Mar 142021
 
 March 14, 2021  Posted by at 9:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  34 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Woman sitting in a armchair 1910

 

One Year Into ‘15 Days To Flatten The Curve’ (Marsden)
Will Kids Ever Forgive Us For Depriving Them Of Their Childhood? (Bridge)
Lockdown Ending Could Trigger Anxiety For Many, Say UK Charities (G.)
Study: Vaccines DO Help To Stop Coronavirus Transmission – By 30% (RT)
Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)
Police Round Up Women Mourning London Kidnapping-murder Victim (RT)
If You Thought The Right To Protest Was Inalienable, Then Think Again (Malik)
100+ People To Be Charged In Storming Of US Capitol (RT)
Prosecutors Find No Evidence Of Wide-Ranging Conspiracy To Storm Capitol (RT)
Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)
The Cannibalization Is Complete: Only Inedible Zombies Remain (CHS)
Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)
The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)
Children Packed Into Border Patrol Tent For Days On End (AP)
CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)
The ‘American Dream’ Of Upward Mobility Is Broken (G.)

 

 

The US goes to Daylight Saving Time today, but Europe not until March 28. I know they do this only to confuse me, and it works. Every single time.

 

 

I am not vaccinated, but I do identify as vaccinated.

 

 

 

 

“The handiwork of government bureaucrats, the form aimed to fit each allowable activity in our daily lives into a neat little box.”

One Year Into ‘15 Days To Flatten The Curve’ (Marsden)

In the 12 months since states first started ordering citizens to stay at home under the pretext of Covid, we’ve come a long way. Particularly in our understanding of how illiberal our politicians can be and how supine we are.
One year ago, at noon on Tuesday, March 17, France went into total lockdown for the first time. Until then, Covid-19 was something of which we were faintly aware – background noise in our daily lives that was mostly relegated to Wuhan, China. But we all had that one moment when we realized that it was about to hit home hard. In my case, that instant came two days before the lockdown, when the local outdoor pool posted a sign on the door drastically reducing the total user capacity to just 100, right before closing entirely the following day.

On March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to announce what he described as temporary measures, to be implemented for at least 15 days. Only essential trips outside the home would be allowed. Period. Case closed. All in the interests of protecting the French healthcare system, the long-suffering victim of perennial government cutbacks, from being forced onto life-support as it tends to be nearly every year during flu season. The government’s drastic actions successfully convinced many citizens at the outset of the lockdown that the coronavirus must be on par with the plague. Macron opened the first few paragraphs of his national address with the phrase, “We are at war.” Yet even the government didn’t really know what it was dealing with at that point or how to handle it.

The fear mongering was, however, sufficient for people to panic and to accept whatever restrictions the authorities wanted to impose on them. “Stay home, save lives” and “15 days to flatten the curve” became the primary propaganda catchphrases. Then emerged the now-infamous French self-authorization form, mocked around the world. (It wasn’t until the second lockdown or the first or second nightly curfew that more people realized that they could really just tick off anything that they wanted since there was no real way for the authorities to verify claims, and that, in practice, police weren’t too interested in policing people for the “crime” of simply being on the streets.) The handiwork of government bureaucrats, the form aimed to fit each allowable activity in our daily lives into a neat little box.

One box for an hour of exercise, once a day, within a 1km radius from the home. One for a grocery run. One for a doctor’s visit. Public transport was reduced to a trickle as everyone was ordered to work from home with the exception of a limited list of workers that the government defined as essential. The term “essential worker” itself is offensive, particularly coming from government authorities whose income is a direct result of taxes imposed on the hard work of those it apparently considers unessential. The other irony is that when only the most essential workers as defined by the government were permitted by the state to do their jobs – the grocery store clerks, the maintenance workers and repairmen, the nurses and caregivers – it became clear how little their pay reflected their true value to society as defined by the government.

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Will they know the difference?

Will Kids Ever Forgive Us For Depriving Them Of Their Childhood? (Bridge)

Critics of lockdowns & school closures to halt Covid-19 have compared the effects to child abuse. And now that new data points to some deeply disturbing long-term psychological damage, it looks like they were right. Abiding by the new age medical maxim that commands ‘everyone stop living so that you don’t die’ is no way to live. Yet that is exactly how millions of youngsters have been forced to cope with a disease that poses, in the overwhelming majority of cases, no more of a health risk to them than riding a bicycle or crossing an intersection. And while socially isolating the youth may have spared a minuscule fraction from contracting coronavirus, the total impact such measures have had on the mental wellbeing of this demographic has been a disastrous tradeoff.

The results from the most inhumane experiment ever conducted on human beings are in, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting it happen. In a white paper published by the nonprofit FAIR Health, the consequences of lockdowns on the mental health of American students reveal what many people already know: “School closures, having to learn remotely and isolating from friends due to social distancing have been sources of stress and loneliness.” The real shocker, however, is how that statement plays out in real life. In March and April 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health claims among this young demographic exploded 97.0 percent and 103.5 percent, respectively, compared to the same months in 2019.

To break it down even further, there was a dramatic surge in cases involving “intentional self-harm” using a handgun, sharp object and even smashing a vehicle, as the more popular examples. The rate of incidence for such destructive behaviors amid 13-18 year olds jumped 90.71 percent in March 2020 compared to March 2019. The increase was even greater when comparing April 2020 to April 2019, almost doubling (99.83 percent). August 2020 was particularly active in the northeast sector of the country, showing a surge of 333.93 percent. Similarly major increases were found among the 19-22 age category, although not quite as pronounced as the 13-18 group.

Another sign that young Americans have suffered undue psychological distress during the pandemic is observable from the rate of overdoses and substance abuse. For those between the ages of 13-18, overdoses increased 94.91 percent in March 2020 and 119.31 percent in April 2020 over the same periods the year before. Meanwhile, substance use disorders surged in March (64.64 percent) and April (62.69 percent) 2020, compared to 2019.

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Growacet.

Lockdown Ending Could Trigger Anxiety For Many, Say UK Charities (G.)

The lifting of lockdown restrictions and the subsequent return to schools, workplaces and social events could trigger heightened levels of stress and anxiety for many people, UK mental health charities and experts have said. They say some, particularly those with mental health concerns, will be worried or anxious about the readjustment required by the lifting of lockdown restrictions as set out in the government’s gradual roadmap for reopening England. Dr Tine Van Bortel, a senior research associate in public health at the University of Cambridge, said: “Lockdown has given people with mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD permission to stay at home, and knowing that at some point you’ll have to go out again can actually trigger stress and anxiety.”

Rosie Weatherley, an information content manager at Mind, said: “Some of us might have found there were some unexpected plus points to lockdown – and therefore feel uneasy or anxious at the prospect of it being lifted. For example, we may be worried about ‘normality’ resuming, or not wanting to return to a faster pace with busier daily lives, and less downtime to ourselves.” She said it was “really important” for government and employers to provide empathy and support for those who need it “beyond lockdown lifting”. From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, will be able to meet in parks or gardens, and 21 June is the prospective date on which all legal limits on mixing could be removed.


Laura Peters, the head of advice and information at Rethink Mental Illness, welcomed the relaxing of restrictions and the subsequent reduction in social isolation, but said: “It’s important not to assume that everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone will have a different set of circumstances to navigate as restrictions start to ease, and it’s a natural human response to feel anxious in certain situations or during times of uncertainty.” Even among groups such as young people who are broadly optimistic about lockdown ending, concerns remain. A YoungMinds survey conducted in January found that while 79% of young people agreed that their mental health would start to improve when most restrictions were lifted, some were concerned that the end of the lockdown would happen too quickly and result in further lockdowns in future. “Again and again, young people said they felt like they were experiencing ‘Groundhog Day’, and above all they wish for an end to a cycle of freedoms followed by restrictions,” says the report.

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That’s less than vitamin D?!

Study: Vaccines DO Help To Stop Coronavirus Transmission – By 30% (RT)

A new study has found that Covid-19 vaccines stop people passing the virus on to others. The study is one of several with similar findings, and may pave the way for scientists to support the introduction of ‘vaccine passports.’ A preprint study posted on Friday has found that family members of vaccinated British healthcare workers were around 30 percent less likely to catch Covid-19 than those of unvaccinated workers. Though a reduction of 30 percent may seem minor, the study pointed out that these family members were also at risk of catching the virus outside the home, making the figure an “underestimate of the ‘true’ effect of vaccination on transmission.” We provide the first direct evidence that vaccinating individuals working in high-exposure settings reduces the risk to their close contacts – members of their households.

The study was carried out by researchers at a number of top UK universities and institutions, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Imperial College NHS Trust and the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine of University of Edinburgh. Elsewhere, Israeli researchers have also found that US drugmaker Pfizer’s vaccine is 94 percent effective against asymptomatic transmission of the virus, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently loosened its guidelines for people who’ve taken the jab, returning what the press termed “limited freedoms” to this group. However, health officials in the US have insisted that masking and social distancing are here for the long term, regardless of the efficacy of vaccines.


White House adviser Anthony Fauci last month stated that face coverings may be required until 2022, declaring that “there are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society.” The World Health Organization declared last month that “there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission,” in a statement advising against the introduction of so-called ‘vaccine passports’ for air travel. This advice is set to be revised in May, and the latest findings from the UK and Israel could bolster the argument for proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for international travel. Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at Edinburgh University, predicted that the UK study will pave the way for “aviation & international mobility [safely opening] up with testing & vaccine passports,” but added that doing so would raise “major ethical issues.”

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It’s become a joke.

Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)

It’s no surprise to me that the war against speech is accelerating. There’s desperation in the air everywhere. From the barricading of the U.S. Capitol since January 6th to the shrill calls for continued lockdowns over a virus mostly behind us, we see those with power lashing out trying to hold on to it. And it’s no more obvious than in the lockdowns on speech. In the past week we’ve seen another major assault on Twitter-alternative Gab. A massive attack on its security architecture handing out the passwords and information of millions of users to the dark web. Then Texas Governor Greg Abbott, you know the guy who let millions of Texans freeze last month rather than order the coal-fired plants brought online in defiance of the DoE, piles on calling Gab “anti-semetic.”

Abbott’s just doing what he’s paid to do, serve everyone but Texas. Gab CEO Andrew Torba then informed us that the attacks on Gab are far deeper than even a putz like Abbott’s. The relentless pressure to cut his company off from the doing business continues, with bank after bank refusing to do business with them. Torba’s invoking Operation Chokepoint is important here. It reminds us that Biden is a cypher put in place to restore Obama to the White House as functional president. Honestly, taking a step back, is this at all rational? All Torba and Gab want to do is operate a social media platform that conforms, ruthlessly, to the first amendment. Nothing more, nothing less.


It’s not like Gab is funded by foreign intelligence services spreading obvious agitprop and propaganda. No, sorry, that’s the job of the mainstream media and Twitter. I thought if we didn’t like the treatment we got on Twitter we could go ‘build our own’ and that would be fine. Separate but equal, freedom of and from association and all that. But, no, any competition that doesn’t adhere to the current orthodoxy of what constitutes ‘acceptable speech’ is now no longer tolerated. Free Speech is not an option. It’s an obvious coordinated assault from every angle to extend ‘cancel culture’ into a cultural revolution. Because it’s not enough to hound people whose opinions you don’t like from the public square, they have to be beaten out of society entirely, even if the means employed to do so are patently hypocritical.

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“The irony of it is so explicit – are you going to drag women off the street for protesting about a woman being dragged off the street?”

Police Round Up Women Mourning London Kidnapping-murder Victim (RT)

A London vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard — held in defiance of a police order amid the Covid-19 pandemic – turned ugly after large numbers of officers arrived and tried to clear people from the area.
Several organizers of Saturday’s vigil at Clapham Common were reportedly arrested, and footage from the scene showed clashes with police. One clip posted on Twitter shows several women standing on the edge of a bandstand where police congregated, including one holding a sign that says, “We aren’t safe in our homes.” Four women are then grabbed from behind by officers, pulled back and arrested after several people in the crowd try unsuccessfully to pull them back.


