Washington. Senior Democratic U.S. senators who back an even larger allocation of 2 trillion SDRs are lobbying U.S. Treasury officials personally to move forward, including through direct calls, a Senate aide said.

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Until the Fed withdraws, there are no markets.

Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)

Gas prices are climbing. Home prices are surging. Stock markets keep hitting fresh records as chatroom-driven mania draws in giddy investors. The economy and financial markets appear to be pricing themselves for perfection, betting on rapid vaccinations and a surge of consumer spending later this year that will pull the nation out of its pandemic funk. Serious risks are still lurking just below the surface: Vaccinations could take far longer than expected. New Covid strains could evade vaccines and spur new lockdowns. All of this could trigger falls in stock prices and other assets and stomp on job creation.

But if the dream scenario does arrive, another risk is lurking: A burst of new spending and economic growth coupled with the massive amount of fiscal stimulus in the system — possibly including nearly $2 trillion more under the White House’s latest plan — could lead to a sharp spike in inflation. That would send stocks tumbling and could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to contemplate raising interest rates to cool the economy. The Goldilocks scenario Wall Street and the White House are hoping for includes a successful vaccination effort and enough federal support to keep millions of suffering Americans afloat until then, followed by an economy that runs neither too hot nor too cold. But there is no guarantee Goldilocks will arrive.

“The Biden plan coming on top of last year’s stimulus, the budding increase in union power, the rising risk of import inflation coupled with a ballooning trade deficit, and other data suggest to me that inflation will jump,” said Richard Bernstein of financial firm RBAdvisors. And it could be that all the easy money from the Fed has created dangerous bubbles that could pop, Bernstein warned. “The Fed is providing tons of liquidity, but because banks have been hesitant to lend, the liquidity is trapped in the financial economy and bubbles are forming. Whether it’s Bitcoin, SPACs, Robinhood day traders, or anything similar, it’s clearly not healthy capital formation.”

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“The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce.”

The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)

Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt. They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, debt becomes a drag on growth. Meanwhile, we’re looking at deficits of $1 trillion or more, long after the pandemic subsides. In basic terms, the United States is going broke. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. I don’t say that for effect. I’m not looking to scare people or to make a splash. That’s just an honest assessment based on the numbers. Tax cuts won’t bring us out of it, neither can structural changes to the economy. Both would help if done properly, but the problem is simply far too large.

So, an economic time bomb is ticking. Velocity is dropping. Debt is growing while growth is slowing. The explosion will come in the form of asset bubbles bursting and stocks crashing. There’s no way out of the debt death trap. Or is there? There is actually a way out. It’s the only solution left, really. And that’s inflation. Deflation increases the real value of debt. With deflation, the value of money increases, making it more burdensome to pay off debt. This is why debtors hate deflation. And guess who is the world’s largest debtor nation? That’s right, the U.S. On the other hand, inflation decreases the real value of debt. It’s easier to pay down debt because you’re paying back debt with dollars that are less valuable than when you originally borrowed them. But the Fed has failed to produce inflation for over a decade now, despite all the trillions of dollars it’s fabricated.

Then how can the government and the Fed produce inflation now? The solution is to increase the price of gold in order to change inflationary expectations. That will increase money velocity and get the growth engine running again. The Fed could actually cause inflation in about 15 minutes if it used this method. FDR did this to perfection in 1933, and his actions began to dig us out of the Great Depression. Jerome Powell, Biden and his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen could do it again if they wanted to (assuming they know how, which is probably too much to assume). But how could they increase the gold price to increase money velocity and change inflation expectations? I’ve written about it before, but it bears revisiting, especially since there are newer readers who may be unfamiliar with it. Here’s how they can do it:

The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce. They could make that new price stick by using the Treasury’s gold in Fort Knox and the major U.S. bank gold dealers to conduct “open market operations” in gold. The Fed will be a buyer if the price hits $4,950 per ounce or less and a seller if the price hits $5,050 per ounce or higher. They will print money when they buy and reduce the money supply when they sell via the banks. The Fed would target the gold price rather than interest rates. The point is to cause a generalized increase in the price level. A rise in the price of gold from $1,900 per ounce to $5,000 per ounce is a massive devaluation of the dollar when measured in the quantity of gold that one dollar can buy.

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She was involved in everything from 2000 on. So much suffering.

Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)

Victoria Nuland exemplifies the neocons who have led US foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years while evading accountability. It is a bad sign that President Joe Biden has nominated Victoria Nuland for the third highest position at the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs. As a top-level appointee, Victoria Nuland must be confirmed by the US Senate. There is a campaign to Stop her confirmation. The following review of her work shows why Victoria Nuland is incompetent, highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Afghanistan and Iraq: From 2000 to 2003, Nuland was US permanent representative to NATO as the Bush administration attacked then invaded Afghanistan. The Afghan government offered to work with the US remove Al Qaeda, but this was rejected. After Al Qaeda was defeated, the US could have left Afghanistan but instead stayed, established semi-permanent bases, split the country, and is still fighting there two decades later. From 2003 to 2005 Nuland was principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who “helped plan and manage the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, including making Bush administration’s case for preemptive military actions based on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.” The foreign policy establishment, with Nuland on the far right, believed that removing Saddam Hussein and installing a US “ally” would be simple. The invasion and continuing occupation have resulted in over a million dead Iraqis, many thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousands with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a cost of 2 to 6 TRILLION dollars.

