Apr 092021
 


Willem de Kooning Rosy-fingered Dawn at Louse Point 1963

 

 

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Thursday issued a controversial ruling in a case brought by Czech families concerning vaccination of children against a number of diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and measles.

The court said that “the compulsory vaccines administered by Czech health authorities were in line with the “best interests” of children. “The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity.” It ruled that the Czech health policy was not in violation of Article 8 on the right to respect for private life in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Summit News:

European Court of Human Rights Rules That Mandatory Vaccinations Are Legal

Mandatory vaccinations “could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society’,” the court judgment read. Although not directly related to COVID, the ruling could have significant implications given current debates over vaccine passports and whether workers in some jobs should be forced to take the vaccine as a condition of employment. This judgment “reinforces the possibility of a compulsory vaccination under conditions of the current COVID-19 epidemic,” Nicolas Hervieu, a legal expert specializing in the ECHR, told AFP.

I liked that one of the Czech cases, from 2006, involved a girl expelled from school because she didn’t have a vaccination, and was therefore judged to be a risk to all other children, who had all been vaccinated. Since that makes zero sense, we must presume something else might have been going on.

Still, I don’t think that the judgment “reinforces the possibility of a compulsory vaccination under conditions of the current COVID-19 epidemic.” For one thing, no politician who likes their job wants to drag children from their homes to get injected.

But more importantly, the diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and measles vaccines are actual vaccines, that have been properly tested and approved. While none of the currently used Covid “vaccines” have. Is anyone going to make untested and unapproved substances mandatory? If so, someone is going to get themselves a good lawyer.

Mandatory vaccination is a legal nightmare no matter what, but in this particular case, it would appear to be DOA. Still, there are other avenues. They can, through vaccine passports, attempt to exclude you from social activities, including shopping. These passports always say a negative test is good too, but only if your test is less than, say, a day old. And you mostly have to pay for it yourself.

And even if you do, and you test negative 100 times, you still lose out to someone who has been injected with untested and unapproved substances of which nobody has shown any evidence that they will protect you from infection, or from infecting others. Bizarro world meets Kafka. If you work in sectors like travel and hospitality, forget about having a choice.

The ECHR ruled that the Czech health policy was not in violation of Article 8 on the right to respect for private life in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. But how about Unesco’s Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, to which all countries involved are also signatories?

 

I quoted Greek political scientist and lawyer Nelly Psarrou in The One Year Emergency on February 4:

1. Vaccination, like any medical action, requires citizen consent. Consent is not regarded as valid if it is not fully informed, nor “if it is the result of deceit, fraud or threat, or conflicts with the demands of decency” (Medical Code of Ethics, Greek law 3418/2005). Failing this, the consent is waived and the person/body who has exerted the pressure or extortion to vaccinate is subject to penal sanctions and/or civil damages in the event of harm.

2. 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.

 

That Declaration literally says:

Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights


Article 3 – Human dignity and human rights

1. Human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms are to be fully respected.

2. The interests and welfare of the individual should have priority over the sole interest of science or society.

Article 4 – Benefit and harm

In applying and advancing scientific knowledge, medical practice and associated technologies, direct and indirect benefits to patients, research participants and other affected individuals should be maximized and any possible harm to such individuals should be minimized.

Article 5 – Autonomy and individual responsibility

The autonomy of persons to make decisions, while taking responsibility for those decisions and respecting the autonomy of others, is to be respected. For persons who are not capable of exercising autonomy, special measures are to be taken to protect their rights and interests.

Article 6 – Consent

1. Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.

2. Scientific research should only be carried out with the prior, free, express and informed consent of the person concerned. The information should be adequate, provided in a comprehensible form and should include modalities for withdrawal of consent. Consent may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without any disadvantage or prejudice. Exceptions to this principle should be made only in accordance with ethical and legal standards adopted by States, consistent with the principles and provisions set out in this Declaration, in particular in Article 27, and international human rights law.

3. In appropriate cases of research carried out on a group of persons or a community, additional agreement of the legal representatives of the group or community concerned may be sought. In no case should a collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.

Seems obvious enough. Bring on the lawyers.

 

PS I admit I stole the title for this essay from a tweet by longtime partner in crime Dave Collum. It has little to do with the matter at hand, but it’s just genius. And since I’m apparently getting a good lawyer anyway, sue me Collum.

 

 

 

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Apr 072021
 


Jacobello Alberegno The Beast of the Apocalypse 1360-90

 

0.1% Of Covid-19 Cases In Ireland Come From Outdoor Transmission (IT)
Ron Paul Urges Americans To ‘Wake Up’ And Reject Vaccine Passports (RT)
Texas Becomes 2nd US State To Ban Vaccine Passports (RT)
Yup, Still Waiting for the Maskless Texan Apocalypse (NR)
California’s Failed Response To COVID (Bhattacharya/Kulldorff)
AstraZeneca Trial Involving Minors Halted As EMA Links Jab to Blood Clots (ZH)
Only Half Of Americans Intend To Vaccinate Their Children Against Covid (F.)
Travel Bubble Between New Zealand And Australia To Start On 19 April (G.)
Australia Calls On EU To Supply Outstanding Astrazeneca Vaccine Doses (G.)
Comedy Club Pulls Out Of Covid Safety Trial After Online ‘Hate Campaign’ (G.)
In Biden Change Of Tune, US Mulling Boycott Of 2022 Beijing Olympics (ZH)
Biden Admin Mulls Restarting Border Wall Construction (ZH)
The Greatest Game (Booth)

 

 

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.
– Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

Or maybe it’s even as high as twice that, 0.2%?!

Here in Greece, as in many other places, all outdoor sites, like restaurant and café terraces, remain closed, forcing people indoors, where the other 99.9% of infections occur.

And when people do go outside, they have to wear a mask. For an 0.1% risk.

0.1% Of Covid-19 Cases In Ireland Come From Outdoor Transmission (IT)

Earlier on Tuesday, a professor of immunovirology said figures showing 0.1 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the State come from outdoor transmission may be an underestimate. Prof Liam Fanning of University College Cork said he was surprised by the figures and felt there could be a “slight bias” in the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data on cases linked to outdoor transmission. Figures from the HPSC showed just one confirmed case of Covid-19 in every thousand is traced to outdoor transmission. Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1 per cent of the total, the data revealed. There were 42 outbreaks associated with outdoor gatherings, with one community outbreak accounting for seven cases.


Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast on Tuesday, Prof Fanning said there was an obvious difference in transmission rates of the virus between outdoor and indoor locations. He cautioned that meeting people outdoors still posed a risk, as the virus could be spread if someone infectious was “face-on chatting” to other individuals. People should try to avoid speaking directly face-to-face and instead attempt to speak to each other while side by side when outdoors, a common method used during the Spanish flu, he said. Prof Fanning said financial support to encourage more outdoor dining spaces should also be “much higher”, given the low transmission rates outdoors. At present, restaurants, cafes and bars are restricted to delivery or takeaway services only, with no outdoor dining permitted.

Read more …

Liberty. It’s an easy concept.

Ron Paul Urges Americans To ‘Wake Up’ And Reject Vaccine Passports (RT)

Ron Paul has warned that Covid-19 vaccine passports could be used by the US government to restrict freedoms, stirring up an already heated debate over whether such IDs are necessary. The former US congressman and physician said on Monday that requiring certificates to verify vaccination for international travel or daily activities would “solidify the whole idea that our lives belong to the government.” “They own liberty and now you are going to get permission to use a little bit of it. They are going to divvy it out a little bit. You’ll never get back what you should have,” he said while speaking on his program, the Ron Paul Liberty Report. The Biden administration has acknowledged that it is collaborating with tech companies to develop a variety of potential vaccine passport apps.

At the state level, New York has already created its own digital certificate that grants entry to venues. Paul warned that the initiative could be used to regulate nearly all aspects of life, including where you will be allowed to go and what kind of activities you will be permitted to participate in. He said he hoped Americans would “finally wake up” and oppose vaccine IDs. If people don’t “take a stand” now things are going to get “bad,” the former Texas lawmaker predicted. He called on his supporters to reach out to family and friends in order to start a grassroots movement against identification programs, adding that those who choose to do so should understand “what life and liberty is.”

The message resonated with many. Some commenters echoed Paul’s fears that the initiative could be used to usher in a dystopian nightmare. Others said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ pledge to ban the use of vaccine passports should be emulated nationwide and expressed hope that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule the IDs unconstitutional. One observer said they opposed storing personal health data in a digital device but saw nothing wrong with doctors issuing paper certificates showing vaccination status. There were plenty who disagreed with Paul, however. “The government is there to serve & protect us,” argued one Twitter user, adding that while passports could potentially lead to discrimination, the spread of Covid-19 poses a greater threat to our freedoms.

Read more …

Dormant rights?! Oxymoron.

“..bars and restaurants in Florida and Texas were thronged with people celebrating their long-dormant right to gather outside their homes..”

Texas Becomes 2nd US State To Ban Vaccine Passports (RT)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced a ban on so-called vaccine passports, becoming the second US governor to officially do so, just a few days after Florida’s Ron DeSantis. The issue has largely broken along political lines. Abbott made an announcement on Tuesday declaring that no Texas government agencies or political entities would be permitted to require “vaccine passports” in the state. “Don’t tread on our personal freedoms,” the governor warned, even as he made clear that he was not against the idea of vaccination in principle, but resented forced vaccination. “Every day Texans return to normalcy as more people get (and become immune to) the spread of Covid-19,” Abbott declared, adding that the jabs “help slow the spread of Covid, reduce hospitalizations and reduce fatalities.”

The Biden administration’s medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, seemed almost displeased with Texas’ refusal to slide down its predicted Covid-streaked death spiral, where “the restaurants and the bars are full and open, the ballparks are full, and yet we’ve seen cases and hospitalizations since then continue to tick downward,” as an MSNBC host put it. “It looks like 2019,” he said in shock, noting that bars and restaurants in Florida and Texas were thronged with people celebrating their long-dormant right to gather outside their homes. Attempting to explain why Texas and Florida’s case counts had dropped despite their having some of the least strict virus regulations, Fauci blamed a “lag,” arguing that the undesirable data everyone was waiting for was still coming – it was just a few weeks down the line.

