Apr 102021
 


Vincent van Gogh Sprig of Flowering Almond in a Glass 1888

 

‘A Small, Sanitised Existence’ (Godwin)
Covid-19 Vaccine Passports Are Not Evidence Based (BMJ)
A&E ‘Swamped’ With Patients Seeking Help For Mild Covid Jab Side-effects (G.)
The Davos Set’s Dystopian Ambitions Are Very Clear (Clark)
Nearly 40% Of US Marines Have Rejected Coronavirus Vaccine (RT)
Biden Requests $753 Billion Defense Budget (Hill)
Infrastructure Bills Do Not Lead To Recovery, Only Increased Control (Smith)
The Two Faces Of Joe Biden (Matt Taibbi)
Will America Survive Joe Biden? (Kunstler)
Jimmy Kimmel Is The Latest To Embrace Hunter’s Scandal Spin (Turley)
Who Is The Most Powerful Doctor In The World? (IP)
Boeing Sounds Alarm On New Problem With 737 Max, Advises Grounding Again (RT)
Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific is Now “Unavoidable” (Marat)

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the effect of isolation on babies’ mental development. Bad enough for sure. But not a word on the stunted growth of their immune systems. Odd. It all comes together.

‘A Small, Sanitised Existence’ (Godwin)

My son, 0, doesn’t know any different. One of around 600,000 babies born in Britain in the plague year of 2020, he has spent all eight months of his life (and most of his gestation) in a world defined by distance and disease. His circle is small. He doesn’t get out much. When he does, the faces that peer in at his pushchair are concealed by masks. A baby is usually a magnet for human touch; I’d guess around 300 people had held his older brother by the time he was eight months old. Perhaps 20 people have made physical contact with Aubrey. To my mother-in-law, who is in the highest-risk category for coronavirus, he is at once a joy and a death risk. He has never been on a bus or train; he hasn’t met most of his extended family, nor most of our friends; and he doesn’t know any other babies – discounting the tiny person who laughs at him in the mirror.

The difference between babyhood now and babyhood as we first experienced it is vast. What was once a busy marketplace of events, activities and sociability has become a ghost town. What effect will this small, sanitised existence have on the babies of 2020-21? I console myself that, while his parents have been slowly losing their minds, Aubrey seems to have things fairly sussed. But as each milestone passes – as he grows out of the cardigans his grandmothers knitted for him, but never saw him wear – I can’t help but wonder what the long-term effects will be. Considering how fundamental these first months of a child’s life are to their cognitive and emotional development, what sort of mark will this strange period leave on him? How much are babies missing out on? And can what is lost be regained?

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, a child development specialist at Oxford Brookes University, is leading a study into the effects of coronavirus on families with children aged 8-36 months. Unsurprisingly, she is finding experiences vary hugely across the social divide, with the closure of playgroups and other means of support hitting poorer families particularly hard. “Playgroups are really important,” says Gonzalez-Gomez. “They provide enriching activities, they promote child health, they provide links to formal support for parents who are struggling, and they help parents meet other parents. Those babies are missing out on all of that, and so are their parents.” The (anonymous) testimonies are strikingly varied. Some parents report their children’s language has “exploded”.

“We were astonished by the improvement in our daughter’s mood, behaviour and development,” writes one parent. Others say the opposite: “Child has become very clingy to me.” Another says their child has become terrified of other adults, particularly men. “If a man tries to talk to her, she becomes incredibly scared, panic crying, hiding her face in me.” “A lot of people have told us that their babies have developed a fear of strangers,” Gonzalez-Gomez adds. “If all a baby is used to is being indoors, they are missing out on so many interactions that will teach them how the social world works. We don’t know what the long-term effect will be – but it’s something to keep an eye on.”

Read more …

Maryanne Demasi, Researcher, journalist and Prof Peter Gotzsche, Institute for Scientific Freedom.

“Consequently, an enormous number of healthy people will be declared ill; they will be isolated; and many contacts will be asked to be tested, too. This situation is likely to spiral into chaos.”

Covid-19 Vaccine Passports Are Not Evidence Based (BMJ)

The hope is that vaccine passports will pave the way for economic recovery and restore people’s freedoms, but is it evidence-based and does it violate people’s right to choose? The most obvious issue is that it is still unclear whether vaccination prevents transmission. Vaccinated people may still be able to unknowingly spread the virus. That’s why, on 5 Feb, the World Health Organisation released a statement dissuading nations from using vaccine passports, stating that “there are still critical unknowns”(7) and recently, reiterated its opposition to them.(8) In addition, demonstrating “proof of antibodies” on a vaccine passport is problematic, as people can be infected more than once, particularly considering that the virus mutates.(9)

Twice weekly testing of UK citizens using rapid 30 minute tests, has been criticised by experts as “beyond reckless.”(10) They say the tests are not accurate, and the evidence to support their use is very weak.(10) Further, the PCR test used by many countries had 100% sensitivity and 97.8% specificity. This is a highly accurate test if used when infection is suspected. But it performs poorly when used as a screening test. In Denmark, only 0.5% of those tested are positive for COVID-19. Thus, for every 1000 people who are tested, we will get these results: “Infected, Healthy Test + 5, 22 Test – 0, 973. This means that 81% (22/27) of those who are told they are ‘infected’ are actually healthy.

A requirement for school attendance is a negative test twice a week, and in order to work at the Danish Technical University you must be able to present a Covid negative certificate, less than 72 hours old, to armed guards in the building. In Denmark, in the last week of March, 1.1 million PCR tests were carried out (population of 5.8 million). Consequently, an enormous number of healthy people will be declared ill; they will be isolated; and many contacts will be asked to be tested, too. This situation is likely to spiral into chaos. [..] Our biggest concern regarding vaccine passports is the potential violation of people’s freedom of choice. People are likely to be denied access to places or the opportunity to travel abroad unless they opt for the jab.

The proponents of vaccine passports say it is meant to incentivise people to be vaccinated, but it has created a bitter divide, with many arguing that it is treading a fine line between voluntary and mandatory vaccination. The Biden administration recently announced that it would not endorse a national vaccine passport and that it was a matter for individual States.(15) The Governors of Florida(16) and Texas(17) have both moved to prohibit vaccine passports saying that they reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy. Conversely, in the UK, political leaders continue to support the idea of vaccine passports,(1) and many UK citizens appear to agree. A recent survey of more than 8,300 people aged over 16 found that most were in favour of vaccine passports to travel abroad or to visit a relative living in a care home.(18)

Read more …

If they were all so mild, the GPs would not send them to a hospital. If only because those are full already, and dangerous places to be.

A&E ‘Swamped’ With Patients Seeking Help For Mild Covid Jab Side-effects (G.)

People who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are seeking help at A&E despite having only mild side-effects such as headaches, in the wake of the controversy over whether the jab causes blood clots. Emergency medicine doctors in England told the Health Service Journal that a growing but unspecified number of people who were anxious after having the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab were coming to A&E units, some apparently after being advised to do so by a GP. Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, confirmed the trend to the Guardian. “It’s definitely a thing. Colleagues across England are reporting this. All A&E departments are seeing an increase in the number of people reporting concerns after having the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We are seeing people with mild headaches and persistent headaches but who are otherwise alright. “Emergency departments and GPs are getting a lot of queries. I think it’s an understandable reaction by the public. I can understand why people are anxious. If they are worried they need to get advice”, Henderson said. One A&E consultant told the HSJ: “We have seen huge numbers of AstraZeneca jab-associated headaches being sent in and, like all [emergency departments], we’re scrabbling to cobble together some guidance so as to sensibly reduce the number needing investigation. I gather some units are really, really struggling with this.”

An A&E doctor at a London hospital told the HSJ that their department was “swamped” with patients with headaches who had been sent there by their GP. But Dr Michael Mulholland, vice-president of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs will only recommend patients attend A&E if they think it’s the most appropriate place for them to go to get the care they need.”

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“But is masking up whenever we go out really the same as putting on a pair of trousers, to use the English term?”

The Davos Set’s Dystopian Ambitions Are Very Clear (Clark)

In their recent paper, ‘Evaluating England’s Road Map out of Lockdown‘, published on the UK government’s website, the Imperial College Covid-19 Response team state: “Whilst the impact of Test Trace Isolate, mask wearing, hand hygiene and COVID security on ‘R‘ is difficult to quantify it will be vital to emphasise the importance of normalising and ensuring adherence to all measures even after ‘full lifting’ is achieved.” Got that? Masks need to stay even after Boris Johnson says ‘Lockdown is over‘. It’s in this context that the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) enthusiastic promotion of the Chinese ‘smart face mask’ needs to be seen. It apparently reminds users when to wash it and checks if they’re wearing it properly.


If too much carbon dioxide builds up inside, a phone alert reminds the wearer to catch a few breaths of fresh air. If the user forgets to put it on, the same phone app sends them a reminder to mask up. This is not about public health, but all about making sure that measures introduced ostensibly to stop the spread of Covid-19 become permanent. Yes, once again the much-derided ‘crackpot conspiracy theorists’ of 2020 have been proved right. Remember how last summer, the WEF was promoting a ‘Common Pass‘ health passport scheme, not just for international travel but for access to domestic events too? It would never happen, we were told. That’s ‘David Icke stuff’, was the condescending brush-off. Well, that too has come to pass – no pun intended.

To find out why all this is happening, all we have to do is to follow the money trail. All the way to Davos. What does the pro-permanent mask Imperial College have in common with the pro-permanent mask WEF? Answer: the pro-permanent mask Bill Gates. Last month, Gates himself likened putting on a face mask to putting on a pair of trousers. “I just don’t think wearing a mask is such a deep inconvenience. I mean we ask people to wear pants. You know, why was this politicised?” Back in November, he made the same comparison. “We ask you to wear pants and, you know, no American says — or very few Americans say — that that’s, like, some terrible thing.” But is masking up whenever we go out really the same as putting on a pair of trousers, to use the English term?


Of course it isn’t. Unless you’re Batman or The Lone Ranger, or another Saturday morning cinema superhero, or indeed a bank-robber, wearing a mask in public isn’t normal, and no amount of WEF-spin makes it so. But what walking about with pieces of black cloth over our mouths and noses does do, is maintain the levels of fear in the community. If cases and deaths with Covid have plummeted to zero, but we want to make people live as if there is a permanent pandemic, to keep control over them, and to introduce ‘Covid-certification’ to restrict where they can and cannot go, how else can we keep Project Fear going without masks? It’s the only way we’d know that these were not ‘normal’ times. Which is, of course, precisely why they were introduced when deaths had dwindled to very low numbers. Smart masks? The really smart thing is to get wise to the WEF’s dystopian agenda.

Read more …

Coming soon: Vaccine hesitancy is a threat to national security.

Nearly 40% Of US Marines Have Rejected Coronavirus Vaccine (RT)

Just shy of 40 percent of Marine Corps service members have refused to take the coronavirus jab, new data provided to the media shows. The revelation comes as Democratic lawmakers push to make the vaccine mandatory for soldiers. Some 75,500 Marines have agreed to be vaccinated as of Thursday, while around 48,000 have declined the inoculation, CNN reported, citing numbers provided by the branch. That puts the rejection rate at 38.9%, slightly higher than the 33% rate for the whole military given by defense officials. Marine spokeswoman Colonel Kelly Frushour explained that Marines may be refusing the shot for a number of reasons, including allowing others in more vulnerable groups to take it first, allergies to the vaccine or obtaining it by other, non-military means.


Frushour stressed the need to “build vaccine confidence” among servicemen, adding that reluctant troops can always “change their mind and become vaccinated when next the opportunity presents itself.” Another 102,000 or so Marines, including active-duty and reserve troops, are still in line for the immunization and have not had a chance to accept or decline. The rejection rate was much higher at certain bases, such as Camp Lejeune, a major Marine installation in North Carolina, where 57% of service members have refused to take the shot. While the military is currently barred from mandating any of the coronavirus vaccines rolled out in the US, as each has received only emergency FDA approval rather than full authorization, some in Congress have pressed the Joe Biden administration to change that.

Read more …

“..the Defense Department budget “prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the department’s top challenge.”

Putin will be insulted.

Biden Requests $753 Billion Defense Budget (Hill)

President Biden is requesting a $753 billion defense budget for next fiscal year, with $715 billion of that going to the Pentagon. The fiscal 2022 proposed budget represents a slight increase over this year — likely to upset both progressives, who had sought cuts to Pentagon budgets, and defense hawks. The budget outline released Friday does not detail exactly what the money would buy, with a more comprehensive proposal expected later this spring. A fact sheet released by the White House said the Defense Department budget “prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the department’s top challenge.”

The budget also “proposes executable and responsible investments” in the Navy fleet, “supports ongoing nuclear modernization programs while ensuring that these efforts are sustainable,” and “continues to ensure that U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians remain the best trained and equipped force in the world,” while also supporting Pentagon plans to “divest legacy systems,” according to the fact sheet. It also said the budget would support “efforts to plan for and mitigate impacts of climate change” on Defense Department facilities and invest in “power and energy research and development.”

The overall defense budget includes both Pentagon funding and non-Pentagon programs such as Department of Energy nuclear weapons funding. Friday’s release officially kicks off the jockeying over the defense budget on Capitol Hill, though lawmakers have already been drawing their battle lines. While the administration proposes a budget, it is up to Congress to fund the government, and lawmakers routinely deviate from, or sometimes simply ignore, presidential budget requests. A $753 billion defense budget would be a modest increase over this year’s $740 billion, as would a $715 billion Pentagon budget compared to this year’s $704 billion.

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“..all other nations had to turn to the U.S. for manufacturing during the long rebuilding process. In Europe, this process carried on well into the 1950s.”

Infrastructure Bills Do Not Lead To Recovery, Only Increased Control (Smith)

Biden, in particular, has made historic stimulus spending the very first platform of his administration, and consistently cites FDR and Lyndon Johnson as patron saints of his infrastructure bill. If it worked for them, then obviously it will work for him… right? In reality, the public works and welfare programs of FDR in particular had very little to do with the ending of the Great Depression. In fact, the New Deal actually made the situation worse. Roosevelt’s own Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, lamented on May 6th, 1939 after two full terms of FDR’s presidency and stimulus programs that the New Deal was a complete failure. He stated to fellow Democrats during a session of the House Ways and Means Committee that:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong… somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises… I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!” High unemployment and declining living standards were an epidemic in the U.S. throughout the 1930s and well into World War II. The Census Bureau outlines the dismal state of the financial system and the U.S. consumer throughout this period in its “Historical Statistics of the United States.”

By 1939 the stock market had crashed on multiple occasions, car sales imploded by 30%, business closures increased by 50%, and real estate foreclosures were still near record highs. The New Deal had achieved minimal benefits of limited scope, but not much else. For the average American, it was as if nothing had changed in a decade. That said, for certain major companies and big banks, the gains were incredible. Companies like General Electric, IBM, Proctor and Gamble and JP Morgan saw endless profits during the Great Depression while buying up smaller competitors for pennies on the dollar. Those companies involved in public works programs siphoned government money like a black hole while very little trickled down to American workers. All in all, the Great Depression was a windfall for the corporate elite as wealth was consolidated and centralized into fewer and fewer hands.

So we have to ask, if the New Deal was a failure and did nothing to solve the depression problem, what did solve it? Some historians and journalists suggest the beginning of World War II and increased defense spending saved America. This is incorrect. As noted by Robert Higgs, the U.S. standard of living continued to decline throughout World War II. It was not the beginning of the war that saved America, but “After the war genuine prosperity returned for the first time since 1929.” The U.S. was one of the only industrialized nations on the planet that had been left mostly untouched by the destruction. Because of this, all other nations had to turn to the U.S. for manufacturing during the long rebuilding process. In Europe, this process carried on well into the 1950s. The U.S. had very little competition, so much so that the U.S. dollar’s reserve status increased to the point of complete dominance. If you wanted access to manufactured goods, you had to trade with the U.S., and to trade with the U.S., you had to have a stockpile of U.S. dollars.

Read more …

JRB and FDR.

The Two Faces Of Joe Biden (Matt Taibbi)

On April Fool’s Day, CNN ran an “analysis” of Joe Biden’s presidency: Will JRB take his place alongside FDR and LBJ? CNN explained “JRB” had just unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan “to boost ordinary working Americans rather than the wealthy,” a program that together with his $1.9 trillion Covid rescue doubles “as a bid to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.” The news is like high school. One day, one kid comes in wearing Dior sneakers and Nike X Ambush pants, and two days later, that’s all you see in the halls. The “Biden-as-FDR” stories raced around News High, with headlines like “With nods to FDR, JFK and LBJ, Biden goes big on infrastructure plan” (Yahoo!) and “Can Biden achieve an FDR-style presidency? A historian sees surprising parallels” (Washington Post). Even the New Yorker’s naysaying take, “Is Biden Really the Second Coming of F.D.R. and L.B.J.?” read at first glance like an affirmation.

