Apr 132021
 


Johannes Vermeer The Concert 1663
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest art theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Where Is the U.S. COVID-19 Pandemic Headed? (FRBSF)
Britain Sees World’s Sharpest Fall In Covid Cases (Nelson)
Domestic Covid-19 Identity Documents Must Be Resisted (Craig Murray)
Digital Proof Of Vaccination Will Come In The Second Half Of 2021 (SB.de)
Apple and Google Block NHS Covid App Update Over Privacy Breaches (G.)
India Opens Door To Sputnik V For More Than One Billion People (RT)
AAP Helps Pediatricians Prepare To Vaccinate Children, Adolescents (AAP)
Rollout Of Eye-Scan Test For Coronavirus Targeted By German Firm (R.)
Forced Masking Is Behavioral Science, Not Medical (TH)
Health Experts Are Telling Healthy People Not to Wear Face Masks (Time)
Washington Mulls Digital Dollar, Sees Chinese e-Yuan As Potential Threat (RT)
A Hundred Days of Joe (Jim Kunstler)
Japan To Start Releasing Fukushima Water Into Sea In 2 Years (AP)
Zuckerberg Group Gave Detroit $7.4 Million To ‘Dramatically’ Expand Vote (JTN)
The Military Origins of Facebook (Whitney Webb)
Media Relieved To Be Covering The Good Kind Of Riots Again (BBee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central bankers discussing Covid is always a bit weird, but this from Daniel J. Wilson at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is quite interesting. Any fall in cases has been in the models for a long time. It’s unfortunate his models stop at June.

Where Is the U.S. COVID-19 Pandemic Headed? (FRBSF)

This Economic Letter describes an econometric model useful for forecasting COVID-19 infections at the county and national levels, detailed in Wilson (2021). I base my model on a standard SIR—susceptible-infectious-removed—epidemiological framework, using near real-time data on local mobility behavior, weather, and COVID-19 cases to date. This data-driven, econometric forecasting approach can be thought of as a hybrid between the two general approaches used in other COVID-19 forecasts: structural epidemiological models and nonstructural machine-learning approaches. I combine the basic structural SIR model with parameter estimation based on high-frequency, geographically granular data on transmission factors and COVID-19 cases. This econometric forecast, along with an array of forecasts using the other two approaches, is included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 forecasting site.

The model forecasts a steady decline in infections through early June. Analyzing the contributing factors in the model indicates that population immunity acquired from prior infections is the primary driver of recent declines in infections and should continue to exert strong downward pressure on infections going forward. I base my forecasting model on a standard SIR epidemiological model of infectious disease spread (see, for example, Brauer, Castillo-Chavez, and Feng 2019). The SIR model posits that the growth rate of active infections for any infectious disease is determined by the current share of the population that is susceptible multiplied by the current transmission rate, which reflects how much the virus is passing from person to person.

Figure 1 shows the latest national forecast, based on data through March 27, 2021, along with the historical data to date. Active infections are predicted to fall steadily through early June. In particular, the forecast predicts a 71% decline for the 30-day-ahead horizon, equivalent to a drop from approximately 18 daily infections per 100,000 persons recorded as of March 27, 2021 to around 5 per 100,000.

One useful way to evaluate the reliability of these forecasts is to examine how well the model performs when using past data to predict actual infections, shown in Figure 2. The solid and dashed dark blue lines represent the same actual and forecast infections as shown in Figure 1. The other lines show previous forecasts based on data and the estimated model as of the start of each forecast period, indicated by the first dot for each series.

The forecasts have tended to be fairly accurate and have improved over time. Notably, the forecast based on data as of November 17, 2020 (red line), when infections were increasing rapidly, predicted a continued rapid climb for the next 40 days before hitting a peak and starting to decline. That forecast proved broadly accurate except that the actual peak occurred about 10 days later than the forecast predicted. The latest national forecast predicts a steady decline in active COVID-19 infections through early June. To assess what is driving this decline, I use my statistical model to “zero out” each factor’s contribution to the forecast; comparing the result to the full model forecast yields the impact of each factor, shown in Figure 3.


First, eliminating the temperature effect (gold line) yields a slightly slower predicted decline, suggesting that recent warmer temperatures are expected to lower infection rates going forward. Second, eliminating the mobility effect (green line) yields a slightly faster predicted decline, suggesting that increased mobility in recent weeks is slowing down the decline in infections. Third, eliminating the effect of vaccinations to date (red line) yields a modestly slower predicted decline, indicating that vaccinations are contributing to the forecasted decline. Yet, because the share of the population that has been fully vaccinated to date remains relatively modest, vaccinations are not the primary driver of the predicted decline in infections.

Read more …

Yes, vaccines work up to a point, their risk is that we don’t know the risk. And the downward trend is the same as that in the models in the first article.

What’s best about this article is the suggestion that Britain is doing well now BECAUSE they messed up so terribly before:

“..the severity of the spread in UK has left higher recovery immunity even in unvaccinated age groups (almost half of under-25s have antibodies)..”

Britain Sees World’s Sharpest Fall In Covid Cases (Nelson)

At The Spectator’s data hub, updated daily, we keep track of the situation here and around the world. There have been several milestones recently: antibody levels hitting 55 per cent amongst the general population and above 85 per cent for pensioner-aged (who account for the vast majority Covid deaths). Vaccination is paying off: the below graph shows a breakdown by age group. The under-65s are in red.

The UK vaccine rollout has been in the world’s top five. And for all its recent troubles, AstraZeneca has shown in real-world tests to be every bit as effective as suggested in trials — as evidenced by antibody growth. This morning we added another table, seeing where Covid infections are relative to their peak. Britain is now 97 per cent below the peak hit before lockdown — the sharpest decline in the developed world. The below is a section of the G20 countries, but with fully-reopened Israel added in. As you can see, it’s right on our tail. Of course, under the Prime Minister’s roadmap, this won’t change the date ending lockdown: 21 June. But this perhaps gives ground for the reopening of hairdressers next week.


I’d personally advocate decriminalisation of all Covid rules at this point, downgrading the guidelines to ‘advice’ and trust people’s judgment a bit more. If every rule was abolished on Monday, I suspect it would take a long time for people to regain the confidence to resume normal life. Britain has had one of the worst Covid death tolls in the world: today’s success in driving down cases should be seen in that context. But the severity of the spread in UK has left higher recovery immunity even in unvaccinated age groups (almost half of under-25s have antibodies, according to the ONS) which limits the size of any third wave. UCL argues that we’ll hit herd immunity this week: we discuss this in the latest edition of The Spectator’s Coffee House Shots podcast. In general, Covid is back down to (or below) summer levels and almost all of those at risk of fatal infection have been protected.

Read more …

Murray appears to confuse himself a bit, saying it’s immoral not to get vaccinated, but we should never force anyone. But calling someone immoral is also a way of forcing, Craig.

Domestic Covid-19 Identity Documents Must Be Resisted (Craig Murray)

Discrimination against people on the grounds of their health status is not acceptable, while the ever increasing reach of the surveillance state is pernicious. The idea of people without Covid-19 antibodies being treated as second class citizens should be anathema to anybody with concern for human liberty. It is improbable that Covid-19 will be eliminated from the world in the forseeable future. Like Spanish flu or Hong Kong flu, it will lurk around in the mix of seasonal infections for many years to come, hopefully, but not necessarily, like them becoming less severe through serial mutations. It appears likely that, as with flu, there may be a regular vaccination cycle.

Just now, England and Wales are in negative excess deaths. Less people are dying than normally do at this time of year, on a rolling average of the last five years. I presume Scotland will be similar, though I cannot immediately find current figures. The number of people dying within 28 days of a covid diagnosis is down to approximately 300 a week in the entire UK, and has been steadily falling. How much of this fall is due to vaccination and how much due to lockdown is an open question. But it remains a stubborn and undeniable fact, much as some people do not like it said, that Covid-19 has never been a major threat to young and healthy people. Older people and those in vulnerable groups have in very large majority been at least partially vaccinated now. The odds of those in the unnvaccinated groups dying of covid are really very low indeed.

A medical member of the UK government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Innoculation stated on BBC News on Friday that the risk of mortality to a healthy person under 30 who caught coronavirus was 117,000. He was explaining that this is such a remote risk, that it was almost as remote as the chances of a serious side effect from the Astra Zeneca vaccine, and that was why the use of that vaccine in that age group was being suspended; not that the vaccine was dangerous to this age group, but that they didn’t need it enough to justify even a miniscule risk. The point of vaccinating the healthy middle aged and under is not that Covid-19 is a serious risk of death to them; it is not. It is simply to break transmission.

Now I have had my first shot of vaccine myself, and urge everyone to take their vaccine. I have expressed before my view that I believe that refusing to be vaccinated is an immoral position; it is to benefit from herd immunity while refusing to accept the very small personal risk from the vaccine itself. But I utterly reject the notion of compulsory vaccination or of penalising those who do not wish to vaccinated by limiting their lives. Health is a personal matter, and discrimination on the basis of health status cannot be correct, nor the revelation of details of health status to people other than medical professionals employed in care.

Read more …

Google translate.

Digital Proof Of Vaccination Will Come In The Second Half Of 2021 (SB.de)

According to the federal government, the digital vaccination certificate should be available by the beginning of the second half of 2021 at the latest. From 2022, the vaccination certificate will be part of the electronic patient record (ePA) in the telematics infrastructure, according to the Federal Government’s response to a request from the FDP parliamentary group. The digital vaccination certificate is an additional option for the yellow vaccination card to document vaccinations against Covid-19. In the future, users should also be able to save the information on their smartphones. The digital vaccination certificate includes a vaccination certificate app, a test app and a back-end system for integration in medical practices and vaccination centers.


The use of the digital vaccination certificate should be free of charge, the certificate should be created by the institutions authorized to vaccinate, such as vaccination centers, medical practices or hospitals. The necessary requirements for integrating a structured vaccination card are only available with the electronic patient record in version 2.0. This will be available as planned on January 1, 2022. Due to the technical dependencies and complexity, an early implementation is not possible. The whole is realized, among other things. from e IBM Deutschland GmbH. According to the current state of planning, costs of EUR 2.7 million are expected.

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If even Big Tech protests….

Apple and Google Block NHS Covid App Update Over Privacy Breaches (G.)

Ministers have paused a planned update to the NHS Covid-19 app after Apple and Google blocked it from their stores over privacy violations. The app, which aids contact tracing in England and Wales, uses technology built by the Silicon Valley companies to track interactions between users with their bluetooth signals and venue “check-ins”. It was to have been updated on 8 April, in time for lockdown easing and the introduction of free rapid coronavirus testing for everyone in England. So far, it has allowed people to check into indoor places such as bars and restaurants by scanning a QR code before they enter, but the data was kept on the individual’s phone. Should a venue be identified as a potential virus hotspot, every device is then sent this data, allowing the app to crosscheck with the owner’s own log of locations and alert them if they might have been exposed.