“We’ve gotta make sure we don’t prematurely judge [the case numbers],” the doctor continued. At least 17 separate vaccine passes are in the works to track travelers’ medical data, the Biden administration told the media earlier this week, though the president has previously insisted that he has no plans for a nationwide vaccine passport. Abbott’s Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis, unveiled a similar ban on Friday, barring all state agencies and local businesses from issuing “vaccine passports” and banning state government agencies from doing business with private companies that require such passports.

Read more …

What Fauci doesn’t like.

Yup, Still Waiting for the Maskless Texan Apocalypse (NR)

The day before Texas’s statewide mask mandate ended, March 9, Texas had 5,119 new cases of COVID-19, and the seven-day average for new cases was 3,971. On that day, the state had 126,404 active cases of COVID-19. As of March 9, the seven-day average for new deaths was 104. Yesterday, Texas had 2,906 new cases, and the seven-day average for new cases is 2,815. As of yesterday, the state had 96,640 active cases of COVID-19. As of yesterday, the seven-day average for new deaths was 81. When Texas governor Greg Abbott announced the decision, I argued that he and other state officials were not crazy or exhibiting “Neanderthal thinking.” I noted that masks were not disappearing from public life in Texas.

Major grocery chains and Walmart and Target still required them, as did many public-school districts, some localities, and so on. Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso would require them in city-owned buildings. Since early March, I have noted that Texas COVID-19 statistics keep gradually getting better instead of worse, the opposite trend of what many mask advocates and all-purpose critics of Texas expected. Every time, folks on social media told me that it’s just too early to tell, and that the catastrophic consequences of the rescinding of the Texas statewide mask mandate are just around the corner. And yet, here we are, a month later, and all of the measuring sticks show significant improvement.

I am sure many people will declare that the huge crowd at yesterday’s Texas Rangers game is a potential “super-spreader” event. Before the event, President Biden called the stadium and state policies “not responsible.” And maybe yesterday’s large attendance will turn out to be a bad decision. But some other large gatherings, where people intermittently followed social-distancing guidelines if they followed them at all, did not turn into super-spreader events, like the crowds of thousands of people around the Super Bowl in Tampa. This pandemic is unpredictable, and the data rarely line up perfectly with people’s expectations or yearning for confirmation of their partisan preferences. By far the sharpest increase in cases occurring right now is in Michigan, where the masking and lockdown policies have been comparably strict.

Read more …

Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff.

California’s Failed Response To COVID (Bhattacharya/Kulldorff)

From the beginning, the Golden State has taken an aggressive stance toward the epidemic, including imposing the earliest shelter-in-place order in the nation; ceasing in-person schooling for the vast majority of public-school kids; shuttering churches, parks, and playgrounds; mandating masks, with hefty fines for violators; and forcing the closure of “non-essential” businesses that cannot operate using distancing technologies, such as videoconferencing. Even Disneyland has been closed since March 2020. In short, California has followed one of the strictest lockdowns in the country. Though the state’s response received high marks in July from the “covidian” high priesthood, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the state has seen exploding coronavirus cases and deaths.


Through March 28, 2021, 8.9 percent of all Californians have been identified as COVID cases – 3.6 million cases. Since most infections are not recognized as cases, a much larger fraction of the population has been infected with COVID. Through March 29 this year, nearly 57,800 people have died in California with COVID. To put these numbers in perspective, it helps to have a comparison state that has followed a very different policy. For that, we should consider Florida, which partially lifted its lockdown in May 2020 and then further relaxed restrictions in September (based in part on focused protection ideas advocated by us).

In sharp contrast to California, in Florida most schools and universities have been open for in-person instruction since the fall, normal human activities—sports, church going, visits to the park—occur with regularity, and businesses have been open for in-person activities. Local ordinances can recommend masks and social distancing and impose indoor-capacity limitations but cannot mandate closures, as is the case in California. Disneyworld has been open since July. At the same time, Florida increased testing and protection within its nursing homes to reduce the risk of COVID among its most vulnerable residents.


The Florida policy has drawn sharp criticism from Fauci, who said it “opened up too quickly” in July. However, the infection control results to date look remarkably similar to California’s, and in some ways better. Through March 28, 9.5 percent of Floridians have been identified as COVID cases. Once we account for the fact that Florida has one of the oldest populations in the country and California has one of the youngest, the death rates with COVID through March 28 are lower in Florida than in California. In fact, the COVID death rate for the under-65 population and the over-65 population are both lower in Florida than in California.

Read more …

How can anyone inject a child with a untested substance?

AstraZeneca Trial Involving Minors Halted As EMA Links Jab to Blood Clots (ZH)

Just days after Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Michael Kidd, acknowledged that there was likely a connection between rare blood clots and the COVID vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford, officials from the EMA, Europe’s top pharmaceutical regulator, have finally acknowledged the link, even if the agency’s official stance – that there’s no evidence of a link, but no evidence to rule it out – remains unchanged. The EMA declared at the conclusion of a hasty “safety review” last month that the benefits of the AstraZeneca jab (which is expected to to be the workhorse of the global vaccination rollout as Covax, the WHO/Gates Foundation program to vaccination developing countries, expects to heavily rely on the jab) far outweighed any risks, while saying it couldn’t definitively rule out the possibility that the blood clots and the vaccine might be connected.

But researchers from Norway, Germany and elsewhere insisted they had found evidence of a connection. And after the UK acknowledged more than 2 dozen new cases of the rare clots – 9 of them fatal – it seems the dam has finally broken. New findings from the EMA show that there is indeed a link between the “very rare” blood clots in the brain and the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the exact possible causes are still unknown, according to a senior EMA official, who made the comments in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Messagero. Here’s a Reuters summary of that report. “In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association (of the brain blood clots) with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” Marco Cavaleri, chair of the vaccine evaluation team at the EMA, told Italian daily Il Messagero.

Cavaleri provided no evidence to support his comment.[…] Cavaleri said the EMA would say in its review that there is a link but was not likely to give an indication this week regarding the age of individuals to whom the AstraZeneca shot should be given. In a separate interview, Armando Genazzani, a member of the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, told another Italian newspaper, La Stampa, that a connection between the jab and the clots was “plausible.” The EMA is officially investigating 44 cases of the brain blood clots, an ailment known as a cerebral venous thrombosis (or CVST). More than 9.2M people in the EU have received the vaccine in total.

In response to Cavaleri’s comments, the Amsterdam-based EMA said in a statement on Tuesday: “EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) has not yet reached a conclusion and the review (of any possible link) is currently ongoing.” While the EMA refused to confirm the comments made by individual officials, WSJ reported Tuesday that the University of Oxford had decided to pause trials of the vaccine in the UK that involved children between the ages of 12 and 15. An Oxford spokesman said Tuesday that while no safety issues have arisen in the trial, broader concerns about rare clotting problems in adults have triggered further regulatory reviews in the UK and Europe to investigate any potential link with the vaccine.

Read more …

“All states have the power to require vaccination among students attending school; many do for diseases like polio and measles.”

Yes, but those are tested and approved actual vaccines.

Only Half Of Americans Intend To Vaccinate Their Children Against Covid (F.)

Only half of Americans intend on getting their children immunized against Covid-19 as soon as vaccines become available, according to a new Axios/Ipsos survey published Tuesday, another potential barrier towards expanding vaccine access ahead of schools returning in fall. 48% of parents surveyed in April said they are not likely to have their children vaccinated against Covid-19 when the shots first become available. The figure contrasts with growing adult acceptance of the vaccines, which has grown from around 38% in September and October to nearly 70% today. Vaccine hesitancy remains a problem, however, and polls throughout 2021 show that one in five Americans consistently say they are unlikely to get vaccinated.

The Axios poll found Republicans (31%) and those with a high school education or less (28%) to be most resistant to vaccines. Vaccinating children is going to play a major role in ending the pandemic and getting life back to normal as schools return in fall. While children and young teens don’t often get seriously sick from Covid-19, they can and do: 227 children have died from Covid-19 in the U.S., according to the New York Times. They can also pass on the virus to others, notably adults who are likely to be much more vulnerable. A vaccine for this age group would help cut the risk of illness, limit transmission from children and better contain outbreaks. Now that adult vaccination drives are well under way, manufacturers are starting to trial shots in younger people.

After promising preliminary results from a clinical trial in late March, Pfizer said it plans to apply for an expanded emergency use authorization for young teens in Europe and the U.S. in coming weeks. Moderna also has several ongoing trials exploring its vaccine’s effectiveness in young children and adolescents. Experts are still debating whether the B.1.1.7. variant of the virus, first found in the U.K., is able to infect children more readily. Though few states have started to fully grapple with the idea of requiring vaccination for Covid-19 in children—Tennessee and Pennsylvania have said vaccination will remain optional—some school districts have signaled an intent to mandate it, setting the stage for wider conflict if and when vaccines are approved for use, especially if resistance remains high. All states have the power to require vaccination among students attending school; many do for diseases like polio and measles.

Read more …

Does New Zealand even have vaccines?

Travel Bubble Between New Zealand And Australia To Start On 19 April (G.)

After nearly a year shut off from the world, New Zealand is cracking open its borders, with a trans-Tasman travel bubble allowing two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia. The NZ prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced on Tuesday the bubble would open from 19 April, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two nations. Travellers from New Zealand have been able to enter selected Australian states without quarantining since October but the arrangements did not apply in the other direction. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, applauded Ardern’s announcement while airlines in both countries hurriedly advertised hundreds of weekly flights and routes. However, tourism operators warned the benefits would be muted in the short term, as the first passengers would likely be low-spending travellers visiting family.


At a press conference on Tuesday, Ardern said she was “confident not only in the state of Australia, but in our own ability to manage a travel arrangement”. More than 600,000 New Zealanders live in Australia, and many families straddle the border. “One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many,” Ardern said. “This is the next chapter.” Ardern said the arrangement – of two countries, both maintaining a full elimination strategy for Covid-19 opening up to international travel – was potentially unique in the world. The plan has been in the works for months now, but was paused repeatedly after outbreaks of Covid-19 on either side of the border.

Read more …

Australia has some vaccines, but not enough.

Australia Calls On EU To Supply Outstanding Astrazeneca Vaccine Doses (G.)

Scott Morrison denies his government has presented the public with overly rosy assessments about the state of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, as he steps up calls for the European Union to allow 3.1m outstanding AstraZeneca doses to be shipped to Australia. While declaring that vaccine supply issues were a matter of “straightforward maths”, the prime minister also attempted to calm a growing diplomatic dispute between Australia and the EU, insisting he had not made any criticism of Brussels over its handling of the matter. Earlier on Wednesday, the Morrison government issued a statement accusing the European Commission of “arguing semantics” by saying just one shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses had been formally blocked.