That this high-flown language came on the heels of Biden’s people whispering F.D.R. comparisons in the ears of reporters for weeks, and Biden himself calling his plan “a once-in-a-generation investment in America,” seemed not to bother anyone. We live in a time when a president can be said to have “sharply cut poverty” the moment he signs a relief bill, so why not say, as CNN editorialists Stephen Collison and Caitlin Hu did, that this new bill’s passage would immediately allow Biden to “lay claim to a spot in the Democratic pantheon alongside Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson?” This would only be natural, they said, since “Scranton Joe” has long despaired over the silver spoon inequities of Donald Trump’s trickle-down economy:

The President complained as he unveiled his plan in Pittsburgh — the kind of gritty blue-collar city he loves — that the top 1% saw their wealth rise by $4 trillion during the pandemic while millions of Americans lost jobs. “Just goes to show you how distorted and unfair our economy has become,” Biden said. “Wasn’t always this way. Well, it’s time to change that.” Left unmentioned was that the same gritty, blue-collar president oversaw the TARP bailout, which resulted in a similar Trumpian windfall for the 1%. The richest saw their share of America’s wealth increase from 30% in 2010 to 39% in 2016. Median household net worth fell 34% from a peak in 2007 to the end of the Obama-Biden presidency, while banks in 2009 had the best year they would have until 2020, that “unfair” bailout year Biden complained about.

Pundits have long been working on revising that history. By last summer, the Atlantic was writing this about Biden’s management of the other bailout: “Critics on the left faulted him and Obama for not making the stimulus package bigger (though keeping it below $1 trillion was the price of winning necessary Republican votes for its passage in the Senate).” That’s just not true. Certainly, Republicans would have hammered Obama for a stimulus of any size, but Obama officials decided on those levels on their own. We’ve known this since 2012, when the New Yorker published a piece outing the fact that Larry Summers advised the incoming president to prioritize deficit reduction over stimulus.

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“This body of unresolved allegations haunts the House of Biden like some stinking dead animal decaying under the Oval Office floorboards that everyone pretends not to notice.”

Will America Survive Joe Biden? (Kunstler)

If you want to understand the complete failure of moral authority in America, seek no further than the gothic doings of the Biden family, especially now that the President’s degenerate son, Hunter, has been rewarded with a $2-million advance-against royalties (i.e., money up-front) from Simon & Schuster, and a gala publicity tour of the national news media designed to conceal his criminal culpability in evidence contained on the “laptop from hell” that he stupidly abandoned in a Delaware repair shop while lurching through his daily doings on one of countless drug jags he’s enjoyed between rehabs since his dad stepped back into national politics.

The failure is shared by a national news media that refuses to scrutinize the obvious financial crimes documented on the laptop, the FBI, which sat on the laptop through the months of Trump Impeachment No. One — while the computer contained evidence of Hunter’s grifting and money-laundering directly benefiting “the Big Guy,” Joe Biden, at issue in the impeachment — and the Department of Justice, which has been sitting on its hands pretending to conduct an investigation into all this.

The moral darkness of the family is beyond Shakespearean. It ranges from fantastically sordid personal indecencies like Hunter posting drug-fueled selfie sex videos with whores on the PornHub website, to intimations of lewd consort with his teenage niece, to the admitted fact of him bird-dogging his dead brother’s wife, Hallie… and into financial misdeeds that suggest Hunter sold out his country by peddling Joe Biden’s favor to agents of the Chinese communist party and other foreign nations. This body of unresolved allegations haunts the House of Biden like some stinking dead animal decaying under the Oval Office floorboards that everyone pretends not to notice.

Most recently, in a striking instance of in-your-face duplicity, Joe Biden announced his new crusade against gun ownership the same week that credible evidence surfaced that Hunter had obtained a .38 caliber handgun by lying on the application about his drug use — well-documented in his discharge record from the Navy Reserve (for failing a cocaine blood test), as well as his repeat visits to drug rehab clinics. In 2018, it happened that his then-paramour, Hallie Biden, fearing for his behavior, took the gun from Hunter’s car and tossed it in a dumpster outside a Wilmington food market. Directly afterward, the Secret Service office in Wilmington went to the gun-shop, StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply, to ask for the forms Hunter had filled out and signed to buy the gun, which itself was never recovered.

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“Burisma and other companies not only gave massive payments to someone without any notable skills or experience, they hired someone who was a drug addict who was, by his own account, a total trainwreck.”

Jimmy Kimmel Is The Latest To Embrace Hunter’s Scandal Spin (Turley)

Hunter Biden has the prototypical resume of the progeny of the powerful in Washington. He seemed to land jobs far beyond his experience or proven skills. Most law school graduates work for six years just to make junior partner in a firm. Yet, directly out of law school in 1996, he was given a lucrative position with MBNA America, a bank that was not only a campaign contributor to his father but a business actively lobbying for lending changes in Congress. His father, then a powerful senator, supported changes that benefited the bank. Within a couple years of graduating, Hunter Biden amazingly ascended to the position of executive vice president. He was then given a position in the Commerce Department before he became an industry lobbyist.

In 2006, President Bush made him a member of the board of directors of Amtrak. No one seriously argued at the time that his resume even remotely qualified him for that position, any more than his assuming the board chairmanship of the United Nations World Food Program. At the time, Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware explained that Hunter Biden was qualified to get on the board of Amtrak because “Hunter Biden has spent a lot of time on Amtrak trains.” Ignoring conflicts in the interview was no easy task. Kimmel made reference to Hunter’s struggle with drugs without noting that Hunter admits to being a crack addict all the way up to his father’s 2020 presidential election. Hunter left that off of his description of his work on Burisma.

While Hunter was claiming blackouts of memory due to his crack addiction, he was also claiming that he was a natural choice for the board of an major energy company. Burisma and other companies not only gave massive payments to someone without any notable skills or experience, they hired someone who was a drug addict who was, by his own account, a total trainwreck. However, he was hired for abilities and insights on energy and corporate management? Kimmel also helps out Hunter in his convenient lapses of memory. When asked, Hunter just shrugged and took a dig at Rudy Giuliani: ”I think, within my rights to question anything that comes from the desk of Rudy Giuliani. And so I don’t know is the answer.”

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Ha!

Who Is The Most Powerful Doctor In The World? (IP)

So who is the most powerful doctor in the world? Google tells you that it’s the Microsoft founder Bill Gates. We’re not kidding, you can try to search it yourself. The result is based on a 2017 article outlining Bill Gates’ “sway” over the World Health Organization. So why is Bill Gates listed as the most powerful doctor in the world when searched on Google? Since the keywords used in the query also appear in the headline of a Politico article titled “Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates,” which was published in 2017. That’s why, the Microsoft founder is listed as the top-ranking answer (even in snippet-results) of the Google search. Below is the excerpt from the Politico article: “Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates “

The software mogul’s sway over the World Health Organization spurs criticism about misplaced priorities and undue influence. If you look, Bill Gates’ name actually appear on majority of the results on the front page for this query. A user on Twitter wrote, “Who is the most powerful doctor? Google it. The results will shock you. Good morning” Another user said, “Google ‘who is the most powerful doctor in the world’, tell me what comes up, and then try to tell me I’m a conspiracy theorist.” “Why is it when you google the most powerful Doctor in the world Bill Gates pops up?,” a user on Twitter raised a question. One user attached the Politico article in his tweet and wrote, “Here is the reason why many think that Bill Gates is considered to be the most powerful doctor, when he is not. In Google, the most searched word, along with keywords always come at the top of the list.”


Not just Google: Many users pointed out that it’s not just Google but also Siri that gives you the same answer. It is because when you ask Siri the same question discussed in this article, then it will show you the same search results, the answer to which is Bill Gates. We are sure, if you ask the same question to other Voice assistants they will also give the same answer. A user tweeted, “Interestingly enough I asked Siri who is the most powerful doctor in the world she said Bill Gates, I then asked who was the most powerful medical doctor in the world, again Bill Gates… crazy!!”

Read more …

These things are flying again? Incredible.

Boeing Sounds Alarm On New Problem With 737 Max, Advises Grounding Again (RT)

Just a few months after Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft were allowed to return to the skies the company announced a new problem with the ill-fated jets, calling for dozens of planes to be grounded over issues with the electrical system. “Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations,” the Chicago-based manufacturer said in a statement on Friday. The multinational said it was working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the “production issue.” It also said that the problem doesn’t affect the entire fleet, but a specific group of planes. The company has pledged to provide further directions on “appropriate corrective actions.”


“The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system,” the corporation said.Boeing neither specified which 16 airlines are affected by this alert nor disclosed the number of planes with the problem. The Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner made headlines after two nearly new planes crashed within five months. The fatal crashes, which occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killed all 346 people on board. The incidents prompted a lengthy safety review and all the jets were grounded worldwide for 20 months, from March 2019 through November of 2020.

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Safe clean energy.

Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific is Now “Unavoidable” (Marat)

While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast. In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate. And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water. Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life. Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.

Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt. “What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday. Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.

Read more …

 

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Tucker Jimmy Dore AOC

 

 

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Apr 082021
 


James McNeill Whistler Nocturne in Blue and Silver, The Lagoon, Venice 1880

 

Covid Passports Could Be Required For Clothes Shopping (Ind.)
Notre Dame Is The Latest University To Require Students To Get A Vaccine (F.)
Among the Covid Sceptics (G.)
Anti-Vax & Anti-Tax – 2 Huge Trends of 2021 –Gerald Celente (USAW)
Scenes From 2030 (TE Creus)
YouTube Removes Recent DeSantis Public Health Roundtable (JTN)
Inflation: Making the Complex, Simple – Part 1 (RIA)
Peak Woke (Jim Kunstler)
Biden Admin Plots Revenge On Russia For Alleged Hacking, Meddling (ZH)
Veteran Intelligence Officials Urge Biden To Avoid War In Ukraine (ZH)
Russia Unlikely To Send Recalled Ambassador Back To Washington (RT)
Putin Poised To Set Out Vision For Future In Dramatic Speech (RT)
Humans Were Apex Predators For Two Million Years (Phys.org)
Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? (NW)

 

 

 

 

Flip flop idiocy.

Covid Passports Could Be Required For Clothes Shopping (Ind.)

“Covid passports” could be required for customers visiting clothes shops in England after the removal of lockdown restrictions on 21 June, Downing Street has indicated. The idea provoked horror among retailers, with one trade body describing it as neither “appropriate or useful”. A briefing document on Monday confirmed the government is considering the introduction of “Covid-status certification” as lockdown eases, so that individuals wanting to enter premises can prove that they have either been vaccinated, recently tested or gained immunity through previous infection. The report said that ministers believe shoppers should never be required to supply such proof in order to use “essential” retail venues, but did not make clear exactly which shops were exempted.


Boris Johnson said no decision had been made on whether to require certification domestically, but said that it would not come into force during stages two and three of England’s lockdown relaxation, due to begin on 12 April and 17 May. Pressed today on whether shoppers could eventually be asked for their vaccine passport to enter shops like Next or H&M, the prime minister’s official spokesman did not rule it out. Asked whether clothes shops would use Covid status certificates, the spokesman said only: “We have been clear that we will not require them as businesses reopen in stages two and three of the roadmap. “But again the PM was clear that longer term there will some essential services such as essential retail and public transport where they will not be required.”

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From The One Year Emergency . Feb 4:

“Vaccination is not a prerequisite for the exercise of any other institutional requirement, such as education or otherwise recognized basic right such as the right to employment and free movement. Correspondingly, no private company has the legal authority to impose restrictions violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Discrimination and Stigmatization are forbidden (Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO). Moreover, imposition of a medical action in any manner constitutes torture and is illegal.”

Notre Dame Is The Latest University To Require Students To Get A Vaccine (F.)

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana has joined an increasing number of universities in announcing they will require students and faculty to receive a coronavirus vaccine before stepping on campus this fall. On Wednesday, Notre Dame said all students will be required to be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrolling at the university next year, and will open an on-campus vaccination site Thursday. Boston’s Northeastern University said Tuesday students attending in-person classes on campus in the fall will be required to be fully vaccinated by the first day of the term. On Friday, New York’s Cornell University announced it “intends to require” immunization for all students attending in-person classes in the fall, and asked the university community to register their vaccination status so the administration can determine immunization rates to base reopening plans on.

Fort Lewis College in Colorado said Friday all students enrolled next semester will be required to be vaccinated against coronavirus. Florida’s Nova Southeastern University will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by August 1 in order to resume in-person classes on campus next school year, the university announced Friday. Texas’ St. Edward’s University said March 29 it would require students and faculty over the age of 16 to receive a vaccine before September. Last month, Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first large U.S. college to announce it would require all on-campus students to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus before fall semester classes begin. Oakland University in Detroit is mandating vaccines for students who live on campus, school officials said Monday, but not for the wider university community.

More universities may opt to require vaccines for students, but there could be pushback from critics. The idea of “vaccine passports” that document the holder has been vaccinated have proved controversial with Republicans who say they are an invasion of privacy. On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order to ban vaccine passports from being used in the state by government entities or organizations that receive public funds. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar order Friday to ban them in his state, even by private businesses. It’s still unclear how these executive orders will affect universities wishing to mandate vaccines.

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Long article that heaps all “sceptics” on one big pile, so they all get tainted by the most extreme amongst them. And then describes some reasonable people who get lured into Telegram groups and deceived. How to build a narrative.

Among the Covid Sceptics (G.)

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Anna, a young woman from Bradford, was waiting for surgery for endometriosis. The surgery was cancelled, leaving her in excruciating pain. She was forced to close her business, a small tattoo studio that she had opened two years earlier, at the age of 24. She could no longer pay for the weekly counselling that had been helping her deal with her troubled childhood. Her partner lost his job. Anna was convinced that if she caught Covid, she would die. “I was in a terrified bubble, having the news on constantly, crying, worrying, panicking,” she told me. For weeks, she waited anxiously for news about support for shuttered businesses. The cash grant, when it finally came, fell far short. Other business expenses – insurance, bills – went on her credit card. She considered suicide.

Feeling abandoned by the government and frustrated by the daily press briefings, Anna and her partner researched the virus online. On Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, they came across theories about the origins of coronavirus that the mainstream media weren’t talking about – that it was engineered in a lab in China, say, or that it had been artificially spliced with HIV. Some of it seemed implausible to Anna, but it was enough to convince her that the media wasn’t telling the full story. “Loads of people were saying ‘even if you die from a heart attack, they’ll put it down as a Covid death’. I was looking into that, and how many people who died had pre-existing health conditions,” she said. “It was to make me feel better, so I wouldn’t be as scared.”

She read dense, seemingly scientific material which claimed that PCR testing – the throat and nasal swabs that are considered the gold standard of Covid tests – leads to enormous numbers of false positives. She read that the World Health Organization had said that Britain is testing at too high a sensitivity. She read about the cost of lockdowns, and Sweden’s more permissive approach. She read about the death rate; 1% didn’t sound that high at all. Looked at another way, 99% survived. By the end of the first lockdown, Anna was no longer afraid. She was angry. “I’d been sat in my house for four months, in absolute agony, no mental health support, no financial support, and it did an absolute number on me,” she said.

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Gerald Celente is a big fan of TAE. Whenever he doesn’t get his daily Debt Rattle, he protests. The video is worth it. Very much. Sounds doesn’t quite seem to sync, but hey…

Anti-Vax & Anti-Tax – 2 Huge Trends of 2021 –Gerald Celente (USAW)

Gerald Celente, a renowned trends researcher and publisher of “The Trends Journal,” is back to talk about two of the biggest trends taking shape for 2021. One revolves around Covid-19 (CV-19) and the experimental so-called vaccine, otherwise known as the “jab.” The other is a rebounding economy destined to crash. First, the CV-19 jab, as Celente explains, “There are going to be new political movements: anti-tax, anti-vax, anti-immigration and anti-establishment. We are going to see a big anti-vax movement. To make the point on how they are going to be selling this . . . They are selling it now that there is going to be a new strain of CV-19, and you better prepare for it. It’s going to happen every year, and you are going to have to get vaccinated. So, we are going to start seeing a big anti-vax movement.”

The economy in blue states is performing much worse that in Red states, and that is fueling big government to raise big taxes. Celente says, “The streets out here in New York are dead. . . . They are dead. Now, they are raising the taxes. The first thing they did was tolls. The next thing they are going to do is a gas tax, soda tax, sales tax, property tax and school tax. Business is dead. New York City is dead. Brooklyn is dead. Park Slope is a slope alright, a downhill slope. The office occupancy rate in New York City is still at 14%. All the businesses that depend on commuters are gone, and this isn’t coming back.” All the economic news is not bad. Celente is forecasting, “This is the other important thing. There is going to be an economic rebound. It’s going to happen because all of the cheap money they are pumping into the system. We are going to start seeing inflation really skyrocket. They are going to have to raise interest rates.

We had a cover on The Trends Journal, and it showed two big needles. One injection is the vaccine, the other is the money junkies injecting money into the system. They are drug dealers and money junkies. The money junkies need cheap money from the Federal Reserve to keep gambling. They are going to have to raise interest rates. When the equity markets crash, people will be forced to wake up to know how bad it is. . . . It’s artificially propped up, and when the markets crash, the reality will be felt. The reality is already being felt by the hundreds of millions of people around the world whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed. When the markets crash, we are going to be living in hell on earth. . . . We are heading into the Greatest Depression, and you better prepare now. The other biggest trend is there is going to be a ‘vax war.’ There is no question about it.”