A new version of the app was planned to automate the process further, instead asking users’ permission to upload their venue history if they test positive. The move, however, broke the rules set by Apple and Google when they built the contact-tracing technology last summer, leading both to prevent the government rolling out the new version of the app. When they released their technology for health services’ use, the companies stipulated that any apps would have to work in a “decentralised” way, avoiding privacy violations that could result from tracking the movements of an entire population and saving them in a centralised database. The plan to allow venue histories to be shared was supposed to be a way around such restrictions because it required active voluntary consent, was only triggered by users who already had a positive test and did not directly use the technology created by Apple and Google, called the Exposure Notification API.

Read more …

Large scale.

India Opens Door To Sputnik V For More Than One Billion People (RT)

Reports say that India has given the go-ahead to begin immunizations with the Sputnik V Covid-19 jab, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. The world’s second most populous nation becomes the 60th state to approve the formula. On Monday, according to the national paper of record, the Times of India, authorities in the capital, New Delhi, granted Emergency Use Authorization to the Russian-made vaccine. The move comes after an expert committee met earlier this week and agreed to request more information from Hyderabad-based healthcare giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, a domestic pharmaceutical company licensed to test and manufacture Sputnik V under agreement with its Russian developers.


The country has seen a record-breaking spike in cases in recent weeks, with 168,912 positive tests recorded in the country on Sunday alone. Since the beginning of the pandemic last march, more than 170,000 people have died with the virus, according to government figures. The South Asian nation was home to 1.36 billion people as of 2019, and forecasts anticipate that it will overtake China as the world’s most populous country within the next five years. India has also been instrumental in the testing of a number of potential vaccine candidates, including British pharma company AstraZeneca’s formula. [..] Another 59 nations have already signed off on the use of Sputnik V, covering a total population of more than 1.5 billion people, many in developing countries. Mexico, Vietnam, Kenya and Hungary are among those already using the jab as part of national immunization programs.

Read more …

I can not wrap my head around injecting vulnerable (but not to Covid) small people with unknown substances.

“The right to refuse the vaccine begins at age 16..”

AAP Helps Pediatricians Prepare To Vaccinate Children, Adolescents (AAP)

Pfizer has already requested an EUA for vaccinating children age 12-15, and it “could be available this summer.” For infants, toddlers, and children from 6 months to 11 years, “health officials have estimated vaccination in this age group could start in late 2021 or early 2022.” The right to refuse the vaccine begins at age 16, according to this article from the American Association of Pediatrics. As COVID-19 vaccines inch closer to becoming available for children and adolescents, the AAP is helping pediatricians prepare to administer them…


Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is the only one available for teens as young as 16. However, each manufacturer has been studying its vaccines in adolescents as young as 12, and at least one could be available this summer… Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna also are conducting trials of their mRNA vaccines in children ages 6 months through 11 years. Health officials have estimated vaccination in this age group could start in late 2021 or early 2022… Adolescents who are at least 16 do not need special consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but pediatricians should inform them about the FDA’s EUA, the potential risks and benefits, their option to accept or refuse and any available alternatives.

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We love QR codes, don’t we?

Rollout Of Eye-Scan Test For Coronavirus Targeted By German Firm (R.)

A Munich-based company hopes to help usher in a new era of coronavirus testing with an eye scan that, it says, takes just three minutes to identify carriers of the disease and has a hit rate of 95%.Semic RF has developed its scanning app with colleagues in the United States and, pending regulatory approval, hopes to start rolling it out there by the end of next month, says its managing director, Wolfgang Gruber. It uses a photo of the eye taken with a smartphone, and identifies the virus by means of a symptomatic inflammation called “pink eye.” “We managed to isolate Covid-19 from over two million different shades of pink,” Gruber told Reuters.


He says the app, already tested on over 70,000 individuals, can process up to a million scans per second and the option to expand that capacity further – potentially allowing crowds back into mass-attendance events like concerts and football matches. “You take your app, take a picture of both eyes, send it for evaluation, and then you can have the evaluated result stored as a QR code on the tested person’s smartphone,” Gruber added. The app is initially being targeted at companies and commercial users, at a cost of 480 euros ($570) per month, with a later rollout to private individuals planned.

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“….And They’ve Been Playing Us The Whole Time…”

Forced Masking Is Behavioral Science, Not Medical (TH)

Most people probably think of epidemiologists as simply doctors who specialize in contagious illness, but that would be only part of the story. Indeed, rather than studying and finding cures for diseases, arguably the most important component of the field is increasingly being viewed as something else entirely – the molding of public behavior. This explains why so many who go into epidemiology hold undergraduate degrees in public health, which focuses on the social and behavioral sciences, instead of the more hard-core sciency stuff studied by their medical doctor peers, like biology or biochemistry. So when epidemiologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci make pronouncements from on-high, one must always be aware of the motive behind their messaging – to get YOU to do what THEY tell you to do, purportedly in an effort to “stop the spread” of whatever contagion they are fighting.

Except, if you do a deep dive into the nature of most of the world’s response to today’s particular disease du jour, COVID-19, you’ll see that little of it ever had to do with actual science or data. Instead, the bulk of it has focused on implementing and forcing the public to comply with certain non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), like lockdowns and masking, settled upon early on in the pandemic. While discussing his epic bestseller “Faucian Bargain: The Most Powerful and Dangerous Bureaucrat in American History” with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, radio host Steve Deace described perhaps the most critical 11 days in recent U.S. history: “On February 28 of last year, Fauci wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that when he analyzed the data for COVID-19, he thought it would be just about as bad as a pandemic-level flu,” said Deace.

“And then 11 days later, he went to Congress and told everybody that this was gonna be Captain Trips [the name for the ultra-deadly antigen that exterminates 99.4% of the human population in Stephen King’s “The Stand”], and that’s what shut the country down.” Citing the known case and infection fatality rates – at around 1.8 percent and .18 percent respectively – Deace described Fauci’s “original cautious and modest expectations” as having turned out to be true. “So why did he abandon those for the fear porn we’ve seen the past year?” he asked. “We must get answers to questions like that … What changed those 11 days, because it changed the fate of America.”

At one point during those 11 days, on March 8, Fauci also gave his now-infamous interview to “60 Minutes” in which he declared that the general public should not “be walking around with a mask.” The next month, of course, the CDC did a complete 180-degree reversal, and Fauci later attributed his earlier stand, which was based on sound science and is still provably correct a year later, to a ‘noble lie’ of sorts, that he was merely saving PPE for healthcare workers. Riiight. As if there wasn’t enough T-shirt material, bandanas, and neck gaiters to go around, or something. The ‘good’ doctor also hilariously claimed that the possibility of asymptomatic spread wasn’t “clear” in March, even though the news-following public, including myself, was well aware of the claim as early as January 2020.

Read more …

March 4, 2020. What happened since?

Health Experts Are Telling Healthy People Not to Wear Face Masks (Time)

As the new coronavirus COVID-19 spreads in the U.S., people who are well want to stay that way. But since no vaccines are currently available, the strongest weapons Americans have are basic preventive measures like hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The simplicity of those recommendations is likely unsettling to people anxious to do more to protect themselves, so it’s no surprise that face masks are in short supply—despite the CDC specifically not recommending them for healthy people trying to protect against COVID-19. “It seems kind of intuitively obvious that if you put something—whether it’s a scarf or a mask—in front of your nose and mouth, that will filter out some of these viruses that are floating around out there,” says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.

The only problem: that’s not effective against respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. If it were, “the CDC would have recommended it years ago,” he says. “It doesn’t, because it makes science-based recommendations.” The science, according to the CDC, says that surgical masks won’t stop the wearer from inhaling small airborne particles, which can cause infection. Nor do these masks form a snug seal around the face. The CDC recommends surgical masks only for people who already show symptoms of coronavirus and must go outside, since wearing a mask can help prevent spreading the virus by protecting others nearby when you cough or sneeze. The agency also recommends these masks for caregivers of people infected with the virus.

The CDC also does not recommend N95 respirators—the tight-fitting masks designed to filter out 95% of particles from the air that you breathe—for use, except for health care workers. Doctors and health experts keep spreading the word. “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” tweeted Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, on Feb. 29. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” [..] But people keep buying and wearing masks.

Some believe that wearing a mask reduces how many times they touch their nose and mouth, “but there aren’t any data to support that that’s a useful intervention,” Schaffner says. Other reasons are purely psychological. One stems from the fear of losing control to a virus we know little about preventing. “There’s not much we can do, so we’re all walking around feeling rather victimized by this virus,” says Schaffner. “By using a mask, even if it doesn’t do a lot, it moves the locus of control to you, away from the virus. It gives the individual a greater sense of control in this otherwise not-controlled situation.”

Read more …

With inbuilt expiry dates?

Washington Mulls Digital Dollar, Sees Chinese e-Yuan As Potential Threat (RT)

Top US officials are reportedly calling for a hard look at China’s plans for a digital yuan, after raising concerns that the new currency may potentially challenge the greenback as the world’s dominant reserve currency. Officials at the Treasury, State Department, Pentagon, and National Security Council are currently trying to explore the potential implications of China’s new sovereign digital currency, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The presidential administration is reportedly not concerned about the immediate challenge the e-yuan might pose to regulatory frameworks and monetary systems. However, American officials are worried that the new Chinese currency may be used to bypass US sanctions. Moreover, the government officials would like to know how the digital yuan will be distributed.


Last year, the People’s Bank of China revealed plans to have its sovereign digital currency ready in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics. China became the first country in the world to test such a product on a national level. According to the Chinese central bank, the new currency will share some features with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The digital yuan is projected to replace banknotes and coins. The White House is said not to be planning any measures against the e-yuan, but is highly interested in creating a digital dollar. So far, members of Congress have reportedly asked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about the issue in hearings earlier this year.

Read more …

“..perhaps nobody is in charge?”

A Hundred Days of Joe (Jim Kunstler)

Is the Democratic Party determined to drive the nation insane? Kind of looks like that. They certainly seem bent on fomenting a race war. That would be insane, but the Democratic Party’s will to punish the nation eclipses all its other hopes, dreams, and aims — and that degree of sadism tends to indicate a mental health problem. Prior to 2020, they had already destroyed at least a dozen US cities via sheer mal-administration, and the George Floyd riots across the country successfully wrecked much of what bad governance plus the Coronavirus lockdowns had left behind.

Wouldn’t you think that things are already bad enough, for instance, in Minneapolis, what with the Derek Chauvin trial about to entertain the defense’s case, and the courthouse secured like Fort Apache? And so, a fresh incident occurred on Sunday involving one Duante Wright, 20, shot during a traffic stop. Apparently, there was a warrant out for Mr. Wright, meaning he was a suspect in a crime. When the police tried to detain him, he got back into his car against their clear instructions, raising the possible inference that he might be going for a gun. The officer shot him. A riot ensued, of course. In the chaos, some looting occurred. Black Lives Matter turned out in a matter of minutes, along with members of Duante Wright’s family. Is another martyr being manufactured?