[..] Victoria Nuland has promoted a foreign policy of intervention through coups, proxy wars, aggression, and ongoing occupations. The policy has been implemented with bloody and disastrous results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. With consummate hypocrisy she accuses Russia of spreading misinformation in the US, while she openly seeks to put “stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She wants to “establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Victoria Nuland is the queen of chicken hawks, the Lady Macbeth of perpetual war. There are hundreds of thousands of victims from the policies she has promoted. Yet she has not received a scratch. On the contrary, Victoria Nuland probably has profited from a stock portfolio filled with military contractors.Now Victoria Nuland wants to provoke, threaten and “rollback” Russia. A quick look at a map of US military bases shows who is threatening whom. Victoria Nuland is highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

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Dig in!

Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

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Feb 022021
 
 February 2, 2021  Posted by at 10:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


MC Escher Relativity 1953

 

Is Robinhood The Devil in Sheep’s Clothing? (Neville)
Physical Premium To Paper Hits Record As Silver Market Tears In Two (ZH)
Papering Over the Rot (Chris Hedges)
How To Redesign COVID Vaccines So They Protect Against Variants (Nature)
COVID19 Vaccine Developers Ask SEC to Help Keep Price Setting Secret (DP)
The Brazil Variant Is Exposing the World’s Vulnerability (Atl.)
Fauci 180º: Double Masking For Covid-19 Doesn’t ‘Make A Difference’ (JTN)
Oversight Board Reverses Facebook Removal Of HCQ Post (JTN)
The Game is On (Jim Kunstler)
Figures Tied To Past Controversies Increasingly Land Jobs On Team Biden (JTN)
Why You Haven’t Seen A Sit-Down Biden Interview Yet (Pol.)
Hundreds Deported Under Biden, Including Witness To Massacre (AP)
Biden Considers Revoking Trump’s Rights To Be Briefed On Secrets (DM)
Kerry Gifts Wall Street the Green New Deal (Pettifor)
Twitter Suspends Account of Group That Called For Regulating Big Tech (JTN)

 

 

 

 

“Back in Washington, they’ve found a company to crucify who turned out to be even bigger hypocrites than they are. Quite the bi-partisan cause!”

Is Robinhood The Devil in Sheep’s Clothing? (Neville)

Robinhood fancies themselves as commission free trading which is giving normal people free access to the stock market. They are the Facebook of the financial world. You think it’s free, but your data ends up being sold to another big business who profits off of it more than you do. For Zuckerberg, he sells all your data to businesses across the world. For Robinhood, they sell your data to Ken Griffin and other High Frequency Trading shops. You could write a book on the nuances of it, but let’s leave it there for now. As Facebook and (anti)social media grew too large, it has created mass hysterias. Neuroscientist and philosopher, Sam Harris, speaks on his podcast about humans losing sense of their rationality. Because of the constant propaganda being thrown on social media, humans are having a hard time deciphering truths and often create false realities.

Humans end up giving their attention to the most extreme personalities (watch the Tekashi69 Documentary on HBO) and the values of balance and a middle class lifestyle go out the door. In the same way that Facebook has distorted human perception, Robinhood is doing this to capital markets, which might be even scarier. If no one knows the value of things, then how do we attempt to live in a civilized society and trade value for value? Stan Druckenmiller has said that there should be some sort of hurdle rate for investment into the market. Perhaps this is what he saw coming? One of the words that I am shorting over the next five years is ‘scale’. One of the words that will likely replace it is ‘balance’. With balance, you get real growth and real innovation. You accept the fact you are human and fallible while constantly trying to learn from your failures. With scale, you just want to control things as fast as you can at the expense of the herd.

I worked as a trader for 12 years before tapping out and realizing my job was getting eaten alive by algorithms & high-frequency-trading. I tried to out-hustle it, but the incentive to make things cheaper for the end consumer to buy stocks inevitably won. As a free market capitalist, I have to give passive investment, HFT & Robinhood some major props. What they did was brilliant, but I can’t help but ask myself whether we’ve sacrificed social stability in that pursuit of scale. Behind closed doors, I know they are concerned and they can’t unwind what they’ve built. I get messages from Wall Street friends everyday now who can’t openly speak about it, but know how messed up the capital markets are.

With retail equity and call buying at all time records, liquidity could get funky if pay-for-order flow providers pull back at all. CEO’s at Schwab, TD and Virtu will likely try to distance themselves from that model. In the interim, Robinhood will likely do a nice round of mea-culpas with the best PR firms on the market and apologize to everyone about the GameStop situation. The big VC’s on Robinhood’s cap table who are obsessed with scale will make their calls into Washington. Back in Washington, they’ve found a company to crucify who turned out to be even bigger hypocrites than they are. Quite the bi-partisan cause!