One of those women was shown face down on the ground being handcuffed by police in a photo posted by actor and political activist Guillaume Rivaud. Talk show host George Galloway, a former member of Parliament, called the shot a “fatal photograph” for Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick. Home Secretary Priti Patel said she has asked Metropolitan Police for a “full report” on what happened at the vigil, according to Sky News. One clip from the scene shows police being booed and shouted at by the crowd after they stepped onto the bandstand around 6:30 p.m. The March 3 kidnapping and murder of Everard, allegedly by a London police constable, became a rallying cry over the dangers to women on UK streets. Green Party politician Baroness Jenny Jones went so far as to suggest imposing a 6 p.m. curfew on all men.

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“There is a specific section on “imposing conditions on one-person protests…”

If You Thought The Right To Protest Was Inalienable, Then Think Again (Malik)

The next time you take part in protest, don’t shout too loudly, don’t get in anybody’s way and don’t cause a commotion. Best to sit quietly in a corner and whisper your grievances. That certainly would be what many governments would like. Authoritarian regimes, from Myanmar to Saudi Arabia and from Belarus to China, try to impose such curbs by brute force. Democratic nations rely more on “consent”. Consent, however, is a slippery beast, spawned from a process of constant negotiation and renegotiation between the authorities and a multitude of public voices. The pandemic has created a public health emergency requiring constraints on our rights and unprecedented levels of policing. By and large, the authorities have gained the consent of the British public to impose such restrictions.

The question now is how far an exceptional year has shifted our sense of what is acceptable and to what we will consent. One straw in the wind was the attempt by the Metropolitan police to shut down the Reclaim These Streets march on Saturday evening following the death of Sarah Everard. The police stance felt not just astonishingly ham-fisted in the wake of her death, given the public mood and the debate about the right of women to walk the streets safely and without restrictions. It also felt like the latest attempt by the authorities to take advantage of the pandemic to reset the balance of what is acceptable policing. Another straw in the wind is the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, published last week, to no fanfare, and about which there has been little discussion.

It’s a monstrosity of a bill. Its 296 pages cover everything from making it harder to prosecute police for dangerous driving to new regulations about unauthorised encampments (which appear to be aimed at the Traveller community), from setting minimum sentences for drug trafficking to encouraging the use of British sign language interpreters in courts. At the heart of it, though, is an assault on the ability of people to protest. The government has made clear that the proposed law is the product of a desire to curtail the kinds of protests we saw last summer with Black Lives Matter, on the one hand, and Extinction Rebellion, on the other. The home secretary, Priti Patel, has long expressed her distaste for the Black Lives Matter protests.

The official policy paper on the new bill begins with quotes from Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, on how the Extinction Rebellion actions demonstrated the need for new laws “to deal with protests where people are not primarily violent or seriously disorderly” but do cause disruption. The 1986 Public Order Act already allows police to impose restrictions on a demonstration if they believe it could create “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community”. The new bill extends these reasons for curbing protests: the police can curtail a demonstration if they believe “the noise” it makes is disrupting the “activities of an organisation” or has a “relevant impact on persons in the vicinity”. It does not matter how small or large a protest is. There is a specific section on “imposing conditions on one-person protests”.

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Not one firearm was confiscated. Not one shot was fired.

100+ People To Be Charged In Storming Of US Capitol (RT)

At least another hundred people connected to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol are expected to be charged with a variety of crimes, according to prosecutors. “The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will be charged,” claimed the prosecutors in court filings first reported by Fox News on Friday, noting that 300 people have already been charged and that the Justice Department is also “investigating conspiratorial activity” that may have taken place before the riot. They added that the investigation and subsequent prosecution “will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.”

Crimes being investigated allegedly include trespassing, violent conduct, assault against police officers, the theft and destruction of government property, civil disorder, conspiracy, and “firearms offenses,” among others. The court filings also claimed that over 900 search warrants have been conducted around the country since the incident, and that over 15,000 hours of footage has been compiled as evidence. Supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6, just two weeks before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, to protest Trump’s electoral defeat. One Capitol Police officer and four protesters died during the incident, and many others were injured.


The Biden administration used the storming of the Capitol to post thousands of National Guard soldiers in Washington, DC – where they have been positioned for over two months, despite a lack of violent activity in the area – and have requested to keep the soldiers there through late May, despite the National Guard Association calling it “completely inappropriate at best” and “illegal at worst.”

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“..the plan envisaged fending off possible left-wing violence, not storming the Capitol, his defense said.”

Prosecutors Find No Evidence Of Wide-Ranging Conspiracy To Storm Capitol (RT)

A US judge has ordered the release of retired Navy officer Kenneth Caldwell, accused of being part of an Oath Keepers militia plot to invade the Capitol, pending trial, as no evidence to back the conspiracy claims has turned up. Judge Amit Mehta said that Caldwell did not enter the Capitol building, nor was there direct evidence of him trying to force his way in. “There are no text messages, communications by him, that speak to entering a building or trying to enter the building. And ultimately, he did not enter the building,” Mehta said, as he ordered the 65-year-old’s release from jail. Because he did not breach the Capitol grounds, he was “differently situated” from his alleged co-conspirators, the judge said, ordering Caldwell to remain at his Berryville, Virginia home under GPS monitoring.

This conspiracy case is so far the biggest in the investigation into the January 6 riot, in which a crowd of Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and disrupted the counting of electoral votes cast in the presidential election. The conspiracy charges against Caldwell were among the first to be brought in connection with the events in Washington, DC. At Friday’s hearing, Caldwell’s attorney, David Fischer, pointed out that the prosecutors still have to provide evidence that the alleged sinister plan to infiltrate the Capitol actually existed. While admitting that no evidence was unearthed to support the conspiracy charges, federal prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy insisted that the militia was prepared to resort to violence.

“The bottom line from the government’s perspective is they were prepared to do violence in whatever ways they needed to,” Rakoczy, who was part of the Mueller probe into the debunked theory that former President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, said, according to Politico. Nevertheless, she admitted that prosecutors “do not have, at this point, someone explicitly saying, ‘Our plan is to storm the Capitol to stop certification,’” referring to nine alleged Oath Keepers who had been charged in February with a wide-ranging conspiracy “to commit an offense against the United States, namely, to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding” as well as entering the Capitol to that effect.

Caldwell was initially described by the media as the leader of the militia. His attorney later argued that Caldwell had never been a member of the group, and although he was involved in the Oath Keepers’ preparations for January 6, the plan envisaged fending off possible left-wing violence, not storming the Capitol, his defense said.

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”Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers, and credit card companies.”

Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)

The established ruling elites know there is a crisis. They agreed, at least temporarily, to throw money at it with the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP). But the ARP will not alter the structural inequities, either by raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour or imposing taxes and regulations on corporations or the billionaire class that has seen its wealth increase by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. The health system will remain privatized, meaning the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations will reap a windfall of tens of billions of dollars with the ARP – and this when they are already making record profits. The endless wars in the Middle East, and the bloated military budget that funds them, will remain sacrosanct.

Wall Street and the predatory global speculators that profit from the massive levels of debt peonage imposed on an underpaid working class and loot the US Treasury in our casino capitalism will continue to funnel money upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal. There will be no campaign finance reform to end our system of legalized bribery. The giant tech monopolies will remain intact. The fossil fuel companies will continue to ravage the ecosystem. The militarized police, censorship imposed by digital media platforms, vast prison system, harsher and harsher laws aimed at curbing domestic terrorism and dissent, and wholesale government surveillance will be, as they were before, the primary instruments of state control.


This act will, at best, provide a momentary respite from the country’s death spiral, sending out one-time checks of $1,400 to 280 million Americans, extending $300 weekly unemployment benefits until the end of August, and distributing $3,600 through a tax credit for children under the age of six and $3,000 per child aged six to 17 starting on July 1. Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers, and credit card companies. The act does, to its credit, bail out some one million unionized workers poised to lose their pensions, and hands $31.2 billion in aid to Native communities, some of the poorest in the nation. But what happens to the majority of Americans, who get government support for only a few months? What are they supposed to do when the checks stop arriving at the end of the year? Will the federal government orchestrate another massive relief package? I doubt it. We will be back where we started.

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“..a starving cannibal grabs a staggering zombie corporation to devour and the zombie instantly turns to dust.”

The Cannibalization Is Complete: Only Inedible Zombies Remain (CHS)

Setting aside the fictional flood of zombie movies for a moment, we find the real-world horror is the cannibalization of our economy, a cannibalization that is now complete. Every organic source of prosperity and productivity has been captured and consumed, hidden behind the convenient curtains of central bank intervention, “market forces” (hahaha), financialization and fiscal stimulus. All that’s left now are zombies feeding off the offal of stimulus. Sadly for the cannibals who’ve feasted so well for decades, zombies are inedible. So now the cannibals are starving. Poor cannibals! Once the stimulus runs out, no more zombies. Poor zombies!

The cannibals feasted on $50 trillion in earnings stripped from the bones of the workforce (Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018, RAND Corporation) and trillions more in fraud and financial gimmickry. And when the cannibals had consumed the bottom 90%, they moved on and devoured the next 5%. That left only the top 5%, which they needed to keep alive to maintain the curtains masking their ghoulish destruction. But after gorging on trillions for so long, the cannibals appetites can never be sated, so they ambushed their loyal toadies, apologists, lackeys, apparatchiks and sycophants of the top 4.9% and ate them, too, but a bit more stealthily because they still needed an army of toadies to do their dirty work.


The top 4.9% have been transformed into zombies so stealthily they still believe they’re in charge and wealthy–hahaha, the jokes on you! With nobody left to devour, the cannibals turned to their last resort: the Federal Reserve. Please print us up some more bodies to feast on, Federal Reserve. We demand it. We want it, we need it, we’re starving. Alas, the Fed can print currency to inflate speculative bubbles, but it can’t print real flesh for the cannibals. All the Fed can do is finance stimulus offal to feed the zombies. Sorry, cannibals, there’s nothing left to consume. There’s only inedible zombies kept alive by the Fed. There’s some sort of karmic irony in this, it seems: a starving cannibal grabs a staggering zombie corporation to devour and the zombie instantly turns to dust.

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Drip every day drip.

Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)

Disillusioned staffers are abandoning embattled Gov. Cuomo, sources said. “I hear that most people aren’t even coming into work, and the offices at the Capitol are empty,” said one well-placed insider in touch with staffers in recent days.“He’ll fight and fight and fight, but the staffers I’ve talked to are ready for him to hang up the gloves. Everyone feels like there is an inevitable conclusion — I mean at some point will Biden call on him to step down? They [staffers] just want this torture to stop.”Rebellion in the ranks deepened as Cuomo on Friday defiantly refused to step aside and blamed “cancel culture” for his downfall.


“I feel a level of rage toward this fake tough guy,” seethed a second source, an ex-aide. “The guy thinks he’s the toughest, the hardest working, he’s the smartest. The truth is, he’s anything but. He’s the weakest, he’s the dumbest, and he’s the most shallow of them all. He is genuinely a very small man who pretends to be big.” The former aide said many staffers are not coming into the executive offices, but choosing to work remotely or at vaccine sites instead. They are increasingly worried their careers are in jeopardy, just as they were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel after working around the clock for months during the pandemic. “Sometimes you have an ability to claim to be out in the field,” the ex-aide said.

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What job did they give Victoria Nuland in the end?