What message do you suppose the Minneapolis city council sent last month when it settled $27-million on the family of George Floyd — before the trial in the matter even began? It looks more and more like a high stakes hustle: Whatever the truth is about an incident that involves the police, the city will burn and large cash settlements await. Calling personal injury attorney Ben Crump…. And so, the riot season has arrived, as if right on schedule. If Minneapolis and other cities start burning again, will Mr. Biden be positioned to ignore it as he’s ignored the now-lawless situation at the border? Will his managers wind him up to inveigh against “white supremacy?” Or have they set a dynamic feedback loop in motion that is fast running beyond their control — making it clear that perhaps nobody is in charge?

Read more …

@jonmitchell_jp writes in his new book POISONING THE PACIFIC about the human costs to US sailors of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

Japan To Start Releasing Fukushima Water Into Sea In 2 Years (AP)

Japan’s government decided Tuesday to start releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years — an option fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbors. The decision, long speculated but delayed for years due to safety concerns and protests, came at a meeting of Cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option. The accumulating water has been stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged its reactors and their cooling water became contaminated and began leaking. The plant’s storage capacity will be full late next year. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said ocean release was the most realistic option and that disposing the water is unavoidable for the decommissioning of the Fukushima plant, which is expected to take decades.


He also pledged the government would work to ensure the safety of the water and to prevent damaging rumors. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., and government officials say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, cannot be removed from the water, but all other selected radionuclides can be reduced to levels allowed for release. Some scientists say the long-term impact on marine life from low-dose exposure to such large volumes of water is unknown. The government stresses the safety of the water by calling it “treated” not “radioactive” even though radionuclides can only be reduced to disposable levels, not to zero. The amount of radioactive materials that would remain in the water is also still unknown.

Read more …

“Such action is wrong, unlawful and dramatically undermined the integrity of the 2020 election. We must not let a shadow government run our elections to the benefit of favored candidates and political parties.”

Zuckerberg Group Gave Detroit $7.4 Million To ‘Dramatically’ Expand Vote (JTN)

The Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL), a voter advocacy group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, donated $7.4 million last year to Detroit to, among other things, “dramatically expand strategic voter education and outreach” in a blue city key to Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, according to memos obtained by Just the News under an open records request. Detroit received three grants in 2020 from CTCL for $200,000, $3,512,000, and $3,724,450, according to the records released under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The amount augmented by more than half the city’s $13 million election budget, and dwarfed it the $6.3 million in grants that CTCL gave five Wisconsin cities, a series of donations that has generated accusations that private money was wrongly used to influence state and local election judges and administrators.


The reach of Zuckerburg’s money has created a backlash in some GOP states like Georgia and Arizona, where lawmakers have moved since November to ban private money from being donated to election administrators. Phill Kline, head of the nonprofit Amistad Project, which has contested private financing of election administration in several states, said the Detroit memos show another instance in which Zuckerberg money was allowed to influence a key battleground during the 2020 election. “The records obtained in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan show the Zuckerberg monies were used to buy off government officials dictating the manner in which the election was conducted and using government to target Democrat strongholds to turn out the vote for Mr. Biden,” Kline said. “Such action is wrong, unlawful and dramatically undermined the integrity of the 2020 election. We must not let a shadow government run our elections to the benefit of favored candidates and political parties.”

Read more …

Two part article from Whitney. Must read.

The Military Origins of Facebook (Whitney Webb)

A few months into Facebook’s launch, in June 2004, Facebook cofounders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz brought Sean Parker onto Facebook’s executive team. Parker, previously known for cofounding Napster, later connected Facebook with its first outside investor, Peter Thiel. As discussed, Thiel, at that time, in coordination with the CIA, was actively trying to resurrect controversial DARPA programs that had been dismantled the previous year. Notably, Sean Parker, who became Facebook’s first president, also had a history with the CIA, which recruited him at the age of sixteen soon after he had been busted by the FBI for hacking corporate and military databases. Thanks to Parker, in September 2004, Thiel formally acquired $500,000 worth of Facebook shares and was added its board.

Parker maintained close ties to Facebook as well as to Thiel, with Parker being hired as a managing partner of Thiel’s Founders Fund in 2006. Thiel and Facebook cofounder Mosokvitz became involved outside of the social network long after Facebook’s rise to prominence, with Thiel’s Founder Fund becoming a significant investor in Moskovitz’s company Asana in 2012. Thiel’s longstanding symbiotic relationship with Facebook cofounders extends to his company Palantir, as the data that Facebook users make public invariably winds up in Palantir’s databases and helps drive the surveillance engine Palantir runs for a handful of US police departments, the military, and the intelligence community.

In the case of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Palantir was also involved in utilizing Facebook data to benefit the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign. Today, as recent arrests such as that of Daniel Baker have indicated, Facebook data is slated to help power the coming “war on domestic terror,” given that information shared on the platform is being used in “precrime” capture of US citizens, domestically. In light of this, it is worth dwelling on the point that Thiel’s exertions to resurrect the main aspects of TIA as his own private company coincided with his becoming the first outside investor in what was essentially the analogue of another DARPA program deeply intertwined with TIA.

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Only partly funny.

Media Relieved To Be Covering The Good Kind Of Riots Again (BBee)

Media organizations across the country announced today they are relieved to be covering the good kind of riots again, now that people are looting Targets for justice again instead of protesting their government. “It was pretty rough there for a while,” said Rachel Maddow. “We had to cover the dark days of the violent insurrection. But now that people are stealing Nikes to protest racial injustice, we can return to feel-good reporting about the good riots that are happening.” “It’s just the Spring of Love around here!” she added happily.


Many journalists are calling this the shot of positivity the nation really needed in the aftermath of the worst days in our country’s history following the riot at the Capitol. Finally, they say, the nation has remembered what protests are for: stealing stuff and burning things down before any facts have come in. “I was pretty depressed having to cover the worst riots our nation has ever seen,” said Brian Stelter as he wiped tears from his eyes on his Sunday program. “We can finally get back to what the people want: puff pieces minimizing the violence and destruction wrought by protests that we agree with.” “But don’t worry — we will continue to watch Fox News and yell at it, just for you.”

Read more …

 

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Mar 282021
 
 March 28, 2021  Posted by at 9:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Edouard Manet Portrait of Emile Zola 1868

 

High Fine For Doctors Who Incorrectly Prescribe HCQ Or Ivermectin (MC)
New York Launches COVID-19 Vaccination ID Program (JTN)
Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe – You’re Going To Need It (F.)
Mexico Covid Death Toll Leaps 60% To Reach 321,000 (G.)
Race and False Hate Crime Narratives (Q.)
Joe Biden’s ‘Horrible’ Regime Is ‘Way More Racialised’ Than Before (Sky)
What Biden’s Talking Filibuster Could Look Like (IC)
US-NATO vs Russia-China in a Hybrid War To The Finish (Escobar)
The Facebook Filter Bubble (AEA)
Experts Fear Ever Given May Be Stuck In Suez For Weeks (G.)
Monetary Adaptation To Planetary Emergency (UoC)

 

 

 

 

Google translated from Dutch. This is so crazy.

High Fine For Doctors Who Incorrectly Prescribe HCQ Or Ivermectin (MC)

Doctors who prescribe (hydroxy) chloroquine or ivermectin against covid-19 will now receive a fine of up to 150,000 euros imposed by the inspection. This may also include other medications that are prescribed outside the guidelines. The IGJ calls on pharmacists to report. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate regularly receives reports that doctors prescribe medicines that are contrary to the treatment recommendations for covid-19, the IGJ reports on its website. When asked, the IGJ spokesperson cannot explain exactly how many doctors this is about and what their specialty is. “We have talked to a number of doctors about this, but because some of them continue to do so, we are now going to impose fines. We are not going to warn anymore, “said the spokesman.

The fines could run in the thousands of euros, she says. “There is no real minimum amount and the exact amount of a fine will depend on the circumstances. Did the doctor prescribe the medicine once or several times? How many patients has it been prescribed, things like that. The maximum amount for a fine is 150,000 euros. ” The Inspectorate sees prescription as a risk to the quality of care and points out that all doctors’ professions in the Netherlands advise against using (hydroxy) chloroquine or ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of corona. According to the IGJ, (hydroxy) chloroquine has been proven to be ineffective against covid-19 and at the same time can cause serious side effects. There is also no scientific basis for the use of ivermectin. The IGJ states that it is allowed to prescribe medicines off-label, but that there are strict rules for this.

Pharmacists can also be held responsible if they provide these medicines inappropriately. The IGJ calls on them to report if they are offered prescriptions and suspect that this is for the treatment of corona.

Read more …

Getting vaccinated makes you a guinea pig. And so does sending vaccinated people around the world and into closed spaces.

New York Launches COVID-19 Vaccination ID Program (JTN)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week announced the rollout of his state’s vaccine passport program, a measure the Democratic politician says will help the state continue to reopen its long-shuttered economy. In a statement on Friday, Cuomo revealed the debut of “Excelsior Pass,” what the governor’s office said was a “free, voluntary platform … which utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination.” The program, developed in partnership with IBM, will allow users to either “print out their pass or store it on their smartphones,” permitting them to gain access to public venues and establishments such as “major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, or catered and other events above the social gathering limit.” “New York State is the first state in the U.S. to formally launch this potentially transformational technology,” the governor’s office said.

Read more …

Wow. We got there. How creepy is that?

Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe – You’re Going To Need It (F.)

Your most precious travel accessory this summer is going to be a small white piece of paper. Some destinations, cruise lines and major sports venues are already requiring travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are offering freebies and other perks to people who can prove they’ve been inoculated. If you are among the 48 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the only proof that you have received your Covid shots is typically your paper vaccination record card with the CDC logo in the upper corner. The vaccination card tells you what Covid-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it — but that information is not being stored in any centralized, easily searchable database.

If you lose your card, you should return to the place you received your vaccination and ask for a replacement. “If you do not receive a Covid-19 vaccination card at your appointment, contact the vaccination provider site where you got vaccinated or your state health department to find out how you can get a card,” says the CDC website. That’s easy enough if you were vaccinated at a pharmacy chain but more difficult if you had to travel cross-state or inter-state to be vaccinated at a drive-through or pop-up event. All Covid-19 vaccination providers are required to report data within 72 hours in their state’s immunization system, so there should be a back-up record of your vaccination status there. The CDC has a list of the Immunization Information System (IIS) in each state, which is where to start if you need a replacement card and either can’t remember where you were vaccinated or have difficulty contacting the facility.

Digital vaccine passports may become a reality in the future, but for now your paper vaccination record card is an extremely valuable possession. Here are five easy ways to protect it for safekeeping.

Read more …

We don’t know anymore who’s counting what, or how.

Mexico Covid Death Toll Leaps 60% To Reach 321,000 (G.)