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What will be the new normal? Can’t imagine it will be like the old one.

Physical Premium To Paper Hits Record As Silver Market Tears In Two (ZH)

APMEX Statement On Current Market Conditions:

In the last week, we have seen a dramatic shift in Silver demand from our customers. For example, the ratio of ounces sold per day was running about two times earlier in the week and closer to four times the average demand by the end of the week. Once markets closed on Friday, we saw demand hit as much as six times a typical business day and more than 12 times a normal weekend day. Combined with the extremely high demand levels, we are also seeing a surge in new customers. On Saturday alone, we added as many new customers as we usually add in a week.

Any Precious Metal dealer will take a long position in the futures market to protect against spot price exposure when the markets open. We do this because it is our goal not to take a speculative position on metal. The weekends are unique as we are not able to real-time hedge our position. We took an aggressive position this weekend, but clearly could not have predicted the volumes that were seen. We have partnerships around to world that allowed us to cover these long positions, but only to a point. Once we exceeded our comfort levels, we had little choice but to stop the sale of Silver on our website. This was a difficult decision to make and unprecedented in our history.

As we evaluate the markets, it is difficult to know where Silver’s price and demand will go in the coming day and weeks. APMEX is highly capitalized and has more than $150 million in inventory to support demand. We have made strategic decisions to procure additional metal, locking up any metal we can find in the market place. We suspect premiums will rise and rise quickly, as we are seeing significant increases in our costs, when we can even locate the metal. It is also highly likely that we will need an additional day or two to fill orders based on current order counts. The one guarantee we can make to our customers is that you will only be sold metal that is on-site, or we have procured the metal with a firm commitment date from our partners. In markets like this, we feel this is the best approach a retailer can take, as no one can predict product availability.

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“The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century.”

Papering Over the Rot (Chris Hedges)

The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by President Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on Jan. 6. and took selfies in Vice President Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement.


Mr. Fish

All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed. Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution. The staggering concentration of wealth and obscene avarice of the very rich now dwarfs the hedonism and excesses of the world’s most heinous despots and wealthiest capitalists of the past.

In 2015, shortly before he died, Forbes estimated David Rockefeller’s net worth was $3 billion. The Shah of Iran looted an estimated $1 billion from his country. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos amassed between $5 and $10 billion. And the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was worth about a billion. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are each at $180 billion. The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century.

It was made possible by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who, in exchange for corporate money to fund their campaigns and later Clinton’s foundation and post-presidency opulent lifestyle, abolished the regulations that once protected the citizenry from the worst forms of monopoly exploitation. The demolishing of regulations made possible the largest upwards transference of wealth in American history. Whatever you say about Trump, he at least initiated moves to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists, none of which will happen under Biden, whose campaign these corporations bankrolled. And that has to be one of the reasons these digital platforms disappeared Trump from social media.

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We’re all hostages to these companies now. No-one talks about boosting your immune system, or getting fitter, natural defenses are not done.

How To Redesign COVID Vaccines So They Protect Against Variants (Nature)

Labs worldwide are racing to understand the threat that emerging coronavirus variants pose for vaccines. But early insights from these studies are mixed and incomplete. A variant identified in late 2020 in South Africa, called 501Y.V2 (also known as variant B.1.351), is among the most worrying. Lab assays have found that it carries mutations that sap the potency of virus-inactivating ‘neutralizing antibodies’ that were made by people who received either the Pfizer or Moderna RNA vaccines. Whether these changes are enough to lower the effectiveness of those vaccines is not clear, says Subbarao. “That is the million-dollar question, because we don’t know how much antibody you need.” Other immune responses that vaccines prompt might help to protect against the effects of variants.

But on 28 January, biotech firm Novavax released data from clinical trials showing that its experimental vaccine, designed to combat the original virus, was about 85% effective against a variant identified in the United Kingdom — but less than 50% effective against 501Y.V2. That drop is concerning, say researchers, because it indicates that 501Y.V2 and other variants like it can cause a significant drop in vaccines’ effectiveness. “I think it’s inevitable for the vaccines to maintain tip-top efficacy, they will need to be updated. The only question is how often and when,” says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Rockefeller University in New York City who co-led one of the neutralizing-antibody studies. Scientists, health officials and vaccine makers are starting to hash this out. Researchers are only beginning to learn how different mutations alter vaccine responses and how evolutionary forces can cause mutations to spread. “I certainly wouldn’t update them now,” says Bieniasz.