The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)

Several Russia watchers – Patrick Armstrong, Andrei Martyanov and Andrei Raevsky – are musing about a renewed attack by the government of Ukraine on its eastern Donbass region. The Donbass separated in 2014 after the U.S. driven coup in Kiev installed an anti-Russian government which then waged a war on its ethnic Russian east. There have been a number of reports about heavy Ukrainian equipment moving east and other hints of military preparations. Russia has seen enough such signs to issue a strong warning: “I would like to warn the Kiev regime and the hotheads that are serving it or manipulating it against further de-escalation and attempts to implement a forceful scenario in Donbass,” [Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova] said, commenting on the statement of head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group for settlement in Donbass Leonid Kravchuk on some “radical steps” of Kiev if Russia refuses to recognize itself as a conflict side in eastern Ukraine.”

Zakharova recalled that the Minsk Agreements clearly outline the conflict sides in Donbass as Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. “The unwillingness of Ukrainian negotiators to recognize this fact and their refusal to find agreements with Donbass is the reason that hinders the establishment of long-lasting peace in the region,” the diplomat noted.” The main catalyst for such a war is the sorry state of the government in Kiev. The country is in in the midst of a constitutional crisis: “[T]he Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) recently plunged the country into one of its deepest crises in its 30-year history. Specifically, on October 27, 2020, the Court declared that the main elements of Ukraine’s anti-corruption legislation, adopted between 2014 and 2020, were unconstitutional. In response, President Zelensky introduced legislation calling for the early termination of all Constitutional Court judges. Later, in December, he suspended the chairman of the Court for two months.”


“The result was widespread chaos in Ukraine’s political system. Zelensky’s actions were of questionable legality and provoked harsh criticism from all political sides. The ramifications of the Court’s decision include the cancellation of over 100 pending corruption investigations, a development that potentially could endanger future EU-Ukraine trade and economic cooperation Ukraine under the 2014 Association Agreement.” After the 2014 Euromaidan coup an ‘independent’ National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) was created to oversee the investigation and prosecution of corrupt state officials. The NABU has since been used by the U.S. embassy to bring criminal cases against those oligarchs it dislikes and to cover for those it likes. The constitutional court found that NABU is a criminal investigation agency outside the control of the executive branch which is a contradiction to the Ukrainian constitution.

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AOC!

Children Packed Into Border Patrol Tent For Days On End (AP)

Hundreds of immigrant children and teenagers have been detained at a Border Patrol tent facility in packed conditions, with some sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough mats, according to nonprofit lawyers who conduct oversight of immigrant detention centers. The lawyers interviewed more than a dozen children Thursday in Donna, Texas, where the Border Patrol is holding more than 1,000 people. Some of the youths told the lawyers they had been at the facility for a week or longer, despite the agency’s three-day limit for detaining children. Many said they haven’t been allowed to phone their parents or other relatives who may be wondering where they are. Despite concerns about the coronavirus, the children are kept so closely together that they can touch the person next to them, the lawyers said.


Some have to wait five days or more to shower, and there isn’t always soap available, just shampoo, according to the lawyers. President Joe Biden’s administration denied the lawyers access to the tent facility. During the administration of former President Donald Trump, attorney visits to Border Patrol stations revealed severe problems, including dozens of children held at one rural station without adequate food, water, or soap. “It is pretty surprising that the administration talks about the importance of transparency and then won’t let the attorneys for children set eyes on where they’re staying,” said Leecia Welch of the National Center for Youth Law, one of the lawyers. “I find that very disappointing.” Although none of the children reported situations as severe as during the Trump era, Welch said the lawyers “weren’t able to lay eyes on any of it to see for ourselves, so we’re just piecing together what they said.”

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This must worry them. Cuomo will get some viewers, but they need more.

CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)

CNN host Brian Stelter has analyzed the ratings losses of niche network Newsmax in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s exit from office, but his own team is taking the biggest viewership hit among major cable outlets. A report this week by Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP) showed that three of CNN’s primetime shows were the biggest ratings losers between November 30-December 4, when Trump was still in office, and March 1-5. Programs hosted by Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, and Don Lemon posted declines in viewership of 29%, 32%, and 33% respectively between the two periods, VIP’s data showed. As Stelter acknowledged in his article on the post-election ratings decline at Newsmax, “news ratings rise and fall like tides.”

But among mainstream media outlets, CNN is clearly falling the hardest after losing the so-called ‘Trump Bump’ in ratings. The fourth- and fifth-biggest decliners measured by VIP were both MSNBC shows – hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes – which lost 18% and 17% of their audiences, respectively. Lemon’s CNN show nearly doubled their losses with a 33% drop. In contrast, no other primetime show lost more than 12%, and Fox’s Tucker Carlson posted a ratings decline of just 4.8%. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was second-best in minimizing losses, at 9.1%. The final days of Trump’s presidency were perhaps the best of times for CNN. From the November 3 election through President Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, CNN was the most-watched cable news network, with an average of 1.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.


Fox, the long-time leader, dropped behind both CNN and MSNBC, averaging 1.5 million viewers. But the ranks quickly changed with Trump safely removed to Florida and the public’s appetite for Orange Man Bad conspiracies waning. Fox said it returned to No. 1 in primetime in February, while CNN lost nearly half of its audience. The losses grew after Trump’s impeachment trial ended in acquittal on February 13. When Biden gave a primetime speech on Thursday, nearly 4.1 million viewers watched it on Fox, compared with 2.9 million on MSNBC and 2.6 million on CNN. CNN is averaging 897,000 viewers in March, which Stelter pointed out is way more than Newsmax’s 152,000. But it’s about half the audience that CNN had between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Fox is once again far ahead, at 1.32 million.

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It’s been turned into a joke.

The ‘American Dream’ Of Upward Mobility Is Broken (G.)

The US has long prided itself as being an exceptionally fluid society with respect to social class and economic mobility. The American Dream holds that anyone who works hard can achieve economic success – perhaps even rise from rags to riches. Underlying this belief is the assumption of abundant opportunity and meritocracy. Arriving immigrants often believe they have come to a land of opportunity, with a level playing field allowing for advancement and success. Those who fail to do so tend to blame themselves. Yet according to recent research, the United States has far less mobility and equality of opportunity today than the European Union or other OECD countries.

First, the amount of economic advantage passed down from one generation to the next is much higher in the US. Approximately 50% of a father’s income position is inherited by his son. In contrast, the amount in Norway or Canada is less than 20%. What about rising from rags to riches? In the US, 8% of children raised in the bottom 20% of the income distribution are able to climb to the top 20% as adults, while the figure in Denmark is nearly double at 15%. Equality of opportunity is also much less viable in the US than in other OECD countries. American life expectancy varies by up to 20 years depending on the zip code of residence. Quality of education also differs widely depending on the wealth of the neighborhood that families reside in.


And the chances of being victimized by a crime, exposed to environmental toxins or having unmet healthcare needs is far greater for America’s poor than those impoverished in all other OECD countries. One of the reasons for lower US mobility is that the ladder of opportunity has become much harder to climb – because the rungs of the ladder have grown further apart. This is evidenced by the rising levels of income and wealth inequality. Currently, those in the top 20% of the income distribution earn nearly nine times more than those in the bottom 20%. This difference is far greater than in the European Union or the United Kingdom. Wealth inequality is even more skewed. In the United States, the top 5% of the population own three-quarters of the entire financial wealth of the country, while the bottom 60% possess less than 1%.

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Mar 132021
 
 March 13, 2021  Posted by at 9:41 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Times Square, New York 1954

 

DeSantis to Biden: Thought of Reinstating COVID-19 Restrictions ‘Insane’ (Hill)
Lockdowns Wrecked Democracy around the World (AIER)
3 Million Masks Used Globally Every Minute: Environmental Catastrophe (JTN)
More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine (USN)
US And Pacific Partners To Flood Asia With Vaccines (Pol.)
EU’s Green Pass Will Only Be Valid With EMA-Approved COVID Vaccinations (EN)
Europe’s COVID Vaccine Rollout Faces Even More Delays (ZH)
Previews of Coming Attractions (Kunstler)
OPCW Chief Must ‘Find The Courage To Address’ Douma Coverup Allegations (RT)
Andrew Cuomo’s Hilarious ‘Cancel Culture’ Excuse (NYP)
The Sovietization of the American Press (Taibbi)
Criticizing Public Figures is Not Harassment or Abuse (Greenwald)
A Green New Deal Is More Expensive Than Joe Biden Realizes (Mises)
Boris Johnson Says UK ‘Legally’ Obtained Elgin Marbles, Won’t Return Them (RT)

 

 

The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I’ll make it
– James Baldwin

 

 

UK: By end of January 88% of over 80s had been vaccinated. By end of February 95% of over 80s had been vaccinated. In that time, 75,000 over 80s died. 75% of them had been vaccinated by the time they died.

 

 

 

 

“We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”

DeSantis to Biden: Thought of Reinstating COVID-19 Restrictions ‘Insane’ (Hill)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday blasted President Biden’s warning that the U.S. could need to reinstate certain coronavirus restrictions if the public does not stay “vigilant” about defeating COVID-19. “To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it’s insane,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Florida, touting the state’s efforts to administer vaccines to the elderly and other populations. “That’s not gonna happen in the state of Florida,” the governor continued, referring to reinstating restrictions. “We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”


Biden has repeatedly vowed to not lock down the country but warned in a prime-time address Thursday night that some restrictions may have to be revisited if current downward trends change and the virus resurges. He emphasized, though, that his administration is focused on helping the nation return to normal. “Even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity,” Biden said. “And national unity isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington, what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do as fellow Americans. Because if we don’t say vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track.” “And, please, we don’t want to do that again,” he added.

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“The logic of these policies is that we must be locked down for ever simply because the world is a dangerous place.”

Lockdowns Wrecked Democracy around the World (AIER)

While the number of fatalities attributed to Covid-19 is carefully tracked by governments, few people have recognized how pandemic-spurred crackdowns have devastated democracy around the world. Emergency proclamations have entitled presidents and other government officials to seize vast new powers previously forbidden to them. Government bureaucrats became a new priesthood that could sanctify unlimited sacrifices merely by invoking dubious statistical extrapolations of future perils. In October, Freedom House issued a report, Democracy under Lockdown – The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Freedom, which warned that since the pandemic started, “the condition of democracy and human rights has worsened in 80 countries.”

Sarah Repucci, co-author of the report, warned that “governments’ responses to the pandemic are eroding the pillars of democracy around the world.” Abuses of power have been propelled by a presumption that government officials are entitled to all the power they claim to need to keep people safe. When the pandemic arrived in America, governors in many states responded by dropping the equivalent of a Reverse Neutron Bomb – something which destroys the economy while supposedly leaving human beings unharmed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set the standard when he effectively declared that he was entitled to inflict any burden on his state’s residents to “save just one life.” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer prohibited anyone from leaving their home to visit family or friends.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti banned people from walking or bicycling outside. More than ten million jobs were lost thanks to lockdowns, a major reason why life expectancy in the United States last year had its sharpest plunge since World War Two. Australia imposed some of the most heavy-handed restrictions. In August, the state of Victoria dictated an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for the Melbourne area and prohibited people from venturing more than three miles from their residence. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews decreed: “Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks.” Melbourne has been hit by repeated lockdowns since then. Britain unleashed some of the most absurd restrictions. In June, it prohibited couples who live in different homes from having sex indoors. The Independent (U.K.) noted, “People who have sex outside can be punished under pre-existing laws on outraging public decency and indecent exposure.”

Steve Watson reported in January for Summit News that British cabinet ministers “ have privately debated preventing people from talking to each other in the street and in supermarkets, and even preventing people from leaving home more than once per week, and introducing curfews.” British vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi fretted, “I’m worried about some of the pictures I’ve seen of social interactions in parks, if you have to exercise you can go out for exercise only.” Apparently, a national vow of silence is necessary to fight Covid. Summit News noted, “Police are also demanding new powers to force entry into the homes of suspected lockdown violators.” Former British Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption complained last month, “Foreign travel is being prohibited, turning us into a hermit island on the basis we cannot know what mutations may be lurking out there. The logic of these policies is that we must be locked down for ever simply because the world is a dangerous place.”