Mexico’s government has acknowledged that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now stands above 321,000, almost 60% more than the official test-confirmed number of 201,429. Mexico does little testing, and because hospitals were overwhelmed, many Mexicans died at home without getting a test. The only way to get a clear picture is to review “excess deaths” and review death certificates. On Saturday, the government quietly published such a report, which found there were 294,287 deaths linked to Covid-19 from the start of the pandemic through 14 February. Since 15 February there have been an additional 26,772 test-confirmed deaths. The higher toll would exceed that of Brazil, which has the world’s second-highest number of deaths after the US.


The Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker puts Brazil’s toll at about 307,000 and the United States’ at 548,000, but Mexico’s population of 126 million is far smaller than either of those countries. The new report also confirms just how deadly Mexico’s second wave in January was. At the end of December, excess death estimates suggested a total of about 220,000 deaths related to Covid-19 in Mexico. That number jumped by around 75,000 in just a month and a half. Also suggestive were the overall number of “excess deaths” since the pandemic began, around 417,000. Excess deaths are determined by comparing the deaths in a given year to those that would be expected based on data from previous years.

Read more …

Deceived by storylines.

Race and False Hate Crime Narratives (Q.)

The reaction to the mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, Georgia, over the last week has revealed how invested the Democratic establishment is in one all-powerful narrative. Both shootings produced an immediate response from the media, Democratic politicians, and activists—that the slaughters were the result of white supremacy and that white Americans are the biggest threat facing the US. That interpretation was reached, in the case of the Boulder shooting, on the slimmest of evidence, and in the case of the Atlanta shooting, in the face of contradictory facts.

After the Boulder supermarket attacks, social media lit up with gloating pronouncements that the shooter was a violent white male and part of what Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece declared (in a since-deleted tweet) to be the “greatest terrorist threat to our country.” (Video of the handcuffed shooter being led away by the police appeared to show a white male.) Now that the shooter’s identity has been revealed as Syrian-American and his tirades against the “Islamophobia industry” unearthed, that line of thought has been quietly retired and replaced with the stand-by Democratic response to mass shootings—demands for gun control.

But the false narrative about the Atlanta spa shootings still has legs. It represents a double lie—first, that the massacre was the product of Trump-inspired xenophobic hatred, and second, that whites are the biggest perpetrators of violence against Asians. The most striking aspect of these untruths is the fact that they were fabricated in plain sight and in open defiance of reality. Given the enduring hold of the Atlanta story on mainstream discourse, it is worth examining in some detail.

Read more …

“We’re so busy enthralled in race, enthralled in fighting one another.”

Joe Biden’s ‘Horrible’ Regime Is ‘Way More Racialised’ Than Before (Sky)

President Joe Biden’s administration is keeping the “racial narrative” going because it is the “biggest smoke screen” to all its policies, according to US political commentator Benji Irby. Mr Irby told Sky News the country under Joe Biden at the moment is “absolutely horrible”. “The country is way more racialized than usual; everything’s about race,” he said. “Everybody’s concerned about all types of slights and microaggressions and the left are really taking over everything. “We’re in really bad straits here, it’s not very good”.


Mr Irby said the left and the Biden administration are fuelling racial tensions and using it as a “smokescreen”. “No one’s ask asking about Hunter Biden and this new gun scandal, no one’s asking about Joe Biden being bought and sold by China. “No one’s talking about the fact that China now has a larger navy than the US, and that China is making moves towards Taiwan, and is taking over our country as far as busines is concerned. “We’re so busy enthralled in race, enthralled in fighting one another.”

Read more …

Much scarier than the filibuster is the fact that Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972.

What Biden’s Talking Filibuster Could Look Like (IC)

When President Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972, the filibuster was rarely deployed, and when it was, it could be beaten back by a vote of two-thirds of the Senate. That almost never happened, and instead the threat of a filibuster would sink legislation, not because the majority couldn’t overcome it but because they didn’t want to waste a few weeks on it and had other pressing business to get to. In 1975, the rule was reformed to lower the threshold from 67 down to 60, though it was still rarely used. The Senate that Biden grew up in — remember, he was 29 when he was elected — largely passed bills by a simple majority vote, including controversial bills. When the debate was over, even senators who opposed the underlying bill would vote yes on what’s known as “cloture,” which means closure of the debate.

That began to change, first with Harry Reid, D-Nev., as Senate minority leader, determined to fight President George W. Bush, and then went into overdrive under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell effectively raised the threshold any legislation needed to 60 votes in order to undermine President Barack Obama. For somebody like Biden, that phenomenon — that legislation needs 60 votes to pass — is a relatively new innovation, not the beating heart of the Senate as some people claim. And nobody knows that better, perhaps, than Biden himself. He alluded to his old-school cred in an interview with George Stephanopoulos published Tuesday evening by ABC. “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” Biden said. “You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking.”

“You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?” Stephanopoulos asked. “I am. That’s what it was supposed to be,” Biden said. “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.” Notice that Biden is using the credibility he owns as a Senate traditionalist — he was elected six years before I was even born, and I’m getting old — to make the case that reform is necessary to defend democracy and return the Senate to the working condition it was in when he got there. It’s no secret that Biden was far from progressives’ first choice to win the Democratic nomination, but he may possess a unique ability to disarm centrist and conservative Democrats who otherwise might oppose the same project or program if it was proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; or, really, anybody but Biden.

Read more …

“Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.”

US-NATO vs Russia-China in a Hybrid War To The Finish (Escobar)

Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate. Now that the “free world” has breathed a sigh of relief, let’s return to serious matters – as in the contours of the Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics. What happened in the past few days between Anchorage and Guilin continues to reverberate. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Brussels “destroyed” the relationship between Russia and the EU, he focused on how the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

Not so casual synchronicity revealed that as Lavrov was being properly hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin – scenic lunch in the Li river included -, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was visiting NATO’s James-Bondish HQ outside Brussels. Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of Russia-China revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in crypto-currency. This “triple threat” is what is unleashing the Hegemon’s unbounded fury.

On a broader spectrum, the Russia-China strategy also implies that the progressive interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) will keep apace across Central Asia, Southeast Asia, parts of South Asia, and Southwest Asia – necessary steps towards an ultimately unified Eurasian market under a sort of strategic Sino-Russo management. In Alaska, the Blinken-Sullivan team learned, at their expense, that you don’t mess with a Yoda such as Yang Jiechi with impunity. Now they’re about to learn what it means to mess with Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council. Patrushev, as much a Yoda as Yang Jiechi, and a master of understatement, delivered a not so cryptic message: if the US created “though days” for Russia, as they “are planning that, they can implement that”, Washington “would be responsible for the steps that they would take”.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Blinken was enacting a Perfect Couple routine with spectacularly inefficient head of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen. The script went something like this. “Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.” Then came NATO, which put on quite a show, complete with an all-Foreign Minister tough guy pose in front of the HQ. That was part of a summit – which predictably did not “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of NATO’s destruction of Libya or the major ass-kicking NATO “endured” in Afghanistan. In June 2020, NATO’s cardboard secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg – actually his US military handlers – laid out what is now known as the NATO 2030 strategy, which boils down to a Global Robocop politico-military mandate. The Global South has (not) been warned.

Read more …

“In the past, everyone was really concerned about what the editor of The New York Times put above the fold. Now, we should be concerned about what Facebook’s algorithm decides to rank higher..”

The Facebook Filter Bubble (AEA)

In his 2020 victory address, President Biden called for an end to what he termed this “era of grim demonization.” He forcefully urged Congress and fellow Americans to overcome their political differences. “The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control,” Biden said. “It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make.” And yet, that choice isn’t just up to US citizens or individuals on Capitol Hill. It’s also a decision for today’s largest social media company, according to a paper in the American Economic Review. Author Ro’ee Levy found rigorous evidence from a field experiment that Facebook’s algorithm results in people being exposed to more news matching their own opinions, and it may be increasing polarization.


Polarization in the United States has been on the rise for some time. As of 2014, Republicans and Democrats were more divided than at any point in the previous two decades. Other studies have argued that this growing division drives dysfunction in Congress and undermines trust in important institutions. Meanwhile, Facebook has emerged as a dominant source of news. As recently as 2008, fewer than one in eight Americans consumed news on any social media site at all. By 2019, 52 percent of Americans were receiving at least some of their news on Facebook, which was more than the share getting news on all other social media platforms combined. “In the past, everyone was really concerned about what the editor of The New York Times put above the fold. Now, we should be concerned about what Facebook’s algorithm decides to rank higher,” Levy told the AEA in an interview.

Read more …

Syria has already started rationing gasoline.

Experts Fear Ever Given May Be Stuck In Suez For Weeks (G.)

Dredge and pull, dredge and pull. Dislodging a vessel that has become lodged in sand is simple, in theory. If the vessel is as long as New York’s Empire State building is tall, then the process gets more complicated. Dredgers, tugboats and excavators, guided by world-leading consultants in salvaging ships, have been working for days to free the 220,000 tons, 400 metre-long Ever Given that became stuck in the Suez canal last Tuesday. It has created a jam of more than 200 vessels in one of the world’s key trade lanes. The ripple effect on shipping may be felt for weeks – and longer if the Japanese-owned “megaship” cannot be dislodged any time soon. On Saturday the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Osama Rabie, said that work to dislodge the ship was continuing and had so far allowed its stern and rudder to move and its propeller to restart.

But the changing tide had jammed the equipment once again. “The type of soil we’re dealing with is very difficult to manage, as are the tides which affect the vessel due to its size and its cargo load,” he said. Asked when the ship could be afloat again, Rabie suggested it was possible “today or tomorrow, depending on the ship’s responsiveness to the tides”. A key hurdle has been the sheer size and weight of the enormous vessel, part of a class of container ships that has ballooned in size over the past two decades, partly due to the proliferation of “just in time” logistical models that keep companies lean, efficient and reliant on fast deliveries from factories and warehouses overseas.

The experts brought in to free the vessel, the Dutch company SMIT Salvage and Japanese specialists Nippon Salvage, have been working to dislodge tens of thousands of cubic metres of earth around the stricken vessel, as tugboats help to pull it free. “These are the experts, but it took them three days to get into country, now they have to find these large tugboats and get them to the canal, they’re not positioned there,” said Captain John Konrad, a maritime expert and the founder of maritime news-site gCaptain. The refloating process, he explained, will likely involve a manoeuvre called a “backwards twist,” using large tugboats to rotate the ship counterclockwise and dislodge it from the bank after dredging sand from around the bow.

Read more …

“In any economy where money hoarding and accumulation is not curtailed, and where most of the money in circulation is issued by private banks as debt, with or without interest, there will be a system-wide scarcity of money..”

Monetary Adaptation To Planetary Emergency (UoC)

The existence of a Monetary Growth Imperative (MGI) and its implications for economic stability, democracy and environmental sustainability have been put forward by environmental economists for around two decades but recently criticised as invalid. Given the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis alongside spiralling public and private debt, the MGI deserves closer attention. Methods: For this review paper we analysed studies on the MGI, using a selective, iterative approach to the literature review. Results: Our critical review of the research on the MGI revealed several full academic treatments of the argument and even a taxonomy of them, most of which have not been refuted. We articulate one of them in a new way, as well as two more which have not received academic treatment, before considering why it might be thought politically expedient that any MGI should be refuted, or at least seen to be refuted.