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Dystopia.

Scenes From 2030 (TE Creus)

“Hi, dude!” “Oh. Hi. How are you?” “I’m good. How do you like my shoes?” “Nice. Are those…” “Yeah. The original Nike Lil Nas X Satan’s Shoes, version 2030.” “Wow. But don’t those cost a fortune? How can you afford them, with just the Universal Basic Income?” “Well, duh. I didn’t buy them, dude. I’m just renting them from Amazon Prime, of course. All of my clothes are rented, including the original Calvin Klein underwear.” “Eew… Well, they did say that ‘you’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy’…” “What are you talking about?” “Nothing, just remembering an old joke here. So, what’s new? What are your plans for next week?” “Not sure. Maybe I’ll go to the City Hall Yearly Masked Ball. You want to come? The masks are all N95 compliant, so it’s safe.”

“No, thanks. I thought you were travelling to Italy for the holidays?” “Nah, I can’t board a plane this month. I didn’t get my Moderna monthly booster shots. I wanted to, but the lines were so big, the next appointment available for me is only next month.” “This Covid-29 is really pesky, isn’t it?” “You bet. But I’m sure the vaccine is working. Just give it time. It takes a few years to achieve full immunization, but of course, with the new variants and viruses that appear every month, it’s always a game of catching up. We got to be patient. So, yeah, no travel this month for me.” “Well, you know, you could always travel around your own room.” “What?” “Oh. I just got reminded of an old 18th century novel. ‘Voyage around my room,’ by Xavier de Maistre.”

“What it’s about?” “It’s about a guy who, well, travels around his room.” “18th century? Man, that’s like, old. When was that exactly? I guess that’s when the first lockdowns happened, right? In the first Covid era?” “Yeah, sort of… Anyway, forget it, you just reminded me of that book. But I guess reading is not really your thing.” “Nah. Is there a YouTube version? You are funny, you’re one of those guys who still read, right? You’re really old-fashioned. I bet you don’t even have a microchip in your brain, L.O.L.” “Thankfully not…” “…” “What’s wrong?” “Don’t get close to me.” “What? Why? Who are you calling?” “Who am I calling? Who am I calling? The police, dude. Not having a brain chip is a felony, and it’s my duty as a citizen to report you, sorry. I know you’re a friend and neighbour and all, but, that’s just sick, dude. That’s really fucked-up.”

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Cancel the doctors.

YouTube Removes Recent DeSantis Public Health Roundtable (JTN)

March public health roundtable event hosted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that featured reputable doctors including former White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas and the authors of The Great Barrington Declaration has been removed from YouTube for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” according to Reclaim the Net. The video garnered over 500,000 views while it was published and covered a group of panelists advising against lockdowns, contact tracing and mask mandates. The doctors – including Drs. Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff – also called the measures harmful and said that schools should reopen for in-person learning.


“We also talk about removing information that is problematic,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN last spring. “We’ve had to update our policy numerous times associated with COVID-19.” While the video was taken down from one channel, the video remains available on NBC 6 South Florida’s page. YouTube’s parent-company, Google, along with Facebook and Twitter have [been] adding misinformation warnings and removed posts that violate company guidelines including some related to coronavirus health-safety measures.

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“Inflation is a function of money supply but equally critical, the demand for money (velocity).”

Inflation: Making the Complex, Simple – Part 1 (RIA)

We could devote pages to the multitude of factors affecting the supply, demand, and pricing of a Big Mac. The exercise would explain why the Big Mac price rises or falls versus Burger King Whoppers and every other good and service available. Such analysis is critical to McDonalds, but often overemphasized from a macroeconomic perspective. Economists cite increasing oil prices as a driver for inflation and stronger retail sales from time to time. They assume consumers will still buy everything they were consuming, yet pay an extra $20 at the pump each week. In reality, consumers often substitute goods and services based on their budgets and needs. Economists often fail to consider the extra $20 spent at the gas pump is $20 not spent elsewhere.


The price of oil may rise, but the price of oranges may fall as consumers spend less on oranges to compensate. What matters most from a macroeconomic perspective is the aggregate price change for oil, oranges, Big Macs, and every other good and service. To correctly anticipate inflation, we must look beyond the supply and demand for goods and services. The truth lies in the supply and the demand for money. Unfortunately, the supply of money gets the headlines, while its demand is an afterthought. The chart below shows the forthcoming evidence of inflation used by most inflationists.

The following graph captures monetary velocity for an appropriate view of inflation.

Inflation is a function of money supply but equally critical, the demand for money (velocity).

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“The tentacles of Wokery have reached into every last compartment of American life now, more effectively even than the Covid-19 corona virus.”

Peak Woke (Jim Kunstler)

What were the execs of these mighty companies thinking — these knights of the boardroom, these capitalist geniuses, these moral nonpareils — when they cancelled Atlanta’s turn to host the midsummer All-star Game to “protest” Georgia’s passage of a law that requires voter ID? Surely that they were striking a righteous blow against systemic racism. And then, the rest of the world realized — almost immediately — that Major League Baseball requires online ticket buyers to show ID when they pick up their tickets at any stadium… and that Delta Airlines requires passengers to show ID (duh) before being allowed to fly in one of their airplanes… and that various other corporations snookered into this latest hustle such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Calvin Klein support forced labor in the Asian nations that manufacture their products.

They’re Woke, you see. The tentacles of Wokery have reached into every last compartment of American life now, more effectively even than the Covid-19 corona virus. Wokeness emerged on the scene in 2014 when the feckless teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson upon arrest in Ferguson, Missouri, an event that kicked off the Black Lives Matter movement. The moral panic BLM ignited proved to be a spectacularly effective device for repelling the truth of the situation, and many more like it, which was that Michael Brown resisted arrest, fought with, and menaced officer Wilson before getting shot.

The Woke moral panic that proceeded from this effectively suppressed two truths about police relations with Black America: 1) that Blacks committed crimes against life and property at a disproportionately high rate to their percentage in the US population, and 2) that the number of unarmed black people killed by police was statistically minuscule, and in most cases involved people resisting arrest or fighting with police. As the 2016 election approached, the Democratic Party realized it was in its interest to cultivate the Woke moral panic so as to marshal the Black voting bloc so crucial to victory at the polls.

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Victoria Nuland et al.

Biden Admin Plots Revenge On Russia For Alleged Hacking, Meddling (ZH)

President Joe Biden – whose son Hunter received $3.5 million by the wife of the late Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for reasons unknown – is preparing to retaliate for various Russian misdeeds, including the SolarWinds hack and election interference, according to Bloomberg. Retaliatory options may include sanctions on people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, agencies linked to alleged election meddling, and the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in the US who are currently under diplomatic cover, according to anonymous officials – one of whom said that the US response ‘would likely comprise several elements.’

“The actions will be the outcome of the review President Joe Biden ordered on his first full day in office into four areas: Interference in the U.S. election, reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, the SolarWinds attack and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The administration announced sanctions against Russian officials over Navalny last month but had so far held off on action in the other three areas.” -Bloomberg. Last month, Biden nodded in agreement when asked if he thought Putin was a “killer,” to which Putin said ‘takes one to know one.’ Putin then challenged Biden to a live, televised debate to discuss geopolitical friction, which the US President promptly declined.

According to the report, beyond sanctioning individuals, the Biden administration could expel diplomats or other measures designed to establish ‘effective deterrence against cyber attacks’ such as the SolarWinds exploit which affected several government agencies and private corporations.

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VIPS. McGovern, Kiriakou, Binney, Ritter etc.

Veteran Intelligence Officials Urge Biden To Avoid War In Ukraine (ZH)

1. It must be made clear to Ukrainian President Zelensky that there will be no military assistance from either the US or NATO if he does not restrain Ukrainian hawks itching to give Russia a bloody nose — hawks who may well expect the West to come to Ukraine’s aid in any conflict with Russia. (There must be no repeat of the fiasco of August 2008, when the Republic of Georgia initiated offensive military operations against South Ossetia in the mistaken belief that the US would come to its assistance if Russia responded militarily.)

2. We recommend that you quickly get back in touch with Zelensky and insist that Kiev halt its current military buildup in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been lining up at the border ready to react if Zelensky’s loose talk of war becomes more than bravado. Washington should also put on hold all military training activity involving US and NATO troops in the region. This would lessen the chance that Ukraine would misinterpret these training missions as a de facto sign of support for Ukrainian military operations to regain control of either the Donbas or Crimea.

3. It is equally imperative that the U.S. engage in high-level diplomatic talks with Russia to reduce tensions in the region and de-escalate the current rush toward military conflict. Untangling the complex web of issues that currently burden U.S.-Russia relations is a formidable task that will not be accomplished overnight. This would be an opportune time to work toward a joint goal of preventing armed hostilities in Ukraine and wider war.

There is opportunity as well as risk in the current friction over Ukraine. This crisis offers your administration the opportunity to elevate the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of the international community. Leading with diplomacy will greatly enhance the stature of America in the world.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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“..without clear sign US ready for bilateral relations..”

Russia Unlikely To Send Recalled Ambassador Back To Washington (RT)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has revealed it has no plans to restore full diplomatic representation in Washington until it sees evidence that the US is interested in building constructive relations between the two countries. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was asked by RIA Novosti on Wednesday whether Ambassador Anatoly Antonov would return to America in the near future, having been recalled in March amid a growing diplomatic row. “This is not a question for the next few days,” he said. “The timings will be determined based on what steps Washington plans to take on the bilateral track,” he continued. “We expect that they are still able to demonstrate a desire to at least relatively stabilize our relationship and that they will do something visible and noticeable in this regard.”


Antonov flew to Moscow for a series of crunch talks with senior officials in the days following US President Joe Biden’s interview with the ABC news network, in which he was asked whether he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer,” and replied, “Mmm hmm, I do.” The American leader also said he had warned the Russian president that the US would potentially take action if it found evidence of Moscow’s interference in the US election. “He will pay a price,” Biden added. His comments came as a joint report by Washington’s spy agencies, including the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security, was declassified and made available to the public. It declared that Russia attempted to influence the 2020 US election with the aim of “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”

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“This will be a message for a new age..” “the most important political and public event.”

Putin Poised To Set Out Vision For Future In Dramatic Speech (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly preparing to give a major address in which he will fire the starting pistol on a “new era” and set out a different vision for the future of his country as the Covid-19 pandemic wanes. The chairwoman of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matvienko, told reporters on Tuesday that the speech would set out answers to a number of challenges facing the world. “This will be a message for a new age,” she said. “But at the same time, as always, current issues will be addressed, focuses will be defined and direct instructions will be given.” Matvienko added that “in the current difficult environment facing the world, which comes with many obstacles for countries including Russia,” the address would become “the most important political and public event.”

Putin is due to speak to the national parliament, encompassing both the Senate and its lower house, the State Duma, on April 21. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed on Monday that the annual message would be delivered in person, amid a relaxing of social distancing rules governing workplaces across the country. “The rest of the details are being worked out,” he added. At a meeting of the World Economic Forum in January, Putin warned that the coronavirus pandemic was driving countries to borrow beyond their means and driving up inequality. Increasing the debt burden, he said, was an outdated way of stimulating growth. “If 20 or 30 years ago the problem could be solved by means of stimulating macro-economic policy, today these mechanisms have reached their limits,” the president said.

“Over the past 30 years, real incomes of people living in most of the developed countries have stagnated while the cost of education and health services has increased. Millions of people, even in rich countries, no longer see the prospect of boosting their incomes,” Putin added.

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Big game hunters.

Humans Were Apex Predators For Two Million Years (Phys.org)

Only the extinction of larger animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world, and the decline of animal food sources toward the end of the stone age, led humans to gradually increase the vegetable element in their nutrition, until finally they had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals—and became farmers. “So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans were mostly based on comparisons to 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” explains Dr. Ben-Dor. “This comparison is futile, however, because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies could hunt and consume elephants and other large animals—while today’s hunter gatherers do not have access to such bounty. The entire ecosystem has changed, and conditions cannot be compared.

We decided to use other methods to reconstruct the diet of stone-age humans: to examine the memory preserved in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics and physical build. Human behavior changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body remembers.” In a process unprecedented in its extent, Dr. Ben-Dor and his colleagues collected about 25 lines of evidence from about 400 scientific papers from different scientific disciplines, dealing with the focal question: Were stone-age humans specialized carnivores or were they generalist omnivores? Most evidence was found in research on current biology, namely genetics, metabolism, physiology and morphology. “One prominent example is the acidity of the human stomach,” says Dr. Ben-Dor. “The acidity in our stomach is high when compared to omnivores and even to other predators. Producing and maintaining strong acidity require large amounts of energy, and its existence is evidence for consuming animal products.

Strong acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat, and prehistoric humans, hunting large animals whose meat sufficed for days or even weeks, often consumed old meat containing large quantities of bacteria, and thus needed to maintain a high level of acidity. Another indication of being predators is the structure of the fat cells in our bodies. In the bodies of omnivores, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, it’s the other way around: we have a much larger number of smaller fat cells. Significant evidence for the evolution of humans as predators has also been found in our genome. For example, geneticists have concluded that “areas of the human genome were closed off to enable a fat-rich diet, while in chimpanzees, areas of the genome were opened to enable a sugar-rich diet.”

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Whitney Webb: “Anyone who is down to let Silicon Valley “hack” life processes and nature in general can fuck right off.”

Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? (NW)

The Spanish firm Grifols helped set off a kerfuffle last year when it, along with other firms, offered nearly double the going price for blood donations for a COVID-19 treatment trial. Brigham Young University in Idaho had to threaten some enterprising students with suspension to keep them from intentionally trying to contract COVID-19. The trial failed, however, and now the Barcelona-based firm is hoping to extract something far more valuable from the plasma of young volunteers: a set of microscopic molecules that could reverse the process of aging itself. Earlier this year, Grifols closed on a $146 million-deal to buy Alkahest, a company founded by Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who, along with Saul Villeda, revealed in scientific papers published in 2011 and 2014 that the blood from young mice had seemingly miraculous restorative effects on the brains of elderly mice.

The discovery adds to a hot area of inquiry called geroscience that focuses on identifying beneficial elements of blood that dissipate as we age and others that accumulate and cause damage. In the last six years, Alkahest has identified more than 8,000 proteins in the blood that show potential promise as therapies. Its efforts and those of Grifols have resulted in at least six phase 2 trials completed or underway to treat a wide range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Alkahest and a growing number of other geroscience health startups signal a change in thinking about some of the most intractable diseases facing humankind. Rather than focusing solely on the etiology of individual diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis—or, for that matter, COVID-19—geroscientists are trying to understand how these diseases relate to the single largest risk factor of all: human aging.

Their goal is to hack the process of aging itself and, in the process, delay or stave off the onset of many of the diseases most associated with growing old. The idea that aging and illness go hand and hand is, of course, nothing new. What’s new is the newfound confidence of scientists that “aging” can be measured, reverse-engineered and controlled. Until recently, “people working on diseases did not think that aging was modifiable,” says Felipe Sierra, who recently retired as director of the Division of Aging Biology, part of the National Institutes of Health. “That is actually what many medical books say: The main risk factor for cardiovascular disease is aging, but we cannot change aging so let’s talk about cholesterol and obesity. For Alzheimer’s, aging is the main risk factor—but let’s talk about the buildup in the brain of beta-amyloid proteins. Now that is beginning to change.”

Read more …

 

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Apr 042021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe New York night 1929

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Logic is overrated.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yes, but stop the “vaccine” propaganda.

The Texas Neanderthals Were Right (Spiked)

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

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

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

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

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

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Self testing is all the rage suddenly.

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

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

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

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

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Curious pattern.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Any self-interest?

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

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


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

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Quite the story. Stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Theia.

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

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


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

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Joan Miro Dancer 1925

 

Sunlight Renders Coronavirus Inactive 8 Times Faster Than Predicted (RT)
COVID-19 Will be Like a “Fond Caress” in Comparison to Next Pandemic (SN)
AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Again in Netherlands After Death (NTD)
DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports To Prevent Having Two Classes Of Citizens (RT)
Opposition Grows Against UK Vaccine Passports (R.)
Every Customer Must Sign In As Pubs Face Triple Whammy Of New Covid Rules (M.)
Care Home Residents In England To Be Allowed Two Visitors From 12 April (G.)
CDC Walks Back Director’s Comments on Vaccines Preventing Infection (DB)
Trump Rule Would Allow Ulimited Vaccine Price Hikes (Fang)
Paradigm Failure (Kunstler)
Biden Again Misrepresents Georgia Election Law, Supports State Boycott (Turley)
NPR Issues Stunning Mea Culpa On Hunter Biden Laptop (NYP)
Hunter Biden Admits Laptop Could ‘Certainly’ Belong To Him (NYP)
The Pending Collapse of the ‘Rules-based International Order’ (Ritter)
Russia Warns NATO Against Sending Any Troops To Ukraine (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Spring forward.