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“129 billion face masks [are] being used globally every month” to achieve, according to the CDC, a 1.32% reduction in virus spread.

3 Million Masks Used Globally Every Minute: Environmental Catastrophe (JTN)

Researchers are warning that heavy mask usage over the course of the coronavirus pandemic could be contributing to a looming environmental disaster, with millions of masks being used every minute and many of them polluting local ecosystems in the process. Researchers in the U.S. and Denmark estimated in a study in Frontiers in Environmental Science that “an astounding 129 billion face masks [are] being used globally every month,” a number that works out to three million every minute. “Most are disposable face masks made from plastic microfibers,” the researchers note.


With mask usage skyrocketing to unprecedented highs over the past year due to beliefs that masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19, the scientists note that “there is no official guidance on mask recycle, making it more likely to be disposed of as solid waste.” “When not properly collected and managed, masks can be transported from land into freshwater and marine environments by surface run-off, river flows, oceanic currents, wind, and animals,” they warn. The researchers note that, due to the likelihood of COVID-19 becoming an endemic disease among the global population, “It is imperative to launch coordinated efforts from environmental scientists, medical agencies, and solid waste managing organizations, and the general public to minimize the negative impacts of disposal mask, and eventually prevent it from becoming another too-big-to- handle problem.”

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Bad PR.

More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine (USN)

Bulgaria and Thailand join a growing list of countries that are pausing the vaccine’s rollout over health concerns, including Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha canceled plans to publicly receive the vaccine and Thai officials have delayed the vaccine rollout while they consider the issue of any potential link between the vaccine and adverse outcomes, Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, a senior member of Thailand’s vaccine committee, said in a news conference on Friday. Officials say they will wait for the results of investigations in Denmark, which paused the vaccine’s use for two weeks, and by health organizations in Europe before making any further decisions. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has asked the European Medicines Agency to dismiss doubts about the vaccine’s safety before resuming vaccinations in the country.


“I have temporarily suspended the administration of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Bulgaria until a written statement came from the European Medicines Agency that it is safe,” he said. “Until all doubts are dropped and experts do not guarantee that it does not pose a risk to humans, the immunization with this vaccine in our country will be stopped.” Despite the pause in some countries, Germany will continue to immunize its residents with the vaccine. “We are planning to continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca, just like an overall majority of other European countries,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday. The United Kingdom, Spain, France and the Netherlands have all also said they will continue using the vaccine.

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This feels very incompetent.

US And Pacific Partners To Flood Asia With Vaccines (Pol.)

A new vaccine partnership agreed between the United States, Japan, India and Australia plans to flood Asian and Pacific island nations with “at least” 1 billion Covid vaccine doses by 2022. There’s of course a political strategy behind the humanitarianism — to outflank Chinese influence across Asia. The rhetoric is lofty: “It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a video message launching the partnership. The early focus of the Quad alliance on “positive sum cooperation” and “public goods provision” would be a difficult narrative for China to counter, said Andrew Small, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Asia program, who suggested this might provide a model for American alliance-building during the Biden administration.

The centerpiece of the Quad Vaccine Partnership is an Indian production drive to deliver the billion extra doses by the end of 2022, building on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called India’s “formidable vaccine production capacity.” But the Quad is joining the global vaccine diplomacy game late — China and Russia have been striking deals and delivering donated doses to more than 50 countries largely shunned by Western vaccine makers. The Quad partnership launching as a set of goals without an implementation plan — leaders promised to set up an expert group to manage the partnership — there’s a lot of catching up to do. The Quad will also need to navigate carefully with COVAX, which has begun delivering the first 300 million of a planned 2 billion doses to mostly low and middle-income countries.

While the Quad partners are all members of COVAX and insist they will work cooperatively with the project, delivering the billion extra doses may be more complicated than simply boosting Indian capacity. Officials from the World Health Organization and the Serum Institute of India have warned that an existing U.S. ban on exporting raw materials for vaccines is straining COVAX’s ability to quickly deliver the doses it has promised the world.

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Nobody wants to understand how scary this is. Freedom is a basic right.

EU’s Green Pass Will Only Be Valid With EMA-Approved COVID Vaccinations (EN)

An EU source has told Euronews that the Green Pass proposal, to be put forward on March 17th to aid free movement within the bloc, will only be valid with EMA-approved vaccinations. Why? Because the vaccinations from unapproved companies will not be covered by the EU liability clause and quality control. The source reported that EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders made it clear that member states were free to get their citizens vaccinated by other products, but they would not be allocated a licensed travel certificate unless their jab had been from an approved company, of which there are currently four. Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson.

The duration of the digital green certificate should be limited to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU source said, adding that tests and quarantine will continue to be the enablers of free movement. Thus, vaccination does not become a pre-condition for free movement. The certificate will be available in digital and paper-based format. Reynders indicated Thursday that data protection and possible discrimination remained key concerns for the European Commission working on a proposal for a COVID-19 travel certificate. But Friday’s leak shows that there is a focus on vaccination selection. Reynders is aiming to fast-track the proposal at the European Parliament, leading to a “binding instrument” for all member states before the summer.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said it would be technically possible to develop a “green pass” within about three months using data indicating whether a person has been vaccinated, tested negative, or is immune after contracting the disease, but that many political issues must first be resolved. The certificates could help smooth a return to air travel and possibly avoid another disastrous summer holiday season, as the tourism industry and broader economies suffer from restrictions. Southern European countries dependent on tourism, like Greece, Spain and Portugal, support such a system, but their northern EU partners, like Germany, have reservations over whether such certificates would work.

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There will be many more of these issues.

Europe’s COVID Vaccine Rollout Faces Even More Delays (ZH)

Earlier today, a smattering of European nations halted vaccinations for at least some AstraZeneca COVID vaccine jabs amid an investigation into whether the jabs contributed to dangerous blood clots that led to at least one death. And as if this wasn’t a big enough problem for one day, Bloomberg reports that manufacturing issues are plaguing AstraZeneca’s manufacturing facilities, creating more obstacles to distribution. And now European governments are bracing for further delays. Good thing Italy refused to send that one shipment of jabs to Australia. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“European Union governments are bracing for further possible delays in the distribution of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine after a warning from the European Commission that the manufacturer remains a problem, according to a diplomatic note seen by Bloomberg. Astra Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said last month the company would look at tapping international supply chains to make up for some of the shortfall, including production in the U.S. It’s revised its delivery schedule multiple times, most recently committing to 40 million doses this quarter and 180 million in the second from an earlier goal of about 280 million across both periods. But at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, diplomats were told by senior EU officials that Astra continues to be “problematic.” They also heard that Johnson & Johnson, which could get market authorization from the European Medicines Agency on Thursday, has yet to provide a delivery schedule for its vaccine.”

As a result, Brussels said Thursday it plans to extend its vaccine export control mechanism to the end of June from mid-March, citing “persistent delays” in some deliveries. On the US side, President Joe Biden just ordered another 100MM jabs from JNJ, and it’s possible more might be on the way, limiting the supply available for absorption by Germany, France and the other 25 EU members. “On J&J, the EU had said in January that under the contract, the company would fill and finish a portion of its EU supply in the U.S., prompting concerns among some governments. The EU said at the time that it didn’t expect this to impact deliveries. This week the commission told diplomats that it was looking into the possibility of finding some of that fill-finish capacity in other third countries as it wasn’t readily available in the EU, according to the note of the meeting.”:

In what could be a silver lining, a UK study published Thursday showed the Novovax jab was found to offer 100% protection from “severe” COVID. At this point, the US will soon be facing a glut of supply, so Europe’s problem will likely clear up once the next round of vaccines are approved in the US.

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“Mostly what did not fly is the idea that the Covid-19 virus can still be used as a cattle-prod for herding citizens into feedlots of compliance — Americans are buffalos, not steers. ”

Previews of Coming Attractions (Kunstler)

How reassured were you by Joe Biden’s speech to the nation Thursday night? The more his managers pretend that he’s in charge of anything, the more unlikely it actually seems. So, they wound him up — Adderall would be my guess, to fortify the attention span — and rolled him out like the mummy of Amenhotep III, and one could just imagine the leaders of this-and-that foreign nation cringing (or cackling) in their seats to see this embodiment of collapsing America go through his spiritless ritual motions. Mostly what did not fly is the idea that the Covid-19 virus can still be used as a cattle-prod for herding citizens into feedlots of compliance — Americans are buffalos, not steers.

They are determined now to take care of business, and the main business of people with any initiative will be to rig up some sort of gainful occupation while the lumbering old systems break down. They will do it despite orders to operate at fifty percent capacity, or close at nine o’clock, or be handcuffed by rinky-dink regulations. They’ll have to get creative to figure out ways around all the official impediments to making a living. This group of the not-yet-undead will resist further attempts to restrict their liberty and to steal the fruits of their own enterprise to pay for other people’s failures or lack of enterprise. The federal government is one system visibly working to destroy itself with epic giveaways of money it pretends to command and the Covid-19 Stimulus bill will only accelerate its loss of credibility.

A $1,400 check won’t “solve” the problem of someone a year behind on mortgage payments or rent. It sure won’t solve the problems of their creditors and landlords. And if you think shortchanging that class of people is a good idea, you’re beating a path straight to the death of credit per se, and then of our money, the dollar, which is based on credit. Taxpayers are not so stupid that they’ll fail to notice who is being asked to bail out bankrupt states, irresponsible cities, and pension funds and there’s going to be trouble over that. The trouble will express itself both in political strife and in the further decay of the relationship between work and wealth. It means a collapsing standard of living for most people. Turning the one-shot $1,400 into a monthly Guaranteed Basic Income can only be a short-term shuck-and-jive when a loaf of bread goes from $5 to $15 to $50 — which can happen easily, and quickly, too, as lots of “free” money chases crashing productivity. Wait for it.

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And take Bellingcat down with it please.

OPCW Chief Must ‘Find The Courage To Address’ Douma Coverup Allegations (RT)

The scandal surrounding alleged manipulation of scientific data in the chemical weapons watchdog the OPCW, ignored by both the organization and the mainstream media, is only getting worse with time, a pro-whistleblower group said. A new statement from whistleblower-supporting organization the Courage Foundation complains that the leadership of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has failed to properly address accusations of a coverup involving the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018. Instead it tried to “side-step the issue” entirely by targeting directly and apparently indirectly the whistleblowers who brought their concerns about the integrity of the OPCW’s investigation of the incident into public view.

The statement was signed by almost 30 public figures, including author Noam Chomsky, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, and musician and activist Roger Waters. The list also includes multiple scientists, including four former OPCW inspectors, as well as the organization’s founding director, Jose Bustani. “We believe that the interests of the OPCW are best served by the Director General [Fernando Arias] providing a transparent and neutral forum in which the concerns of all the investigators can be heard as well as ensuring that a fully objective and scientific investigation is completed,” the group said.

Arias should “find the courage to address the problems within his organization relating to this investigation and ensure States Parties and the United Nations are informed accordingly. In this way we hope and believe that the credibility and integrity of the OPCW can be restored.” The Douma incident happened in a jihadist-controlled neighbourhood of Damascus, which was on the cusp of being captured by the Syrian government forces at the time. The predominant narrative about it in the Western media was that the Syrian army deployed chlorine gas by dropping canisters from a helicopter, killing scores of civilians as a result. The US, the UK and France launched barrages of missiles at Syrian government targets days later in retaliation for the purported atrocity.

Tucker OPCW
https://twitter.com/i/status/1370571845267681280

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I think Cuomo is going to fight till the end. That’s his mindset.