The government said the commission had signalled it would block other applications to export vaccine doses from the region. The government also complained that the European Commission has not responded to Australia’s request for 1m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be made available to Papua New Guinea, one of the countries hardest hit in the region. The latest statements follow comments by a European Commission spokesman on Tuesday that the only export request rejected out of nearly 500 received has been a shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia in March. Morrison told reporters on Wednesday the government was asking AstraZeneca to resubmit its application to the European Commission to export the remaining 3.1m of the 3.8m contracted vaccine doses to Australia.

He was seeking further talks with the commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to discuss the issue. The prime minister said he was “pleased to hear that the European Union overnight has indicated that they are not seeking to restrict these vaccines to Australia”. He said the government would therefore encourage Brussels to allow the rest of the 3.8m does to come to Australia, including 1m “to provide support to our Pacific family in Papua New Guinea that are undergoing a humanitarian crisis”. He also wanted the remaining doses to “be part of the vaccination rollout here in this country”.

Read more …

Of course there’s resistance.

Comedy Club Pulls Out Of Covid Safety Trial After Online ‘Hate Campaign’ (G.)

A comedy club has pulled out of a trial to test how venues can operate safely after it said the government failed to clarify whether it would involve Covid-19 vaccine passports. The Hot Water comedy club in Liverpool said it was subjected to a “hate campaign” online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial Covid-status certification. Club co-owner Binty Blair said he had tried to contact DCMS to clarify whether vaccine passports would be trialed in the pilot event, but to no avail. The club has subsequently cancelled its event, which was due to be the first in the pilot. It had been due to take place on 16 April with an audience of 300 at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena Auditorium. “The reason for us backing out is the government wasn’t clear about the Covid passports,” Blair told the PA news agency.


“The problem is we don’t know what we signed up for.” On Tuesday evening, the government confirmed there will be no requirement for participants in the initial pilot events to have received a vaccination in venues like a comedy club. DCMS announced over the weekend that a series of pilot events were planned for the coming months as officials look to find a way for venues such as football grounds and nightclubs to reopen without the need for social distancing. It said Covid-status certification would be trialled as part of the programme, while detailing a number of events on an initial list of pilots, including Hot Water comedy club. Blair said he had agreed to take part in the pilot in March but only learned of the government’s plans to trial Covid-19 vaccine passports two days ago. He said four acts had lost £300 each as a result of the cancelled event.

Read more …

Brought to you by the same people stoking unrest in Ukraine.

In Biden Change Of Tune, US Mulling Boycott Of 2022 Beijing Olympics (ZH)

As if US-China relations weren’t bad enough at this moment, things are about to escalate further – potentially taking the Biden White House past even beyond the low-point of the trade war during the Trump presidency. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a daily briefing on Tuesday that the US and its allies are discussing a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. = It’s not the first time the issue has been addressed, and previously it was mainly Republicans pressuring action regarding the Olympics and China’s egregious human rights record. In early February the White House had indicated it “had no plans” for a boycott, with Jen Psaki asserting at the time, “We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics.”

But “plans” have clearly changed, especially following the March 22 coordinated sanctions slapped on top Beijing officials over the Uighur crackdown by the US, UK, EU and Canada. The Canadians in particular have been the most vocal in parliament for urging an international boycott of the 2022 games, which has riled China. Here’s what the State Department’s Ned Price said in the Tuesday afternoon comments: “It [a joint boycott] is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” …he told reporters when asked about the Biden administration’s plans ahead of the international games. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners,” he added.

Price said that the United States has not yet made a decision but was concerned about China’s egregious human rights abuses. The Olympic Games are due to take place between Feb. 4 to Feb. 20. When pressed over a possible timeline of when such a decision would be reached, Price added: “We’re talking about 2022, and we are still in April of 2021, so these Games remain some time away.” “I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it, but these discussions are underway.”

Read more …

It’s almost too funny.

Biden Admin Mulls Restarting Border Wall Construction (ZH)

Less than 90 days after President Biden signaled his immense virtue by halting construction on Trump’s border wall and canceling future contracts, Biden’s beleaguered Department of Homeland Security is exploring whether to restart border wall construction in order to ‘plug gaps’ in the current barrier, according the Washington Examiner, citing DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. This of course would make Biden a xenophobic tyrant, if we’re playing by the Trump-era media guidebook. “In a conversation with Immigration and Customs Enformcement employees last week Mr. Mayorkas was asked about his plans for the wall and he said that while President Biden has canceled the border emergency and halted Pentagon money flowing to the wall, “that leaves room to make decisions” on finishing some “gaps in the wall.”

“Mr. Mayorkas, according to notes of the ICE session reviewed by The Washington Times, said Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the wall, has submitted a plan for what it wants to see happen moving forward.” -Washington Examiner. “It’s not a single answer to a single question. There are different projects that the chief of the Border Patrol has presented and the acting commissioner of CBP presented to me,” said Mayorkas, adding “The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended. But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

According to Mayorkas, the work would cover “gaps,” “gates,” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.” Former President Trump’s acting commissioner of CBP, Mark Morgan, said Mayorkas’ comments were “more spin and misdirection,” and that the agency has always given the administration options on how to proceed with the wall. When Trump left office, around 460 miles of border wall was completed – most of which being improvements in areas with existing wall and/or outdated designs, or vehicle checkpoints that people could simply walk around.

Read more …

“..by preventing failure in economies in the short term, Creative Destruction has only moved — now to the level of our international economic system..”

The Greatest Game (Booth)

Breakthroughs, that step-change our lives for the better, invariably come from something that most people couldn’t see. Our belief of how the world should exist and operate is shaped from looking backwards, not forward, so it makes sense that new paradigms that change everything — face resistance in our minds. Because most people don’t see them, breaking through an existing paradigm needs to provide enough compelling value for users to disrupt an old paradigm. Apple’s iPhone for instance, didn’t copy the market leader, Research in Motion’s Blackberry design of needing a keyboard or selling to businesses who required RIM’s security. It created a digital interface when that wasn’t ‘needed’ and created an entirely new platform that changed the industry as a result.


Along the way, the Blackberry died, unable to compete with the value for users, that was now increasing exponentially on Apple’s platform. That process describes “Creative Destruction” a paradoxical term first coined by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 to describe how Capitalism works in a “free market.” Entrepreneurs innovate and “create” value for society — and that value gained by society also often “destroys” the former monopoly power. That process and its importance is at the centre of how all modern economies have evolved and given rise to most of the benefits to society we take for granted today. New winners become so valuable that they disrupt existing market power or structures. It is all driven from a near-constant flow of innovative entrepreneurs with bold ideas and the capital backing them that go up against the status quo and are only successful, “if’’ they create value for society.

For the process to work, failure is critical! Both for entrepreneurs and the capital in them whose business doesn’t work, and for legacy businesses that get disrupted by them if their innovation brings better value to society. And while failure is hard, preventing failure is much worse. Why? Because by preventing failure, market incentives become warped, and in doing so, eventually put a small number of people (government/central banks) in charge of choosing who gets what, instead of the free market. Unfortunately, preventing failure has been the policy makers tool for the last 20 years and it has enormous consequences.


By socializing losses and preventing failure in our economies, central banks and governments have all but ensured that the existing monetary system of the world collapses — and is replaced by something new. In other words, by preventing failure in economies in the short term, Creative Destruction has only moved — now to the level of our international economic system. I believe with what is to come, Bitcoin has a higher than average probability of overcoming all barriers and becoming a global reserve currency. More importantly, I believe it gives humanity its best chance for a peaceful transition to the future. A world where the abundance gained from our technological progress is more widely distributed. It is not hyperbole to say that almost everything changes as a result of this innovation.

Read more …

 

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Ricky Gervais

 

 

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Apr 062021
 


Edward Hopper The Circle Theater, New York 1936

 

Global Vaccine Rollout Is No Longer A Guarantee Of Victory Over Covid-19 (G.)
Sunday US COVID Death Count Lowest In More Than A Year (JTN)
Nearly 40,000 Fans Attended Texas Rangers Home Opener (JTN)
‘Double Mutant’ COVID-19 Variant Found in the Bay Area (NBCLA)
Poll Finds Almost Half Of Americans Want Vaccine Passports (SN)
Federal Gov’t Will Not Mandate COVID Vaccination Passports – Fauci (Sp.)
Vaccination Does Not Prevent 3rd Wave: German Health Minister (RT)
Cures for COVID and Dangers of COVID “Vaccines” (HIN)
US Grant To Wuhan Lab Was Never Scrutinized By HHS Review Board (DC)
Publix, Democrat State Official Blast CBS ‘60 Minutes’ Smear Of DeSantis (DW)
Biden’s Most “Beautiful Thing” May Be Media Collusion (Turley)
Japan’s Central Bank Kicks Off Experiments On Issuing Digital Currency (R.)
CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business (NW)
Clarence Thomas: Facebook, Twitter Could Be Regulated Like Utilities (ET)
Putin Signs Law That Could Keep Him In Kremlin Until 2036 (R.)

 

 

 

 

Don’t want to get stuck in semantics, but if it is not now a guarantee, doesn’t that simply mean it never was?

Besides, calling for a global strategy of “maximum suppression” in April 2021 feels a bit like a time warp.

Instead, go figure out what you can do without “suppression”.

Global Vaccine Rollout Is No Longer A Guarantee Of Victory Over Covid-19 (G.)

If there are high transmission levels, and hence extensive replication of Sars-CoV-2, anywhere in the world, more variants of concern will inevitably arise and the more infectious variants will dominate. With international mobility, these variants will spread. South Africa’s experience suggests that past infection with Sars-CoV-2 offers only partial protection against the B.1.351 variant, and it is about 50% more transmissible than pre-existing variants. The B.1.351 variant has already been detected in at least 48 countries as of March 2021. The impact of the new variants on the effectiveness of vaccines is still not clear. Recent real-world evidence from the UK suggests both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisations from the B.1.1.7 variant.

On the other hand, the B.1.351 variant seems to reduce the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against mild to moderate illness. We do not yet have clear evidence on whether it also reduces effectiveness against severe disease. For these reasons, reducing community transmission is vital. No single action is sufficient to prevent the virus’s spread; we must maintain strong public health measures in tandem with vaccination programs in every country. Each time the virus replicates, there is an opportunity for a mutation to occur. And as we are already seeing around the world, some of the resulting variants risk eroding the effectiveness of vaccines. That’s why we have called for a global strategy of “maximum suppression”.