Conclusion: In any economy where money hoarding and accumulation is not curtailed, and where most of the money in circulation is issued by private banks as debt, with or without interest, there will be a system-wide scarcity of money available to people and organisations to service their debts – unless, that is, there is continual economic growth. To avoid the deleterious implications of a shortfall of money in an economy, policies are used to maintain economic growth, which is therefore a form of imperative on society. This MGI may be accentuated, at a system-wide level, by the practice of full-reserve re-lending of money.

Interest is not the main driver of the imperative, but because it increases the transfer of money to those who are wealthy and more likely to hold that money in a stagnant form that is not available for debt servicing by others, interest charges may indeed exacerbate the MGI. We conclude that the debt-money system creates a competition for money between debtors and savers which is resolved through creation of more debt-money, which in turn drives growth and the resulting ecological and climate emergency.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 142021
 
 January 14, 2021  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Male and female 1942

 

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)
Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)
Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)
Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)
WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)
Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)
EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)
Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)
Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)
Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)
As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)
Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)
Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)
Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)
New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

 

 

 

 

What would need to be proven in a courtroom, does not in Congress.

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)

Arguing he incited an “armed rebellion” against the US, the Democrat-dominated House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump again. But with his term expiring in a week, it is unclear when the trial will proceed. After several hours of debate on Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to formally impeach the president over the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol, when a group of Trump supporters broke into the building and interrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 US presidential election. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Senate will reconvene on an emergency schedule to conduct the trial, however.

Reports in mainstream US media were conflicted, with some outlets citing anonymous sources to claim that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was eager to do so and help the Democrats get rid of Trump. However, McConnell’s spokesman said on Wednesday he would “not consent” to doing so before January 19, putting the trial into Biden’s term as president. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) told CNN on Sunday that the Democrats might even give Biden a hundred days “to get his agenda off and running” before they send the articles to the Senate. The delays and calculations are at odds with rhetoric coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and her impeachment managers, who called Trump a danger to the country and urged his immediate removal.

Democrats have even argued that Trump and anyone supporting him ought to be barred from holding any office under the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to punish leaders of the Confederacy. “We know that we face the enemies of the Constitution,” Pelosi said on the House floor on Wednesday. “We know we experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people’s capital – an attempt to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go.”

Read more …

“..those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.”

Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday evening composed a 13-tweet-long thread on the social media platform he leads in which he defended the company’s recent permanent ban of President Donald Trump while still claiming that the ban constituted a “dangerous” “failure.” Dorsey, who helped found the microblogging platform in early 2006, said in the thread that, though banning Trump out of fears that he was promoting violence was “the right decision for Twitter,” an account ban nevertheless “has real and significant ramifications.” “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said. “And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us.”


In addition to fragmenting the public conversation, Dorsey said, such a ban “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.” Referring to the recent purge of the social media app Parler from multiple digital platforms, Dorsey argued that those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.” “Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together,” Dorsey said in the thread.

Read more …

“move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.”

Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)

President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian government to begin rolling out a coronavirus vaccine for the entire population from next week, with more than 1.5 million people having already received the jab.
In a meeting with ministers on Wednesday, Putin said that the time had come to “move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.” He added that the Sputnik V formula, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was “the best in the world.” While comparisons between different vaccines are hard to draw, given the unique circumstances under which they have been developed, he insisted that “no others demonstrate this level of protection and such a degree of safety.”

However, the president expressed concern over the global fight against Covid-19, saying that “we see across the world, unfortunately, that it is not yet possible to strangle this disease, and we cannot prevent all the negative consequences associated with it.” Responding to the new directive, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova reported that the mass immunization program will begin next week, from 18 January. While 1.5 million people in the country have already received their first jab, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed Sputnik V, the list of those eligible was still subject to a number of restrictions.

Doctors, teachers, factory workers, municipal officials and those working in finance and the media were initially offered appointments first. However, there was speculation that, in practice, few checks were put in place before people were given their injection. It is still unclear how the mass-immunization program will be administered, and whether all Russians will be offered shots at once, or staggered based on their age group. Putin added that Sputnik V was particularly well-suited to being made available across the entirety of the world’s largest country because “thank God, our vaccine does not require any unusual conditions for transportation,” and can be stored at ordinary refrigerator temperatures.

Read more …

A good thing if you’re a vaccine maker?!

Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)

The CEO of Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna warned Wednesday that the coronavirus that has brought world economies to a standstill and overwhelmed hospitals will be around “forever.” Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel appeared to agree Wednesday that Covid-19 will become endemic, saying “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away.” “We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever,” he said during a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference.


Health officials will have to continuously watch for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them, he said. Researchers in Ohio said Wednesday they’ve discovered two new variants likely originating in the U.S. and that one of them quickly became the dominant strain in Columbus, Ohio, over a three-week period in late December and early January. Pfizer researchers said its vaccine developed with BioNTech appeared to be effective against a key mutation in the U.K. strain as well as a variant found in South Africa. Moderna’s vaccine has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in Americans who are 18 years old and older. Additional studies still needed to be completed in children, whose immune systems can respond differently to vaccines than those of adults.

Read more …

Two have already been refused entry because of positive PCR tests.

WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)

A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of the WHO. Scientists suspect the virus that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest. The ruling Communist Party, stung by complaints it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, possibly on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.


CGTN, the English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, reported the WHO team’s arrival. The members include virus and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam. A government spokesman said this week they will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists but gave no indication whether they would be allowed to gather evidence. They will undergo a two-week quarantine as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for COVID-19, according to a post on CGTN’s official Weibo account. They are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine. China rejected demands for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for the virus’s spread, which plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s.

Read more …

In Holland, with 5,000 new cases on Tuesday, a warning yesterday that in February B.1.1.7 could cause 150,000 new cases per day.

Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)

Two New York City residents, one from Manhattan and the other from Queens, have contracted the mutated COVID-19 strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom—leading to a second nationwide lockdown of the country—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. Both people were originally diagnosed in late-December using genetic sequencing — a method used to identify the new strain — which returned results “within the last few hours,” according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Over 30 countries have reported cases of a new COVID variant, known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK last fall. In response, several countries have shut their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.


Earlier this week, Washington announced that all international travelers will be required show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight starting Jan. 26 in response to the variant’s spread. But on Wednesday, de Blasio said that the measure fell short of what is needed to control the virus and again called for the federal government to issue a travel ban from Britain. “That’s not good enough,” de Blasio told reporters. “Here is proof positive that someone who was in the UK has brought the variant back here. We need that stopped. All flights from the United Kingdom should be canceled immediately by the federal government.” State officials reported the first case of the new variant on Jan. 4. Since then, officials have reported a total of 12 people in New York state have contracted the B.1.1.7.

Read more …

“..so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”

EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)

EU leaders are demanding that the Commission should ‘standardise’ a vaccine passport across all member countries, and that it should be required for people to travel throughout the area. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has penned a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, outlining that “Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.” The letter calls for a “standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated.” While it stops short at advocating mandatory vaccination, the letter further urges that “It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states.”

Mitsotakis has pledged to raise the issue during an upcoming EU summit on January 21, declaring that “there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward.” Vaccine passports have previously been touted by the EU, with officials suggesting back in April that visa applicants would also be required to be vaccinated. EU countries including Spain, Estonia, Iceland, and Belgium have all indicated that they are open to some form of vaccine passports, as well as sharing the data across borders. This week, it was also revealed that Denmark is the latest country to announce that it is rolling out a ‘Covid passport’, to allow those who have taken the vaccine to engage in society without any restrictions.

However, the EU’s data protection chief Wojciech Wiewiorowski recently labeled the idea of an immunity passport “extreme” and has repeatedly said it is alarming, and ‘disgusting’. The spectre of so called ‘immunity passports’ is looming globally. Having left the EU, Britain would not be part of any standardised European scheme, however it has now confirmed that it is rolling out vaccine passports, despite previous denials that it would do so. Recently, the government in Ontario, Canada admitted that it is exploring ‘immunity passports’ in conjunction with restrictions on travel and access to social venues for the unvaccinated. Last month, Israel announced that citizens who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be given ‘green passports’ that will enable them to attend venues and eat at restaurants.

A litany of other government and travel industry figures in both the US, Britain and beyond have suggested that ‘COVID passports’ are coming in order for ‘life to get back to normal’. Anna Beduschi, an academic from Exeter University, commented on the potential move toward vaccine passports by EU, noting that it “poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights.” Beduschi added that the vaccine passports may “create a new distinction between individuals based on their health status, which can then be used to determine the degree of freedoms and rights they may enjoy.” A report compiled last year by AI research body the Ada Lovelace Institute said so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.” Sam Grant, campaign manager at the civili liberties advocacy group Liberty has warned that “any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

Read more …

“..the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.”

Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)

[..] ever since the Bronze Age you had the temples and the palaces providing basic needs. Because if you leave this to the private sector, then you’re going to have a situation where the private supplier has a chokehold on the economy and can say: your money or your life. There are certain things that governments are supposed to supply and which industrial capitalism wanted government to supply. Because they didn’t want employers or their employees to have to pay for them. These are a number of things. Governments obviously have to supply military defense. You can’t leave that private people but also healthcare, for instance. The conservative party in England, Benjamin Disraeli said: health is everything; we have to spend on health.

And you don’t want to, in principle, make money off crime. But in America we’re privatizing the penal system, the jail system. So you have increasing pressure on government, on governors, to arrest people, put them in jail especially on drug use, where you can employ them at 10 cents an hour. And lease them out to companies as low priced labor. But most of all, government is supposed to provide the infrastructure: the transportation, the communication, the telephone system. And the idea is that if you leave like cable TV to private suppliers, they are natural monopolies. The idea throughout history from classical Greece and Rome, medieval times in Europe is that natural monopolies should be in the public domain.

Because you don’t want to provide opportunities for monopoly rent. Because monopoly rent, like land rent and natural resource rent, is not a necessary cost to production. You want the necessary cost of production to be the material costs and normal profit. Because obviously you need people to have some incentive to do things. But the incentive is supposed to be normal profit, not super profits, not just a free lunch. And so if you let transportation become privatized, then it is going to cost the workforce much more money to get to work and to get to a job. If you let the oil industry be privatized and the profits from the natural resource, and that’s the patrimony of mineral rights, oil and gas is all going to go to the private financial sector not to be used as the tax base.

And if you have the land rent, essentially if the government, for instance, in New York City, they spent let’s say a billion dollars on extending the second Avenue subway line up along the wealthy Upper East Side. That increased land values for landlords all by about twice the amount by about $2 billion. Because people now were closer to the subway station, they didn’t have to walk. They had better transport. All of this increase in land prices could have financed the extension of the subway and still been able to lower the subway fares for the rest of new Yorkers. Instead, the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.