Andrew Cuomo’s Hilarious ‘Cancel Culture’ Excuse (NYP)

In keeping with his obstinate posture of denial and deflection, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come up with a new excuse for his woes: cancel culture. Yes, Albany’s tyrant, accused now by seven women of sexual harassment, the target of a federal investigation into underreporting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, asked to resign by the majority of New York house Democrats and the National Organization for Women, abandoned by the New York Times, New York magazine and other house organs of the left-leaning media, subject of a just-opened police investigation in Albany — yes, Andrew Cuomo is simply a victim of the woke mob (e.g. crazy, hysterical ladies). “People know the difference between playing to politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth,” Cuomo said Friday afternoon.

This is as laughable as his brother Chris’s claim last week that to cover his brother’s scandals would be journalistically unethical — despite Chris hosting Andrew on CNN constantly during the pandemic’s height. “Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” Cuomo said. “The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes an opinion without knowing any facts or substance.” Says the man who demanded Eric Schneiderman immediately resign after abuse claims, no investigation necessary. Says the man who insisted that Brett Kavanaugh needed to take a lie detector test.

Clearly, Andrew Cuomo still considers himself America’s hero. Remember “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” — the quickie book he wrote in the middle of this nightmare, New York among the worst-hit in the country, pocketing a reported seven-figure advance despite dead bodies stacked in unrefrigerated trucks and buried in mass graves here? Square that circle.

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“He checks almost every box as a comic subject..”

The Sovietization of the American Press (Taibbi)

The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with. [..] Forget that the “impregnable to parody” pol spent the last campaign year jamming fingers in the sternums of voters, challenging them to pushup contests, calling them “lying dog-faced pony soldiers,” and forgetting what state he was in. Biden, on the day Zoglin ran his piece, couldn’t remember the name of his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and referred to the Department of Defense as “that outfit over there”:

It doesn’t take much looking to find comedians like James Adomian and Anthony Atamaniuk ab-libbing riffs on Biden with ease. He checks almost every box as a comic subject, saying inappropriate things, engaging in wacky Inspector Clouseau-style physical stunts (like biting his wife’s finger), and switching back and forth between outbursts of splenetic certainty and total cluelessness. The parody doesn’t even have to be mean — you could make it endearing cluelessness. But to say nothing’s there to work with is bananas. The first 50 days of Biden’s administration have been a surprise on multiple fronts. The breadth of his stimulus suggests a real change from the Obama years, while hints that this administration wants to pick a unionization fight with Amazon go against every tendency of Clintonian politics.

But it’s hard to know what much of it means, because coverage of Biden increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions. When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the “cost” of “breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies” was too high, the New York Times headline read: “Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.” When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because “the world is a very dangerous place” and “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage.

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Some strange people at the Paper of Record.

Criticizing Public Figures is Not Harassment or Abuse (Greenwald)

One of the Paper of Record’s star reporters, Taylor Lorenz, has been much discussed of late. That is so for three reasons. The first is that the thirty-six-year-old tech and culture reporter has helped innovate a new kind of reportorial beat that seems to have a couple of purposes. She publishes articles exploring in great detail the online culture of teenagers and very young adults, which, as a father of two young Tik-Tok-using children, I have found occasionally and mildly interesting. She also seeks to catch famous and non-famous people alike using bad words or being in close digital proximity to bad people so that she can alert the rest of the world to these important findings. It is natural that journalists who pioneer a new form of reporting this way are going to be discussed.

The second reason Lorenz is the topic of recent discussion is that she has been repeatedly caught fabricating claims about influential people, and attempting to ruin the reputations and lives of decidedly non-famous people. In the last six weeks alone, she twice publicly lied about Netscape founder Marc Andreessen: once claiming he used the word “retarded” in a Clubhouse room in which she was lurking (he had not) and then accusing him of plotting with a white nationalist in a different Clubhouse room to attack her (he, in fact, had said nothing).

She also often uses her large, powerful public platform to malign private citizens without any power or public standing by accusing them of harboring bad beliefs and/or associating with others who do. (She is currently being sued by a citizen named Arya Toufanian, who claims Lorenz has used her private Twitter account to destroy her reputation and business, particularly with a tweet that Lorenz kept pinned at the top of her Twitter page for eight months, while several other non-public figures complain that Lorenz has “reported” on their non-public activities). It is to be expected that a New York Times journalist who gets caught lying as she did against Andreessen and trying to destroy the reputations of non-public figures will be a topic of conversation.

The third reason this New York Times reporter is receiving attention is because she has become a leading advocate and symbol for a toxic tactic now frequently used by wealthy and influential public figures (like her) to delegitimize criticisms and even render off-limits any attempt to hold them accountable. Specifically, she and her media allies constantly conflate criticisms of people like them with “harassment,” “abuse” and even “violence.” That is what Lorenz did on Tuesday when she co-opted International Women’s Day to announce that “it is not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I have had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life.” She began her story by proclaiming: “For international women’s day please consider supporting women enduring online harassment.” She finished it with this: “No one should have to go through this.”

Notably, there was no mention, by her or her many media defenders, of the lives she has harmed or otherwise deleteriously affected with her massive journalistic platform. That is deliberate. Under this formulation, if you criticize the ways Lorenz uses her very influential media perch — including by pointing out that she probably should stop fabricating accusations against people and monitoring the private acts of non-public people — then you are guilty of harassing a “young woman” and inflicting emotional pain and violence on her (it’s quite a bizarre dynamic, best left to psychologists, how her supporters insist on infantilizing this fully grown, close-to-middle-aged successful journalist by talking about her as if she’s a fragile high school junior; it’s particularly creepy when her good male Allies speak of her this way).

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The Green New Deal is for people who don’t understand energy. Or economics.

A Green New Deal Is More Expensive Than Joe Biden Realizes (Mises)

The concept of “net energy” illustrates why replacing fossil fuels with large-scale renewable energy is often counterproductive. In Carbon Shift, a 2009 book discussing peak oil and climate change, David Hughes summarizes it like this: “A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is, a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”

This life-cycle accounting of “energy return on energy invested” (EROEI) succinctly describes multiple stages of intermediate capital within a hydrocarbon-based structure of production. Hughes also hints at the basic questions facing all entrepreneurs—namely, where they should place their investments and how they should configure heterogeneous capital to recoup up-front costs plus some profit or “windfall.” Wind turbines and solar panels do enjoy a wide market in off-grid applications, such as remote farm properties and on oceangoing sailboats, where the abundance of wind and scarcity of petroleum products makes the investment a no-brainer. In sunny parts of the country, solar has reached “grid parity.”

States like Texas, however, have failed to heed considerations of both net energy and supply and demand in installing massive wind farms at great taxpayer expense where fossil fuels would be far cheaper and more reliable. Lacking price signals, the central planner is blind to the economic consequences of his grand designs. The president revealed his ignorance of the technological and economic problem at hand when he stated matter of factly, “We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it.” On the contrary, we have no idea how to create a nonpolluting electrical grid without emitting much more carbon in the process than we otherwise would have.

[..] The Green New Deal is, if anything, a formula for a new dark age. Texas’s recent power outages show the difficulty of the task facing grid managers. There, an attempt to prematurely transition to unreliable wind energy exacerbated the strain on the grid when turbines froze at the crucial moment when they were most needed. The grid managers failed to keep a maintain a sufficient buffer, even without the additional mandate of ensuring the creation of new green jobs and mitigating the discriminatory effects of climate change. It is ironic that a state and nation so rich in natural energy resources would be leading the charge to cancel fossil fuels in favor of technology that has never been proven effective, or even environmentally friendly, at a large scale.

Read more …

The Greeks should refuse to be bullied. “I legally bought them from Nazis” is nonsense.

Boris Johnson Says UK ‘Legally’ Obtained Elgin Marbles, Won’t Return Them (RT)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dashed Athens’ hopes of getting back the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles by saying that the British Museum remains their “rightful” owner following “legal” acquisition in the 19th century. The ancient sculptures that once adorned the famed fifth century BC Parthenon temple in Athens were “legally acquired” by the British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, Johnson told the Greek newspaper Ta Nea on Friday. The UK prime minister left no room for the idea of returning the ancient works of art to Greece, saying that although he “understands” the “strong feelings” of the Greeks, he still considers the commissioners of the British Museum in London to be “the rightful owners” of the Elgin Marbles.


“The British government has a firm and long-standing position” on the issue, Johnson – himself a former student of Classical Philology and Philosophy at Oxford, who once called Homer “the greatest writer of all time” and named ancient Greek statesman, Pericles, his “hero” – told Ta Nea. The row between London and Athens over the fate of the sculptures constituting roughly a half of the 160-meter frieze of the ancient temple has come to the fore in the context of post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the EU. The EU demanded the return of “unlawfully removed cultural objects” while London, which quickly linked the demand to the Marbles, said they were “not up for discussion.” The sculptures were taken from Greece, which was under Ottoman Turkish rule at that time, under an agreement Elgin struck with the Ottomans. The Greeks argue they were “stolen” while the British Museum insists it was a “legal contract.”

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 122021
 
 March 12, 2021  Posted by at 3:42 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  33 Responses »


Claude Monet Grand Canal, Venice 1908

 

 

 

Our freedoms are cancel-cultured one by one, and by now hardly anyone notices anymore, because the media is in on it. But this cannot end well. We better stop this now, or it will get awfully out of hand. It’s a sliding scale bouncing down a slippery slope that gifts politicians and “health authorities” the world over with ever more powers, which they really should not have, as everyone would agree with who takes a step back to look at the bigger picture.

 

• ONLY doctors are experts.

• We use ONLY vaccines to fight Covid, no prophylactics. No vitamin D, HCQ or ivermectin.

• We have ONLY Emergency Use Authorization vaccines.

• We can soon ONLY travel after having been inoculated with such vaccines.

• We can ONLY express officially approved opinions.

 

 

• ONLY doctors are experts.

You can’t let your country be run by doctors, virologists and epidemiologists. Anyone can understand that. But this is the reality:

Advisory Committee On Pandemic Needs Variety Of Experts, Not Just Doctors

The existing committee of experts advising the government on the pandemic must reshape to add experts from different research disciplines instead of one to become more efficient, according to a professor on Friday. Manolis Dermitzakis, professor of genetics at the University of Geneva, told Skai television that, in the first wave of the pandemic, the decisions for the committee were simple. It ONLY had to decide whether some activities should open or close, while the public largely complied with the restrictive measures. But the complexity of the situation as the pandemic continued from the summer onwards was so great that a commission which includes ONLY doctors could not function. Dermitzakis also argued that the panel must have fewer members. “A committee that has 30-40 members and consists ONLY of doctors cannot function,” he said.

• We use ONLY vaccines to fight Covid, no prophylactics. No vitamin D, HCQ or ivermectin.

We talked about the absurdity of this so much at the Automatic Earth, no need to repeat it.

 

• We have ONLY Emergency Use Authorization vaccines.

That one is tricky: none of the vaccines injected into 100s of millions of people has been approved. Who knows this though, that gets “jabbed”?

• We can soon ONLY travel after having been inoculated with such vaccines.

This article beats around the -legal- bush a little, but you just watch:

EU’s Green Pass Will ONLY Be Valid With EMA-Approved COVID Vaccinations

An EU source has told Euronews that the Green Pass proposal, to be put forward on March 17th to aid free movement within the bloc, will ONLY be valid with EMA-approved vaccinations. Why? Because the vaccinations from unapproved companies will not be covered by the EU liability clause and quality control. The source reported that EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders made it clear that member states were free to get their citizens vaccinated by other products, but they would not be allocated a licensed travel certificate unless their jab had been from an approved company, of which there are currently four. Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson.


The duration of the digital green certificate should be limited to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU source said, adding that tests and quarantine will continue to be the enablers of free movement. Thus, vaccination does not become a pre-condition for free movement.