Public health leaders should focus on efforts that maximally suppress viral infection rates, thus helping to prevent the emergence of mutations that can become new variants of concern. Prompt vaccine rollouts alone will not be enough to achieve this; continued public health measures, such as face masks and physical distancing, will be vital too. Ventilation of indoor spaces is important – some of which is under people’s control, some of which will require adjustments to buildings.

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Just one point in time, but not entirely meaningless.

Sunday US COVID Death Count Lowest In More Than A Year (JTN)

The number of reported coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. on Sunday was 222, the lowest daily death toll in more than a year. According to the Johns Hopkins University data, this represents the lowest number of deaths since March 23, 2020 when the number was 192. “Many states either did not report over the weekend or did not have any deaths to report,” a Johns Hopkins spokesperson said, according to The Hill. “The California data portal was down yesterday and we are in the process of back-distributing the data,” the person noted. So far 18.8% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the illness, while 32.4% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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An experiment, just as the vaccines are a -much bigger- experiment.

Nearly 40,000 Fans Attended Texas Rangers Home Opener (JTN)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, thousands of fans flocked to attend the Texas Rangers baseball team’s home opener, though unfortunately for the home team fans, the Rangers did not emerge victorious. The team announced a sellout crowd of 38,283 at the Globe Life Field facility which has an even larger listed capacity of 40,518, according to the Associated Press which noted that the attendance figure does not factor in complimentary tickets. “It felt like a real game. It felt like back to the old days when we had full capacity,” team manager Chris Woodward said. “Was hoping we’d see how loud our stadium got if we gave them something to cheer about. Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Texas Rangers

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Prepare for thousands of variants.

‘Double Mutant’ COVID-19 Variant Found in the Bay Area (NBCLA)

A new variant of the coronavirus is in the Bay Area and it is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. It’s a double mutation and it is believed to be responsible for the surge in cases in India. Fresh from a vacation in Hawaii, some travelers mostly families with kids in tow arrived Saturday night in San Jose with the Big Island still on their mind. “We’ve been playing it really safe, but a couple factors really played into the decision. One watching the numbers go down and then Hawaii was really really safe,” said Kristina Barnes. But while Bay Area counties have reported a decline in new COVID-19 infections, a variant of the Coronavirus has been confirmed here in Santa Clara County.


Stanford Health experts have confirmed a new, double mutation of the coronavirus at least one case here in the Bay Area and more suspected. But it is still unclear if this new variant is more dangerous. “There is no definite evidence that this double variant is more virulent or causes more severe disease.,” said Dr. Dean Winslow with Stanford University. The three vaccines are also said to still be effective against the India variant. “Most people will mount an immune response. Maybe it will not protect against an all-out infection but at least it will protect against moderate or severe disease,” Winslow added. The India variant is believed to be more transmissible, leading health experts to reinforce how essential it is to get vaccinated.

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Thing is, those 44% want to push them on to others, not just themselves.

Poll Finds Almost Half Of Americans Want Vaccine Passports (SN)

A Rasmussen poll has revealed that almost half of Americans support the introduction of vaccine passports in order to get “back to normal.” The findings were released over the Easter period, and noted that 44% of Americans said that a government run system requiring proof of vaccination is a “good idea.” Fewer, 41%, said they think vaccine passports are a bad idea. While some described the 44% figure as “weak,” others pointed out it is still far too high.
The poll dovetails with similar findings in the UK, where a majority of 62% said they would support the mandating of vaccine passports to visit pubs or restaurants, while only 22% opposed the idea.

An even higher figure, 78% said they would mandate the vaccine passport for international travel, while 61% said it should be required to attend sports games and 58% said it should be mandated for public transport. The findings in the U.S. come as it was confirmed that the Biden regime is working with major corporations to develop a country-wide vaccine passport, and after New York has begun the rollout of its own vaccine passport system. In addition, the FBI is warning people against fake vaccine passports or COVID-19 vaccination cards. As National File reported, the Biden administration is working with major corporations to develop a vaccine passport system that would require Americans to take one of the controversial vaccines and receive a vaccine passport to engage in commerce.

The passport system is also being pushed by the mainstream media, with the likes of the L.A. Times declaring that vaccine passports are a “good idea” because they will help the Biden administration “break the resistance down.” Some lawmakers have vowed to resist the introduction of vaccine passports, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has signed an executive order banning them in the state, and revealed that he is working with the Florida legislature to institute a permanent ban. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has claimed that the Biden administration aims to force all Americans to have Covid-19 vaccine passports, comparing it to the “mark of the beast” prophesied in the Bible.

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The US strategy is to let corporations mandate them.

Federal Gov’t Will Not Mandate COVID Vaccination Passports – Fauci (Sp.)

The European Union and the United Kingdom are mulling the possibility of vaccination passports, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing that a passport system is currently being established, and UK PM Boris Johnson saying tests of “vaccine passports” could be conducted to ensure that large gatherings can again occur. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the US president and the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on Monday cast doubt on the possibility of the federal government mandating coronavirus vaccination passports in the United States. “I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said in a Politico Dispatch podcast.


“They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.” Fauci suggested that some independent entities could refuse to deal with anyone who is not vaccinated. “But it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government,” he said. The concept of so-called vaccine passports was introduced as a possible measure that could help to life back to normal following the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for international travel and large gatherings. In the EU, the idea was first vocally supported by Greece, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later announcing that Germany would implement a vaccine passport system, expressing hope it could then include the entire bloc.

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More calling for more restrictions. Nothing learned in an entire year.

Vaccination Does Not Prevent 3rd Wave: German Health Minister (RT)

The ongoing vaccination campaign in Germany will not be enough to stop the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned, urging the regions to return to lockdown measures if necessary. “Vaccination does not prevent the third wave, the third wave is growing,” the minister said as he visited one of the vaccination centers in Berlin on Monday, following the Easter holidays. Spahn also described the situation in Germany’s intensive care units as “worrying” and said that the number of people treated there increased to more than 4,000 over the Easter weekend. More than half of them are on invasive ventilation.

Spahn then called on Germany to “break this third wave together” by limiting contacts once again. The minister said that contacts should be primarily restricted “in the private sector, in schools, at work wherever possible.” He also pointed to the UK, Chile and the US as he said that even the nations with a higher vaccination ratio still resort to contact restrictions when necessary. Amid the vaccine shortages and delivery delays, Germany managed to administer the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to some 10 percent of its population in the first quarter of this year. Spahn expects this figure to double by the end of April. “We will now be able to do the next ten percent in a month,” he said.

Earlier, the German Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommended limiting the use of the British Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 60 years old due to the jab’s potential serious side effects in younger people, such as blood clots in the brain. Meanwhile, Spahn called on the German states to fight the third wave with lockdowns. Those regions that would see their average seven-day infection rate going over 100 should use the so-called “emergency brake” and re-introduce some restrictions, he said.

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Link from a commenter in yesterday’s thread, immediatedly invoking a “rebuttal” here.

Cures for COVID and Dangers of COVID “Vaccines” (HIN)

Dr. Ryan Cole is the CEO and Medical Director of Cole Diagnostics, one of the largest independent labs in the State of Idaho. Dr. Cole is a Mayo Clinic trained Board Certified Pathologist. He is Board Certified in anatomic and clinical pathology. He has expertise in immunology and virology and also has subspecialty expertise in skin pathology. He has seen over 350,000 patients in his career, and has done over 100,000 Covid tests in the past year. He recently was invited to speak at the “Capitol Clarity” event in Idaho, apparently sponsored by the Lt. Governor’s office, where he discussed successful outpatient treatments for COVID, and to offer his views on the new COVID “vaccines.”

Dr. Cole begins by showing statistics that prove Idaho is no longer in a “pandemic,” but an “endemic.” He states that the highest risk factors for contracting COVID are advanced age, obesity, and low Vitamin D levels. He also explains that coronaviruses have historically always followed a 6-9 month life cycle. He gives previous examples such as SARS-1, MERS, etc. One very interesting statistic that he pointed out is that in the U.S. the average annual age of death is 78.6 years old, and the average age of death during COVID has also been 78.6 years old. Dr. Cole is very adamant that proper levels of Vitamin D are essential to fight coronaviruses. He states: There is no such thing as “flu and cold season,” only low Vitamin D season.

Dr. Cole then goes on to explain that by law, the government cannot use experimental vaccines on the population if there are already effective treatments. So all of the current experimental COVID “vaccines,” which Dr. Cole himself admits do NOT meet the legal definition of a “vaccine” to begin with, are all illegal because there are therapies, such as Vitamin D, that are effective in treating COVID patients, as well as older already FDA-approved drugs like Ivermectin. He points out that the NIH (the National Institute of Health), which is a U.S. government agency involved with approving drugs, holds patents on the Moderna experimental COVID “vaccine,” which is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

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Get Fauci under oath. This is nuts.

US Grant To Wuhan Lab Was Never Scrutinized By HHS Review Board (DC)

An oversight board created to scrutinize research that would enhance highly dangerous pathogens did not review a National Institutes of Health grant that funded a lab in Wuhan, China, to genetically modify bat-based coronaviruses. Experts say the NIH grant describes scientists conducting gain-of-function research, a risky area of study that, in this case, made SARS-like viruses even more contagious. Federal funding for gain-of-function research was temporarily suspended in 2014 due to widespread scientific concerns it risked leaking supercharged viruses into the human population. Federal funding for gain-of-function research was resumed in late 2017 after the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework was formed within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The review board is tasked with critically evaluating whether grants that involve enhancing dangerous pathogens, such as coronaviruses, are worth the risks and that proper safeguards are in place. But the NIH subagency that awarded the grant to the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance to study Chinese bat coronaviruses opted against forwarding it to the P3CO committee, an NIH spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation, meaning the research received federal funding without an independent review by the HHS board. “This is a systemic problem,” Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard H. Ebright told the DCNF, referring to the loophole in the review framework.

Ebright said the offices of the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — the subagency that funded EcoHealth — and the NIH have “systematically thwarted–indeed systematically nullified–the HHS P3CO Framework by declining to flag and forward proposals for review.” Dr. Anthony Fauci leads the NIAID and Dr. Francis S. Collins heads the NIH.