One model that COVID vaccine updates could follow is that of seasonal flu vaccines, says Subbarao, who directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne. Centres including hers monitor emerging flu strains for genetic changes that might influence vaccines’ effectiveness. Researchers use studies with ferret and human antibodies to determine whether a new flu strain is likely to evade a previous season’s vaccine, and therefore necessitate an update. These reviews are conducted annually for each hemisphere’s flu season, and changes are made only when a vaccine-evading strain is widespread, says Subbarao. “If it’s localized to one region, one country, we wouldn’t change the vaccine for the whole hemisphere.”

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Drug pricing is not the scandal here.

COVID19 Vaccine Developers Ask SEC to Help Keep Price Setting Secret (DP)

When the U.S. government awarded over $10 billion in contracts and advance- purchase commitments to drug companies working on COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, it did not require the recipients of government money to agree to offer their products at fair prices or share intellectual property rights to enable faster production. Now, two of the companies awarded those contracts—Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson—are trying to prevent shareholders from voting on resolutions to require the companies to disclose information about the impact of government funding on vaccine access. The U.S. government has purchased 200 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, for about $20 and $10 per dose, respectively.

The shareholder resolutions, filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a shareholder activism organization, ask those two companies to inform their shareholders how “receipt of public financial support for development and manufacture of products for COVID-19 is being, or will be, taken into account when making decisions that affect access to such products, such as setting prices.” Similar resolutions were also filed at Eli Lilly, Gilead, Merck, and Regeneron. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson filed “no action requests” with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in December, asking the agency to rule that the companies can withhold the proposals from shareholders.

In nearly identical filings prepared by the same lawyer, both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson argued that the proposals attempt to “micromanage” the companies “by requesting an intricately detailed report.” Meg Jones-Monteiro, ICCR’s health equity director, called the micromanaging claim “ludicrous.” The claim that investors are trying to “micromanage” the companies comes from an SEC precedent finding that certain “ordinary business operations” should not be subject to shareholder oversight. But Jones-Monteiro argues that the issue of vaccine pricing during pandemics doesn’t fall into this category.

“Anything related to drug pricing has been established as a social policy issue,” Jones-Monteiro told The Daily Poster, meaning it isn’t just ordinary business that doesn’t need any shareholder oversight. She noted that the proposals don’t ask about ordinary pricing decisions or ask for intricate details about pricing algorithms. “We are asking very generally: did you take government funding into account? And how did you take it into account?” Oxfam, an ICCR member who filed the proposed resolution with Johnson & Johnson, wrote in a supporting statement that “JNJ stated publicly that it will distribute a COVID-19 vaccine on a “nonprofit” basis,” adding: “JNJ has not clarified what ‘nonprofit’ means when the government funds a significant portion of the research and development cost.”

Read more …

Pretty bad.

The Brazil Variant Is Exposing the World’s Vulnerability (Atl.)

Even in a year of horrendous suffering, what is unfolding in Brazil stands out. In the rainforest city of Manaus, home to 2 million people, bodies are reportedly being dropped into mass graves as quickly as they can be dug. Hospitals have run out of oxygen, and people with potentially treatable cases of COVID-19 are dying of asphyxia. This nature and scale of mortality have not been seen since the first months of the pandemic. This is happening in a very unlikely place. Manaus saw a devastating outbreak last April that similarly overwhelmed systems, infecting the majority of the city. Because the morbidity was so ubiquitous, many scientists believed the population had since developed a high level of immunity that would preclude another devastating wave of infection.

On the whole, Brazil has already reported the second-highest death toll in the world (though half that of the United States). As the country headed into summer, the worst was thought to be behind it. Data seemed to support the idea that herd immunity in Manaus was near. In Science this month, researchers mapped the virus’s takeover last year: In April, blood tests found that 4.8 percent of the city’s population had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. By June, the number was up to 52.5 percent. Since people who get infected do not always test positive for antibodies, the researchers estimated that by June about two-thirds of the city had been infected. By November, the estimate was about 76 percent. In The Lancet this week, a team of Brazilian researchers noted that even if these estimates were off by a large margin, infection on this scale “should confer important population immunity to avoid a larger outbreak.”

Indeed, it seemed to. The city was able to largely reopen and remain open throughout its winter with low levels of COVID-19 cases. Yet now, the nightmare scenario is happening a second time. The situation defies expert expectations about how immunity would help protect the hardest-hit populations. By estimates of leading infectious-disease specialists, such as Anthony Fauci, when roughly 70 to 75 percent of the population is immune, there can still be clusters of cases, but sustaining a large-scale outbreak becomes mathematically impossible. Still somehow, according to The Washington Post, hospitals in Manaus that had thought they were well prepared are now overwhelmed.

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What a clown.

Fauci 180º: Double Masking For Covid-19 Doesn’t ‘Make A Difference’ (JTN)

First he said don’t wear a mask. Then he said wear a mask. Then he said wear two masks. Then he said just wear one mask. Keeping up with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s mask-wearing recommendations is getting tough. Back in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging, Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” the doctor said on CBS News. Of course, we didn’t know much back then, and how to slow the spread has since evolved.