 

But Europe won’t even have the vaccines it needs to enact such policies. You will end up with a new elite: the vaccinated. Older people. Who, as far as we know, will still be liable to be infected, and infect others. The youth must stay home. You MUST be vaccinated, but right now, we’re all out. Call again in September. Call me maybe.

 

Europe’s COVID Vaccine Rollout Faces Even More Delays

Earlier today, a smattering of European nations halted vaccinations for at least some AstraZeneca COVID vaccine jabs amid an investigation into whether the jabs contributed to dangerous blood clots that led to at least one death. And as if this wasn’t a big enough problem for one day, Bloomberg reports that manufacturing issues are plaguing AstraZeneca’s manufacturing facilities, creating more obstacles to distribution. And now European governments are bracing for further delays. Good thing Italy refused to send that one shipment of jabs to Australia. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“European Union governments are bracing for further possible delays in the distribution of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine after a warning from the European Commission that the manufacturer remains a problem, according to a diplomatic note seen by Bloomberg. Astra Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said last month the company would look at tapping international supply chains to make up for some of the shortfall, including production in the U.S.

It’s revised its delivery schedule multiple times, most recently committing to 40 million doses this quarter and 180 million in the second from an earlier goal of about 280 million across both periods. But at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, diplomats were told by senior EU officials that Astra continues to be “problematic.” They also heard that Johnson & Johnson, which could get market authorization from the European Medicines Agency on Thursday, has yet to provide a delivery schedule for its vaccine.”

 

There are still enormous potential issues with the Emergency Use Authorization vaccines. This is not kid’s play. There’s this from my article yesterday:

 

Mass Vaccination Amidst A Pandemic Creates An Irrepressible Monster

Basically, we’ll very soon be confronted with a super-infectious virus that completely resists our most precious defense mechanism: The human immune system. From all of the above, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how the consequences of the extensive and erroneous human interventon in this pandemic are not going to wipe out large parts of our human population. One could ONLY think of very few other strategies to achieve the same level of efficiency in turning a relatively harmless virus into a bioweapon of mass destruction.

 

And there’s this, rehashed by Jim Rickards:

 

The Vaccines Aren’t Actually Vaccines

First, these so-called vaccines are not really vaccines in the widely understood sense. A traditional vaccine involves an injection either with a weakened form of the virus you are protecting against or a similar virus. Either one can produce antibodies that remain in the system and fight the actual disease if you get it. These new vaccines are entirely different. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds here, but these treatments use experimental genetic modification to inject you with mRNA, which is a partial strand of genetic code. That mRNA then enters your cells and orders the cells to construct a spike protein similar to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID). This spike protein then precipitates antibodies that can reduce your reaction to SARS-CoV-2 if you get it.

But the “vaccine” does not prevent you from getting COVID, and it does not prevent you from spreading it to others. The spike protein remains with you indefinitely. In effect, you have modified your own genetic make-up to fight COVID without actually gaining immunity and without reducing transmissibility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you’re immune to a disease, “you can be exposed to it without becoming infected.” But these vaccines do not prevent you from being infected or spreading it to others. Some have likened them to chemotherapy for a cancer you don’t have.Vaccines of this type with respect to viruses are entirely new in humans. Studies have not gone on long enough to evaluate long-term side effects.

These drugs are not FDA approved; they are being distributed under an emergency waiver to avoid the normal approval process. It’s almost like we’re being used as guinea pigs. It is likely that most people receiving the drugs are unaware of these important differences between the new drugs and traditional vaccines, which raises questions about whether their “consent” is fully informed. There could be very good reasons for vulnerable individuals to take these drugs, but they should not be mistaken for the kind of smallpox, polio and flu vaccinations with which we are familiar. As far as vaccines go, mRNA genetic therapy is a brave new world — one that is not well understood.

 

• We can ONLY express officially approved opinions.

Twitter and Facebook have set standards for this. None of the “old media” deviate from these opinions either.The number of articles on ivermectin, HCQ, vit. D from medical professionals that have been cancel-cultured by social media is staggering. That’s not just un-American, it’s un-every country that pretends to be a democracy.

Like Joe Biden said yesterday: if you’re good boys and girls, and get injected with an experimental never tested and thus never approved substance, then maybe we will allow you to have 1 or 2 friends over in 4 month’s time. I like Tucker Carlson’s reaction to that:

Tucker Biden

 

Governments across the world have spectacularly failed in their “three weeks to flatten the curve” policies, but don’t anyone dare call them on that. It’s not their fault, it’s the virus, and the variants, and the young people, and all those who don’t obey the orders. But never the people who made and make these decisions. Our world over the past year has become a one-dimensional myopic dystopia in which people will get increasingly uncomfortable and agitated. You just watch.

Just watch what happens when countries and states are forced to open their economies again because they can no longer afford to prop up everything inside them. You will see gigantic waves of lay-offs, which will only exacerbate the problems businesses are already in. And no American Rescue Plan or comparable stimulus elsewhere will rescue anything in the longer term.

And then…because they all want to balance their budgets, taxes will start rising. But that won’t be their fault either.

 

 

 

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Mar 112021
 


Piet Mondriaan The red cloud 1907

 

 

This is a open letter by a virologist named Geert Vanden Bossche. It may well be the scariest thing I’ve read on Covid19 so far. It took me a long time to edit it, there were hundreds of spelling mistakes. If any are left (no doubt), blame me.

Core: the vaccination campaigns and “measures” presently employed are the worst thing we could do: they only serve to make us weaker and the virus stronger, “turning a relatively harmless virus into a bioweapon of mass destruction” that will “wipe out large parts of our human population”.

 

 

Geert Vanden Bossche, DMV, PhD, independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To all authorities, scientists and experts around the world, to whom this concerns: the entire world populaton.

 

I am all but an anti-vaxxer. As a scientist I do not usually appeal to any platform of this kind to make a stand on vaccine-related topics. As a dedicated virologist and vaccine expert I only make an exception when health authorities allow vaccines to be administered in ways that threaten public health, most certainly when scientific evidence is being ignored. The present extremely critical situation forces me to spread this emergency call. As the unprecedented extent of human intervention in the Covid-19 pandemic is now at risk of resulting in a global catastrophe without equal, this call cannot sound loudly and strongly enough.

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

 

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

While there is no time to spare, I have not received any feedback thus far. Experts and politicians have remained silent while obviously still eager to talk about relaxing infecton prevention rules and ‘springtme freedom’. My statements are based on nothing else but science. They shall only be contradicted by science. While one can barely make any incorrect scientific statements without being criticized by peers, it seems like the elite of scientsts who are currently advising our world leaders prefer to stay silent. Sufficient scientific evidence has been brought to the table.

Unfortunately, it remains untouched by those who have the power to act. How long can one ignore the problem when there is at present massive evidence that viral immune escape is now threatening humanity? We can hardly say we didn’t know – or were not warned. In this agonizing letter I put all of my reputation and credibility at stake. I expect from you, guardians of mankind, at least the same. It is of utmost urgency. Do open the debate. By all means: turn the tide!

 

The key question is: why does nobody seem to bother about viral immune escape? Let me try to explain this by means of a more easily understood phenomenon: Antimicrobial resistance. One can easily extrapolate this scourge to resistance to our self-made ‘antiviral antibiotics’. Indeed, antibodies (Abs) produced by our own immune system can be considered self-made antiviral antibiotics, regardless of whether they are part of our innate immune system (so-called ‘natural’ Abs’) or elicited in response to specific pathogens (resulting in so-called ‘acquired’ Abs). Natural Abs are not germ-specific whereas acquired Abs are specifically directed at the invading pathogen. At birth, our innate immune system is ‘unexperienced’ but well-established. It protects us from a multitude of pathogens, thereby preventing these pathogens from causing disease. As the innate immune system cannot remember the pathogens it encountered (innate immunity has no so-called ‘immunological memory’), we can only continue to rely on it provided we keep it ‘trained’ well enough. Training is achieved by regular exposure to a myriad of environmental agents, including pathogens.

However, as we age, we will increasingly face situations where our innate immunity (often called ‘the first line of immune defense’) is not strong enough to halt the pathogen at the portal of entry (mostly mucosal barriers like respiratory or intestinal epithelia). When this happens, the immune system has to rely on more specialized effectors of our immune system (i.e., antigen-specific Abs and T cells) to fight the pathogen. So, as we grow up, we increasingly mount pathogen-specific immunity, including highly specific Abs. As those have stronger affinity for the pathogen (e.g., virus) and can reach high concentratons, they can quite easily outcompete our natural Abs for binding to the pathogen/virus. It is precisely this type of highly specific, high affinity Abs that current Covid-19 vaccines are inducing. Of course, the noble purpose of these Abs is to protect us against Covid-19. So, why then should there be a major concern using these vaccines to fight Covid-19? Well, similar to the rules applying to classical antimicrobial antbiotics, it is paramount that our self-made ‘antiviral antibiotcs’ are made available in sufifcient concentration and are tailored at the specific features of our enemy.

 

This is why in case of bacterial disease it is critical to not only choose the right type of antibiotic (based on the results from an antibiogram) but to also take the antibiotic for long enough (according to the prescripton). Failure to comply with these requirements is at risk of granting microbes a chance to survive and hence, may cause the disease to flare up. A very similar mechanism may also apply to viruses, especially to viruses that can easily and rapidly mutate (which is, for example, the case with Coronaviruses); when the pressure exerted by the army’s (read: population’s) immune defense starts to threaten viral replication and transmission, the virus will take on another coat so that it can no longer be easily recognized and, therefore, attacked by the host immune system. The virus is now able to escape immunity (so-called: ‘immune escape’). However, the virus can only rely on this strategy provided it stll has room enough to replicate.

Viruses, in contrast to the majority of bacteria, must rely on living host cells to replicate. This is why the occurrence of ‘escape mutants’ isn’t too worrisome as long as the likelihood for these variants to rapidly find another host is quite remote. However, that’s not particularly the case during a viral pandemic! During a pandemic, the virus is spreading all over the globe with many subjects shedding and transmitting the virus (even including asymptomatic ‘carriers’). The higher the viral load, the higher the likelihood for the virus to bump into subjects who haven’t been infected yet or who were infected but didn’t develop symptoms. Unless they are sufficiently protected by their innate immune defense (through natural Abs), they will catch Covid-19 disease as they cannot rely on other, i.e., acquired Abs. It has been extensively reported, indeed, that the increase in S (spike)-specific Abs in asymptomatically infected people is rather limited and only short-lived.

Furthermore, these Abs have not achieved full maturity. The combinaton of viral infection on a background of suboptimal Ab maturity and concentration enables the virus to select mutations allowing it to escape the immune pressure. The selection of those mutations preferably occurs in the S protein as this is the viral protein that is responsible for viral infectiousness. As the selected mutations endow the virus with increased infectious capacity, it now becomes much easier for the virus to cause severe disease in infected subjects. The more people develop symptomatic disease, the better the virus can secure its propagation and perpetuation (people who get severe disease will shed more virus and for a longer period of time than asymptomatically infected subjects do). Unfortunately enough, the short-lived rise in S-specific Abs does, however, suffice to bypass people’s innate/natural Ab. Those are put out of business as their affinity for S is lower than the affinity of S-specific Abs.

 

This is to say that with an increasing rate of infection in the populaton, the number of subjects who get infected while experiencing a momentary increase in S-specific Abs will steadily increase. Consequently, the number of subjects who get infected while experiencing a momentary decrease in their innate immunity will increase. As a result, a steadily increasing number of subjects will become more susceptble to getting severe disease instead of showing only mild symptoms (i.e., limited to the upper respiratory tract) or no symptoms at all. During a pandemic, especially youngsters will be affected by this evolution as their natural Abs are not yet largely suppressed by a panoply of ‘acquired’, antigen-specific Abs.