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Cutting out pieces of video to make him look bad. Typical smear.

Publix, Democrat State Official Blast CBS ‘60 Minutes’ Smear Of DeSantis (DW)

Florida’s largest grocery store and a Florida state official, who is a Democrat, slammed CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening following a deceptive segment the network aired about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The segment featured reporter Sharyn Alfonsi ambushing DeSantis at a press conference last month and aggressively questioning him using a misleading narrative about the way that he has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. “60 Minutes” deceptively edited the interaction to remove nearly the entire portion of DeSantis’ response in which he thoroughly answered Alfonsi’s question and defused the central point of the segment. Alfonsi tried to suggest that Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had engaged in pay to play by donating money to DeSantis’ campaign in exchange for being awarded a contract to distribute vaccines in the state.

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” Publix said in a scathing statement slamming the “60 Minutes” segment. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.” Former Florida state Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, slammed “60 Minutes” over the segment, saying that DeSantis’ office did not push for selecting Publix. Moskowitz is the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management and has overseen the state’s response to the pandemic [..]

DeSantis

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“How can you remember details from your period of addiction going back 20 years, detailed in your book, but you cannot remember this laptop?”

Biden’s Most “Beautiful Thing” May Be Media Collusion (Turley)

News anchor Lester Holt recently declared that “it has become clearer that fairness is overrated,” adding that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.” Fortunately for Hunter Biden, that world is the one in which he lives and thrives. In interviews about his memoir “Beautiful Things,” some reporters either misstate the facts of his prior scandals or ignore certain leads, including potential evidence of a federal crime. Facts, like fairness, appear overrated to much of the media today. Hunter Biden spent the last few months evading questions, particularly during the 2020 election, when an abandoned laptop apparently belonging to him was found to have hundreds of embarrassing photos and emails showing drug abuse and raw influence-peddling.

He reportedly is under investigation for possible federal tax violations linked to his foreign dealings. Yet, one of the “beautiful things” in Hunter’s life is a media that imposed a pre-election blackout on the laptop story and continues to wrap him and his father in a protective press cocoon. That was evident in an interview by National Public Radio this week. The article by NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving stated categorically: “The laptop story was discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations.” That is entirely and demonstrably false. Widely criticized for that false statement, NPR issued a tepid “correction” for the article that now states: “Numerous news organizations cast doubt on the credibility of the laptop story.”

There was, of course, an easy way to confirm the facts, rather than citing other news organizations which also failed to pursue the story. Elving and NPR were interviewing Hunter — so why not simply ask him if the laptop was his? CBS News did ask that question and received a bizarre answer from Hunter that it might be his, or it might not be: “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 the — that it was Russian intelligence.” Or, perhaps, it could be alien technology from the Andromeda Galaxy. Hunter is denying any knowledge of the laptop’s authenticity, roughly seven months after its existence was disclosed by the New York Post and even longer since it reportedly was seized by the FBI. During that time, the story presumably was researched by the Biden campaign and by Hunter’s own lawyers.

U.S. intelligence concluded it was not Russian disinformation, even though Joe Biden claimed it was. His campaign brought forward 50 former national security officials to endorse this unsupported claim. The other parties on many of these emails have confirmed the authenticity and the FBi seized the laptop as evidence (which Hunter and his lawyers have been addressing in months of discussions with prosecutors). Yet, Hunter claims that he is entirely unsure if the laptop is his or possibly the work of Russian intelligence. One might expect some effort to explore that issue with a followup question: “How can you remember details from your period of addiction going back 20 years, detailed in your book, but you cannot remember this laptop?” Or: “Even if you cannot remember your own laptop, you’ve seen the pictures and emails — are those authentic?” Instead, the media showed the flag and then left the field.

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Richard Werner: “Bank of Japan, one of the bank regulators in Japan, moves further towards stepping into the arena to compete with the banks it regulates, by preparing to offer direct current accounts to the public (named central bank digital currency to get you off track)”

Japan’s Central Bank Kicks Off Experiments On Issuing Digital Currency (R.)

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) began experiments on Monday to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the BOJ said in a statement. The BOJ will thereafter move to the second phase of experiments that will scrutinise more detailed functions, such as whether to set limits on the amount of CBDC each entity can hold.


If necessary, the central bank will launch a pilot programme that involves payment service providers and end users, BOJ Executive Director Shinichi Uchida said last month. “While there is no change in the BOJ’s stance it currently has no plan to issue CBDC, we believe initiating experiments at this stage is a necessary step,” Uchida told a committee of policymakers and bank lobbies looking into CBDC. Global central banks are looking at developing digital currencies to modernise their financial systems, ward off the threat from cryptocurrencies and speed up domestic and international payments.

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While their corporate lobbying groups in Washington fight the plans. Divide and rule?!

CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business (NW)

Big restaurant chains are telling investors that a national minimum wage hike wouldn’t be a big deal—even as their corporate lobbying groups in Washington fight plans for a $15 minimum wage. “We share your view that a national discussion on wage issues for working Americans is needed—but the Raise the Wage Act is the wrong bill at the wrong time for our nation’s restaurants,” the National Restaurant Association wrote in a letter to congressional leaders in February. “The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from a fast-tracked wage increase and elimination of the tip credit.”

The following day, a top executive at Denny’s, one of the association’s members, told investors that gradual increases in the minimum wage haven’t been a problem for the company at all. In fact, California’s law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has actually been good for the diner chain’s business, according to Denny’s chief financial officer, Robert Verostek. “As they’ve increased their minimum wage kind of in a tempered pace over that time frame, if you look at that time frame from us, California has outperformed the system,” Verostek said on an earnings call. “Over that time frame, they had six consecutive years of positive guest traffic—not just positive sales, but positive guest traffic—as the minimum wage was going up.”

Denny’s is one of several publicly-traded restaurant chains whose executives have told investors in recent months that Democrats’ proposed minimum wage hike is not a real threat to their business and may even be a net positive, according to a Daily Poster review of corporate earnings calls. All of the companies have historically belonged to the restaurant association, which has led the fight against the Raise the Wage Act, legislation from Democrats that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

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“A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail..” “..what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”

Clarence Thomas: Facebook, Twitter Could Be Regulated Like Utilities (ET)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to signal that Big Tech firms could be regulated after Facebook and Twitter suspended President Donald Trump earlier this year. Thomas, considered a conservative on the high court, made the point during a 12-page submission as the Supreme Court issued an order that rejected a lawsuit over Trump’s blocking of certain Twitter users from commenting on his posts before his account was taken down. The Supreme Court said the lawsuit ultimately should be dismissed as Trump isn’t in office anymore and was blocked from using Twitter, coming after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against Trump.

“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties,” Thomas wrote Monday. “We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.” Thomas also noted there are arguments suggesting digital platforms such as Twitter or Facebook “are sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner.” Thomas made reference to the respective owners of Facebook and Google by name—Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin.

“Although both companies are public, one person controls Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), and just two control Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin),” he wrote. Thomas agreed that Trump’s Twitter account did “resemble a constitutionally protected public forum” in certain aspects, he noted that “it seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it,” possibly referring to Twitter’s ban against Trump following the Jan. 6 incident. “Any control Mr. Trump exercised over the account greatly paled in comparison to Twitter’s authority, dictated in its terms of service, to remove the account ‘at any time for any or no reason,’” he added. “Twitter exercised its authority to do exactly that.”

[..] “A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail,” he wrote. “But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”

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Putin is afraid Russia will be overrun by the West as soon as he retires. That’s what occupies him, not hunger for power.

Putin Signs Law That Could Keep Him In Kremlin Until 2036 (R.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that could keep him in office in the Kremlin until 2036, the government said on Monday. The legislation allows him to run for two more six-year terms once his current stint ends in 2024. It follows changes to the constitution last year. Those changes were backed in a public vote last summer and could allow Putin, 68, to potentially remain in power until the age of 83. He is currently serving his second consecutive term as president and his fourth in total.


The reform, which critics cast as a constitutional coup, was packaged with an array of other amendments that were expected to garner popular support, such as one bolstering pension protections. The law signed by Putin limits any future president to two terms in office, but resets his term count. It prevents anyone who has held foreign citizenship from running for the Kremlin. The legislation was passed in the lower and upper houses of parliament last month.


Zbigniew Brzezinski 1997

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Apr 052021
 


Piet Mondriaan Composition in color A 1917

 

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)
The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)
Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)
Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)
Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)
High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)
Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)
US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)
Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)
Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)
Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Barkley

 

 

Excellent.

Charles Hoskinson is the founder of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum, two cryptocurrencies.

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)

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“To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ ”

The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)

Johnson, Macron and Merkel have warned that the world needs a settlement to protect itself in the wake of Coronavirus. The question, as ever, must be: ‘who benefits?’ The answer, as ever, is ‘it’s unlikely to be you.’ “Out with nationalism and isolationism and in with international ‘Health and Security’!” That’s the cry from 24 world leaders, led by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The call for a new global ‘pandemic preparedness’ treaty came in a letter to the Daily Telegraph and in papers across the world. The letter uses words and phrases such as ‘solidarity,’ ‘global community,’ ’international cooperation’ and ‘protect’ repeatedly, to make us all feel that what is being proposed is for the good of us all. But is it?

If we read between the lines, we can see quite clearly that, while the plan is supposed to be about post-Covid pandemics, it is really about making sure that the draconian measures introduced since 2020 are maintained as long as possible. The ‘nobody is safe until everyone is safe’ mantra which appears at the end of the second paragraph in the letter, is saying to us – as Merkel and other globalists have strongly hinted – that restrictions cannot and will not be lifted until everyone in the world has been vaccinated. If you have any doubts, just take a look at the very next sentence, which states: ‘We are therefore committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics.’ Translation: ‘Africa, you’re going to take the vaccines we offer you whether you like it or not.’

To justify a ‘pandemic treaty,’ and other long-planned changes being implemented in its wake, they have to accord Covid a very special status. The first sentence of the letter boldly states: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s.’ But is that really true? Hong Kong flu claimed the lives of between one and four million people between 1968 and 1970. But it got a lot less coverage than Covid. There was no talk of a permanent ‘New Normal’ being established in 1970, or the need for a post-WW2-like settlement. Neither was there when HIV/AIDS hit in the 1980s. The UN says between 24.8m and 42.2 million people had died of AIDS-related illnesses by the end of 2019.