Sunlight Renders Coronavirus Inactive 8 Times Faster Than Predicted (RT)

Researchers have found that the coronavirus is inactivated by sunlight as much as eight times faster in experiments than predicted by current theoretical modelling, providing a glimmer of hope in turning the tide on the pandemic. UC Santa Barbara assistant professor of mechanical engineering Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz conducted an analysis of 2020 studies exploring the effects of different forms of UV radiation on the SARS-CoV-2 and found a significant discrepancy. As with all electromagnetic radiation, UV falls on a spectrum, with longer-wave UVA reacting differently with parts of DNA and RNA than other mid-range UVB waves contained in sunlight, which kill microbes and cause sunburn in humans. Short-wave UVC radiation has previously been shown to deactivate viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for Covid-19, but this section of the UV spectrum is deflected away by the Earth’s ozone layer.

A July 2020 experimental study tested the power of UV light on SARS-CoV-2, contained in simulated saliva, and found the virus was inactivated in under 20 minutes. However, a theory published a month later suggested sunlight could achieve the same effect, which didn’t quite add up. This second study concluded that SARS-CoV-2 was three times more sensitive to UV radiation in sunlight than the influenza A virus. The vast majority of coronavirus particles were rendered inactive within 30 minutes of exposure to midday summer sunlight, whereas the virus could survive for days under winter sunlight. “The experimentally observed inactivation in simulated saliva is over eight times faster than would have been expected from the theory,” Luzzatto-Feigiz and his team said. “So, scientists don’t yet know what’s going on.”

The team suspects that, as the UVC doesn’t reach the Earth, instead of directly attacking the RNA, the long-wave UVA in sunlight interacts with molecules in the virus’ environment, such as saliva, which speeds up the inactivation, in a process witnessed previously in wastewater treatment. The findings suggest UVA emitters could be added to equipment such as air filtration systems to provide a cheap and energy-efficient means of reducing the spread of viral particles. Masks and social distancing would more than likely still be required, but such UV-based interventions could be of some benefit as nations struggle with recurring waves of the pandemic despite vaccination efforts.

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Sounds like a thousand other such warnings.

COVID-19 Will be Like a “Fond Caress” in Comparison to Next Pandemic (SN)

A Swedish professor of infectious diseases says COVID-19 will feel like a “fond caress” in comparison to the next global pandemic. Professor Björn Olsen from Uppsala University warns that there’s another “imminent” pandemic on the way that will totally dwarf the millions of dead caused by coronavirus. “Then the corona pandemic will be like a fond caress in comparison,” Olsen told national broadcaster SVT. Olsen says that the next pandemic will be triggered by a new flu virus against which humanity has no protection.


“A flu is incredibly contagious. If it is a new flu where there is no herd immunity at all, it will be able to spread faster through all different age groups,” said the professor. Olsen urged people to switch to eating locally sourced meat in order to reduce human exposure to food markets, which represent a “gigantic public health problem.” “If we try to eat more locally produced, the points of contact for new pandemics will decrease,” said Olsen. The professor also warned that rapid urbanisation in African countries and the destruction of habitats such as rainforests was crowding humans and animals together, making new viral outbreaks more likely.

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They have now stopped using it for everybody. And at some point they will try to bring it back.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Again in Netherlands After Death (NTD)

The Netherlands temporarily suspended AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for a second time for people under the age of 60 after a woman who had received the jab died and four other women experienced serious complications, according to a report. The announcement to pause the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company’s vaccine was made in a government statement on Friday, which said that due to “a new report” on side effects, health officials decided not to vaccinate people under the age of 60 in the coming days. The woman’s death was reported by the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb—a research center that tracks the risks associated with the use of medicines. “These are women between 25 and 65 years old. Three patients had extensive pulmonary embolisms. One died and one also had a brain hemorrhage,” Lareb said.


Health officials said a link between the vaccine and the side effects has not yet been established but is being investigated. The complications arose about 7 to 10 days after the people received the vaccine. It is the first time someone died in the Netherlands after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was previously suspended temporarily in multiple countries in the European Union over blood clot concerns, including in the Netherlands. Last month, the Netherlands’s Health Ministry halted the administration of AstraZeneca for more than two weeks after serious side effects arose in a small number of people. Germany on Tuesday became the latest European country to also stop injecting people with the AstraZeneca vaccine under the age of 60 amid fresh concerns over unusual blood clots reported in a number of those who received the shots. France, meanwhile, also said in mid-March it decided to limit the vaccine to people for those aged 55 and older.

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GOP candidate 2024.

DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports To Prevent Having Two Classes Of Citizens (RT)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned Covid-19 vaccine passports in his state, signing an executive order and calling on lawmakers to protect citizens permanently. Conservatives reacted by backing him for president in 2024. The order, which the Republican governor signed on Friday, notes that Covid-19 vaccines are not required by law, and individual inoculation records are private health information. Requiring vaccine passports to access goods, services or activities would infringe individual freedom and invade privacy, DeSantis added in the order.

“Requiring so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life – such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant or going to a movie theater – would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination,” DeSantis wrote. He said the order protects “the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce.” No business or government entity is allowed under the order to require people in Florida to provide documentation of their vaccination status. State agencies will enforce the order, including compliance as a condition of state licensing and other authorization needed to do business, and companies that violate the ban won’t be eligible for grants or state contracts. “The Legislature is working on making permanent these projections for Floridians, and I look forward to signing them into law,” DeSantis said.

The order comes amid a global debate over the ethics of forcing people to take vaccines to be able to live as full-fledged citizens and restore freedoms that arguably weren’t legally infringed in the first place. For instance, South Korea’s prime minister said on Thursday that only those who get Covid-19 jabs will be allowed to return to their “daily lives.” The Biden administration so far has sidestepped the issue, coming down on the side of a two-tiered society but seeking to achieve it through the private sector – without government mandates. DeSantis is short-circuiting that effort, at least in one major state, and conservatives such as US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) have called on other Republican-led states to follow suit.

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Of course.

Opposition Grows Against UK Vaccine Passports (R.)

More than 70 British lawmakers have signalled their opposition to the introduction of so-called vaccine passports that the government is considering bringing in to help to open the economy as it starts lifting COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The government is reviewing the idea of asking people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to access crowded spaces such as pubs or sports events, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson having already said that a certificate is likely to be needed for international travel. The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday that trials of COVID passports would begin within weeks during pilots at major sports events and possibly a music awards ceremony in the next two months to assess their impact.

On Friday Johnson said that a combination of immunity factors – if people have had the disease, a vaccination or had a COVID-19 test – would give businesses confidence. “So those three things working together will, I think, be useful for us as we as we go forward,” Johnson said. But there has been mounting concern from some in his own Conservative Party, as well as opposition lawmakers and civil rights groups, about the prospect of vaccine certificates. “We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs,” said a statement signed by a group of more than 70 lawmakers from across the political spectrum.

Under the government’s planned “roadmap” out of the pandemic, pubs will be allowed to serve people outdoors later this month, with a further easing of restrictions in mid-May before all measures are lifted near the end of June. Johnson suggested last month that some pubs might require customers to produce vaccine certificates. Culture minister Oliver Dowden, meanwhile, has said that such certificates could help get more people into theatres. No decision has yet been made and Johnson has instructed senior minister Michael Gove to review the possible role of certificates, saying there are deep and complex ethical issues to explore. Gove is due to report back shortly.

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“”I don’t understand why I have to do this in a restaurant or pub, but I don’t need to do this in a supermarket..”

Every Customer Must Sign In As Pubs Face Triple Whammy Of New Covid Rules (M.)

Pub bosses are warning that a “triple whammy” of new Covid rules could be a further blow to landlords after months of closures. Every customer aged over 16 will be forced to sign in – rather than just one member of a big group as was the case last year. It is also unclear whether payment at the bar will be permitted. From April 12, pubs will be outdoors-only, and in rural areas particularly, poor broadband could make paying for drinks difficult if customers are not allowed inside. And hospitality bodies are also troubled by reports that the Government will introduce vaccine passports from June 21, requiring punters to have either been jabbed or provide proof of a negative test. UK Hospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII) branded the measures as “impractical burdens”.

In a joint statement, the pub representatives said: “Government has promised the country that we will be reopening but we are now being told that this will be with our hands tied behind our backs. “It now seems the hospitality industry could be burdened with vaccine passports, over-complicated test and trace rules and an inability not able to take payments indoors at reopening – a triple whammy for hard-pressed publicans who have been forcibly closed for months. “Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and Covid-secure measures in place. “Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses. “It’s unfair to single out our sector again with these added impractical burdens that will have economic consequences and risk our recovery.”

Carl Ford, an accountant based in Tamworth, told the BBC he was frustrated and confused by the rules. “I feel like it’s almost like going back to school where I have to sign in and out,” he said. “I don’t understand why I have to do this in a restaurant or pub, but I don’t need to do this in a supermarket where you have a free for all. People don’t have to sign in and they can pick up fruit with their hands.” Pubs will open beer gardens from April 12 with punters allowed indoors on May 17. A full reopening with no social distancing could be on the cards from June 21 when the Government hopes to have done away with all Covid rules.

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Do we still recognize how insane it is that a goverment “allows” us to see people? Or are we too far gone for that?

Care Home Residents In England To Be Allowed Two Visitors From 12 April (G.)

Care home residents in England will be allowed to receive two regular visitors from Monday 12 April, as Covid restrictions are eased further, Boris Johnson is to announce. Strict Department of Health guidance has severely curtailed the contact residents have had with their loved ones during the pandemic. Only one named visitor is currently permitted. Under guidance to be published next week, two people will be allowed to visit regularly, as long as they have a negative Covid test result. They will have to wear protective equipment, but will be allowed to hold their loved one’s hand. Babies and children under the age of two will be excluded from the limit, so that elderly residents can meet new grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

The prime minister said: “Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different. “I’m particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.” A damning report from the cross-party public accounts committee of MPs in February highlighted dire shortages of PPE for care staff, and the fact that 25,000 people were discharged back into residential homes from hospitals in the first wave, some without being tested for the virus. The government is guaranteeing it will continue to provide free personal protective equipment to care homes until March next year. Almost 94% of care home residents have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, as have almost 78% of care staff.

The government is considering plans to make the jab compulsory for staff, with an announcement expected in the coming days. Unions have warned against such a move, saying it could be discriminatory, urging employers to focus instead on encouraging their staff to be vaccinated. [..] Fiona Carragher, the director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the change in the visiting rules. “Visits are vital to care home residents with dementia, who have been isolated from their loved ones, without the essential care and support their families so often provide, and as a result experienced a devastating increase in their dementia symptoms over the past year,” she said. “We’ve come a long way since the first lockdown, and soon we hope to see the benefits from people with dementia being reunited with their loved ones.”

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No protection.

CDC Walks Back Director’s Comments on Vaccines Preventing Infection (DB)

After pushback from scientists, the CDC has walked back a statement by its director and stressed that “the evidence isn’t clear whether [vaccinated people] can spread the virus to others.” Earlier this week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that data “suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.” Many observers took that as confirmation that a jab grants full protection from transmission and infection. In a statement the next day to The New York Times, the CDC said: “It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get Covid-19.”


Dr. Paul Duprex, a vaccine expert at the University of Pittsburgh, agreed. “We’re stopping symptoms, we’re keeping people out of hospitals. But we’re not making them completely resistant to an infection,” he said. While the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing infection is very high, John Moore, a virologist based in New York, told the Times: “Vaccinated people should not be throwing away their masks at this point… This pandemic is not over.”

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More good news.

Trump Rule Would Allow Ulimited Vaccine Price Hikes (Fang)

Pfizer, Moderna, and other coronavirus vaccine makers have said repeatedly that they intend to hike prices on vaccines as early as this year, as the potential need for additional booster shots and future demand could lead to an unprecedented financial windfall. One estimate projects that if Pfizer raised the price of its coronavirus vaccine from $19.50 to $175 per dose, as one Pfizer executive recently suggested, and if every adult American were to take it, the cost would be $44.7 billion — nearly 10 percent of all U.S. drug spending. But the federal government, which funded crucial biomedical research to develop the patented messenger RNA technology behind the leading Covid-19 vaccines, is on the verge of eliminating a legal mechanism to control the prices of key medical products, including vaccines.

Next week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, will wrap up a comment period to modify the rules governing the Bayh-Dole Act, a law that regulates the transfer of federally funded inventions into commercial property. Under the current interpretation of the law, the government may “march in” and suspend the use of patents developed via government-funded inventions if it determines that the products are excessively priced. [..] IN THE TWILIGHT weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, his administration released a NIST rule designed to undercut the Bayh-Dole Act and weaken the government’s authority to march in and seize control of a patent when drugmakers fail to make medicine “available to the public on reasonable terms.”

That phrase has long been the law’s most contentious provision. It invokes a term of art that multiple federal courts have ruled relates to pricing and market-related decisions. The legislative history of the Bayh-Dole Act includes arguments that clearly state pricing considerations as a factor in determining “reasonable terms.” The proposed rule, however, tightens the law’s definition to remove price as a factor — a change long demanded by industry. Joe Biden was vocal during the presidential campaign about his commitments to roll back his predecessor’s most egregious industry-serving regulations and to bring down drug prices, but his administration has so far been mum about the Bayh-Dole Act rulemaking.

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“..there will also be even less hallucinated capital (“money”) to loan out to this shrinking pool of borrowers”

Paradigm Failure (Kunstler)

First, the whole mass motoring racket is falling apart more on its financial model than on whether the cars move by gasoline or electricity. Americans are used to buying cars on installment loans, and, with the middle-class withering away, there are ever-fewer credit-worthy borrowers for those loans (for ever more expensive cars). Soon, as the debt markets groan and wobble under the weight of massive new debt, there will also be even less hallucinated capital (“money”) to loan out to this shrinking pool of borrowers. Second, the decrepit US electric grid can’t handle the charging needs of such a gigantic electric car fleet (and fixing the grid alone would be a trillion-dollar project).

Third, the manufacturing of electric cars depends on scarce rare mineral resources that are not readily available in the US, but controlled by foreign nations. Fourth, car-making utterly depends on far-flung international supply lines for parts and electronics in a time when the integrated global economy is cracking up under the strain of desperate competition for dwindling resources and the ill-will generated by that. There are yet more kinks in the electric car scheme but those are enough. Of course, this whole initiative is in the service of preserving a set of living arrangements that is going obsolete, namely, suburbia. The previous investment represented by all the housing subdivisions, commercial highway strips, malls, office parks, and super-highways pretty much drove the American economy since the Second World War.

It’s understandable that we would be desperate to keep it all running, and fix the pieces that are falling apart, because it’s where we put most of our national wealth. It’s the whole American Dream in one nifty package. And, it sure seemed like a good idea at the time, in such a big country, with so much cheap land, and all that oil. But now things have changed and reality is sending us clear signals that we have to live differently. The effort to oppose reality is apt to be ruinous for us.

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“What is astonishing is that the media itself has fueled this false narrative and it is being used as a key claim in boycotting the state.”

Biden Again Misrepresents Georgia Election Law, Supports State Boycott (Turley)

We recently discussed the false statement made repeatedly by President Joe Biden about the Georgia election law, which Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids.” Biden falsely claims that the law closes polling places earlier, a claim that even the Washington Post decried as false. Biden has not only repeated his earlier false claim but added a new one in supporting a boycott of the state of Georgia by Major League Baseball. It is a common false claim made about denying water under the law to people standing in line to vote. What is astonishing is that the media itself has fueled this false narrative and it is being used as a key claim in boycotting the state. During an interview on ESPN, Biden again declared the law as “Jim Crow on steroids” and added:

“I think that today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them, they’re leaders. Look at what’s happened with the NBA as well. Look at what’s happened across the board. The people who’ve been victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports and it’s just not right. Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote, can’t do that? C’mon! Or you’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”

Indeed, it is hard to “imagine” because it is not true and the White House knows that it is not true. If a president is going to accuse a state of passing a Jim Crow law (let alone supporting a boycott), there is an expectation of a modicum of accuracy and fairness. Otherwise, it degrades not just the movement for voting rights but the Office of the Presidency itself. I will not repeat the clearly false claim about closing polling places early. As the Washington Post noted (and repeated after this latest interview), “the net effect [of the Georgia law] is … to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.” The use of the provision to suggest a reduction in voting hours was a knowing misrepresentation by those seeking to justify the federalization of election laws in Congress.

Despite being called out on the false statement, President Biden continues to repeat it. The water claim is equally disingenuous and false. The law does not prevent people from giving water to those standing in line. The law allows “self-service water from an unattended receptacle” for voters waiting in line. It also allows anyone to give water or food to any voters outside of limited area around the polling place.

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Hunter’s come out of hiding to promote his memoir “Beautiful Things”. You can’t make that up.

NPR Issues Stunning Mea Culpa On Hunter Biden Laptop (NYP)

National Public Radio has corrected an online article that falsely asserted that documents from first son Hunter Biden’s laptop had been “discredited by U.S. intelligence.” A book review of Hunter Biden’s memoir “Beautiful Things” initially dismissed the documents first reported in October by The Post. “The laptop story was discredited by US intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations,” the book review by Ron Elving, senior editor of the publicly funded media organization, initially claimed. The correction on the Thursday article now says, “A previous version of this story said US intelligence had discredited the laptop story. US intelligence officials have not made a statement to that effect.”