Soon after Fauci made his comments, experts – including those in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – said Americans should wear masks, citing estimates that 40% or more of those infected were asymptomatic but could still spread the virus. “We were not aware that 40% to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask,” Fauci said in September, noting that “the data now are very, very clear.”

Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, said last month that wearing two masks is likely more effective than wearing one. “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on it, just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told NBC News. Then over the weekend, Fauci said: “There are many people who feel, you know, if you want to have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference and that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed the recommendation.”

Read more …

HCQ research has been dead since April, thanks to the Lancet. That’s also when the vaccine trials started.

Oversight Board Reverses Facebook Removal Of HCQ Post (JTN)

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board has reversed the social media platform’s decision to remove an October 2020 post pertaining to the drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19. “In October 2020, a user posted a video and accompanying text in French in a public Facebook group related to COVID-19,” the board explained on its website. “The post alleged a scandal at the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (the French agency responsible for regulating health products), which refused to authorize hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin for use against COVID-19, but authorized and promoted remdesivir. The user criticized the lack of a health strategy in France and stated that “[Didier] Raoult’s cure” is being used elsewhere to save lives.

“The user’s post also questioned what society had to lose by allowing doctors to prescribe in an emergency a “harmless drug” when the first symptoms of COVID-19 appear.” While the person’s post pushed back against a government policy, it did not urge people to obtain or take medicine without a prescription, the board noted. “[The] user was opposing a governmental policy and aimed to change that policy,” the board said in explaining its ruling. “The combination of medicines that the post claims constitute a cure are not available without a prescription in France and the content does not encourage people to buy or take drugs without a prescription. Considering these and other contextual factors, the Board noted that Facebook had not demonstrated the post would rise to the level of imminent harm, as required by its own rule in the Community Standards.”

Facebook also failed to show why it did not opt for a less severe remedy than removing the post from the platform, the panel found. “Given that Facebook has a range of tools to deal with misinformation, such as providing users with additional context, the company failed to demonstrate why it did not choose a less intrusive option than removing the content,” the board explained. The board also determined that the social media giant’s misinformation and imminent harm rule is too vague and recommended that the platform consolidate and clarify its standards on health misinformation in one place.

“The Board also found Facebook’s misinformation and imminent harm rule, which this post is said to have violated, to be inappropriately vague and inconsistent with international human rights standards,” the panel said. “A patchwork of policies found on different parts of Facebook’s website make it difficult for users to understand what content is prohibited. Changes to Facebook’s COVID-19 policies announced in the company’s Newsroom have not always been reflected in its Community Standards, while some of these changes even appear to contradict them.”

Read more …

“It looks like they mean bidness.”

The Game is On (Jim Kunstler)

It’s been fifty years since precious metals enjoyed any official peg with the US dollar, but for five thousand years previously gold and silver were money itself and paper currencies became mere representations of that money. That relationship ended in 1971 when President Nixon closed the “window” that allowed foreign countries to redeem gold in exchange for dollars they accumulated from the commercial trade of goods — and, our dollar being the world’s supreme reserve currency, the rest of the world’s currencies followed.

Despite all efforts since then by banking authorities to denigrate the value and the role of gold and silver in financial affairs, the “barbarous relics” retained a persistent influence in men’s minds because of their intrinsic qualities. These were: the vested energy they represented from mining and refining, their physical durability, portability, and divisibility, their freedom from counterparty obligations, and, especially in modern times, their vital usefulness in electronics and other industrial applications. The latter quality is greatly reinforced by the powerful wish to transition from a fossil fuel economy to an alt-energy economy of solar cells and wind turbines — a wish that probably won’t come true.

And so, as promised by the subreddit vigilantes, the silver price was up around $3 or ten percent in overnight trading going into the week’s Monday open. It looks like they mean bidness. And that could mean many things. The most obvious is a very conscious effort to punish the high hats of Wall Street for years of lawless game-playing that made them ultra-rich and left everybody else in the country impoverished. Some of the vigilantes frankly express the desire to wreck the degenerate banking system altogether, a great purge of evil to restore something like God-fearing accountability, moving toward a fresh and honest re-start of markets and banking. I’m not convinced that we would get any such orderly re-start in the sense that global banking could be reconstructed along pre-2020 lines.

Rather, wrecking the banks in a daisy-chain of shattered obligations would be an express ticket to the Palookaville of neo-medievalism I’ve been warning about, and probably in a sharp, disorderly, violent, and deadly episode of losing everything that has made us civilized. In any case, the country has already prepped itself for some kind of spectacular failure with all the social mind-fuckery of the past four years that eventuated with the empty shell of Joe Biden in the White House, and millions of his supporters swept into an epic hysteria of manufactured moral outrage over pseudo-realities initiated by academic racketeers and then weaponized by our politicians. But the game is on, whether you like it or not. This may be a last opportunity to get your minds right before you lose your country and your future.

Read more …

There are hundreds of them.