To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ A reminder: some 75 million people died in the Second World War – including around 27 million citizens of the former Soviet Union. 60 million Europeans became refugees. By contrast, the current number of deaths ‘with’ Covid is 2.8 million. Yes, that’s serious –and all deaths are very sad– but the numbers alone can’t explain why it’s Covid –and not other diseases which killed many more and came before it– which necessitates a ‘Great Reset’.

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6 states have now passed similar laws: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky.

Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)

AN ACT relating to exceptions to mandatory immunization requirements and declaring an emergency.


Amend KRS 214.036 to provide exemptions from mandatory immunization for any child, emancipated minor, or adult who, personally or by a parent or guardian, submits a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs; prohibit any administrative regulation, administrative order, or executive order from requiring during an epidemic the immunization of persons who submit either a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs or the written opinion of the person’s physician that such immunization would be injurious to the person’s health; require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop and make available on its Web site a standardized form relating to the exemptions from mandatory immunization and to accept the form after it is submitted; amend KRS 209.552 and 214.034 to conform; EMERGENCY.

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And so it begins.

Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)

The government is to trial a series of measures in England, including Covid passports, to allow the safe return of sports matches, events and nightclubs. Passes would show if a person had been vaccinated, had a recent negative test, or natural immunity. Trial events in the coming months will also explore how ventilation and testing before and after could help crowds return. Any use of passes would be “time-limited”, the sports minister has said. The pilots, which will include the FA Cup final, will last until mid-May, and some of the listed events will not be trialling vaccination certification, including those taking place in Liverpool.


Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston described the trials as a “learning experience”, saying no decisions had yet been made on processes or vaccination certificates. He said the earlier pilots “almost certainly won’t involve any element of certification”, and that the government would also be looking at mitigations such as one-way systems and hygiene measures. Mr Huddleston said the PM would receive a report on the trials at the end of May, and suggested further events could be added later in the year.

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Give people back the responsibility taken away from them.

Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)

Boris Johnson is to unveil a plan for routine, universal Covid-19 tests as a means to ease England out of lockdown, as the government faced a renewed backlash over the idea of app-based “passports” to permit people entry into crowded places and events. Six months after Johnson unveiled plans for “Operation Moonshot”, a £100bn mass testing scheme that never delivered on its stated aim of preventing another lockdown, all people in England will be offered two Covid tests a week from Friday. The prime minister is to announce the rollout of the lateral flow tests at a press conference on Monday afternoon, at which he will also outline a programme of trial events for mass gatherings, as well as proposals for potentially restarting foreign travel.

The testing scheme, involving kits for use at home or at test centres, workplaces and schools, is billed as a means to limit any continued community transmission of the virus, in parallel with the vaccination programme, and as a way to track outbreaks of potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants. The test-and-trace phone app will also be updated so that when pubs and other hospitality venues reopen everyone in a group will have to register, not just the lead person, with those who test positive asked to share other places they have visited. Some scientists have expressed scepticism at the plan, noting both the possibility of false negatives with lateral flow tests, and the need for better support for people to self-isolate if they do test positive.

Civil liberties groups and many MPs will also be wary if the new testing system potentially feeds into a regime of Covid certificates, which would use recent tests, vaccination or the presence of antibodies to the virus to determine entry to pubs or mass events. Sometimes also called “Covid passports”, these would be purely for domestic use, and would be distinct from a vaccination record to allow foreign travel.

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There’s a research deficiency about vitamin D deficiency. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials”?

High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)

A new research study at the University of Chicago Medicine has found that when it comes to COVID-19, having vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient may lower the risk of infection, especially for Black people. The study, published in JAMA Open Network on March 19, retrospectively examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19. While levels of 30 ng/ml or more are usually considered sufficient, the authors found that Black individuals who had levels of 30 to 40 ng/ml had a 2.64 times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than people with levels of 40 ng/ml or greater. Statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk were not found in white people.

The study looked at data from more than 3,000 patients at UChicago Medicine who had had their vitamin D levels tested within 14 days before a COVID-19 test. The research team is now recruiting participants for two separate clinical trials testing the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing COVID-19. This research is an expansion of an earlier study showing that a vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19. In the current study, those results were further supported, finding that individuals with a vitamin D deficiency had a 7.2% chance of testing positive for the virus. A separate study recently found that more than 80% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals,” said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in persons of color.” Meltzer was inspired to investigate this topic after seeing an article in early 2020 that found people with vitamin D deficiency who were randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation had much lower rates of viral respiratory infections compared to those who did not receive supplementation. He decided to examine data being collected at UChicago Medicine on COVID-19 to determine the role that vitamin D levels might be playing.

“There’s a lot of literature on vitamin D. Most of it has been focused on bone health, which is where the current standards for sufficient vitamin D levels come from,” Meltzer explained. “But there’s also some evidence that vitamin D might improve immune function and decrease inflammation. So far, the data has been relatively inconclusive. Based on these results, we think that earlier studies may have given doses that were too low to have much of an effect on the immune system, even if they were sufficient for bone health. It may be that different levels of vitamin D are adequate for different functions.”

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“..not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China..”

Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)

Republicans opened the door Sunday to supporting a pared down version of Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, saying concentrating on physical improvements would deliver an “easy bipartisan win” for the US president. Biden’s American Jobs Plan — the second massive spending initiative of his 10-week old administration, after a $1.9 trillion short-term Covid rescue bill — would modernize America’s public works and make its energy system greener. But the proposal announced last week faces major hurdles in Congress amid criticism from Republicans and business lobbies who oppose the higher corporate taxes that would pay the bill.

Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, implored Democrats to focus on the traditional pillars of infrastructure — “roads, bridges, ports and airports” — and not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China. Blunt spoke out as senior administration figures hit the Sunday talk show circuit to sell the policy to the American people as a vital component of sustained job growth. “I’ve reached out to the White House a couple of times now and said, you’ve got an easy bipartisan win here if you’ll keep this package nearly focused on infrastructure,” Blunt told ABC’s “This Week.”

That would not prevent the administration from later pushing through the other aspects of its plan on a partisan basis, he said. Blunt complained that the package contained more for electric vehicle charging stations than for physical improvements. “When people think about infrastructure, they’re thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports,” he told ABC. Blunt, a senior member of Senate leadership team, struck a more conciliatory tone than the chamber’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had earlier vowed to fight the Biden plan “every step of the way.”

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It’s become fully abstract.

US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)

It finally happened, that glorious moment, when, after teetering on the verge for weeks – for reasons we’ll get into shortly – the incredibly spiking US gross national debt, after kissing the line a couple of times for a moment, finally, and suddenly by a big leap, jumped over the $28-trillion mark, with a $143-billion leap in one day on Wednesday, March 31, following some big Treasury sales. It gave some of that up on Thursday as some bonds matured. And it now amounts to $28.08 trillion, as per US Treasury Department on Friday. The US gross national debt has now spiked by $4.7 trillion in 13 months since the end of February 2020, in the days before this show started.

The flat spots in the chart are the visual depictions of a charade unique to American politics, the periods when the debt bounced into the Debt Ceiling. Those were the days when everyone in Congress was still trying to hijack the Debt Ceiling law to get their favorite spending priorities! If it looks like the trillions have been whizzing by a little less fast in recent months, that the growth of the debt has somehow slowed, that is correct. The chart below magnifies the daily debt levels since December. On March 3, the debt level touched $28 trillion but only barely and just for one day, before backing off, and then kissed it again on March 17, only to back off again and remain tantalizingly close, but no cigar, until Wednesday, when it did the deed with one huge $148-billion leap:

The reason for this slowdown in borrowing is that the government sold a gigantic amount of debt last spring, adding $3 trillion to its debt in a few months, and then didn’t spend all of it, but kept the unspent amounts in its checking account – the General Treasury Account or GTA — which ballooned to $1.8 trillion by July, from the pre-crisis range between $100 billion and $400 billion. During the final months of the Mnuchin Treasury, it was decided to start spending down the balance in the checking account by borrowing a little less, and by early January, the GTA had dropped to $1.6 trillion.

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Erdogan wants to dig a new canal and bypass the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)

Turkey continues to threaten to depart from the 1936 Montreux Convention that governs free shipping through the Bosporus strait. The accident in the Suez Canal served as the excuse for the speaker of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Sentop, to imply as much last week, even if he had to go back on his statement due to the tense situation between Ankara and Washington. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also proclaims this departure when he wants to utilize it geopolitically and when talking about his announced pharaonic intention of constructing a second canal in the Bosporus – one unregulated by international conventions. Could Turkey close the strait and block the passage of both merchant and military ships between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, depending on what serves its interests?

According to the Montreux Convention, merchant ships enjoy freedom of passage and navigation in the strait, irrespective of their flag and cargo. The convention allows Turkey to militarize the strait and permits the Black Sea countries freedom of passage for military ships provided they give a week’s notice, and substantially restricts the passage of military vessels that are not from the Black Sea states (notification of crossing, tonnage restrictions, armament restrictions, aircraft carriers cannot pass, and others). All of this in a time of peace, which, however, is threatened by Erdogan’s controversial views on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the atmosphere in the Black Sea, reminiscent of the Cold War, where Ukraine is the epicenter of looming dark clouds and, according to analysts, will likely remain a source of global tension.

The Suez “heart attack” brought up questions on safe passage into and out of the Mediterranean, as much for the merchant fleets as the navies that move between the Red Sea, Gibraltar and the Bosporus, with the latter crossing attracting the attention of military and commercial organizations around the globe, given the volatile geopolitical situation in the wider region. Turkey, if it deems necessary, does not need to bar the gate to stop traffic in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. All it has to do is conjure up an accident by scuppering two ships in the straits, without being accused of violating the Montreux Convention. That is why the West is feverishly readying the “continental straits” between Alexandroupoli and Burgas as an alternative, while NATO equips the fleets of Romania and Bulgaria.

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And he really wants to. These guys sent an open letter warning about the Montreux Convention and he just has them arrested.

Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)

Turkey detained 10 retired admirals on Monday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a new coup following a letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals warning about a possible threat to a treaty governing the use of Turkey’s key waterways. The Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said arrest warrants have been issued for the 10. Prosecutors also ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age. The development comes a day after the letter was sharply condemned by the government, which said the move is “reminiscent of coup times” in Turkey’s past. Turkey’s approval last month of plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul comparable to the Panama or Suez canals has opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.