So, you have a privatization of wealth that is not created by landlords, not created by individuals. Certainly the oil companies don’t create the oil in the ground. And the mining companies don’t create the mineral resources. All of these things are given away freely. The United States lets forestry logging companies and mining companies get whatever they can take from the public domain for free instead of getting the results of this publicly owned land to finance the public budget. Taxes in the United States could be drastically reduced on wages and on profits, if you would just tax the unearned monopoly rent, the economic rent that is not necessary for production.

Read more …

How to spook markets.

Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)

Last week, Goldman sparked a buying frenzy in the market (and selling in treasuries) when the bank said it expects the Biden admin would unveil a “modest” $750 billion fiscal stimulus plan, including some $300 billion in “stimmy” checks to Americans. However, as bank after bank tried to upstage Goldman and threw around stimulus estimates as high as $1 trillion or even more, the market barely noticed when late this afternoon, incoming Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer reportedly “pressed” (in Bloomberg’s words) Joe Biden to propose more than $1.3 trillion in spending for his initial round of Covid-19 relief.

According to Bloomberg, “the two have discussed Biden’s plans ahead of the president-elect’s announcement on his economic-rebuilding proposals… Biden is set to speak at 7:15 p.m. Thursday to outline “his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package,” his transition team said in a statement.” But if markets ignored the Schumer report, they sure as hell noticed the CNN report which hit just after 9pmET, which prompted traders to take a double take because apparently Schumer “pressed” Biden so hard to expand the next stimulus round, he literally squashed the president-elect, who is now “expected to unveil a major Covid-19 relief package on Thursday and his advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion,” CNN reported citing two people briefed on the deliberations.

The Biden team is taking a “shoot for the moon” approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal, which is just shy of the Democrats’ demand late last year when they sought a $2.2 trillion stimulus, only to agree on a $900 billion enacted last December, “will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding – including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures – to help those struggling during the pandemic.”

Read more …

Why does the US have so many neocon women in high places?

Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)

On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Power served as ambassador to the UN for President Obama from 2013 to 2017. Before that, she worked on Obama’s National Security Council, where she played an instrumental role in pushing for US intervention in Libya in 2011. Power argued in favor of US intervention in Libya under the guise of protecting human rights and preventing genocide. She was joined in her crusade by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice, who served as the UN ambassador at the time. Reports from 2011 say the pressure from Power, Rice, and Clinton is what led Obama to intervene militarily in Libya, even though his other top advisors were against it.

Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates would later say that in a “51 to 49” decision, Obama decided to bomb Libya. The US-NATO intervention in Libya that led to the brutal murder of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was an absolute disaster. Destabilizing Libya turned the country into a haven for al-Qaeda-linked militants, resulted in targeted killings of black Africans, sparked a refugee crisis in North Africa, and even led to the creation of slave markets. For her efforts in convincing Obama to destroy Libya, Power was promoted. As the US ambassador to the UN, Power advocated for US intervention in Syria and stood by as the Obama administration backed the Saudis in their brutal war against Yemen’s Houthis.

While Powers has since taken a public stance against the war in Yemen, she omitted her early role in supporting the vicious war from her memoir that was published in 2019. In the book, Power defended her decision to intervene in Libya and argued that more intervention in Syria could have prevented some of the war’s atrocities. While it’s not exactly a national security position, Power will have a lot of influence on foreign policy from her future role as the head of USAID. The agency is often used to fund US regime change efforts. For example, in September 2019, USAID announced it would be providing $52 million to Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as president of Venezuela, despite the fact that Nicolas Maduro holds the office. Earlier in 2019, the US supported Guaido in a failed coup attempt.

Read more …

Peaceful protests coming.

As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)

The FBI’s firearm statistics show that 2020 was a record-breaking year in the firearm industry with a 39.9% increase in FBI firearm background checks. With a worldwide pandemic, a summer of violence in cities across the country, the U.S. presidential election and now the transitioning of administrations, 2020 was no ordinary year. With a total of 39,695,315 completed background checks – up from 28,369,750 in 2019 – the year marked the most firearm checks in history, based on FBI data as far back as 1998. Since 1998, nine out of the top ten highest firearm-check weeks occurred in 2020, with the highest check weeks being in the middle of March and the beginning of June.


December, in the midst of election irregularity claims by Trump, saw the highest month of background checks. At over 7.4 million, Illinois saw the most background checks in the country. The fear of the unknown and what’s to come continue to drive sales through the roof. Since the breaching of the Capitol on Jan. 6, gun stores have seen an increase in sales from a fairly even mix of Republicans and Democrats, according to research from TMZ. Gun shops reported increased sales up 400% this past week compared to the week before, with many stores being sold out of guns and ammunition. As Inauguration Day draws closer, sales could continue to stay high with Biden recently saying he will “defeat the NRA.”

Read more …

Abominable.

Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)

Former Republican governor of Michigan Rick Snyder has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection with an investigation pertaining to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which received much national attention at the time. The Associated Press reported that, according to the state archivist, there has never before been a sitting or former governor charged with wrongdoing connected to their tenure as Michigan governor. “Flint was in chronic financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction,” the outlet noted.


“The corrosive water, however, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history,” the wire service reported. As reports have shown, such as from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, there was plenty of blame to go around. CNN reported that the IG report “strongly criticizes the local, state and federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis in 2015 and 2016.”

Read more …

So what has the Fed done to help?

Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)

Unemployment for the lowest-paid workers in the U.S. is above 20%, a figure that Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said underscores the importance of policy help for the economy. The figure indicates how uneven the recovery has seen since efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the biggest quarterly GDP drop since the Great Depression. “The damage from COVID-19 is concentrated among already challenged groups,” Brainard said in a speech Wednesday. “The K-shaped recovery remains highly uneven, with certain sectors and groups experiencing substantial hardship.”


At a time when the national unemployment rate has come down from the pandemic peak of 14.7% to the current 6.7%, Fed economists estimate the jobless rate for the lowest quartile of earners is “likely above 20%,” Brainard said. That comes as the Black unemployment rate is 9.9% and the Hispanic rate is at 9.3% while the rate for Whites is 6%. Fed officials have made “inclusive” employment gains a priority and have adjusted policy to try to make that happen. A new approach will allow inflation to run higher than the central bank’s 2% goal and the unemployment rate to fall beneath what had traditionally been an indicator of higher inflation before the Fed will raise interest rates.

Read more …

“We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.”

Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)

There’s no reason to rehash what happened over the last several days, but the gist of it is that significant components of internet infrastructure were weaponized for ideological and political purposes. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t want to admit it or confront it, because it’s not a comforting or easy thing to admit or confront. But the day has arrived and we’re no longer in a position to ignore it. The most concerning aspect isn’t that it happened, but that it could happen at all. The internet is clearly broken, possibly dying, and if we want to digitally associate freely again at some point in the future, we have no choice but to fix it.

Although I have no team in the parochial political fight, I’ve chosen one in the broader ideological battle. The wielding of such concentrated and unaccountable power over human communication has crossed a very serious line and sets us up for a future world I’m uninterested in participating in. As such, we have no choice but to confront the issue head on. People who think this is about Trump for me are the most ridiculous people. I never voted for him, supported him or took him seriously. While I recognize the role he played in the greater scheme of this massive historical cycle, the best thing that can happen is for him to disappear as a political force and be understood as the spectacle and distraction he was. I’m not here to lecture anyone about who they voted for, but I’m here to connect with people of all political persuasions ready to become serious and admit that a real strategy is needed to address the unaccountable power of the national security state oligarchy. Conventional political avenues are a dead end at this point.

I recognize that tens of millions of frustrated, angry and concerned minds are trying to make sense of it all and reorient themselves. This presents a giant opportunity, but also very real danger. All the emotion being felt currently can be channeled into negative avenues such as violence, aimless spectacles, Trump martyrdom or a futile search for the next political savior guaranteed to disappoint, or it can be channeled in productive ways. That’s why I’m here writing this post at this moment. Enough people are finally motivated to respond, but what really matters is the nature of this response. The dominant aggregate reaction is what will determine the future.

Most of us eagerly, or more likely lazily, embraced the current insipid and dull paradigm in the name of convenience, low prices, and free shipping, but we never stopped to consider the sacrifices made along the way. We swallowed it whole, became comfortable fat and happy, and now the facade’s about to be slowly stripped away unless we bend the knee to an ever narrowing Overton Window of speech and behavior parameters. It begins with social media purges, but it won’t end there. All the special things we sacrificed from the prior era are gone, yet the consequences are here to stay. We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.

Read more …

This should be the most normal thing in the world. Instead, it’s news.

New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

The second largest city on New Zealand’s South Island has closed a popular road for an entire month in order for a sea lion to nest safely with its pup. Dunedin City council said in a Facebook post it would close John Wilson Drive above the city’s St Claire beach for a month to allow “some special residents to use the road safely”. “A New Zealand sea lion and her pup have taken up residence at the golf course next door and are regularly crossing the road to get to the beach,” the council said. “You can still visit the area by foot or bicycle, but please give the sea lions lots of space (at least 20m) … New Zealand sea lions are endangered and one of the rarest sea lion species in the world.”


The harbour city, home to 120,000 people, regularly shuts roads during the summer months to allow wildlife to cross safely, but typically only for a day or two at most. The month-long closure has been applauded by locals, many of whom urged the council the make it permanent to protect vulnerable wildlife. Sea lions are threatened in New Zealand and are often attacked by dogs or chase humans if they get too close. The animals, which can weigh up to 200kg, have been giving birth in and around Dunedin since 1993, and since protection efforts have ramped up – both official and otherwise – the sea lion breeding season has become a fixture of the summer months, with at least 20 pups expected in the city this year.

Read more …

 

 

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May 052020
 


G.G. Bain ‘Casino Theater playing musical ‘The Little Whopper’, NY 1920

 

30,000 New Cases, 3,000 New Deaths Daily Expected in US (CNN)
New Projection Puts US COVID19 Deaths At Nearly 135,000 By August (R.)
New Zealand PM: No Open Borders For ‘A Long Time’ (BBC)
Just 273 Of 18.1 Million People Arriving In UK Prior To Lockdown Quarantined (G.)
France’s First Known COVID19 Case ‘Was In December’ (BBC)
US Treasury Seeks To Borrow A Record $3 Trillion This Quarter (CNBC)
New York AG Asks Major Banks To Clarify Handling Of Small Business Loans (R.)
When the Birdies Sing Like the Fat Lady (Kunstler)
Apple, Google Ban Use Of Location Tracking In Contact Tracing Apps (R.)
Immunity Passports And Vaccination Certificates (Lancet)
‘Time Has Come’ For Universal Basic Income – Scottish PM Sturgeon (Ind.)
US Mortgage Firms Push For Support As Borrowers Halt Payments (R.)
Safe Climate Niche Closing Fast, With Billions At Risk (SMH)
Assange Extradition Hearing Delayed Until September (PR)

 

 

• The tally by Johns Hopkins University recorded 1,015 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day figure in a month, with more than 1.17 million cases in the country as of 8:30 pm Monday (0030 GMT Tuesday), and a total 68,689 deaths

• US is improving only in NY,NY,CT and MA. Exclude those states and numbers are rising:

 

 

And while we’re at it, another success story: Sweden.