Figures Tied To Past Controversies Increasingly Land Jobs On Team Biden (JTN)

Jake Sullivan was one of the most prolific users of Hillary Clinton’s forbidden email server. Now he’s Joe Biden’s national security adviser. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland previously had ties to Christopher Steele in the Russia scandal. White House domestic adviser Susan Rice once falsely declared the Benghazi terror attack was provoked by an anti-Muslim video and later wrote the famously curious did-it-by-the-books email in the Russia scandal during her last minutes in he Obama administration. And top Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement official Melissa Hodgman is married to Peter Strzok, the fired FBI agent who supervised the discredited Crossfire Hurricane probe into Russia-Trump collusion. As Biden fills out his team, the list of people tied to past scandals and controversy keeps getting bigger.


And the pattern has some prominent Republicans taking note. “If you look at the larger picture, the Russia hoaxers, the people that were pushing this out from the very beginning and lying about it after the fact, they’re all at the top echelons of the Biden administration,” former House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Sunday. During an appearance on Fox News’ Sunday show hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Nunes took issue with Hodgman’s appointment as acting chief of the SEC enforcement division, saying while she “could be a great public servant,” it created the appearance of a Democratic payback to her husband for pursuing Trump. “Looks like Peter Strozk is actually going to get reimbursed for all of his troubles,” Nunes said. “The guy lost his job, but nothing’s happened to him at this point.”

Read more …

Incompetence as a strategic move.

Why You Haven’t Seen A Sit-Down Biden Interview Yet (Pol.)

Joe Biden waited nearly four decades to become the most powerful man in the free world. Now that he is, he’s making himself scarce. Biden is leaning on doctors and health experts to publicly detail his Covid policy. He’s relying on his Cabinet, economic advisers and other high-ranking administration officials to help sell his nearly $2 trillion rescue package. Biden’s press team, meanwhile, is standing in for their boss by blanketing TV programs with pledges to tell the truth even when it’s inconvenient. It’s one of the more arresting shifts after four years of a president who delighted in torturing the media with sudden pronouncements that often surprised and befuddled his own advisers.

“He trusts them, and Americans will trust experts,” John Anzalone, a top Biden adviser and campaign pollster, said of the president’s approach to his team. “Plus,” he added, “Biden is dealing with multiple crises and is a good delegator.” White House aides describe the strategy not so much as delegation but as an concerted effort to restore confidence with a public battered by the contradictory messaging and scorched-earth politics of the Trump years. In just over a week, the White House has booked 80 TV and radio interviews with 20 senior administration officials, members of the Covid-19 response team and Cabinet secretary designates. They’ve had officials on each major network, booking them on every Sunday show in the first week.

And they worked with CNN to have three of the doctors in charge of its Covid-19 response take questions from the public during a coronavirus town hall, said Mariel Sáez, the White House director of broadcast media. Who’s not been booked for any sit-down interviews: Biden. But the president hasn’t exactly been absent either. He appeared for brief ceremonies where he signed executive orders and delivered mostly scripted remarks. He’s taken a handful of questions from the news media. And he’s expected to give a major foreign policy address on Monday amid a planned trip to the State Department, his first visit to a Cabinet agency.

As main protagonists go, Biden’s role has been comparatively limited — a startling contrast to the omnipresent president who preceded him. Donald Trump didn’t so much love the spotlight as he sought to totally consume it. Whether he was sending Twitter screeds at all hours or shouting answers over the ear-splitting blades of his presidential aircraft, Trump craved media attention like no American leader before him.

Read more …

Who built the cages?

Hundreds Deported Under Biden, Including Witness To Massacre (AP)

President Joe Biden’s administration has deported hundreds of immigrants in its early days despite his campaign pledge to stop removing most people in the U.S. illegally at the beginning of his term. A federal judge last week ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled Monday.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that the Department of Homeland Security issued to enforcement agencies and that took effect Monday. Some of the people put on the flights may have been expelled — which is a quicker process than deportation — under a public health order that former President Donald Trump invoked during the coronavirus pandemic and that Biden has kept in place. In the border city of El Paso, Texas, immigration authorities on Friday deported a woman who witnessed the 2019 massacre at a Walmart that left 22 people dead.

She had agreed to be a witness against the gunman and has met with the local district attorney’s office, according to her lawyers. Rosa was pulled over Wednesday for a broken brake light, detained based on previous traffic warrants, then transferred to ICE, which deported her before she could reach her attorney, said Melissa Lopez, executive director of the nonprofit Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, which represents her.

Read more …

They want him off the map.

Biden Considers Revoking Trump’s Rights To Be Briefed On Secrets (DM)

The Biden administration is reviewing whether to take away the ability of former President Donald Trump to receive classified security briefings as the former president in the wake of the Capitol riot.White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki punted on the question when asked about a topic that also came up during the transition – but also confirmed Monday the administration was reviewing the matter. ‘This is a good question,’ said Psaki. ‘It’s something that’s obviously under review.’ The review comes as Trump critics demand he be forced to relinquish some of the perks of power that follow a president even after he leaves office. Former presidents get classified briefings by tradition – although not at the very highest levels reserved for the current officeholder.