Although some Democrats claimed that the laptop may have been “Russian disinformation,” President Biden’s campaign, the White House and Hunter Biden have not denied the laptop belonged to Hunter. In a new interview set to air in full Sunday on CBS, Hunter Biden admits that the laptop “certainly” could be his. In October, The Post reported that documents from the laptop appeared to implicate Joe Biden in his son’s business relationships in China and Ukraine. Hunter Biden later confirmed that he’s under federal investigation for possible tax fraud. A Delaware computer repairman, who has since publicly identified himself, says Hunter Biden never came to pick up his laptop after dropping it off. He provided paperwork to The Post indicating there was an abandonment clause that granted him rights to abandoned equipment.

[..] Among the laptop’s contents, a 2017 email chain involving Hunter Biden and associates brokering a proposed business deal with a Chinese energy company described a 10 percent set-aside for the “big guy.” Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski publicly identified Joe Biden as the “big guy.” As of February, the first son still owned 10 percent of an investment fund controlled by Chinese state-owned entities. The fund was formed 12 days after Hunter Biden joined his father aboard Air Force Two for a December 2013 trip to Beijing.

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“It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me..”

Hunter Biden Admits Laptop Could ‘Certainly’ Belong To Him (NYP)

Hunter Biden has finally ‘fessed up that the laptop at the center of The Post’s explosive exposé last year “certainly” could belong to him, he revealed in an interview Friday. In a sitdown with CBS’s “Sunday Morning,” President Biden’s embattled son was pointedly asked “yes or no” if the MacBook Pro that was dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 was in fact his. “I really don’t know what the answer is, that’s the truthful answer,” Hunter Biden said in an excerpt of the interview released on Friday, before adding, “I have no idea.” But asked whether it could have belonged to him, he replied, “Certainly.”

“Certainly, there could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me,” he continued. Hunter Biden made the rare media appearance while promoting his new memoir, “Beautiful Things,” out April 6 from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In the final months of the heated 2020 presidential race, The Post revealed a trove of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop that raised questions about his then-candidate father’s ties to his son’s foreign business ventures, including Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company linked to corruption.

The emails revealed that the younger Biden introduced a top Burisma executive to his father, then vice president, less than a year before the elder Biden admittedly pressured Ukrainian officials into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, a Burisma board adviser, sent Hunter on April 17, 2015. [..]In addition to his Ukrainian connections, other emails on the computer showed Hunter discussing potential business deals with China’s largest private energy company. One deal seemed to spark considerable interest with the younger Biden, who called it “interesting for me and my family.”

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Blinken.

The Pending Collapse of the ‘Rules-based International Order’ (Ritter)

It seems a week cannot go by without US Secretary of State Antony Blinken bringing up the specter of the ‘rules-based international order’ as an excuse for meddling in the affairs of another state or region. The most recent crisis revolves around allegations that China has dispatched a fleet of more than 200 ships, part of a so-called ‘maritime militia’, into waters of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines. China says that these vessels are simply fishing boats seeking shelter from a storm. The Philippines has responded by dispatching military ships and aircraft to investigate. Enter Antony Blinken, stage right: “The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef,” Blinken tweeted. “We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order.”

Blinken’s message came a mere 18 hours after he tweeted about his meeting in Brussels with NATO. “Our alliances were created to defend shared values,” he wrote. “Renewing our commitment requires reaffirming those values and the foundation of international relations we vow to protect: a free and open rules-based order.” What this actually means, of course, is that the order is rules-based so long as it is the nation called America that sets these rules and is accepted as the world’s undisputed leader. Blinken’s fervent embrace of the ‘rules-based international order’ puts action behind the words set forth in the recently published ‘Interim National Security Strategy Guidance’, a White House document which outlines President Joe Biden’s vision “for how America will engage with the world.”

While the specific term ‘rules-based international order’ does not appear in the body of the document, the precepts it represents are spelled out in considerable detail, and conform with the five pillars of the “liberal international order” as set forth by the noted international relations scholars, Daniel Duedney and G. John Ikenberry, in their ground-breaking essay, ‘The nature and sources of liberal international order’, published by the Review of International Studies in 1999. The origins of this “liberal international order” can be traced back to the end of the Second World War and the onset of a Cold War between Western liberal democracies, helmed by the United States, and the communist bloc nations, led by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.

The purpose of this order was simple – to maintain a balance of power between the US-led liberal democracies and their communist adversaries, and to maintain and sustain US hegemony over its liberal democratic allies. This was accomplished through five basic policy ‘pillars’: Security co-binding; the embrace of US hegemony; self-limitation on the part of US allies; the politicization of global economic institutions for the gain of liberal democracies; and Western “civil identity.”

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The line in the sand.

Russia Warns NATO Against Sending Any Troops To Ukraine (ZH)

The Kremlin’s latest statements out Friday amid the potential new Ukraine crisis which has seen a serious flare-up in fighting in the Donbass region, along with what appears to be far bigger-than-usual troop movements on Russia’s side of the border, has raised the stakes further. Russia has vowed it will take “extra measures to ensure its own security” should it observe any deployment of NATO troops inside Ukraine, the Kremlin statement said Friday according to Reuters. It firmly warned against any potential looming NATO troop movements following Brussels voicing concern the day prior over the widespread reports and videos purporting to show a significant Russian build-up of forces along Ukraine’s eastern border. Reuters reports Russia’s Friday statement and “warning” as follows:


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the situation at the contact line in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatist forces was quite frightening and that multiple “provocations” were taking place there. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Andrii Taran, and “condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine,” the Pentagon said. “Our rhetoric [over Donbass] is absolutely constructive,” Peskov said in response to journalists’ questions. “We do not indulge in wishful thinking. Regrettably, the realities along the engagement line are rather frightening. Provocations by the Ukrainian armed forces do take place. They are not casual. There have been many of them.”

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Mar 302021
 


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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Source: Bloomberg

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

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Others states do very well. Wonder why.

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

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

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

Biden Mask Up

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Fauci on masks. Oh well.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

How about ivermectin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death, taxes and RussiaRussia.

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

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


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

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Judge and jury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)

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

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

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

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

The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)

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

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


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

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

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

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 292021
 


William Eggleston Coupe de Ville, Los Angeles 1964

 

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)
The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)
Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)
First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)
Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)
Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)
Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)
Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)
Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)
One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)
In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)
Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)
The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

 

 

Vaccine job interview

 

 

 

 

Full Moon.

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)

The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal was partially refloated early Monday, days after the vessel got stuck and brought a vital global trade route to a standstill. A statement by the Suez Canal Authority said the ship, known as the Ever Given, “responded to the pulling and towing maneuvers.” It added that the ship’s course has been corrected by 80% and further maneuvers will resume when the water level rises later in the day. The statement followed an earlier tweet by maritime services company Inchcape, which said the Ever Given was refloated and being secured.

It remains unclear what the condition of the stranded ship is and when the canal would be open to traffic, with Inchcape saying that “more information will follow once they are known.” Efforts to free the mega vessel have lasted for nearly a week. The ship became stuck last Tuesday after running aground while entering the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world. It is a 220,000-ton mega ship nearly a quarter-mile long with a 20,000 container capacity. The ship completely blocked the canal that’s home to as much as 12% of the world’s seaborne trade, and caused a traffic jam with hundreds of ships waiting to enter the Suez.

[..] Experts told CNBC that problems caused by the Suez blockage will not immediately ease when the Ever Given is freed. Tim Huxley, director of Mandarin Shipping, said it will take “some time” for traffic that has built up to cross the narrow canal. And when those ships and tankers arrive at their destinations, ports will likely face congestion that will also take time to clear, he added. “You normally have about 50 or so ships a day going through the canal, obviously at the moment it’s about 300 ships backed up … this is an enormous traffic jam, which is at both ends of the canal,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday. “This will take quite awhile for the whole supply chain to get back to normal and that’s gonna have an impact on manufacturers, retailers right across the board,” said Huxley.

Ever Given

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A fantasy.

The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)

The vaccine was a resounding success. Yes, there had been a final death rate of 10% among the vaccinated, but this was mostly among the elderly or the already ill, so it was probably not the vaccine’s fault, and if it was, no one could prove it one way or another, and even if they could, well, the vaccine manufacturers were not liable to lawsuits due to the agreements they had made with the various governments. In any case, the pandemic had ended, that was for sure. Of course the masks and the lockdown mandates continued to be enforced; the reason was that while the pandemic had most certainly been defeated, the virus still existed in its natural form somewhere out there, and so it was vital to continue with the safety procedures to avoid any possible resurgence of the disease. So what? People got used to it, as they had gotten used to so many other things before that.

And was wearing a mask in the end much worse than wearing a helmet or a safety belt? Was being forced to stay at home for a few months every year much different than being forced to be at the office working for five days out of the seven in the week? Rules are rules, and those were not as bad as others that had been instituted in the past. But there was something that worried the authorities. While most people had predictably complied with the mandatory vaccination campaign, there were a few groups that had refused them, alleging religious or health reasons, and found refuge in rural communities living off the grid. They had abandoned the use of mobile and network technology and so could not be traced so easily, and, since non-digital cash had been abolished, they appeared to have returned to a form of commerce based in the exchange of physical goods.

At first, the authorities ignored them; most people saw them as a minority of loser hicks, “anti-vaxxers” as they had been called in earlier pre-scientific times, and since it was unlikely that too many among the masses would opt for such a harsh lifestyle away from the comforts of modern urban life, they were not seen as a menace. But what happened, in the end, was that rumours started to appear, even in the cities, about small communities where no one needed to wear masks, and people were dancing and smiling, and food was delicious and natural and people were even – gasp! – falling in love and procreating in natural ways.

Of course this was an obvious and mendacious falsity, but the authorities could not permit such fairy tales to gain acceptance among the people at large. So they started to persecute “the great unvaxxed”, as they called them, or the “free renegades” as they preferred to call themselves. Their communities were dispersed. Their leaders were arrested. Planting organic, unmodified seeds became illegal.

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After a 6-month lockdown, Greece now has higher case numbers than ever.

Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)

An upsurge in new coronavirus cases is forcing governments across Europe into new, damaging lockdowns that threaten to delay a much hoped-for return to growth, economists say. The plan was that mass vaccination programmes would turn the tide on the pandemic, allowing locked-down consumers free rein after months penned up at home. Instead the virus has embarked on a third wave which is proving more difficult to bring under control. French President Emmanuel Macron warned Thursday that the European Union would have to do more and beef up its already massive 750 billion euro ($885 billion) virus recovery fund as a result. The EU had made a major effort after the first wave last year, Macron said, but “following the second and third waves… we will no doubt have to add to our response”.

In September, as the economy picked up sharply after a rapid reverse in the first wave, expectations were high that by the middle of this year it would be solidly back on track, thanks especially to the vaccine rollout. Just a couple of weeks ago, European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde was even talking about a “firm rebound in activity in the second half of the year”. Now the EU’s strongest economies — Germany, France and Italy — have reimposed restrictions and the vaccine programme in Europe is mired in a blame game over supplies. Credit insurer Euler Hermes estimates that the EU is now seven weeks adrift of its target to have 70 percent of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, compared with five weeks in February.

It estimates the delay will cost the bloc’s 27 member states some 123 billion euros this year. “If you compare us with the US, where the outlook is so much more positive, we are falling further behind on the recovery because of this third wave,” said Charlotte de Montpellier, economist with Dutch bank ING. ING now expects eurozone growth of 3.0 percent this year, down more than half a percentage point from its previous estimate. Most of the growth will also come from the third quarter, slightly later too, ING added. Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, said he does not expect the bloc to return to pre-pandemic activity levels before the second half of 2022, a year behind the US.


As of March 28, covid19 cases in Greece per million people are higher than Germany, the UK and US. Chart shows 7 day rolling average

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“..what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected..”

Is that so? Isn’t it about the number of vulnerable people?

First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)

A government-funded study of care home residents in England has found that their risk of infection with Covid-19 – either symptomatic or asymptomatic – fell by 62% five weeks after they received their first Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine dose. Those who were infected after having the vaccine may also be less likely to transmit Covid-19, initial findings showed. The study, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, is key, given that most clinical trials and observational studies evaluated the impact of the vaccines on symptomatic infections, but whether the vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infections – which play a crucial role in the spread of the virus – is still unclear. “It’s helpful to look at people who don’t have symptoms because what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected,” noted UCL’s Dr Laura Shallcross, an author of the analysis.

Researchers tracked more than 10,400 care home residents in England (with an average age of 86) between December and March, comparing the number of infections occurring in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups – using data retrieved from routine monthly PCR testing. Both vaccines reduced the risk of infection by about 56% at 28-34 days after the first dose, and 62% at 35-48 days. The effect is maintained for at least seven weeks, the authors concluded in their analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. This data is notable, given older adults with underlying illnesses have largely been excluded from vaccine trials. It also supports the UK’s decision to extend dose intervals beyond what was studied in clinical trials.

[..] In clinical trials, both vaccines were found to be very effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. But understanding whether these interventions can thwart the spread of the disease is imperative to public health policy, given vaccinating the world will take a long time, the risk of vaccine-resistant virus variants emerging and percolating, and that vaccines have not yet been proved safe and effective in children.

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“to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on a recent public health panel signaled common ground with a renowned Chinese doctor and public health administrator on the matter of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, with both Fauci and his Chinese counterpart suggesting that those restrictions could continue for many months or even years. Fauci in early March appeared on the virtual panel, titled “The Future of Health,” hosted by the University of Edinburgh. Also present in the meeting was Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, who has been at the forefront of China’s response to the pandemic and who has been referred to by national spokeswoman Hua Chunying as “China’s Fauci.”

Zhong has a long career in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, having served for years in delegatory positions in both the CCP’s National Congress and its National People’s Congress. He has also served on numerous state research initiatives and is the founder of the state-funded Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases. On the panel, Fauci and Zhong both expressed hopes that COVID-19 restrictions worldwide would continue well into the future. Zhong himself claimed that efforts to develop natural immunity to COVID-19 are inadvisable from a national policy standpoint. “It doesn’t work this way,” he said. “And it’s not realistic, and less scientific, and … inhumane.” Zhong argued that “mass vaccinations” are the “commonsense” approach to engendering herd immunity in the population, but “to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

“I have noticed in other countries,” the doctor said elsewhere, “that actions [are] not so strict enough. So that will be not enough to stop the spreading of [the virus].” Fauci himself echoed those concerns, warning against the danger of what he said was “jump[ing] the gun or do[ing] it too quickly” and seeming to imply that countries should keep COVID-19 measures in place even if they appear to have suppressed the virus within their borders. “It is important to realize,” Fauci claimed, “that variants arise, and if you suppress the virus in one country, but it is allowed to spread uninhibited in other areas of the world, sooner or later, the variants, the new lineages, the mutants, will come back and rekindle the outbreak, even in countries that seem to have it under control. So we still have a considerable amount of task in front of us.”

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Still no mention whatsoever of prophylactics.

Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)

People will have to self-isolate after coming into contact with Covid-19 for many years as the UK learns how to “live with this virus”, a government adviser has warned. Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology, said the test-and-trace system is here to stay – as are some social distancing measures. He also admitted to being “nervous about a full relaxation in June”, calling the idea of emerging from the lockdown “in one great bound” wide of the mark. “I still suspect that looking forward – and I am talking now right through 2021 and into the years ahead – that we are still going to have to be alert to coronavirus,” Prof Woolhouse said. “There are still going to be situations where we might need to use personal protective equipment, we might well need to do some kind of social distancing, put some kind of biosecurity measures in place.”


It would also be necessary to “maintain our capacity to test and trace, and particularly to isolate people who are infected,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “That final thing is going to remain important for the entire future – that, when we get cases of novel coronavirus, that those people are then going to have to be asked to self-isolate and their contacts.” Prof Woolhouse, who sits on the SPI-M modelling group, which feeds advice into the main Sage body, also said vaccine certificates to enter nightclubs and other venues might be necessary. It’s certainly something we have to consider seriously as part of a wider package of measures that are designed to make our activities safe, he warned. And, on another lockdown, he said: We should regard that as a failure of public health policy if we have to go that route again.

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“..visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus…”

Being healthy and strong and having natural immunity has been rendered fully meaningless.

Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)

Sara Pedro is sat at a beach-side restaurant with friends. It is her first time dining out in three months. She is in Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, having left her home city of Lisbon’s strict coronavirus restrictions to take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere on the Atlantic island and its “green corridor” for visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus. “I came to Madeira because in continental Portugal we are under absolute lockdown, so there was a certain fatigue about it,” she says. Sara, who has recovered from Covid-19, entered Madeira without having to take a PCR test, as would typically be required. Instead, she presented a medical certificate proving she has been in contact with the virus.