 

 

 

Cases 3,662,271 (+ 79,382 from yesterday’s 3,582,889)

Deaths 252,747 (+ 4,180 from yesterday’s 248,567)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to quote CNN anymore than NYT or WaPo, but I was looking for these numbers, and CNN has them here. Note: they are from different sources, and the CDC one is only a draft “report”, of which the White House said it’s “not reflective of any of the modeling” done by the White House Coronavirus Task Force or “data that the task force has analyzed.”

Indicative of the level at which CNN “functions” are sentences like these: “Trump, who has consistently appeared to care most about his political prospects during three miserable months..”

30,000 New Cases, 3,000 New Deaths Daily Expected in US (CNN)

President Donald Trump now knows the price of the haunting bargain required to reopen the country — tens of thousands more lives in a pandemic that is getting worse not better. It’s one he now appears ready to pay, if not explain to the American people, at a moment of national trial that his administration has constantly underplayed. Depressing new death toll projections and infection data on Monday dashed the optimism stirred by more than half the country taking various steps to reopen an economy that is vital to Trump’s reelection hopes and has shed more than 30 million jobs. Stay-at-home orders slowed the virus and flattened the curve in hotspots like New York and California, but they have so far failed to halt its broader advance, leaving the nation stuck on a grim plateau of about 30,000 new cases a day for nearly a month.

New evidence of the likely terrible future toll of Covid-19 came on a day when Trump stayed out of sight — his wild briefings that hurt his political prospects now paused — meaning he could not be questioned on his enthusiasm for state openings in the light of new evidence. The White House also took new steps to limit testimony to the House from members of the President’s coronavirus task force, prompting Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn on CNN that it was “afraid of the truth.” Trump, who has consistently appeared to care most about his political prospects during three miserable months, mounted another victory lap on Monday — boasting on Twitter that he was finally getting “great reviews” for his virus management.

A new model from the University of Washington, previously used by the White House suggested that 134,000 Americans could now die by August — in a revised toll prompted by the likely impact of state openings. The total was more than double the same organization’s estimate last month. A draft internal report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by The New York Times buckled the White House narrative that the worst of the pandemic is passed and it’s time to get going again. It found that the daily death toll will reach about 3,000 by June 1, nearly double the current number.

Read more …

More from the IHME.

New Projection Puts US COVID19 Deaths At Nearly 135,000 By August (R.)

A new forecast projects nearly 135,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of August mainly due to reopening measures under way, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington said on Monday. The forecast U.S. death toll through early August totaled 134,475, a midrange between 95,092 and 242,890, the IHME said. The revised projection almost doubles the number of deaths foreseen in the United States since the last estimate in mid-April. The new projections reflect rising mobility and the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, said the IHME, whose models are used by the White House.


The increasing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus, it said. “This new model is the basis for the sobering new estimate of U.S. deaths,” said IHME director Christopher Murray, referring to the reopening measures. The IHME said its new model assumes that public health orders that are currently in place will stay in place until infections are minimized. The IHME’s forecast increases the projected number of deaths in the U.S. by more than 62,000, with a rise of more than 8,700 deaths in New Jersey and more than 7,800 in New York state for the same period, up from estimates released last month.

Read more …

Good thing the Lord of the Rings is finished.

New Zealand PM: No Open Borders For ‘A Long Time’ (BBC)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country will not have open borders with the rest of the world for “a long time to come”. Ms Ardern was speaking after attending part of Australia’s cabinet meeting via video link. The meeting discussed a possible “trans-Tasman bubble”, where people could go between Australia and New Zealand freely, and without quarantine. But she said visitors from further afield were not possible any time soon. Both Australia and New Zealand have closed their borders to almost all foreigners as part of their Covid-19 response. Ms Ardern said New Zealand and Australia were discussing a “bubble of sorts between us, a safe zone of travel”.


She stressed there was “a lot of work to be done before we can progress…but it’s obviously been floated because of the benefits it would bring”. But, in response to a question about the country’s tourism sector, Ms Ardern said: “We will not have open borders for the rest of the world for a long time to come.” Tourism is one of New Zealand’s biggest industries, directly employing almost 10% of the country’s workforce, and contributing almost 6% of GDP. Most visitors are from Australia, followed by China, the US, and the UK. Ms Ardern said any “trans-Tasman bubble” was only possible because of “the world leading actions” of both countries.

Read more …

And few and far between after, from what I’ve seen.

Just 273 Of 18.1 Million People Arriving In UK Prior To Lockdown Quarantined (G.)

Fewer than 300 people out of the 18.1 million who entered the UK in the three months prior to the coronavirus lockdown were formally quarantined, figures reveal. Passengers on three flights from Wuhan, in China, the source of the Covid-19 outbreak, and one flight from Tokyo, Japan, that was carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, were taken to government-supported isolation facilities between 1 January to 22 March. The figures, provided by the government to the Labour MP and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stephen Doughty, show this totalled 273 people. Additional data provided to the committee shows that there were 18.1m arrivals at the UK border by air, land and sea in the same period.

Although that includes arrivals from all destinations, it is understood that Home Office estimates would still put the number of potentially infected individuals entering the UK from coronavirus-affected countries in that period in the tens of thousands. Doughty said: “The admission that just four flights from two locations, barely a few hundred individuals – out of literally millions of arrivals – were formally quarantined while the pandemic was already raging in a series of locations beggars belief. “On what scientific basis were a handful of flights from Wuhan and one from a Tokyo singled out for extreme attention? But not a single flight from Northern Italy, Spain or the US?

“The fact that many of these people then likely arrived and travelled onwards across the UK with little or no adherence to social distancing, and with no checks or protections at the border – barely a whiff of hand sanitiser – is deeply disturbing. Let alone the arrival of 3,000 fans from Madrid as the pandemic picked up speed.

Read more …

But I thought the French strand didn’t come from China?!

France’s First Known COVID19 Case ‘Was In December’ (BBC)

A patient diagnosed with pneumonia near Paris on 27 December actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said. Dr Yves Cohen told French media a swab taken at the time was recently tested, and came back positive for Covid-19. The patient, who has since fully recovered, said he had no idea where he caught the virus as he had not been to any infected areas. This news means the virus may have arrived in France almost a month earlier than previously thought. Dr Cohen, head of emergency medicine at Avicenne and Jean-Verdier hospitals near Paris, said the patient was a 43-year-old man from Bobigny, north-east of Paris. He was exhibiting what later became to be known as the main symptoms of coronavirus, including a dry cough, a fever and trouble breathing.


He was admitted to hospital on 27 December, four days before the World Health Organization’s China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause being detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The French patient told French broadcaster BFMTV that he had not travelled before falling sick. Dr Cohen said two of the patient’s children had fallen ill but that the wife had not shown any symptoms. But Dr Cohen pointed out that the patient’s wife worked at a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport and could have come into contact with people who had recently arrived from China. The patient’s wife said that “often customers would come directly from the airport, still carrying their suitcases”.

Read more …

The banks need more help, I’m sure.

US Treasury Seeks To Borrow A Record $3 Trillion This Quarter (CNBC)

Massive stimulus to support the U.S. economy through the coronavirus crisis will cause the Treasury to borrow a record $3 trillion this quarter. The department on Monday announced the total, which is actually $2.999 trillion. “The increase in privately-held net marketable borrowing is primarily driven by the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, including expenditures from new legislation to assist individuals and businesses, changes to tax receipts including the deferral of individual and business taxes from April – June until July, and an increase in the assumed end-of-June Treasury cash balance,” the department said in a statement. On top of that borrowing, the Treasury also said it anticipates another $677 billion in the third quarter. First-quarter borrowing totaled $477 billion.


The red ink comes thanks to multiple stimulus efforts Congress has passed to resuscitate an economy brought to a standstill amid social distancing efforts to halt the virus spread. Allocations thus far have totaled more than $2 trillion, and at last one more package is expected to help the more than 30 million Americans who have hit the unemployment line as well as thousands of other businesses that have seen their revenue streams evaporate. The Treasury Department also is backstopping several lending programs for the Federal Reserve, which is leveraging Treasury guarantees in programs aimed at providing another $2.2 trillion in funding to businesses and households.

Read more …

They’ll laugh in her face.

New York AG Asks Major Banks To Clarify Handling Of Small Business Loans (R.)

New York’s Attorney General said on Monday she has asked 11 major U.S. banks to clarify how they had issued loans tied to the U.S government’s $660 billion program to rescue small businesses from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the plan was intended to help small firms weather the worst global economic crisis in decades but has been hobbled by missing paperwork, technology failure and a misdirection of funds to big corporations. Attorney General Letitia James said she is seeking information on the practices, marketing and procedures that banks undertook when they issued those loans.


Also of interest is whether some companies had used their lobbying power to influence the way banks had dispensed the loans, she said. “We are concerned that women and minority groups did not have equal access to loans,” James said in an interview, adding that she worried a disproportionate amount of money had flowed to big companies. A spokesman for James declined to name the 11 banks that had received a letter from the office, sent on April 29, but said they are “large” U.S. banks. The United States has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease, having seen 67,821 deaths in the country, higher than any other nation in the world.

Read more …

“The beauty of springtime is sublime and, as Edmund Burke noted, that very beauty provokes our thoughts of pain and terror.”

When the Birdies Sing Like the Fat Lady (Kunstler)

And so here we are at a fraught moment in the convergent crises of corona virus and the foundering economic system that it infected, with all its frightful pre-existing conditions. Of course, it isn’t capitalism, so-called, that is failing, but the perversions of capitalism, starting with the appendage of the troublesome term: ism. It isn’t a religion, or even a pseudo-religion like Zoroastrianism or communism. It’s simply the management system for surplus wealth. In a hyper-complex society, the management of wealth naturally grows hyper-complex, too, with lavish opportunities and temptations for chicanery, cheating, fraud, and swindling (the perversions of capital). It’s in the interest of the managers to cloak all that hyper-complex perversity in opaque language, to make it seem okay.

How many ordinary Americans have a clue what all the Municipal Liquidity Facilities, Primary Dealer Credit Facilities, Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities, Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facilities, Main Street New Loan Facilities and Expanded Loan Facilities, Commercial Paper Funding Facilities, currency swap lines, the TALFs TARPs, PPPs, SPVs represent – besides the movement, by keystrokes, of “money” from one netherworld to another (both conveniently located on Wall Street), usually to the loss of non-elite citizens generally and to their offspring’s offspring’s offspring?