In Trump’s case, the briefings would go to a former president who failed to attend the inauguration and spent months claiming that he had ‘won.’ Trump’s statement on his impeachment legal team over the weekend referred to him as the ’45th president of the United States.’ Trump has a small staff that has been running out of Mar-a-Lago. Former presidents get a substantial office stipend, and Secret Service protection costing up to $1 million per year. Even Trump’s adult children are getting Secret Service protection for the next six months, ABC News reported this month. If the Senate were to convict Trump of ‘incitement of insurrection’ following his impeachment trial, it could also vote to strip him of his ability to hold future office. It is unclear what current perks, if any, would go away if he were convicted.

Trump caused an uproar during his 2017 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak after it was reported he revealed highly classified information about ISIS in Syria to the U.S. adversary. He gave up highly sensitive information from a U.S. ally, reported to be Israel, that resulted in the U.S. having to extract a top-level source inside the Russian government. Trump also once tweeted out what appeared to be a classified photo of an Iranian nuclear installation. Trump said he had the power to declassify material. All that preceded the Capitol riots, which followed Trump telling his supporters to ‘fight’ on the day Congress was counting the Electoral College vote.

Read more …

“Green” has more than one meaning. It’s what the Paris accord is based on.

Kerry Gifts Wall Street the Green New Deal (Pettifor)

Last week the Biden team delivered their first press conference on the Democrat’s much-anticipated Climate Plan. The good news is that Climate Envoy, John Kerry and Advisor, Gina McCarthy are talking about the Climate Plan delivering “Good paying Union Jobs”. All hail to that ambition. The bad news is that this ain’t no Rooseveltian New Deal. Roosevelt confronted Wall St from the get go. His administration systematically drained the Street of power, and made it servant to the economy and ecosystem. Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary could rightly boast: “We moved the financial capital from London and Wall Street right to my desk at the Treasury. (Rauchway, 2017, p. 227)”

John Kerry on behalf of President Biden did the reverse. With breath-taking haste he genuflected to Wall St. by paying homage to the CEO of Blackrock, and then implied the mighty United States government was dependent on Wall St titans to deliver those “Good paying Union Jobs”. Kerry began the press conference by welcoming CEO Larry Fink’s recent letter and “the new awareness among asset managers about the need to be putting resources into this endeavour.” Remember readers, that Larry Fink presides over assets valued at $8.6 trillion. Blackrock’s clients include pension funds, insurance companies, charities, endowment funds and central banks. Tucked into that basket are your pensions, your insurance, your charitable donations – and your taxpayer-backed central bank.

And just this weekend, Gillian Tett of the Financial Times reminded us, in an article titled – Wall St.’s New Mantra: Green is Good – that Blackrock “Exploded in size and power this century by amassing exchange traded funds and “passive’ strategies that automatically track mainstream indices, such as the S&P 500 – which include fossil fuels… to which Blackrock is heavily exposed…” In other words, this private company uses the world’s savings to make massive capital gains from ‘passive’ almost effortless investment strategies. Worse they use their power to accelerate the climate crisis by investing “heavily” in fossil fuels. All that is bad enough. But Blackrock is able to amass their vast, global power because economists and politicians (including ‘the Left’ of the political spectrum) have conceded that power to them.

John Kerry is our witness. After paying homage to CEO Fink, Kerry placed the United States government in the role of humble supplicant – and effectively begged Wall St. to come to the rescue of the Biden Climate Plan. He could not have addressed the Street more plainly: “What the financiers, the big banks, the asset managers, private investors, venture capital, are all discovering is that there is a lot of money to be made in the jobs to be created in these sectors…” Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, drove home the point: “The question won’t be, will the private sector buy into it? The private sector is going to drive it…”

Read more …

“Twitter has silenced JCN and the 30 million small business owners it represents..”

Twitter Suspends Account of Group That Called For Regulating Big Tech (JTN)

Twitter has suspended the account of the Job Creators Network, a nonpartisan group that advocates for small businesses and policies that protect Main Street jobs. According to the group, the social media giant sent them a message late last week saying JCN had violated Twitter’s “rules against platform manipulation and spam.” Company President and CEO Alfredo Ortiz rejects that claim, saying the deplatforming effort is retaliation against JCN for implying that Twitter should be regulated as a utility. “Twitter has silenced JCN and the 30 million small business owners it represents after JCN implied that the tech giant should be regulated as a utility,” Ortiz said in a statement. “Given that JCN’s internal review demonstrates we did not violate Twitter’s terms and conditions, the tech giant’s bold move is likely pure retaliation against us for our position on tech regulations.”