The island has a 7pm curfew, but in its capital of Funchal the esplanades are full of people having coffee in the sun as customers go in and out of the shops. It’s in stark contrast with the empty streets and closed shopfronts across mainland Portugal, which is still under tough restrictions imposed on 15 January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge. “Obviously, border closures are necessary for extreme situations, but I think it’s time to bet on safe tourism. Why can’t this be done in other European countries?” Sara asks, as a waiter arrives with drinks.

Located off the coast of Morocco and more than 800km from mainland Portugal, Madeira is one of the few places in Europe accepting tourists – and since 18 February it has been operating a green corridor for tourists who have recovered from Covid-19 in the previous 90 days or who have been fully vaccinated against it, in a foretaste of what may be a future of vaccine passports for EU travel. Vaccinated travellers must present an immunisation certificate in English, validated in their home country, that includes their name, date of birth, type of vaccine, and the date (or dates) it was administered. Tourists must also respect the activation period set out in the vaccine’s summary of product characteristics.

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Orwell.

Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)

Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.

As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users).

Republican members largely confined their grievances to the opposite concern: that these social media giants were excessively silencing conservative voices in order to promote a liberal political agenda (that complaint is only partially true: a good amount of online censorship, like growing law enforcement domestic monitoring generally, focuses on all anti-establishment ideologies, not just the right-wing variant). This editorial censoring, many Republicans insisted, rendered the tech companies’ Section 230 immunity obsolete, since they are now acting as publishers rather than mere neutral transmitters of information. Some Republicans did join with Democrats in demanding greater censorship, though typically in the name of protecting children from mental health disorders and predators rather than ideological conformity.

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“My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it.”

Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)

Bitcoin has soared back after losing ground earlier this week, climbing toward its all-time high price of over $60,000. The bitcoin price hit an all-time high of around $62,000 per bitcoin earlier this month—more than double where it began the year—but has since fallen back, despite Elon Musk’s Tesla bombshell this week. Now, the billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund and legendary investor Ray Dalio has warned he thinks there’s a “good probability” bitcoin will be banned by the U.S. government—comparing it to the 1930’s U.S. gold ban. “Every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand,” Bridgewater Associates’s Dalio told Yahoo Finance this week.


“They don’t want other monies to be operating or competing, because things can get out of control. So I think that it would be very likely that you will have it under a certain set of circumstances outlawed the way gold was outlawed.” In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made gold ownership illegal in the U.S. in an attempt to shore up the Federal Reserve’s gold supplies so the Fed could justify printing more dollars. Dalio pointed to reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India as potentially laying the groundwork for a more widespread crackdown on bitcoin. “[We] have to see what [reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India] means,” Dalio said. “Now, can they do it? Yeah. Now we get into the particulars. My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it. They can know who’s dealing with it … I would suspect it would be very hard to hold up against that kind of action.”

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Clique.

One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)

Over the past two months, two scandals have subsumed the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: the state’s gross mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the state’s nursing homes, and the governor’s reported harassment of several women around him. But the state attorney general has launched a formal investigation into only one of those scandals. In January, New Yorkers were shocked to learn that the actual Covid-19 death tolls in the state’s nursing homes were as much as 50 percent higher than what had previously been disclosed. The misreporting, which was revealed in a report released by New York Attorney General Tish James on January 28, meant that thousands of deaths may have gone uncounted. And many of these deaths occurred in the early days of the pandemic, as Cuomo told hospitals to send coronavirus-positive patients back to the facilities, leading to rapid spread of the virus.

That scandal gained legs in February when the top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said that the misreporting was deliberate; Cuomo’s office wanted to throw off an investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes. “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said on a conference call with Democratic legislators. But the spotlight quickly turned to a second scandal, as eight women reported inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by the governor. The sexual harassment allegations, which have attracted the bulk of media coverage, prompted an investigation into Cuomo by James, by referral from Cuomo himself.

And many of the top Democrats in the state have called for Cuomo’s resignation. James has not, however, begun an investigation into the Cuomo administration on its actions last spring, for a bureaucratic reason: She needs a referral from either Cuomo himself or Tom DiNapoli, the state’s low-profile comptroller, who has served since 2007. James has the statutory authority to investigate nursing homes, hence the January 28 report. She does not have the statutory authority to launch an investigation with subpoena power into the Cuomo administration without DiNapoli’s referral. (Theoretically, James could decline to investigate Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home crisis even if she received the referral from DiNapoli, though that seems very unlikely given her willingness to investigate the issue so far.)

A nursing home investigation has the potential to be explosive for a much broader range of actors than just Cuomo, and DiNapoli is himself considering a run for governor. While DiNapoli, a mainstream Democrat who nonetheless has occasionally clashed with Cuomo, is among the Democratic politicians calling for Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment claims, so far his office has declined to make a referral.

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Professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss the emerging economic world order..

In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)

Hudson: 50 years ago, I wrote Super Imperialism about how America dominates the world financially, and gets a free ride. I wrote it, right after America went off gold in 1971, when the Vietnam war – which was responsible for the entire balance-of-payments deficit – forced the country to go off gold. And everybody at that time worried the dollar was going to go down. There’d be hyperinflation. But what happened was something entirely different. Once there was no gold to settle U.S. balance-of-payments deficits, America strong armed its allies to invest in US Treasury bonds, because central banks don’t buy companies. They don’t buy raw materials. All they could buy is other government bonds. So, all of a sudden, the only thing that other people could buy with all the dollars coming in were US Treasury securities.

The securities they bought essentially were to finance yet more war making and the balance-of-payments deficit from war and the 800 military bases America has around the world. The largest customer – I think we discussed this before – was the Defense Department and the CIA. They looked at it as a how-to-do-it book. That was 50 years ago. What I’ve done is not only re-edit the book and add more information that’s come out, but I’ve summarized how the last 50 years has transformed the world. It’s a new kind of imperialism. There was still a view, 50 years ago, that imperialism was purely economic, in the sense that there’s still a rivalry, for instance, between America and China, or America and Europe and other countries.

But I think the world has changed so much in the last 50 years that what we have now is not really so much a conflict between America and China, or America and Russia, but between a financialized economy, run by financial planners allocating resources and government spending and money creation, and an economy run by governments democratic or less democratic, but certainly a mixed economy. Everything that made industrial capitalism rich, everything that made America so strong on the 19th century, through its protective tariffs, through its public infrastructure investment all the way down through world war two and the aftermath, was that we had a mixed economy in America. Europe also had a mixed economy, and in fact, every economy since Babylon has had a mixed economy.

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One small step from “Multipolar Economic World Order” to “Multipolar Global Political Economy”.

Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)

Jens Stoltenberg and other European leaders have been swooning over the “new chapter” in transatlantic relations under the Biden administration. After four years of dealing with vulgar-mouth Donald Trump and his relentless hectoring over military budgets, some European leaders are sighing with relief at Biden’s seemingly dulcet assurances that “America is back”. Of course people like Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been the civilian head of NATO since 2014, are reliant on pushing a stronger alliance for their comfy livelihoods and no doubt for future sinecures at corporate-funded think-tanks. Stoltenberg is constantly striving to find a new vision and mission for NATO, an organization founded over 70 years ago at the start of the Cold War, and which has been expanding ever since despite the official end of the Cold War three decades ago.

The buzz phrase he uses is to make the alliance “future-proof” – that is to find a permanent pretext for the U.S.-led military organization to continue its existence regardless of real-world security needs. In his interview with Deutsche Welle this week, Stoltenberg commented on the rise of China. He said, inferring something menacing: “China is coming closer to us, investing in our critical infrastructure.” Well maybe that’s because China is the world’s biggest trading partner with the European Union and a major foreign direct investor in European nations which have become bankrupt from decades of neoliberal capitalism and austerity. Stoltenberg went on: “There’s no way we can avoid addressing the security consequences for our regional alliance of the rise of China and the shift in the global balance of power.”

And then the usually cautious, wooden Stoltenberg let it slip: China, he said, provided “a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between North America — the United States — and Europe.” Voila! So the real strategic value of China being presented as a “threat” or an “adversary” is to give a new purpose to the U.S.-led NATO bloc which subordinates Europe to Washington’s geopolitical objective of hegemony. The emphasis here is on China “being presented as a threat” and not what the real relationship actually is, that is, one of a vital economic partner. (Same for Russia and its vast energy partnership with Europe.)

The United States in pursuit of global dominance by its corporations and its capitalist order must, by definition, thwart a multipolar global political economy which the rise of China and Russia embody. The fiendish political problem, however, is that Washington and its European surrogates cannot justify such a stance based on the normal and natural relations that exist. For in doing that, they would be seen as obnoxious, unwarranted aggressors. It is imperative therefore to conflate China and Russia as “security threats” to the presumed Western “rules-based order”.

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The Donziger story is almost as crazy as Julian Assange’s.

The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

Many of us will have felt the grip of claustrophobic isolation over the past year, but the lawyer Steven Donziger has experienced an extreme, very personal confinement as a pandemic arrived and then raged around him in New York City. On Sunday, Donziger reached his 600th day of an unprecedented house arrest that has resulted from a sprawling, Kafkaesque legal battle with the oil giant Chevron. Donziger spearheaded a lengthy crusade against the company on behalf of tens of thousands of Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest whose homes and health were devastated by oil pollution, only to himself become, as he describes it, the victim of a “planned targeting by a corporation to destroy my life”.

Since August 2019, Donziger has been restricted to his elegant Manhattan apartment, a clunky court-mandated monitoring bracelet he calls “the black claw” continuously strapped to his left ankle. He cannot even venture into the hallway, or to pick up his mail. Exempted excursions for medical appointments or major school events for his 14-year-old son require permission days in advance. An indoor bike sits by the front door in lieu of alternative exercise options. “There’s no comparison to quarantine because I can’t even go outside for a walk. If my kid is sick I can’t go to the drug store to get a prescription,” Donziger said. “I never truly understood freedom until I was put in this situation.”

The nights are hardest for Donziger, when he has to struggle to get his jeans off over the boxy tag and lie in bed next to his wife “with the government still there on my ankle”. Each morning he wakes up in angst. A flag reading “SOS Free Steven” sometimes flutters defiantly from the window, but efforts to end the unusually long detention have yet to be granted. “It’s been brutally difficult for him,” said Paul Paz y Miño, associate director of Amazon Watch, a conservation group allied to Donziger. “It’s taken a huge toll on him and his family. Chevron wants the narrative to be that he’s a criminal. The implications of that for the entire environmental movement against oil companies is terrifying.”

[..] The dispute with Chevron centres upon a landmark 2011 decision by the Ecuador courts to order the company pay $9.5bn in damages to people blighted by decades of polluted air and water. Chevron has never paid up, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” and fraud by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary. But the subsequent web of events that has led to Donziger being detained and stripped of his law license is befuddling even to legal scholars. “Frankly, I scratch my head when I look at this case,” said Larry Catá Backer, a professor of international law at Penn State University. “It is this strange multi-front battle with one extraordinary explosive development after another. It has had this magical quality to enrage everyone involved in it.”

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Feb 282021
 
 February 28, 2021  Posted by at 10:21 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Dome ceiling at the Ambassadors’ Hall in the Royal Alcazar of Seville, Spain 1427 (click to enlarge)

 

Vaccine Passports Are A Technical And Ethical Minefield (FT)
I’ve Had The Covid Jab – And All It Cost Me Was My Freedom (Hitchens )
First Vaccine To Fully Immunize Against Malaria Builds On RNA Tech (AT)
Czech Leader Asks Putin For Sputnik V Vaccine Without EU Certification (RT)
Biden Says US Will ‘Never’ Accept Russia’s Annexation of Crimea (Antiwar)
Putin, Crusaders, & Barbarians (Escobar)
Second Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment (NYP)
The Danger of the Administrative State (AIER)
Can The US Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials Again? (F.)
India Targets Climate Activists With the Help of Big Tech (Naomi Klein)
Why Bill Gates Is Now The US Biggest Farmland Owner (NYP)
Unmasking Bitcoin Inventor May Send Cryptomarket Into Tailspin – Coinbase (RT)

 

 

 

 

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
– Virginia Woolf

 

 

Promising title, missed opportunity.

Vaccine Passports Are A Technical And Ethical Minefield (FT)

Vaccine passports are essentially certificates that link proof of vaccination to the identity of the holder, a potential silver bullet to return to our pre-Covid-19 lives. Before the pandemic, the EU was working on plans for cross-border electronic certificates to replace the paper booklets that many travellers carry. At this week’s EU summit some leaders pressed for further steps towards coronavirus passports. A recent Royal Society report that I led came up with 12 different criteria that would need to be satisfied to make such passports feasible. This is a complex ecosystem that requires an understanding of everything from immunity and infection to technology, ethics and behavioural factors. But the underlying question must be: what would a vaccine passport be used for?

The head of Heathrow airport has called for digital health certificates to reboot international travel. Estonia and Iceland already link e-vaccination certificates to travel and exclusion from quarantine. Greece is pressing the EU to move quickly. There are precedents such as the airline industry group Iata’s travel pass initiative. But would these certificates only be required for international travel or could they be needed for getting a job, attending a football match, or buying some milk? Israel recently introduced a green pass heralded as “the first step back to an almost normal life”. It opens entry to gyms, cinemas, hotels and meets some our technical criteria such as verifiable credentials, portability, (attempts at) security for personal data and interoperability. It is valid for six months after a second dose and for “those who have recovered from coronavirus”.

But this could be problematic. Current vaccines protect against severe disease, but we do not yet know whether they stop transmission, how quickly immunity wanes or if they are compromised by emerging variants. Whether someone who has “recovered” meets immunity criteria remains a question. In addition to an expiry date, we would need the ability to revoke a vaccine passport. Israel’s warning of severe punishment for forgery is another reminder of what could go wrong. There is also the question of mission creep. Recall the UK’s early digital contact tracing app, which raised concerns about privacy, government surveillance and private sector data sharing. Or consider the technical problems with the Tawakkalna app, introduced in Saudi Arabia, which is used for entry into many places but recently froze.

All vaccine passports have the potential to block people from essential goods and services and exclude those who lack identification or do not own or cannot afford a smartphone. The RS criteria for a workable vaccine passport included equity, ethics and non-discrimination. That means we must ask who would we exclude? There is higher vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minorities and the jabs are being rolled out by age. Plus some people are excluded entirely: children, pregnant women and those with allergies.

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Using popular writers to soften resistance? “I’d tried to fight against it but I lost.”?

I’ve Had The Covid Jab – And All It Cost Me Was My Freedom (Peter Hitchens)

So sorry, Your Majesty, but I have had my first Covid vaccination for wholly selfish reasons. I did not do it for the good of others but for my own convenience. And I will have my second for the same purpose. A very important part of my family now lives abroad and I am deeply tired of not being able to see them. I get the strong sense that any sort of travel, and plenty of other things, will be impossible if I don’t have the necessary vaccine certificate. I hope it becomes known as the Blair Passport – as it is largely the warmongering Creature’s idea and people will come to hate it, as they have come to hate so many of his actions. So I have been more or less forced to have an immunisation I would not normally have bothered with.

Don’t, if you are wise, dare call me an ‘anti-vaxxer’. I have, in a long life, been injected against tetanus, smallpox, TB, polio, diphtheria and yellow fever. I’m a fiend for preventive medicine and the precautions I take when I’m in malarial areas are so elaborate my companions laugh at them – from swallowing horrible protective medicines to blasting my hotel room with ultra-strength death sprays to exterminate any possible mosquitoes. These are all terrible diseases and I think it’s wise to do this. And if you think Covid is as dangerous as them, I certainly don’t want to put you off the jab. Indeed, I don’t want to put you off in any way. It’s your business, not mine, and not even the Queen’s. I dislike her growing habit of getting involved in politics and I’d feel the same if she supported any cause I liked.

Of course my selfish injection didn’t hurt. I’m a blood donor (so also please don’t call me selfish), used to far bigger needles in my arm, for a lot longer. But I did feel a pang of regret and loss. For me, the vaccination was a gloomy submission to a new world of excessive safety and regulation. I’d tried to fight against it but I lost. The New Jerusalem, in which we allow the state to boss us around even more, in the name of our own good, is now coming into being.

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Now test it properly. Yes, that takes years, we know.

First Vaccine To Fully Immunize Against Malaria Builds On RNA Tech (AT)

Consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of death around the world, malaria doesn’t have an effective vaccine yet. But researchers have invented a promising new blueprint for one — with properties akin to the novel RNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. Making a vaccine for malaria is challenging because its associated parasite, Plasmodium, contains a protein that inhibits production of memory T-cells, which protect against previously encountered pathogens.

If the body can’t generate these cells, a vaccine is ineffective. But scientists recently tried a new approach using an RNA-based platform. Their design circumvented the sneaky protein, allowed the body to produce the needed T-cells and completely immunized against malaria. The patent application for their novel vaccine, which hasn’t yet been tested on humans, was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Feb. 4. “It’s probably the highest level of protection that has been seen in a mouse model,” said Richard Bucala, co-inventor of the new vaccine and a physician and professor at Yale School of Medicine.