Real capital is grounded in the production of real things of real value, of course, and when it’s detached from all that, it’s no longer real capital. Money represents capital, and when the capital isn’t real, the money represents…nothing! And ceases to be real money. Just now, America is producing almost nothing except money, money in quantities that stupefy the imagination – trillions here, there, and everywhere. The trouble is that money is vanishing as fast as it’s being created. That’s because it’s based on promises to be paid back into existence that will never be kept, on top of prior promises to pay back money that were broken or are in the process of breaking. The net result is that money is actually disappearing faster than it can be created, even in vast quantities.

All this sounds like metaphysical bullshit, I suppose, but we are obviously watching money disappear. Your paycheck is gone. That activity you started – a brew-pub, a gym, an ad agency – no longer produces revenue. The HR department at the giant company you work for told you: don’t bother coming into the office tomorrow, or possibly ever again. Your bills are piling up. The numbers in your bank account run to zero. That sure smells like money disappearing. Wait until the pension checks and the SNAP cards mysteriously stop landing in the mailbox. There’s going to be a lot of trouble. Ordinary Americans are going to get super-pissed if money doesn’t disappear from the stock markets, too.

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Every country develops its own app. And they’re all the best one, I’m sure.

Apple, Google Ban Use Of Location Tracking In Contact Tracing Apps (R.)

Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday said they would ban the use of location tracking in apps that use a new contact tracing system the two are building to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smart phones, said last month they would work together to create a system for notifying people who have been near others who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The companies plan to allow only public health authorities to use the technology. Both companies said privacy and preventing governments from using the system to compile data on citizens was a primary goal. The system uses Bluetooth signals from phones to detect encounters and does not use or store GPS location data.

But the developers of official coronavirus-related apps in several U.S. states told Reuters last month it was vital they be allowed to use GPS location data in conjunction with the new contact tracing system to track how outbreaks move and identify hotspots. The Apple-Google decision to not allow GPS data collection with their contact tracing system will require public health authorities that want to access GPS location to rely on what Apple and Google have described as unstable, battery-draining workarounds. Alternatives likely would miss some encounters because iPhones and Android devices turn off Bluetooth connections after some time for battery-saving and other reasons unless users remember to re-activate them. But some apps said they planned to stick to their own approaches.

Software company Twenty, which developed the state of Utah’s Healthy Together contact tracing app with both GPS and Bluetooth, said on Monday the app “operates effectively” without the new Apple-Google tool. “If their approach can be more effective than our current solution, we’ll eagerly incorporate their features into our existing application, provided it meets the specifications of current and prospective public health partners,” Twenty said. Canada’s Alberta province, which does not collect GPS data, said it has no plans to adopt the Apple-Google system for its ABTraceTogether app. Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data is exposed. Apple and Google also said Monday they will allow only one app per country to use the contact system, to avoid fragmentation and encourage wider adoption. The companies said they would, however, support countries that opt for a state or regional approach, and that U.S. states will be allowed to use the system.

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The Lancet should stand for quality. So sure, talk about why immunity passports won’t work. But what’s the use of discussing vaccination certificates when there’s no vaccine?

Immunity Passports And Vaccination Certificates (Lancet)

Many governments are looking for paths out of restrictive physical distancing measures imposed to control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). With a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) many months away,1 one proposal that some governments have suggested, including Chile, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the USA,2 is the use of immunity passports—ie, digital or physical documents that certify an individual has been infected and is purportedly immune to SARS-CoV-2. Individuals in possession of an immunity passport could be exempt from physical restrictions and could return to work, school, and daily life. However, immunity passports pose considerable scientific, practical, equitable, and legal challenges.

On April 24, 2020, WHO highlighted current knowledge and technical limitations, advising “[t]here is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection…[a]t this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’”.3 In a follow-up tweet, WHO clarified that it is expected that infection with SARS-CoV-2 will result in some form of immunity.4 Caution is warranted about how population level serology studies and individual tests are used. It is not yet established whether the presence of detectable antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to further infection in humans and, if so, what amount of antibody is needed for protection or how long any such immunity lasts.3

Data from sufficiently representative serological studies will be important for understanding the proportion of a population that has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. These data might inform decisions to ease physical distancing restrictions at the community level, provided that they are used in combination with other public health approaches.5 The use of seroprevalence data to inform policy making will depend on the accuracy and reliability of tests, particularly the number of false-positive and false-negative results, and requires further validation.6

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Not her decision, so easy talk. And the Tories will never go there.

‘Time Has Come’ For Universal Basic Income – Scottish PM Sturgeon (Ind.)

The “time has come” for universal basic income (UBI) in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the first minister said there will be “constructive discussions” with the UK government on the matter. Under the scheme, residents would be given a universal payment from the government, with some benefits scrapped. The Scottish government has brought forward four pilots of a similar scheme in different council areas, but it is the UK government that has the ultimate power over creating a national scheme. When asked about the move at the briefing, the first minister said: “The experience of the virus and the economic consequences of that have actually made me much, much more strongly of the view that it is an idea that’s time has come.


The Scottish government would need more control over taxation and social security to make such a scheme a reality but the first minister said she hopes to “get into a constructive discussion” with the UK government about the scheme. She added she would like conversations to take place “hopefully reasonably quickly” after the coronavirus pandemic is over. The first minister added: “Watch this space.” Think tank Reform Scotland devised a detailed proposal for a UBI scheme. It would consist of an annual payment of £5,200 a year for adults and £2,600 for those under 16. Annually, the scheme would cost the Scottish government £20 billion, with measures found to raise £18.34 billion in revenue to support the scheme. When the think tank published its report in April, the first minister described it as “interesting and timely”, adding the coronavirus outbreak strengthened the case “immeasurably”.

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Support the most bloated zombies! Or: look, if you want to support these guys, forget about supporting anyone else.

US Mortgage Firms Push For Support As Borrowers Halt Payments (R.)

U.S. mortgage firms facing billions of dollars of missed home loan repayments are continuing to push for emergency government support as data published Monday showed a further rise in borrowers asking to halt payments. The number of people seeking to have mortgage payments paused or reduced rose to 7.5% as of April 26 from 7.0% a week earlier as the economic effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak stretched household finances, figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) showed. The MBA estimates that 3.8 million homeowners are now in forbearance. The surge in delayed payments could leave mortgage service companies, which pool home loans and sell them to investors, with a liquidity shortfall of as much as $100 billion over the next nine months, according to the MBA.


That is because mortgage servicers still have to advance scheduled payments to investors even if borrowers fail to make their payments. Mortgage servicers want the Federal Reserve and Treasury to introduce an emergency liquidity facility to cover those payments but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week there were no current plans to offer such a lifeline. In an interview, the MBA’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Broeksmit said it was still discussing the issues with the Fed, Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency. “We don’t see it as the end of the matter,” he said. “We understand that the Fed and Treasury will continue to monitor the situation. We continue to advocate for the facility so we can prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

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“..3.5 billion people will be exposed to “near-unliveable” temperatures averaging 29 degrees through the year by 2070 [..] That heat compares with the narrow 11- to 15-degree range that has supported civilisation over the past six millennia

Safe Climate Niche Closing Fast, With Billions At Risk (SMH)

As much as one-third of the world’s population will be exposed to Sahara Desert-like heat within half a century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the pace of recent years. Scientists from China, the US and Europe found that the narrow climate niche that has supported human society would shift more over the next 50 years than it had in the preceding 6000 years. As many as 3.5 billion people will be exposed to “near-unliveable” temperatures averaging 29 degrees through the year by 2070. Less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s surface now endures such heat. That heat compares with the narrow 11- to 15-degree range that has supported civilisation over the past six millennia, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Absent climate mitigation or migration, a substantial part of humanity will be exposed to mean annual temperatures warmer than nearly anywhere today,” the paper said. Xu Chi, a researcher at China’s Nanjing University and one of the paper’s authors, said: “We were frankly blown away by our own initial results. As our findings were so striking, we took an extra year to carefully check all assumptions and computations.” “Clearly we will need a global approach to safeguard our children against the potentially enormous social tensions the projected change could invoke.” Among the most exposed nations will be India – where many people live in “already-hot places” – with as many as 1.2 billion people likely to be forced to move if population and warming trends continue. For Nigeria, the number exposed could be 485 million, according to a media release distributed along with the paper.

The scenario used projected the total populations in India and Nigeria to reach 2.2 billion and 600 million, respectively, by 2070, Dr Xu told the Herald and The Age. In Australia, areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory home to about 200,000 people will be at risk. The research extended current population and greenhouse gas emissions trends into the future, and excluded impacts from the coronavirus pandemic on both. The researchers also considered possible rainfall changed. “The global pattern of population distribution seems less constrained by precipitation – while there is also an optimum around 1000 mm [of rainfall a year ] – so we focused on temperature,” Dr Xu said. “Changes of precipitation regime would definitely have impacts, but such impacts together those of temperature change would be more complex to foresee.”

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“The UK is proud to be part of the Media Freedom Coalition championing press freedom around the world today.”

Assange Extradition Hearing Delayed Until September (PR)

Hearings in the extradition of WikiLeaks founder, publisher, and editor Julian Assange will resume in September after being postponed from May 18 because of the coronavirus outbreak, which would have prevented lawyers from attending the hearing. Judge Vanessa Baraitser said it would not be possible for it to recommence this month because of strict restrictions on gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19. Assange’s lawyers have said they have been unable to discuss the case with their client since the coronavirus outbreak. “There have always been great difficulties in getting access to Mr. Assange. But with the coronavirus outbreak, the preparation of this case cannot be possible,” his attorney Edward Fitzgerald told the court. Today, Judge Baraitser said the case would be moved to another Crown Court in September, once one with availability is secured.

The parties were unable to schedule the three week hearing for July or August. In addition, time was needed so that US prosecutors could attend the hearing. The Daily Mail reported the government lawyer, James Lewis, saying, ‘We think it is doubtful flights will have resumed earlier than then so we would rather have a September date because it gives more opportunity to have the American prosecutors actually in court.’ The parties agreed September 7 as the earliest date for the hearings to resume, although an exact date and an appropriate venue were yet to be decided. “It’s going to take some negotiation to find a Crown Court that is open in September, in the current climate, and willing and available to take this hearing,” Judge Baraitser said in Westminster Magistrates’ Court today. The judge will announce the new location, which might be outside London, and the start date for the remaining three weeks of the hearing in writing to the lawyers on Friday.

Assange was not able to attend Monday’s hearing via videolink because his lawyers said he was not well enough to appear. Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, said in a video posted on social media on Monday that it was “completely unacceptable” that Assange has to spend another four months — and potentially longer — in prison. He described the hearing as a disgrace and denounced the tiny courtroom where only a few journalists could attend. He said this was not open justice and it needs to end. [..] Assange’s father John Shipton was delighted about the delay, saying it will allow family and supporters from Australia to attend. He’s also optimistic Assange might not be behind bars for the whole four months. He said, ‘I’m hoping there will be a very strong and firm bail application. It appears his lawyers held the power in today’s hearing and got the hearing dates they wanted, so it’s a good sign.’

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