The admirals said in their letter that apart from its environmental impact, the new canal venture could undermine the Montreux accord. The convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits of civilian vessels in times of both peace and war. It also regulates the use of the strait by military vessels from non-Black Sea states. The new canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that are covered by the treaty. The declaration has drawn strong reactions from the government and officials. Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said the statement is “reminiscent of coup periods” and made the former soldiers “a laughingstock.” “Know your place and stay where you are,” he added.

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Probe started in 2018 and he just found out yesterday?

Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has expressed complete confidence that he will be cleared at the conclusion of the Justice Department’s probe into his finances. During a CBS Sunday Morning interview, Hunter Biden said that he is fully cooperating with the investigation. He said that he is “100% certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.” “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” he said in a statement back in December. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.” Fox News reported that “according to a source familiar with the matter,” the probe started in 2018.

Read more …

 

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– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

 

 

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Mar 252021
 


Mayfair Theater, Broadway, New York 1954

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Ron Paul on Lockdown

 

 

These will keep appearing. The virus is endemic.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Drip.

Cuomo’s Relatives Prioritized For COVID Testing (TU)

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


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

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Austerity killed the cat.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1984.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All your base are belong to us.

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

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

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

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

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“Tomorrow It Could Be Somebody Else”

Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against Trump Twitter Ban (Turley)

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

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

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

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Bellingcat is evil.

Bellingcaught (Maté)

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

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

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

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

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

Unnamed Western Officials Spread Dubious Claims About Iran (Antiwar)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Trouble With The Ghislaine Maxwell Case? (TF)

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


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

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Perfect.

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

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


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

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


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

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Mar 172021
 


Vincent van Gogh Peach trees in blossom 1888

 

Russia Stoked Ukraine Allegations To Undermine Biden – US Intel (Pol.)
Big Media Outlets “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods (Greenwald)
US Admits Waging InfoWar Against Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)
Biden Gets Away With Exactly What Cuomo Is Accused Of (Emmons)
Pandemic Blunder (Hirschhorn)
New Covid-19 Variant Found In Brittany May Not Show Up In Regular Tests (RT)
Why We All MUST Reject Vaccine Passports (Krainer)
Wall Street Is Greenwashing The Financial World (Fancy)
US Joins India And China In Ramping Up Coal Usage (ZH)
Courts Close In On Gig Economy Firms Globally (G.)
Getting Hyperinflation Right (Dmitry Orlov)

 

 

 

 

This stuff must stop, but it won’t. These idiots are endangering the entire world. And that wanking rodent Schiff pops up again too.

Russia Stoked Ukraine Allegations To Undermine Biden – US Intel (Pol.)

Russia tried again last year to help then-President Donald Trump win the White House, the U.S. intelligence community said Tuesday in a long-awaited postmortem — adding that a “primary” tactic in that effort was the spreading of corruption allegations involving Democratic challenge Joe Biden and Ukraine. But the effort fell short of the Kremlin-backed efforts to assist Trump in his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton, the spy community wrote in its unclassified assessment of foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. federal elections. And the agencies found no attempts by foreign countries to change vote tallies or final results.

“We assess that Russian President [Vladimir] Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at 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 U.S.,” the assessment said. “The primary effort,” the document added, “revolved around a narrative-that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014-alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other US officials and Ukraine.” It said Russia’s intelligence services “relied on Ukraine-linked proxies and these proxies’ networks-including their US contacts-to spread this narrative.”


Unlike in 2016, however, “we did not see persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to election infrastructure,” added the document, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Iran, meanwhile, waged a “covert influence campaign intended to undercut” Trump’s reelection bid without directly promoting his rivals in order to “undermine public confidence in the election process” and “sow division and exacerbate societal tensions” in the country. “We assess that Supreme Leader Khamenei authorized the campaign and Iran’s military and intelligence services implemented it using overt and covert messaging and cyber operations,” the examination states. The agencies found no efforts by China to interfere in the election, although one intelligence official maintained in a minority opinion that Beijing “took at least some steps to undermine” Trump’s chances, “primarily through social media and official public statements and media.”

Schiff

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Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia

Big Media Outlets “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods (Greenwald)

For a few weeks following the issuance of the Mueller report, Democrats and media figures gamely attempted to deny that it obliterated the conspiracy theories to which they had relentlessly subjected the country for the prior four years. How could they do otherwise? They staked their entire reputations and the trust of their audience on having this be true. To avoid their day of reckoning, they would hype ancillary events such as Paul Manafort’s conviction on unrelated financial crimes or Michael Flynn’s guilty plea for a minor and dubious charge (for which even Mueller recommended no prison time) or Roger Stone’s various process charges to insist that there was still a grain of truth to their multifaceted geopolitical fairy tale seemingly lifted straight from a Tom Clancy Cold War thriller about the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

But even they knew this was just a temporary survival strategy and that it was unsustainable for the long term. That the crux of the scandal all along was that key Trump allies if not the President himself would be indicted and imprisoned for having conspired with the Russians was too glaring to make people forget about it. That was why former CIA Director John Brennan assured the MSNBC audience in March — just weeks before Mueller closed his investigation with no conspiracy crimes alleged — that it was impossible that the investigation could close without first indicting Trump’s children and other key White House aides on what Brennan correctly said was the whole point of the scandal from the start: “criminal conspiracy involving the Russians . . . . whether or not U.S. persons were actively collaborating, colluding, cooperating, involved in a conspiracy with them or not.”


Brennan strongly insinuated that among those likely to be indicted for criminally conspiring with the Russians were those “from the Trump family.” As we all know, literally none of that happened. Not only were Trump family members not indicted by Mueller on charges of “criminal conspiracy involving the Russians,” no Americans were. Brennan believed there was no way that the Mueller investigation could end without that happening because that was the whole point of the scandal from the start. To explain why it had not happened up to that point after eighteen months of investigation by Mueller’s subpoena-armed and very zealous team of prosecutors, Brennan invented a theory that they were waiting to do that as the final act because they knew they would be fired by Trump once it happened. But it never happened because Mueller found no evidence to prove that it did.


The Advocate, Mar. 10, 2017

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“Combatting malignant influence in the Americas…”

Who’s the actual malignant influence?

US Admits Waging InfoWar Against Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)

The Kremlin on Tuesday called out what’s it’s dubbed the “unprecedented” propaganda war against Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The words were issued by spokesman Dmitry Peskov in response to widespread allegations that the Untied States is actively trying to dissuade its allies from purchasing the Russian-produced vaccine. This despite the emerging scientific consensus that’s found it to be at least 91% effective while further preventing inoculated persons from becoming severely ill. The Kremlin is responding to newly emerged proof that the US intervened with the largest country in South America, Brazil.


The Washington Post details that “Buried deep in the dry, 72-page annual report of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lay a startling admission: U.S. health officials under President Donald Trump worked to convince Brazil to reject Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.” Brazil has long stood as the second highest COVID-19 infected country in the world behind the US, with over 11.5 confirmed infections so far (with the US now approaching the 30 million mark). Here’s the key controversial section from the 71-page document. The section is entitled “Combatting malignant influence in the Americas”…

“Examples include using OGA’s Health Attache office to persuade Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine,” the government report spelled out explicitly. Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since claimed it never received directives or “consultations” such as are described in the report from the US, with a statement saying, “the Embassy of Brazil in Washington has not received consultations or actions from United States authorities or companies regarding the possible purchase, by Brazil, of the Russian vaccine against Covid-19.” Kremlin spokesman Peskov in his comments didn’t name the allegations specifically but only denounced generally that “In many countries the scale of pressure is quite unprecedented… such selfish attempts to force countries to abandon any vaccines have no prospects.

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“Cuomo is not liked and, now, not useful. If Biden becomes similarly expendable in the future, he may finally face the same kind of treatment.”

Biden Gets Away With Exactly What Cuomo Is Accused Of (Emmons)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of unwanted touching and sexual harassment. President Joe Biden has been accused of everything from creepily sniffing women’s hair to sexual assault. Yet Biden is the one who gets the folksy treatment, perceived as merely touchy-feely, while Cuomo, despite his status as prince of the pandemic press conference, could be facing the end of his career. Prominent Democrats have called for the governor’s resignation over the scandal. Seven women now say they experienced unwanted touching at the governor’s hands. Cuomo claims he never did it, and apologized for making anyone feel bad. By his own admission, Cuomo may be a little handsy. He’s said that “You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people . . . it is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

The public is meant to believe that it’s simply part of his charm. Contrast this to Biden in 2019, who said “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions, I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally or a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school for God’s sake.” Cuomo apologized and he’s going down. Biden refused to apologize, and he’s practically sanctified. “Social norms are changing. I understand that,” Biden said, “and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

But has he? He barely gave a glance at Tara Reade’s accusations, never mind the myriad other women who stepped forward to say that Biden made them uneasy either with touching or his penchant for sniffing. The charges against Biden are well-documented, but it’s Cuomo that’s in the hot seat, and Biden chilling in the Oval. A take down of Biden over sexual harassment charges is simply not politically expedient. But for Democrats, Cuomo has got to go. While they are loath to admit it, the outcry over the sexual harassment scandal is likely about something else. Cuomo is embarrassing for Democrats who praised him during the COVID-19 outbreak. An investigation by the attorney general’s office found that not only did the Cuomo administration undercount nursing home deaths by up to 50 percent, they did so on purpose in order to avoid political fallout.

The Democrats who are intent on hounding Cuomo out of office do not want the political fallout of the nursing home deaths. It’s easier to hold Cuomo’s hands to the fire over these allegations of unwanted touching than it is to deal with the intentional cover-up of elder deaths, in which they may find themselves to have been complicit. In short, Cuomo is not liked and, now, not useful. If Biden becomes similarly expendable in the future, he may finally face the same kind of treatment.

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Hirschhorn reached out to me after I published VandenBossche’s piece. I haven’t read his book -yet-. The video seems interesting.

Pandemic Blunder (Hirschhorn)

A huge amount of data and information not covered by mainstream media are in Pandemic Blunder that tells the story of how over 300,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 unnecessarily because the government has blocked early home treatment and prevention.  With 500,000 COVID deaths, learning about safe and effective early home treatment/prevention more important than ever. About the Book: Pandemic Blunder contains considerable medical information and data to support a number of proven safe, cheap generic medicines and protocols that knock out the coronavirus when given early. Read about the pioneering, courageous doctors who have been using innovative approaches to prevent their COVID patients from needing hospital care and facing death.