The team’s breakthrough could save hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly in developing nations. In 2019 alone, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409,000 deaths worldwide. Of those deaths, 94% were in Africa, with children being the most vulnerable. “It affects societies and populations that have the least amount of resources and expertise to manage these infections well,” Bucala told The Academic Times. “We need new vaccines, and we need more tools.” Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the National Institutes of Health funded the work. GlaxoSmithKline is an assignee on the patent, which if approved, will allow the company to produce the vaccine and make it available to the public.

At present, the only vaccine to prevent malaria is called RTS,S. Approved two years ago, this vaccine is the result of nearly two decades of research, but is only about 30% effective. And after four years, that figure drops to 15%.“It doesn’t work very well,” Bucala said. “And the research studies all have the conclusion that the people who fail to mount a vaccine response, or who get reinfected, have poor memory T-cell responses.”

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“According to data from Johns Hopkins University, its death rate per 100,000 people is currently the worst in the world.”

Czech Leader Asks Putin For Sputnik V Vaccine Without EU Certification (RT)

Czech President Milos Zeman says he has sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for a Sputnik V vaccine shipment. Zeman said that Prague won’t insist on EU agency approval for use of the jab. Speaking to CNN Prima News on Saturday, Zeman revealed that the letter to the Russian leader was penned in agreement with the country’s PM Andrej Babis. The Czech leader said that he expects Putin to approve the request. “If I am properly informed, this request will be granted,” he told the channel. Zeman noted that the jab will need to be certified by the local regulator, the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), before the Russian vaccine can be rolled out. He added that its seal of approval will be “enough” to launch the vaccination campaign.

Zeman’s statement appears to run contrary to that of his top health official, Jan Blatny, who has been health minister since October, representing Babis’ pro-EU Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) populist party. Earlier this month, Blatny ruled out the possibility of the Czech Republic importing Sputnik V on his watch unless it is first greenlighted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Amid a spike in coronavirus infections, believed to be driven by a new, highly contagious variant, the Czech government extended a state of emergency on Friday, which will now run until March 28. Under the newly extended emergency, the authorities are expected to tighten curbs on the freedom of movement, including the imposition of bans on non-essential travel to other countries.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said the sweeping travel ban will be enforced by the military and the police. The restrictions will also see nurseries and schools for disabled children shut their doors, and people will be banned from leaving their municipalities other than for essential purposes. “We have to do it to prevent a total collapse of our hospitals,” Babis said on Friday, warning that if the lockdown is not properly enforced, “the whole world will watch Bergamo in the Czech Republic.” The country, with a population of 10.7 million, has reported some 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 20,000 fatalities from the virus. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, its death rate per 100,000 people is currently the worst in the world.

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It makes zero difference. You lost.

Biden Says US Will ‘Never’ Accept Russia’s Annexation of Crimea (Antiwar)

President Biden released a statement on Friday marking the seventh anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea where he said the US will “never” accept Russian sovereignty over the peninsula. “The United States continues to stand with Ukraine and its allies and partners today, as it has from the beginning of this conflict,” Biden said. “The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts.” Left out of Biden’s statement was the reason for the Russian annexation.


In 2014, the US-orchestrated a coup in Ukraine. The largely ethnic Russian population of Crimea rejected the new nationalist anti-Russian government in Kyiv that even had neo-nazis in its midst. Polls after the annexation show the majority of Crimeans were in favor of joining Russia. The Biden family benefited greatly from the coup. Shortly after the change in government, President Biden’s son Hunter landed a high-paying job on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company. President Biden tapped an architect of the Ukraine coup for a high-level position in the State Department. Victoria Nuland, the wife of neoconservative Robert Kagan, is the nominee to be the under secretary of state for political affairs.

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“Orthodox Christian, thus appealing to swaths of the West; consolidated as major Eurasian power; a military, hypersonic superpower; and boasting unrivaled diplomatic skills, appreciated all across the Global South.”

Putin, Crusaders, & Barbarians (Escobar)

Moscow is painfully aware that the US/NATO “strategy” of containment of Russia is already reaching fever pitch. Again. This past Wednesday, at a very important meeting with the Federal Security Service board, President Putin laid it all out in stark terms: “We are up against the so-called policy of containing Russia. This is not about competition, which is a natural thing for international relations. This is about a consistent and quite aggressive policy aimed at disrupting our development, slowing it down, creating problems along the outer perimeter, triggering domestic instability, undermining the values that unite Russian society, and ultimately to weaken Russia and put it under external control, just the way we are witnessing it transpire in some countries in the post-Soviet space.”

Not without a touch of wickedness, Putin added this was no exaggeration: “In fact, you don’t need to be convinced of this as you yourselves know it perfectly well, perhaps even better than anybody else.” The Kremlin is very much aware “containment” of Russia focuses on its perimeter: Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia. And the ultimate target remains regime change. Putin’s remarks may also be interpreted as an indirect answer to a section of President Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Conference. According to Biden’s scriptwriters, “Putin seeks to weaken the European project and the NATO alliance because it is much easier for the Kremlin to intimidate individual countries than to negotiate with the united transatlantic community … The Russian authorities want others to think that our system is just as corrupt or even more corrupt.”

A clumsy, direct personal attack against the head of state of a major nuclear power does not exactly qualify as sophisticated diplomacy. At least it glaringly shows how trust between Washington and Moscow is now reduced to less than zero. As much as Biden’s Deep State handlers refuse to see Putin as a worthy negotiating partner, the Kremlin and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have already dismissed Washington as “non-agreement capable.” Once again, this is all about sovereignty. The “unfriendly attitude towards Russia,” as Putin defined it, extends to “other independent, sovereign centers of global development.” Read it as mainly China and Iran. All these three sovereign states happen to be categorized as top “threats” by the US National Security Strategy.

Yet Russia is the real nightmare for the Exceptionalists: Orthodox Christian, thus appealing to swaths of the West; consolidated as major Eurasian power; a military, hypersonic superpower; and boasting unrivaled diplomatic skills, appreciated all across the Global South. In contrast, there’s not much left for the deep state except endlessly demonizing both Russia and China to justify a Western military build-up, the “logic” inbuilt in a new strategic concept named NATO 2030: United for a New Era. The experts behind the concept hailed it as an “implicit” response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaring NATO “brain dead.” Well, at least the concept proves Macron was right.

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Your daily Cuomo drip drip.

Second Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment (NYP)

A second woman has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, according to a new report. Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former aide to Cuomo, told The New York Times that the governor asked her inappropriate personal questions, told her he was open to relationships with women in their 20s, and left her feeling that he “wanted to sleep with me.” Bennett, who worked as an executive assistant and health-policy adviser, told the Times the interactions took place in the spring, as the coronavirus pandemic flared. Cuomo, 63, never made any physical advances, she said. Still, she described a June meeting in Cuomo’s Albany office, during which he griped about being lonely during the pandemic and whined he “can’t even hug anyone.”

Cuomo, 63, then pressed her: “Who did I last hug,” she said. She tried to dodge the question by saying she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody,’” she said. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And [I] was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.” Bennett, who grew up in Westchester County, is around the same age as Cuomo’s oldest daughters. She said she told the governor how she had once played soccer against one of his girls. When she told Cuomo in May of her experience as a sexual-assault survivor, he seemed fixated by the revelation, she said.

She told a friend via text message: “The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,” according to the Times. “It was like he was testing me.” Cuomo told her he was lonely since his relationship celebrity chef Sandra Lee, his girlfriend of 14 years, ended in 2019. He stressed to her that Lee was “out of the picture,” and referred to “wanting a girlfriend, preferably in the Albany area.” “Age doesn’t matter,” he told her, as he asked about her feelings about age differences in relationships — a conversation she told a friend about at the time, in a text reviewed by the Times.

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It’s not just the state. Hospitals often have more managers and administrators than doctors and nurses.

The Danger of the Administrative State (AIER)

The chilling narrative about the growth of the administrative state, which is essentially the regulatory apparatus of the executive branch, is usually confined to specialist professions. The ever-present danger of a slowly expanding and unaccountable apparatus of bureaucrats that threatens to sap the life out of American society and drown it in a sea of paperwork is typically a concern that only keeps policy wonks and lawyers up at night. Although many lawyers probably celebrate this dystopian vision because they benefit from the compliance fees. The regulatory state not only threatens to make society that much slower and dreary with its excessive onslaught of regulation but it also makes us poorer. Robert Samuelson writes for the Washington Post that

“No one really knows by how much, but “there is ample evidence that regulation has expanded and that this expansion has limited economic growth,” as Ted Gayer and Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution recently wrote. One study estimates that regulation has shaved 0.8 percent off the U.S. annual growth rate, which — if confirmed by other studies — would be huge.” The regulatory state refers to organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and all the other three-letter agencies in Washington, DC. If you would like to see how long the list of agencies is, take a look at the Federal Register, to which there are 455.

That number is absolutely mind-boggling and you don’t need a fancy degree in political science like I have to say that society can function without their oversight. A paper by Peter Strauss at Columbia Law School notes that there are currently over 2 million civilians employed in the federal government alone. He notes that for context, “The first Congress to meet once the Constitution was ratified created a Post Office and Departments of War, Navy, Foreign Affairs, and Treasury, each in unique ways suited to its responsibilities; this new government employed few civil servants to manage all its affairs. The first serious count of federal civilian employees, in 1816, reported that they numbered 4,837.”

The drastic expansion of the administrative state has come at a cost to not only our liberty, which is slowly being eroded by a sea of paperwork and regulations, but it also undermines our democracy. According to Article 1 of the Constitution, the legislative branch or Congress is supposed to be the primary law-making body of our government. That is because if there are bad laws or laws society doesn’t like, we can hold people accountable. However, more and more power has been shifted to the executive branch because of the growth of the administrative state. Even the judicial system is losing power to the administrative state after the establishment of a legal doctrine known as Chevron Deference, which binds the court system to defer to the administrative agency’s interpretation of a rule, not the Constitutional interpretation of a sitting judge.

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These things are dirty.

Can The US Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials Again? (F.)

The extraction process involves crushing the ore and milling it into granules, followed by some range of mechanical separation processes which might involve using magnetic sorting, gravity separation, or floatation. This is then usually followed by acid leaching, baking, or a solvent extraction step. This is why we don’t like processing it in the U.S. – it creates toxic wastes which have to be dealt with. Sometimes you get radioactive elements with it, like radium and thorium in the waste streams, which makes it even worse. So when we export it to China for processing, we really are exporting a lot of pollution with it.

China is the largest provider in the world today. It has three major ore deposits in Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, and Shangdong Provinces, as well lower grade deposits mainly in Jianxi, Guangdong, Fujian, and Guanxi Provinces in which the rare earths are adsorbed onto the surface of clay minerals. Though these lower-grade “weathered crust elution deposits” have lower concentrations of the actual rare earth elements, they are easier to extract. Dissolving them in salt water or ammonium sulfate solutions, and then precipitating them out with oxalic acid or ammonium bicarbonate – inexpensive chemicals – does the trick. It is a much less expensive process than extracting from ores, which has given Chinese producers a significant cost advantage.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. led the world in research on rare earths, but by the 1980s funding for the chemistry, separation technology, and processing was reduced. Low-pricing from China made U.S. mining and processing uncompetitive, and the Mountain Pass mine was closed in the 1990s, only to be reopened in 2013 after China restricted supplies. Could the U.S. become self-sufficient again? Bokan Mountain, on Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska, is the site of a project by Nova Scotia-based Ucore Rare Metals. The company is trying to extract dysprosium, terbium, and yttrium over the projected 11 – 15 year life of the mine. From the 1950s – 1970s, the area was the location of a uranium mine, so the contaminated soil and waste rock today mark a Superfund site.

NioCorp. is also trying to develop a mine for rare earths and niobium in Elk Creek, Nebraska. In addition to rare earths, it could be one of the world’s largest sources of niobium, a critical ingredient in high temperature alloys used in jet and rocket engines, as well as in low-temperature superconducting wire. Bear Lodge, in the northeast corner of Wyoming, is another prospective mine development. Lynas Corp. and Texas Mineral Resources Corp. are also building processing plants in the U.S. MP Materials also plans to begin domestic processing in 2022.

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They’re everywhere.

India Targets Climate Activists With the Help of Big Tech (Naomi Klein)

The bank of cameras that camped outside Delhi’s sprawling Tihar jail was the sort of media frenzy you would expect to await a prime minister caught in an embezzlement scandal, or perhaps a Bollywood star caught in the wrong bed. Instead, the cameras were waiting for Disha Ravi, a nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga that includes accusations of sedition, incitement, and involvement in an international conspiracy whose elements include (but are not limited to): Indian farmers in revolt, the global pop star Rihanna, supposed plots against yoga and chai, Sikh separatism, and Greta Thunberg. If you think that sounds far-fetched, well, so did the judge who released Ravi after nine days in jail under police interrogation.

Judge Dharmender Rana was supposed to rule on whether Ravi, one of the founders of the Indian chapter of Fridays For Future, the youth climate group started by Thunberg, should continue to be denied bail. He ruled that there was no reason for bail to be denied, which cleared the way for Ravi’s return to her home in Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) that night. But the judge also felt the need to go much further, to issue a scathing 18-page ruling on the underlying case that has gripped Indian media for weeks, issuing his own personal verdict on the various explanations provided by the Delhi police for why Ravi had been apprehended in the first place. The police’s evidence against the young climate activist is, he wrote, “scanty and sketchy,” and there is not “even an iota” of proof to support the claims of sedition, incitement, or conspiracy that have been leveled against her and at least two other young activists.

Though the international conspiracy case appears to be falling apart, Ravi’s arrest has spotlighted a different kind of collusion, this one between the increasingly oppressive and anti-democratic Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Silicon Valley companies whose tools and platforms have become the primary means for government forces to incite hatred against vulnerable minorities and critics — and for police to ensnare peaceful activists like Ravi in a high-tech digital web. The case against Ravi and her “co-conspirators” hinges entirely on routine uses of well-known digital tools: WhatsApp groups, a collectively edited Google Doc, a private Zoom meeting, and several high-profile tweets, all of which have been weaponized into key pieces of alleged evidence in a state-sponsored and media-amplified activist hunt.

At the same time, these very tools have been used in a coordinated pro-government messaging campaign to turn public sentiment against the young activists and the movement of farmers they came together to support, often in clear violation of the guardrails social media companies claim to have erected to prevent violent incitement on their platforms.

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Gates is all about money.

Why Bill Gates Is Now The US Biggest Farmland Owner (NYP)

Late last year, Eric O’Keefe was researching a mysterious recent purchase of 14,500 acres of prime Washington state farmland. His magazine, The Land Report, tracks major land transactions and produces an annual list of the 100 biggest US landowners. Sales of more than a thousand acres are “blue-moon events,” O’Keefe noted, so this one stood out. And Eastern Washington has some of the richest, most expensive farmland in the country. But the purchaser of record was a small, obscure company in Louisiana. “That immediately set off alarm bells,” O’Keefe says. He assigned his research team to dig a little deeper. Soon they came back with the answer: The Louisiana company was acting on behalf of Cascade Investment LLC, the secretive investment firm that manages most of the huge fortune belonging to Bill Gates.

O’Keefe knew Gates had been acquiring farmland for years, mostly through various Cascade subsidiaries. The mogul’s holdings include large tracts in Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, California, and about a dozen other states. With the Washington state acreage and other recent additions to his portfolio, O’Keefe calculated, Gates now owns at least 242,000 acres of American farmland. “Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has an alter ego,” O’Keefe wrote: “Farmer Bill, the guy who owns more farmland than anyone else in America.” The Land Report scoop made headlines. Many stories focused on Gates’ longstanding interest in climate change and sustainability and suggested those concerns might be driving the land purchases. Newsweek called him a “sustainable agriculture champion.”

[..] Investment guru Michael Larson, who has worked with Gates since 1994, runs the Washington-based Cascade Investment, as well as supervising the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s nearly $50 billion endowment. “The arrangement is simple,” The Wall Street Journal wrote in a 2014 profile. “Mr. Larson makes money, and Mr. Gates gives it away.” Larson and his team are famously tight-lipped. Cascade employees almost never speak to the press. According to the Journal, they are even discouraged from using Facebook and other social-media platforms. Larson sees to it that Gates’ wealth is sensibly, even conservatively, invested.


He’s the new MacDonald: Bill Gates owns hundreds of thousands of acres across the United States — including 242,000 acres of farmland — making him the country’s top agricultural landholder, according to Eric O’Keefe’s The Land Report. NY Post graphic/Mike Guillen

According to public records, the billionaire’s portfolio includes shares in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, a Coca-Cola bottling company, and the tractor manufacturer Deere & Co., among other non-flashy investments. Larson also makes sure Gates keeps his eggs in a wide variety of baskets. His portfolio is diversified, in other words. And that’s where the land purchases come in. Most of us imagine farmers tilling the soil that has been in their families for generations. But many farmers lease at least some of the land they cultivate. According to Bruce Sherrick, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about 60 percent of row-crop farmland in the Midwest is leased. The landowners can include investors like Gates.


For investors who know what they’re doing, agricultural land offers financial stability in uncertain times. “Farmland has had a remarkably consistent ability to hedge against inflation,” Sherrick says. And it tends to be “negatively correlated” against other investments, he adds: If the stock market is going down, the return on farmland is likely to be going up. But farmland isn’t easy to buy.