Twitter on Monday did not respond immediately to several attempts to contact the company to learn why JCN, which advocates for lower taxes and progressive policies, had been removed from the site. Last month, Ortiz wrote an op-ed published by RealClearPolitics titled, “Big Tech’s Conservative Purge Changes the Free Speech Debate.” JCN Chief Communications Officer Elaine Parker on Monday told the “John Solomon Reports” podcast the op-ed argued for Washington to begin regulating social media platforms and other tech giants as utilities. “The reason behind that is because it would it would preclude them from excluding services based on political beliefs and ideology,” Parker told host John Solomon. “I mean, when when you’re getting your phone service through AT&T, they don’t care who you vote for, or who you support or what your political background is. They just want to sell you a service … right?”

Read more …

 

 

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“It is my great hope someday, to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known. Namely that our highest currency is respect.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots.”
– Bob Dylan

 

 

This So Real

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 4:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Salvador Dalí The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus 1959

 

 

And just like that, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg belatedly found they had fallen on their own swords, as these were already sticking out of their backs. Let’s see it as poetic justice. They thought they had the power- after all, they’re just private companies!- to restrict Donald Trump’s access to their organizations, and then ban him altogether, only to find that they themselves will now be restricted and perhaps even banned as a result.

They figured since most of the world doesn’t like Trump, it would applaud the moves as much as the US Democratic party does. But most of the world doesn’t. What it sees, what its leaders see, is a threat to everyone else’s freedom of speech, not just Trump’s. Those countries and their leaders have been suspicious of the might of US tech companies for longer, and they will now look elsewhere for social media functionality. It’s no accident that Facebook alone lost some $47 billion in market cap since the Trump ban.

This does not come from Trump supporters. Angela Merkel, not a Trump fun at all, summarizes the worries: “Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.” That’s it right there, the heart of the matter: “law”. Twitter and Facebook act as judge, jury and henchman, and that is not legal, not even for private companies.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook of all places (love the irony): “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not.” “There can be no consent to censorship.” Poland is drafting legislation which would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law. “Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland.”

While Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said: “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” AMLO is actively seeking a coalation of countries in the world to counter social media’s recent policies.

It’s quite something that Dorsey and Zuckerberg were/are blind to this. That they were apparently thinking in “American terms” only when banning Trump, and given political sentiments thought they could get away with it, but did not see the broader international implications. Their shareholders will not appreciate that blind spot. The US is not their only market.

 

The first things that will happen now is that the EU will look at measures to curtail social media’s freedoms in its territory. This is not an obvious matter, many of its countries – see Poland’s example- will claim they have their own laws and standards, and they often do, but, if only for internal EU political reasons, that won’t stick.

Social media are important platforms in politics these days. In EU elections, national parties form coalitions with each other, and these then form bigger coalitions (blocs). A candidate for the European Parliament could potentially be banned in one country, while one from another country, but belonging to the same party or bloc, would not. That can’t be, it’s too messy even by EU standards, so legislation will have to be pan-EU.

The funniest thing that might come of this is Facebook and Twitter re-opening Trump’s accounts to appease Merkel et al, but it’s too late. There are plenty EU companies more than eager to fill the void that Silicon Valley would leave behind (or they can order Chinese). And Jack and Mark will not win the world’s trust back in time, they stepped over the line.

Replacing Facebook won’t happen overnight. But if access to it is cut in large parts of the world, it could happen faster than you think. As for Twitter and WhatsApp, oh well, dime a dozen. They can kill Parler, but already large numbers of people are switching over to Signal and Telegram. Can’t kill ’em all, @jack.

Talking of which, did you see the Project Veritas video secretly made by a Twitter employee? This is exactly why Twitter will be restricted and banned. @jack threatening to give many other people the same treatment as Trump is a scary sight for many people across the world, politicians or citizens. You know who’s next? You are next.

 

 

@jack Veritas

 

 

Plenty politicians want to ban people from all manner of things, but they want to be the ones doing the banning, not @jack. But as Merkel observes, banning someone with no basis whatsoever in law is not what anyone should want. In the end, refusing someone access to social media turns into the same thing as refusing them access to a computer. Or, maybe an even better example, to a phone. Things like that happen very rarely, and never to a President of the United States. Ma Bell, Baby Bells, AT&T, maybe that’s the future of Facebook and Twitter. If they’re lucky.

And while we’re at it, we haven’t even mentioned Google yet. Let’s turn them into baby-Googles too. Because the biggest threat that Silicon Valley poses is not that they ban Trump and actively tried to influence a US presidential election (remember Zuckerberg’s $500 million election fund)?

No, the biggest threat is their algorithms used to spy on you and me to “optimize” us as victims clients for their advertizers. That’s why this is not just about Facebook and Twitter, but certainly also about Google. These are virtual monopolies we’re talking about. And while you’re at it, add Apple and Amazon. It’s their ties to intelligence services that make these companies the most threatening. In the US, this is too far advanced to stop now. But in Europe, there may still be a chance.

This is a big fight when it comes to liberty and personal space. And if you don’t fight it now, you’ve already lost. Pay attention please.

 

 

 

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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 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

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“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

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Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

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People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

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“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

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Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

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Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

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“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

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Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

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The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

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By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

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Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

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The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

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