The book includes many expert opinions from doctors who support the view that 70 to 80 percent of COVID deaths could have been prevented—and still can be. Don’t be victimized by disinformation and propaganda from leftist media. Learn how corrupt forces are aiming to make billions of dollars from expensive medicines and vaccines, and how hundreds of thousands of deaths could have—and should have—been prevented! Pandemic blunder is defined as the failure of the United States public health system and federal agencies to support and promote early home/outpatient treatment for the COVID-19 pandemic disease. 

Considerable medical information and data convincingly show that when given early a number of proven safe, cheap generic medicines and protocols knock out the coronavirus. Early means within the first few days of getting symptoms or a positive test. Some pioneering and courageous doctors have been using innovative approaches to prevent their covid patients from needing hospital care and facing death. Many expert views of doctors support the view that 70 percent to 80 percent of covid deaths could have been prevented – and still can for future victims of the disease.  Learn how hundreds of thousands of deaths could have and should have been prevented.

This book does more than describe the pandemic blunder, particularly in terms of the influence of Dr. Anthony Fauci. It can help Americans protect their lives by not being victimized by disinformation and propaganda from leftist media.  Pandemic management has failed because of corrupt forces aiming to make billions of dollars from expensive medicines and vaccines. There has been a widespread dereliction of duty on the part of many local, state, and federal government officials.

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The virus is endemic. New variants will keep emerging.

New Covid-19 Variant Found In Brittany May Not Show Up In Regular Tests (RT)

France’s health ministry has warned that a new variant of Covid-19 found in the country’s north may evade conventional PCR testing, but initial analysis suggests it is not more contagious or deadly. On Monday, the Directorate General of Health (DGS) said in a press release that a new Covid-19 variant was being investigated after genomic sequencing confirmed the existence of 8 cases at a single hospital, where the new strain had been identified but had initially not shown up after PCR tests. The DGS said the new variant does not appear to be more contagious or deadly, although this is a very early assessment.


The statement adds that the virus appears to have evaded RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test results on nasopharyngeal samples. Instead, the diagnosis had to be made “by serology or by performing RT-PCR on deep respiratory samples.” The statement concludes by noting that the local authorities and prefectures are stepping up measures to curb the transmission of the virus, “as a precaution.” Measures include “speeding up vaccination, reminding people of the importance of social distancing and limiting gatherings.” In a message to healthcare professionals, the DGS said analysis carried out by the Pasteur Institute had revealed the new variant was “carrying nine mutations in the region encoding the S protein but also in other viral regions.”

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Freedom.

Why We All MUST Reject Vaccine Passports (Krainer)

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.
– Mohandas Gandhi


To ‘normalize’ vaccine passports, the idea is increasingly being discussed in the media as we trudge on through the umpteenth version of lockdowns. On Saturday (13 March 2021) I got accosted by the police in Cap d’Ail (south of France) for the offense of taking my kids out in the sun without having a justificatif. I have long lost track of the ever changing rules and shifting logic, but I didn’t feel like arguing. The police were just doing their jobs, enforcing shitty rules that harass and antagonize people. For example, I would have been allowed to be where I was if it were a working day, but since it was Saturday, it was verboten. The objective of such rules is nothing to do with public health; they are intended to exasperate us all to the point where we yield to the indignity of vaccine passports when they are rolled out, just so we can live our lives and be left in peace.

Alexis de Tocqueville understood the nature of this dumb, slow march of bankers’ tyranny. In “Democracy in America” (1835) he predicted that the society would fall into a new kind of servitude which, “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules,” which “does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the sheppard.” De Tocqeville’s book was published mere two years after President Andrew Jackson ended the Second Bank of the United States, and the struggles between the bankers and the society was very pertinent to his observations.


The small complicated rules are a sinister trap and it is imperative that we not fall into it. Even if we are ready to yield on vaccines and vaccine passports to end our present predicament, our children and grandchildren will have to live with the consequences of our compromises. We therefore have no right to decline this struggle.

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Former chief investment officer of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock

Wall Street Is Greenwashing The Financial World (Fancy)

The financial services industry is duping the American public with its pro-environment, sustainable investing practices. This multitrillion dollar arena of socially conscious investing is being presented as something it’s not. In essence, Wall Street is greenwashing the economic system and, in the process, creating a deadly distraction. I should know; I was at the heart of it. As the former chief investment officer of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world with $8.7 trillion in assets, I led the charge to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) into our global investments. In fact, our messaging helped mainstream the concept that pursuing social good was also good for the bottom line. Sadly, that’s all it is, a hopeful idea. In truth, sustainable investing boils down to little more than marketing hype, PR spin and disingenuous promises from the investment community.

In many instances across the industry, existing mutual funds are cynically rebranded as “green” — with no discernible change to the fund itself or its underlying strategies — simply for the sake of appearances and marketing purposes. In other cases, ESG products contain irresponsible companies such as petroleum majors and other large polluters like “fast fashion” manufacturing to boost the fund’s performance. There are even portfolio managers who actively mine ESG data to bet against environmentally responsible companies in the name of profit, a short-selling strategy. Risk managers are focused on protecting their investment portfolios from potential damages done by a worsening climate rather than helping prevent that damage from occurring in the first place.


As disheartening as this reality is, claiming to be environmentally responsible is profitable. Last year alone, ESG mutual funds and exchange-traded funds nearly doubled. The investment community understandably reacted to this with cheers. But those cheers were only for fund managers and their bottom lines. No matter what they tout as green investing, portfolio managers are legally bound (as well as financially incentivized) to do nothing that compromises profits. To advance real change in the environment simply doesn’t yield the same return.

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Green New Deal.

US Joins India And China In Ramping Up Coal Usage (ZH)

Major users of coal across the world are set to ramp up their usage of the fossil fuel in coming months. Power plants in the U.S. are expected to consume 16% more coal this year than in 2020 and another 3% on top of that in 2022. China and India also have “no plans to cut back” their use of burning the fossil fueld. In fact, “it’ll almost be as if the pandemic-induced drop in emissions never happened,” Bloomberg reports. Inevitably, this will result in higher emissions, which stands at stark odds with the climate initiatives that President Joe Biden ran on. Amanda Levin, policy analyst at the New York-based National Resources Defense Council said: “We’re going to see a really marked increase in emissions with coal consumption at U.S. power plants returning almost to 2019 levels.”

She says that changes to mitigate usage could happen quickly if Biden implements his planned green-energy policies. In the U.S., the ramp comes as a result of both costlier natural gas, and a broad re-opening from the pandemic. For India and China, the steady use is indicative of growing demand, despite the fact that both countries are trying to use wind and solar, as well. China’s power consumption, for example, has grown, despite the country reducing coal’s share in the nation’s energy makeup. President Biden’s upcoming infrastructure bill is expected to include plans to “fulfill his campaign pledges on climate change, making the U.S. best poised to salvage progress in reducing global emissions,” Bloomberg reports. In China, President Xi Jinping has committed to net-zero emissions by 2060.

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It will be a long fight.

Courts Close In On Gig Economy Firms Globally (G.)

Gig economy companies, including Uber and Deliveroo, have faced at least 40 major legal challenges around the world as delivery drivers and riders try to improve their rights. The analysis of 39 employment cases, and seven linked cases on matters such as competition law, covers legal action in 20 countries including Australia, Chile, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and across Europe. The cases have been brought by gig economy workers seeking access to basic rights, such as minimum wages and sick pay. Put together by the International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network of more than 600 lawyers from at least 70 countries, the report highlights a string of court rulings in favour of drivers including in Italy, where authorities have fined Uber Eats, Glovo, Just Eat, and Deliveroo €733m (£628m) for misclassifying 60,000 couriers. That case is being appealed against.

A court in Spain ruled last year that drivers for food delivery firm Glovo were employees and the government in Madrid has since announced legislation confirming delivery riders’ status as salaried staff. In South Korea, a driver working via the Tada van hailing app was also ruled to be an employee. Last month, the UK supreme court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays. On Tuesday night, Uber announced it will guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers a minimum hourly wage, holiday pay and pensions, in a dramatic u-turn which could put pressure on other gig economy firms to change tack.


Jeff Vogt, at the Washington DC based Solidarity Center workers rights group, said there was a clear trend towards recognising improved rights and employment status for those working for gig economy companies dealing with food delivery and taxi hire. “The courts are closing in on them,” he said. However, the report also warns that not all claims are successful and states must act to enforce the regulations as gig economy firms use their considerable resources to defend their practices. Tactics include contracts with mandatory arbitration clauses, which fend off legal action by forcing those with a grievance to pay costly administration and filing fees in the preliminary stages. This has proved a particular problem in the US.

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”..we have the technology to make hyperinflation safe, comfortable, convenient and fun for the whole family!”

Getting Hyperinflation Right (Dmitry Orlov)

The sheer mechanics of hyperinflation—of printing and issuing ever more notes, repeatedly exchanging older, increasingly worthless notes for newer ones, making payments using cartloads and wagonloads of cash—become increasingly burdensome. When it takes an entire suitcase of cash to pay for a pack of cigarettes or a bar of soap, soap and cigarettes themselves become a makeshift form of currency. Hyperinflation is most unpopular with people who insist on storing their savings in the form of cash. In response, they turn to buying up and hoarding other things, causing shortages and further driving up prices. But all of these problems can now be solved because we have the technology to make hyperinflation safe, comfortable, convenient and fun for the whole family!

However, this requires a change in mindset and a different approach to money. To start with, we need to recognize that money is not a physical quantity. It is dimensionless because it can only be measured relative to other currencies. Unlike any physical quantity, it is measured with infinite precision; any physical measurement, be it in kilograms, cubic meters or kilowatt-hours, has to have error bars on it to be meaningful, while monetary quantities, no matter how large, are precise down to the last penny. It is circularly defined: money derives its value from things that can be purchased with it, and these things in turn derive their price from the value of money.


Although money can be given a physical representation in the form of coins or paper currency, its essential nature is ephemeral, nonphysical and intangible. In essence, money only exists as pure thought in the minds of people who are involved in its exchange. Its physical embodiments are just theatrical props. Its reality is conceptual, similar to that of the irrational number π, which can also be given a physical representation—as, say, a one-meter-diameter circle carved in stone that has a circumference of π meters—but that would be pointless. Just as π is ubiquitous in mathematics, money is ubiquitous in economics.

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