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“At bitcoin’s current value, Nakamoto’s fortune could exceed $50 billion..”

Unmasking Bitcoin Inventor May Send Cryptomarket Into Tailspin – Coinbase (RT)

The largest US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which is getting ready to go public, has named bitcoin’s developer, known to the world as Satoshi Nakamoto, as one of the major risks to its business.In its IPO filing sent to the Securities Exchange Commission earlier this week, Coinbase listed Nakamoto, an individual creator or a group of people thought to be behind the creation of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, as one of the recipients of the document. However, the same anonymous inventor could pose a risk to the entire “cryptoeconomy.”


According to the filing, if the identity is revealed or if Nakamoto’s bitcoins are transferred, the prices of the most valued digital coins, bitcoin and ethereum, may deteriorate. The creator, or a group of creators, are believed to hold around 1.1 million bitcoin, which account for around five percent of all bitcoins that can be ever mined. At bitcoin’s current value, Nakamoto’s fortune could exceed $50 billion, making him almost as rich as Chinese entrepreneur and the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma. Since Nakamoto published the white paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ in 2008, various theories have emerged about his identity. However, little is still known about him.

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Dec 302020
 


Juan Gris Guitar on a chair 1913

 

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)
ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)
Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)
Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)
McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)
Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)
10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)
Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)
Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)
UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)
Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

 

 

 

 

Carlin immune system

 

 

I’m afraid I lost the plot line along the way. If the chief WHO scientist says there’s no evidence the vaccine protects you from being infected, or even from infecting others, what is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)

Travelers may need to show proof that they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel in 2021. “Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries,” CBS-Miami reported. “The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba,” the station reported.

Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business that a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a “digital yellow card,” could be the answer. Last week, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “immunity passports” for Americans to prove they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine might help the country get “back to a new normal.” Dr. Thomas Frieden told CBS that “done right, immunity passports could be one of a series of things that could help us get to a new normal as soon as possible.” “We don’t know if this is going to happen, but fundamentally we’re seeing companies and countries giving people a certificate of vaccination,” he said. “The risk of this is it will make inequality even worse. If people have both susceptibility to the virus and less access to the vaccine, they’ll have even more problems.”

Frieden, who served as director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, said for the passports to work, there would need to be “absolute privacy,” adding that the vaccine should be “absolutely opt in.” “Fundamentally, we’re facing a very difficult few weeks and few months. There’s not enough vaccine yet and we’re seeing the highest levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths the U.S. has since the start of this pandemic,” he said. In an op-ed published this week in The Washington Post, Frieden and co-author Aaron Schwid, a human rights lawyer, wrote: “As more and more people are vaccinated, it’s time to carefully design a system of ‘immunity passports.'” “These passports would serve as a form of proof of immunity, allowing people who have immunity to engage in some activities others cannot. That could make it possible to ratchet down protective measures, such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, without increasing health risks,” they wrote.

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We’ll have to see a lot more of these stories before someone admits there may be a problem.

ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)

A California nurse has tested positive for COVID-19 just eight days after receiving the vaccination. ER nurse Matthew W., received the Pfizer vaccine on December 18, according to a post from Instagram. ‘Got my Covid vaccine! The 15 minutes afterward sitting around with a bunch of others while health care workers asked us how we felt made me think of an opium den. I’ll report back if I start to grow a third arm,’ Matthew wrote. But on Christmas Eve, Matthew, who works at two different hospitals in San Diego, began feeling sick after working a shift in the COVID-19 unit. He told ABC 10 News, that he first got the chills before coming down with muscle aches and fatigue. On December 26, he went to a hospital to get tested for the virus and tested positive.


And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. Dr Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, told the station: ‘It’s not unexpected at all. If you work through the numbers, this is exactly what we’d expect to happen if someone was exposed.’ And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. ‘That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%,’ Ramers added. Matthew says he is feeling better since his symptoms appeared last week.

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“..the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity.”

Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)

The coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, with the impact to be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control, the country’s leading psychiatrist has said. Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said a combination of the disease, its social consequences and the economic fallout were having a profound effect on mental health that would continue long after the epidemic is reined in. As many as 10 million people, including 1.5 million children, are thought to need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the crisis. The prediction comes as the virus surges in the UK, and highlights the need for a plan that ensures those who develop mental illness or see existing conditions worsen have swift access to effective support in the years ahead.

“This is going to have a profound effect on mental health,” James said. “It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.” Demand for mental health services dropped at the start of the pandemic as people stayed away from GP surgeries and hospitals, or thought treatment was unavailable. But the dip was followed by a surge in people seeking help that shows no sign of abating. Data from NHS Digital reveals that the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity. “The whole system is clearly under pressure,” James said.

Modelling by the Centre for Mental Health forecasts that as many as 10 million people will need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the coronavirus epidemic. About 1.3 million people who have not had mental health problems before are expected to need treatment for moderate to severe anxiety, and 1.8 million treatment for moderate to severe depression, it found. The overall figure includes 1.5 million children at risk of anxiety and depression brought about or aggravated by social isolation, quarantine or the hospitalisation or death of family members. The numbers may rise as the full impact becomes clear on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, care homes and people with disabilities.

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The UK is moving into danger territory. If only they had not cut their medical facilities in half.

Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)

The new, faster-spreading coronavirus variant makes up the majority of new cases in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News. A recent surge of COVID-19 cases is largely due to the variant which may be up to 70% more infectious than the original one, Mr Hancock said. “The ‘suppress the virus’ bit has got a whole lot harder since the new variant really got going over December,” he said. “Now the majority of the new cases in the UK are the new variant. It is much, much easier to transmit from one person to another.”


The faster transmission had put extreme pressure on the NHS, Mr Hancock added. “It is absolutely critical that people follow the rules and do everything they can to stop the spread, particularly of the new variant of this virus that transmits so much faster.” “So, the challenge of suppressing the virus has got harder, but thankfully, the cavalry has arrived in terms of not one, but two vaccines – and we’ve got to get them into people’s arms at the speed at which they can be manufactured”.

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“..the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.”

McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to set up a stand-alone vote on increasing the amount of recently passed stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both tried to get consent for the Senate to bring up legislation that passed the House in a 273-134 vote on Monday. The GOP leader did not directly address why he objected, but under the Senate’s rules any one senator can block efforts to set up votes or pass bills. McConnell signaled separately that he could package the increase in direct stimulus checks, with a repeal of a tech shield that has emerged as a top target for Trump and election-related investigations.


Trump, in his statement on signing the $2.3 trillion package, said the Senate would “start the process for a vote” that tackles the three issues. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said. “Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together. This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he added. McConnell did not provide additional details during his floor speech about how he might bring the measures up. But the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.

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“Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day..”

Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)

For most of the last few decades, budget standoffs in Washington tended to follow the same script: Republicans threatened to block some domestic spending bill or fully shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to let the GOP own the libs with something bad like a JPMorgan giveaway, a tax break for the rich, or a draconian cut to a social program. When Democrats controlled Congress, they never mustered the courage to respond with their own version of the same shrewd tactics. Even toward the end of the Bush era when the Iraq War was deeply unpopular, they never made a serious attempt to hold up a bloated GOP-written Pentagon bill in order to try to get their way on a progressive initiative. But at the end of one of the worst years in recent history, it seems things are changing.

In a long overdue script-flipping move, Sen. Bernie Sanders is now moving to halt a major defense bill until and unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell allows a full vote on legislation to give millions of starving Americans $2,000 in emergency aid. That legislation passed the House yesterday over opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who tried their best to deny their own constituents much-needed aid. Now the bill is in McConnell’s hands, and Sanders is pulling a McConnell on McConnell. He is imperiling the GOP boss’s top priority — the defense bill that authorizes pay increases for soldiers, military training, new weapons systems, while also complicating attempts to draw down troops deployed in Afghanistan. That McConnell-backed legislation could be stalled unless he agrees to Sanders’ demands and stops obstructing a progressive priority.

The Vermont independent appears ready to play hardball: He is doing his best impression of Marc Maron’s cameo in Almost Famous, effectively screaming “lock the gates!” and threatening to force Senate Republicans to remain in Washington, rather than flee while the country withers. The American Prospect reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), with the backing of the Senate Democratic caucus, is prepared to make life miserable for Senate Republicans if they do not put a clean vote on the floor to increase one-time emergency payments to most Americans approved in the recent COVID relief package from $600 to $2,000. Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day, inconveniencing Senators of both parties, particularly the incumbent Republicans from Georgia, who are in their final full week of campaigning for runoff elections on January 5….

The Senate operates on the principle of unanimous consent. It’s not impossible to get things done if one Senator objects, but it’s quite a bit slower. The majority needs to hold votes and waste time to muscle past an objecting Senator. For this reason, Sanders can prevent quick passage of the defense bill override, the only thing McConnell really wants to accomplish in the last week of the Senate session. This ramps up pressure on McConnell to just hold a vote on the $2,000 checks. Senators don’t want to be stuck in Washington on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day if they can prevent it.“

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“3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).”

10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)

1. The total cost of $2,000 checks ($465 billion) is less than half the amount that American billionaires have made during the pandemic ($1 trillion). The total cost of the checks is less than the amount that just 16 American billionaires increased their net worth by during the pandemic ($471 billion).

2. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk gained more wealth during the pandemic ($158 billion) than Congress just authorized for additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans ($120 billion).

3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).

4. Congressional lawmakers are being paid $3,300 of government money every week to come up with ways to block $2,000 checks to millions of Americans.

5. It took Congress less than a month to pass legislation giving a $700 billion bailout to bank executives during the financial crisis. It has taken Congress more than 8 months to even seriously consider a far less expensive bill to give $2,000 checks to millions of Americans during this economic crisis.

6. A $2,000 survival check would give the average soldier more money than the proposed 3 percent military pay increase that is included in defense legislation that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey are filibustering in order to force a vote on the survival checks.

7. The richest 5 percent of Americans received more in Trump tax cuts in 2020 ($145 billion) than Congress is spending on increased unemployment benefits for millions of Americans during the economic crisis ($120 billion).

8. In 2016, “children, elderly, disabled people, and students made up around 70 percent of the poor,” according to the People’s Policy Project. Unlike unemployment benefits, $2,000 checks would help them.

9. About 60 percent of Georgia households make less than $75,000, meaning Georgia Republican senators allowing $2,000 checks to be blocked would deny aid to roughly 2 million of their state’s households as they run for reelection.

10. As Republicans try to block the $2,000 check legislation, a new national survey found that 78 percent of Americans support it, even as some pundits insist that the proposal is “divisive.”

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Can we bury this story too?

Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)

From the introduction: “At one of the first press conferences about a year ago, we showed bank transactions for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the family of former US Vice President Joe Biden, namely to his son Robert Hunter Biden. The latter was a member of the board of directors of the infamous gas production company Burisma. Burisma belongs to the fugitive Yanukovych-era minister Mykola Zlochevsky. The inclusion of Biden in the Burisma leadership and payment for his services is nothing more than a political cover that protected Zlochevsky from the Ukrainian law, namely from the criminal code.”

Two foreign witnesses whose identities are protected – Witness 1 and Witness 2 – came forward to testify about the facts of the case. Konstantyn Kulyk, the Head of the Group of Prosecutors of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, explained what the witnesses offered: “One quote from a statement by a Witness: “All the described financial transactions were fictitious. And a lot of money was paid in Ukraine so that the state authorities turned a blind eye to it.” [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the Witnesses noticed strange recurring payments that, at the direction of Oleh Nelin (Zlochevsky’s assistant in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), were sent from the account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD, which was opened for the personal needs of Mykola Zlochevsky, in the Latvian PrivatBank AS to the account of the American company ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC.”

“The witnesses drew attention to these payments since about 20 times the same uneven amount was recurring – $83,333.33 as payment for consulting services. [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the money stolen from Ukrainians, located on account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD with the Latvian PrivatBank AS, was transferred to the account of ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC in the American bank MORGAN STANLEY in payments in total amounting to $3.4 million for consulting services. [snip] This is a payment for the political “cover” that Biden provided to Zlochevsky.” The video offers a graphic image showing the flow of money and favors:

Andrii Derkach picked up the narrative. He focused on Joe Biden’s conversations with Former President Poroshenko when Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor, started looking into Zlochevsky’s graft. As we all know, Biden openly boasted about holding up money from the U.S. unless Poroshenko fired Shokin. The press conference included audio from a November 16, 2016 conversation between Biden and Poroshenko. Biden was wheeling and dealing for influence and money – and conducting foreign policy behind Trump’s back. The men spoke again in February 2017, at which time Biden smothered Poroshenko with fulsome compliments. Ukraine’s government is gunning for Joe Biden. The Ukrainians know Biden helped prop up a corrupt government in their country and that he profited mightily from doing so. No wonder this video has gone viral.

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“She is the affable assassin..”

Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)

Even before President-elect Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee may start hearings on his nomination of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence. Barack Obama’s top lawyer on the National Security Council from 2010 to 2013 followed by CIA Deputy Director from 2013 to 2015, Haines is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the affable assassin who, according to Newsweek, would be summoned in the middle of the night to decide if a citizen of any country, including our own, should be incinerated in a U.S. drone strike in a distant land in the greater Middle East. Haines also played a key role in covering up the U.S. torture program, known euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included repeated waterboarding, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dousing naked prisoners with ice-cold water, and rectal rehydration.

For these reasons, among others, the activist groups CODEPINK, Progressive Democrats of America, World Beyond War, and Roots Action have launched a campaign calling on the Senate to reject her confirmation. These same groups ran successful campaigns to dissuade Biden from choosing two other warmongering candidates for critical foreign policy positions: China-hawk Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense and torture apologist Mike Morell for CIA Director. By hosting calling parties to Senators, launching petitions and publishing Open Letters from DNC delegates, feminists—including Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem—and Guantanamo torture survivors, activists helped derail candidates who were once considered shoo-ins for Biden’s cabinet. Now activists are challenging Avril Haines.

In 2015, when Haines was CIA Deputy Director, CIA agents illegally hacked the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to thwart the Committee’s investigation into the spy agency’s detention and interrogation program. Haines overruled the CIA’s own Inspector General in failing to discipline the CIA agents who violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. According to former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, she not only shielded the hackers from accountability but even awarded them the Career Intelligence Medal. And there’s more. When the exhaustive 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture was finally complete, after five years of investigation and research, Haines took charge of redacting it to deny the public’s right to know its full details, reducing the document to a 500-page, black-ink-smeared summary.

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By no means just in the UK. As the economy shrinks bigtime.

UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)

British house prices rose faster than expected in December to record their biggest annual increase in six years, as tax incentives and COVID-driven appetite for larger homes continued to boost demand, mortgage lender Nationwide said. House prices rose by 0.8% in December alone, barely slowing from the 0.9% recorded in November, and were 7.3% higher than a year earlier, well above forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 6.7% rise. After a collapse in house purchases during the first months of lockdown, there has been a surge in demand to move house, driven in part by a temporary exemption of property purchase taxes which will expire at the end of March.


Nationwide said the strength of the housing market contrasted with weakness in some other parts of the economy – especially those exposed to renewed COVID-19 restrictions – and said the outlook for prices in 2021 was highly uncertain. “Housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March,” Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said. So far furlough payments and similar support for the self-employed had limited the impact of a historic 26% fall in economic output on the housing market, against most economists’ earlier expectations, he added.

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Propaganda.

Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

The paper of record in 2020 shifted dramatically to the most illiberal stance possible on the virus, pushing for full lockdowns, and ignoring or burying any information that might contradict the case for this unprecedented experiment in social and economic control. This article highlights the exceptions. The first shocking sign of the placing of a persistent bias was a podcast with reporter Donald McNeil on February 27. This was the beginning. It was grossly irresponsible. He asserted that half the American public would get this disease and that it would have a case fatality rate of 2.5%, or 25 times as deadly as flu, hence 4.8 million dead people. No consideration of demographic gradients in risk and no knowledge of viral basics such as the tradeoff between severity and prevalence.

Even if you leave aside the fog of fatality misclassification, he exaggerated the risk by 12 times but still spoke with a sense of certainty designed to create panic. Host Michael Barbaro himself seemed shocked: “I thought you were here to bring calm, Donald.” “I’m trying to bring a sense that if things don’t change, a lot of us might die,” he said. “If you have 300 relatively close friends and acquaintances, six of them would die.” The primal fear of disease is thus thrown into massive overdrive, following 100 years in which public health tried to bring rationality to the topic. That podcast was followed by an op-ed by the same journalist/pundit: “To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It.”

It seemed incredible that such a responsible outlet would advocate the overthrow of a century of public-health wisdom and even immunological basics, but that’s what they did. At this point, the New York Times was fully committed to the narrative that we must dismantle society to save it. And there it has been for nearly a year of unbearably biased coverage. Even within the blatant and aggressive pro-lockdown bias, and consistent with the way the New York Times does its work, the paper has not been entirely barren of truth about Covid and lockdowns. Below I list five times that the news section of the paper, however inadvertently and however buried deep within the paper, actually told the truth.

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