Natural Abs, and natural immunity in general, play a critical role in protecting us from pathogens as they constitute our first line of immune defense. In contrast to acquired immunity, innate immune responses protect against a large spectrum of pathogens (so don’t compromise or sacrifce your innate immune defense!). Because natural Abs and innate immune cells recognize a diversifed spectrum of foreign (i.e., non-self) agents (only some of which have pathogenic potential), it’s important, indeed, to keep it sufficiently exposed to environmental challenges. By keeping the innate immune system (which, unfortunately, has no memory!) TRAINED, we can much more easily resist germs which have real pathogenic potential. It has, for example, been reported and scientfically proven that exposure to other, quite harmless Coronaviruses causing a ‘common cold ’ can provide protection, although short-lived, against Covid-19 and its loyal henchmen (i.e., the more infectious variants).

Suppression of innate immunity, especially in the younger age groups, can, therefore, become very problematic. There can be no doubt that lack of exposure due to stringent containment measures implemented as of the beginning of the pandemic has not been beneficial to keeping people’s innate immune system well trained. As if this was not already heavily compromising innate immune defense in this population segment, there comes yet another force into play that will dramatcally enhance morbidity and mortality rates in the younger age groups: MASS VACCINATION of the ELDERLY. The more extensively the later age group will be vaccinated and hence, protected, the more the virus is forced to continue causing disease in younger age groups. This is only going to be possible provided it escapes to the S-specific Abs that are momentarily raised in previously asymptomatically infected subjects. If the virus manages to do so, it can benefit from the (momentarily) suppressed innate immunity, thereby causing disease in an increasing number of these subjects and ensuring its own propagation. Selecting targeted mutations in the S protein is, therefore, the way to go in order for the virus to enhance its infectiousness in candidates that are prone to getting the disease because of a transient weakness of their innate immune defense.

 

But in the meantme, we’re also facing a huge problem in vaccinated people as they’re now more and more confronted with infectious variants displaying a type of S protein that is increasingly different from the S edition comprised with the vaccine (the later edition originates from the original, much less infectious strain at the beginning of the pandemic). The more variants become infectious (i.e., as a result of blocking access of the virus to the vaccinated segment of the populaton), the less vaccinal Abs will protect. Already now, lack of protection is leading to viral shedding and transmission in vaccine recipients who are exposed to these more infectious strains (which, by the way, increasingly dominate the field). This is how we are currently turning vaccinees into asymptomatic carriers shedding infectious variants.

At some point, in a likely very near future, it’s going to become more profitable (in term of ‘return on selection investment’) for the virus to just add another few mutations (maybe just one or two) to the S protein of viral variants (already endowed with multiple mutations enhancing infectiousness) in an attempt to further strengthen its binding to the receptor (ACE-2) expressed on the surface of permissive epithelial cells. This will now allow the new variant to outcompete vaccinal Abs for binding to the ACE receptor. This is to say that at this stage, it would only take very few additonal targeted mutations within the viral receptor-binding domain to fully resist S-specific anti-Covid-19 Abs, regardless whether the latter are elicited by the vaccine or by natural infecton. At that stage, the virus will, indeed, have managed to gain access to a huge reservoir of subjects who have now become highly susceptible to disease as their S-specific Abs have now become useless in terms of protection but still manage to provide for long-lived suppression of their innate immunity (i.e., natural infecton, and especially vaccination, elicit relatively long-lived specific Ab titers). The susceptible reservoir comprises both, vaccinated people and those who’re left with sufficient S-specific Abs due to previous Covid-19 disease).

 

So, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED for Covid-19 but a DISASTROUS SITUATION for all vaccinated subjects and Covid-19 seropositive people as they’ve now lost both, their acquired and innate immune defense against Covid-19 (while highly infectious strains are circulating!). That’s “one small step for the virus, one giant catastrophe for mankind”, which is to say that we’ll have whipped up the virus in the younger populaton up to a level that it now takes little effort for Covid-19 to transform into a highly infectious virus that completely ignores both the innate arm of our immune system as well as the adaptive/acquired one (regardless of whether the acquired Abs resulted from vaccination or natural infection). The effort for the virus is now becoming even more negligible given that many vaccine recipients are now exposed to highly infectious viral variants while having received only a single shot of the vaccine.

Hence, they are endowed with Abs that have not yet acquired optimal functonality. There is no need to explain that this is just going to further enhance immune escape. Basically, we’ll very soon be confronted with a super-infectious virus that completely resists our most precious defense mechanism: The human immune system. From all of the above, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how the consequences of the extensive and erroneous human interventon in this pandemic are not going to wipe out large parts of our human population. One could only think of very few other strategies to achieve the same level of efficiency in turning a relatively harmless virus into a bioweapon of mass destruction. It’s certainly also worth mentioning that mutations in the S protein (i.e., exactly the same protein that is subject to selection of escape mutations) are known to enable Coronaviruses to cross species barriers.

This is to say that the risk that vaccine-mediated immune escape could allow the virus to jump to other animal species, especially industrial livestock (e.g., pig and poultry farms), is not negligible. These species are already known to host several different Coronaviruses and are usually housed in farms with high stocking density. Similar to the situation with infuenza virus, these species could then serve as an additonal reservoir for SARS-COVID-2 virus. As pathogens have co-evolved with the host immune system, natural pandemics of acute self-limiting viral infectons have been shaped such as to take a toll on human lives that is not higher than strictly required. Due to human intervention, the course of this pandemic has been thoroughly disturbed as of the very beginning. Widespread and stringent infection prevention measures combined with mass vaccination campaigns using inadequate vaccines will undoubtedly lead to a situation where the pandemic is getting increasingly ‘out of control’. Paradoxically, the only intervention that could offer a perspective to end this pandemic (other than to let it run its disastrous course) is …VACCINATION.

 

Of course, the type of vaccines to be used would be completely different of conventional vaccines in that they’re not inducing the usual suspects, i.e., B and T cells, but NK (Natural Killer) cells. There is, indeed, compelling scientfic evidence that these cells play a key role in facilitating complete eliminaton of Covid-19 at an early stage of infecton in asymptomatically infected subjects. NK cells are part of the cellular arm of our innate immune system and, like natural Abs, they are capable of recognizing and attacking a broad and diversifed spectrum of pathogenic agents. There is a sound scientfic rationale to assume that it is possible to ‘prime’ NK cells in ways for them to recognize and kill Coronaviruses at large (include all their variants) at an early stage of infecton. NK cells have increasingly been described to be endowed with the capacity to acquire immunological memory. By educating these cells in ways that enable them to durably recognize and target Coronavirus-infected cells, our immune system could be perfectly armed for a targeted attack to the universe of Coronaviruses prior to exposure. As NK cell-based immune defense provides sterilizing immunity and allows for broadspectrum and fast protection, it is reasonable to assume that harnessing our innate immune cells is going to be the only type of human interventon left to halt the dangerous spread of highly infectious Covid-19 variants.

If we, human beings, are commited to perpetuating our species, we have no choice left but to eradicate these highly infectious viral variants. This will, indeed, require large vaccination campaigns. However, NK cell-based vaccines will primarily enable our natural immunity to be betetr prepared (memory!) and to induce herd immunity (which is exactly the opposite of what current Covid-19 vaccines do as those increasingly turn vaccine recipients into asymptomatic carriers who are shedding virus). So, there is not one second left for gears to be switched and to replace the current killer vaccines by life-saving vaccines. I am appealing to the WHO and all stakeholders involved, no mater their convicton, to immediately declare such action as THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY OF INTERNATIONAL CONCERN.

Author: Geert Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD (March 6, 2021) – https://www.linkedin.com/in/geertvandenbossche/

 

 

 

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Mar 092021
 
 March 9, 2021  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  40 Responses »


Keith Haring Untitled 1983

 

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)
Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)
Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)
Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)
CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)
US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)
Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)
Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)
Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)
UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)
The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)
The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)
The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

 

 

People say the Burger King International Women’s Day campaign “backfired”. But I’m thinking: look at all the free publicity they’re getting.

 

 

 

Burger King gets a lot more attention than the president.

 

 

 

Where’s the huge nationwide campaign to prevent this?

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)

Nearly 8 in 10 people who were hospitalized for coronavirus were either overweight or obese, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Monday, which also found a higher body mass index is associated with serious coronavirus outcomes, such as hospitalization, being placed on a ventilator and even death. The study found obese patients with BMIs higher than 30 made up about half of all coronavirus hospital admissions between March and December of 2020. Overweight patients, or people with BMIs higher than 25 but lower than 30, accounted for 28.3% of hospitalized coronavirus patients during the same time frame.

Researchers also found an association between BMI and patients requiring admission to an intensive care unit, invasive mechanical ventilation and death, especially in people aged 65 and older. According to the CDC, obesity may contribute to serious coronavirus illness because excess weight impairs lung function and may also disrupt the body’s immune system. The CDC study looked at 71,491 coronavirus patients who tested positive for the virus during emergency room or inpatient visits at 238 American hospitals that tracked patients’ height and weight. 42.4%. That’s how much of the U.S. population is considered obese based on BMI, according to a 2018 CDC study, the most recent of its kind.

Black and Hispanic Americans, whose communities have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, are also more likely to live with obesity. Nearly 40% of Black adults reported having a BMI of higher than 30, followed by Hispanics (33.8%) and Whites (29.9%), according to CDC data from 2017-2019. Last week, the World Obesity Federation released a study based on Johns Hopkins University data that found “a dramatic correlation” between obesity rates and international death rates. Countries like the U.S. and U.K, where more than half of the population is classified as either overweight or obese, see more deaths per capita. Meanwhile, Vietnam, the country with the world’s lowest coronavirus death rate, has an adult obesity rate of only 18.3%, the second-lowest globally.

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Because bankers are experts on diseases.

Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)

Dr. Fauci and other health experts are warning about the prospect of a “4th wave” of COVID infections as mutated strains of the virus comprise a growing share of new COVID infections in the US, even as the JNJ one-shot vaccine promises to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Worries about spreading mutant strains are being amplified by research showing that B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK, also known as the “Kent” strain, after where it was first isolated and identified) might be on the cusp of becoming the most prevalent strain in the US. According to research cited in a note published Monday by a team of researchers at BofA, Florida is on the cusp of seeing the UK variant become the “dominant” strain in the state.


And although hospitalizations, new cases and deaths have slowed in the Sunshine State, researchers are concerned that the variants are slowing the ebb of the pandemic in the state – and could possibly supercharge it. Cases and hospitalizations are still slowing in the state, just not as quickly as they were in January. The team of analysts at BofA said these trends have raised concerns about Florida becoming a bellwether state for the spread of the new variants, which many fear could surge as states from Texas to Connecticut move to loosen at least some (or in Texas’s case, practically all) virus-related restrictions. The fact that the state’s positivity ratio has declined since the start of the year suggests that the virus truly is receding (in other words, the lower case numbers aren’t due to solely to a pullback in testing).

Perhaps counterintuitively, the analysts at BofA are worried that the UK variant might not be as dominant in Florida as they believe. They also gamed out two additional scenarios that they said would lead to a greater outlook. “We see three possible explanations for Florida’s continued improvement. First, the spread of the new variant might not be as far along as estimated. So the old variant might still be contracting off a much larger base, while the new variant is growing off a small base. This would not be good news as it would suggest an imminent increase in cases as the new variant continues to spread.


Second, vaccines might be more effective at containing the virus than we thought, by making both vaccinated people and their close contacts less vulnerable. This would be good news because the cumulative effect of vaccines should increase quickly as the roll-out gains momentum. The third explanation, which is least likely in our view, is that the B.1.1.7 variant is significantly less contagious than widely estimated. This would probably be the best news of all.”

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Lovely.

Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)

A new outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at the Cottonwoods Care Centre in the Interior Health region where staff and residents had already received vaccines, B.C’s provincial health officer announced Monday. In a live news conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said being vaccinated doesn’t mean transmission will be stopped and that precautions must remain in place for seniors and care homes. “You can have transmission even when people are fully vaccinated,” she said. “The illness seems to be milder and doesn’t transmit as much [and we] won’t see rapid explosive outbreaks.”


Two staff members and 10 residents have tested positive at the Cottonwoods long-term care facility in Kelowna which has 221 publicly-funded beds. Henry said that all staff and residents at the home were offered immunizations and that there was very high uptake of the vaccine. She said some of the cases were among people who had received two doses of the vaccine. “This serves to remind us that while we are confident is very effective and prevents severe illness and death it doesn’t necessarily mean that all transmission will be stopped.” Henry added the province will give new guidance by the end of month that will allow for increased visits at long-term care centres.

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The CDC is on a roll: fresh from reporting that facemasks prevent 1.32% of infections, ignores outbreaks like the one in BC, and also ignores the WHO stating we have no idea if vaccines reduce transmission.

But let us, in turn, NOT ignore how dangerous it is to discriminate against people who are simply not infected.

Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday. The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.

“With more and more people vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. During a press briefing Monday, she called the guidance a “first step” toward restoring normalcy in how people come together. She said more activities would be ok’d for vaccinated individuals once caseloads and deaths decline, more Americans are vaccinated, and as more science emerges on the ability of those who have been vaccinated to get and spread the virus. The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people still wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

The CDC guidance did not speak to people who may have gained some level of immunity from being infected, and recovering from, the coronavirus. Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 31 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.

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“..the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference..”

CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)

On Friday afternoon, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (still called the CDC, even though they added a ‘P’) released a heretical report about mask-wearing and COVID-19. The report, authored by at least a dozen medical doctors, PhD researchers, and, bizarrely, a handful of attorneys, examined how mask mandates across the US affected COVID cases and death rates. You’d think with all of the media propaganda about mask effectiveness… and all the virtue signaling, with politicians and reporters appearing on live TV wearing masks… that the data would prove incontrovertibly and overwhelmingly that masks have saved the world. But that’s not what the report says. According to the CDC’s analysis, between March 1 and December 31 last year, statewide mask mandates were in effect in 2,313 of the 3,142 counties in the United States.

And, looking at the county-by-county data, the CDC concludes that mask mandates were associated with an average 1.32% decrease in the growth rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths during the first 100 days after the mask policy was implemented. Wait, what? Only 1.32%? You read that correctly, they didn’t misplace the decimal: according to the federal government agency that is responsible for managing the COVID-1984 pandemic, the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference. And bear in mind, it’s entirely possible that the real figure is even lower than that, given all the questionable COVID statistics. For example, the CDC reports that influenza cases in the United States have dropped to almost zero in the 2020-2021 flu season, down from 56 MILLION the previous year.

It’s amazing they expect anyone to take this data seriously. Are we honestly supposed to believe that the flu has been eradicated? Or is it possible, that, maybe just maybe, at least some influenza cases have been misdiagnosed as COVID? If that’s the case, then the real impact of masks on COVID growth rates is potentially much lower than 1.32%. Even the CDC seems to understand this, because at the end of its report, they inspidly conclude by stating that mask mandates “have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19. . .” Really? “Potential”? That’s HERESY! And an obvious contradiction to WHO guidance. It makes we wonder whether Google and Facebook are gearing up to censor this report, given they have self-appointed themselves as the Ministry of Truth.

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Why does the Kremlin bother to deny this?

US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)

The United States has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services that it says are seeking to undermine Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, a State Department spokeswoman said on Sunday. The outlets “spread many types of disinformation, including about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as international organizations, military conflicts, protests, and any divisive issue that they can exploit,” the spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first reported on the identification of the alleged campaign on Sunday. A Kremlin spokesman denied the U.S. claim Russia was spreading false information about vaccines to the WSJ.


[..] Russia approved its Sputnik V vaccine in August, before a large-scale trial had begun, saying it was the first country to do so for a Covid-19 shot. Peer-reviewed trials months later proved it was almost 92% effective in fighting the virus. Pfizer, headquartered in New York, and Germany’s BioNTech, produced the first vaccine that was authorized in the United States, which regulators approved in December. The second, made by Moderna, headquartered in Massachusetts, was authorized later that month. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center, set up to counter propaganda and disinformation campaigns, identified the three outlets, the spokeswoman said.

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Well, obviously.

Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)

By accusing Moscow of spreading disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, US propagandists that spread the original ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy are doing it again, stoking fear and hatred and projecting amid a pandemic. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed State Department official to claim that Russia is using four websites “linked to” intelligence agencies to “inject false narratives” about Western vaccines against Covid-19 that “can be amplified” by other media. Asked about this on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is “monitoring” and “taking steps to address” these efforts. Meanwhile, the WSJ report was being, well, amplified on Twitter by prolific influencers declaring the alleged Russian behavior to be a “crime against humanity.”

Thing is, all of this amounts to a disinformation and influence operation itself – by the very methodology the people involved are using. The WSJ source is someone from the Global Engagement Center, set up in 2016 as a propaganda shop against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, which was later expanded to advancing “fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests” and countering “Russian disinformation.” The claim that the four websites were Russian spy cutouts was “a result of a joint interagency conclusion,” the Journal cited an unnamed State Department spokesman as saying. In other words, just like the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that made Russiagate official.

The WSJ article also previews a “report” – published Monday – by the Alliance For Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund NGO notorious for their ‘Hamilton68 dashboard’ that promoted and amplified Russiagate by seeing ‘Kremlin bots and trolls’ everywhere. Now we’re getting somewhere! Except the report itself ends up being full of qualifications, weasel-words and hair-splitting parsing of how certain headlines in the media are “coded,” in an effort to, well, promote a narrative. ASD analyzed tweets – of course they did – from Russian, Chinese and Iranian media and concluded that “there were few instances of any studied country promoting verifiably false information about vaccines” but that reports about certain Western vaccines “were often sensationalized while downplaying or completely omitting key contextual information.”

Keep in mind that demanding “context” is a favorite trick of so-called fact-checkers to argue that something is false even when factually true. As ASD itself admits, Russia, China and Iran sought to persuade their own public that their vaccines were “safer, more effective, and more affordable than certain vaccines produced in the West.” Except, that’s what clinical trial results published in reputable Western medical journals such as Lancet literally say when it comes to Sputnik V. Doesn’t matter, it’s now “disinformation” to point out facts that the Russian vaccine costs less than the mRNA vaccines made in the West, or doesn’t require their expensive cold storage.

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It’s like a CIA operation.

Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)

As reported by New Delhi-based World Is One News (WION), Pfizer is demanding countries put up sovereign assets as collateral for expected vaccine injury lawsuits resulting from its COVID-19 inoculation. In other words, it wants governments to guarantee the company will be compensated for any expenses resulting from injury lawsuits against it. WION reports that Argentina and Brazil have rejected Pfizer’s demands. Initially, the company demanded indemnification legislation to be enacted, such as that which it enjoys in the U.S. Argentina proposed legislation that would restrict Pfizer’s financial responsibility for injuries to those resulting from negligence or malice. Pfizer rejected the proposal. It also rejected a rewritten proposal that included a clearer definition of negligence.

Pfizer then demanded the Argentinian government put up sovereign assets — including its bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings — as collateral. Argentina refused. A similar situation occurred in Brazil. Pfizer demanded Brazil: • “Waive sovereignty of its assets abroad in favor of Pfizer” • Not apply its domestic laws to the company • Not penalize Pfizer for vaccine delivery delays • Exempt Pfizer from all civil liability for side effects. Brazil rejected Pfizer’s demands, calling them “abusive.” As noted by WION, Pfizer developed its vaccine with the help of government funding, and now it — a private company — is demanding governments hand over sovereign assets to ensure the company won’t lose a dime if its product injures people, even if those injuries are the result of negligent company practices, fraud or malice.

[..] In the U.S., vaccine makers already enjoy full indemnity against injuries occurring from this or any other pandemic vaccine under the PREP Act. If you’re injured, you’d have to file a compensation claim with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP),6 which is funded by U.S. taxpayers via Congressional appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). While similar to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), which applies to nonpandemic vaccines, the CICP is even less generous when it comes to compensation. For example, while the NVICP pays some of the costs associated with any given claim, the CICP does not. This means you’ll also be responsible for attorney fees and expert witness fees.

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Well, the rich got rid of him anyway.

Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has cancelled all sentences against the country’s former leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, restoring his political rights to run again for office ahead of next year’s election.
Supreme Court judge Edson Fachin ruled on Monday that the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, which had convicted Lula of money laundering and corruption, actually had no jurisdiction over the cases. The judge annulled all sentences handed to the 75-year-old in relation to ‘Operation Lava Jato’ (Car Wash) – a major anti-graft investigation in which three ex-presidents and numerous officials were indicted. Monday’s ruling means that Lula’s political rights have been restored, making him eligible to run against Brazil’s current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, in the presidential election in 2022.


The country’s so-called ‘Clean Record Act’ bars those with convictions from holding public office, a measure which already cost the veteran politician a spot in the 2018 presidential race. The judge’s decision was procedural and didn’t focus on the validity of the earlier cases against Lula. A lower court will now have to decide if he should be retried on those charges. Brazil’s Prosecutor General, Augusto Aras, has already announced that he intends to appeal the Supreme Court ruling. Lula served as Brazil’s president between 2003 and 2011, a period of rapid economic growth for the country which saw millions getting out of poverty through social welfare programs.

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Lithium.

UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)

On 10 November 2019, after the head of the army called for his resignation, Bolivia’s socialist president, Evo Morales, stepped down. It followed weeks of protests after the release of a report by the Organisation of American States (OAS) alleging irregularities in the election Morales had won the previous month. Persecution from the new regime forced Morales to flee the country and an “interim president”, Jeanine Áñez, was installed. Widely condemned as a coup, resulting protests were met with lethal force. Days after taking power, on 14 November, the Áñez regime forced through Decree 4078 which gave immunity to the military for any actions taken in “the defence of society and maintenance of public order”. The following day, on 15 November, Bolivian military forces shot and killed eight protesters in the city of Sacaba.

On 21 November, regime forces killed another 10 protesters in the neighbourhood of Senkata just outside the capital La Paz. Despite the deadly violence, which was condemned by human rights groups, the British embassy in La Paz moved quickly to support Bolivia’s new regime, Declassified can reveal from documents we have obtained. We have seen a project list for a Foreign Office programme in Bolivia called “Frontline Diplomatic Enabling Activity”, which the UK government describes as a “small pot of money that [embassies] receive and have authority over to spend on projects supporting [embassy] activity”. Bolivia has the world’s second-largest reserves of lithium, a metal that is used to make batteries and which has become increasingly important due to the burgeoning electric car industry.

The UK government has stated that lithium battery technology is a priority for its “industrial strategy”. In June 2019, it announced it was investing £23-million in “electric car battery development”. The government has further noted: “It’s estimated that South America holds 54% of the world’s lithium resources, which are increasingly in demand to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and energy diversification programmes.” It added: “The UK aims to have a thriving, sustainable battery industry, which would translate to a £2.7 billion opportunity … and our bilateral partnerships are essential to ensure this.”

In February 2019, Evo Morales’ government had chosen a Chinese consortium to be its strategic partner on a new $2.3-billion lithium project which would focus on production from the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salars (salt flats under which the lithium is deposited). But after the coup, the regime’s new minister for mining cast doubt on whether the deal would be honoured by the new government.

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“Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.”

The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)

I entered Martin Gurri’s world on August 1, 2015. Though I hadn’t read The Revolt of the Public, at the time a little-known book by the former CIA analyst of open news sources, I hit a disorienting moment of a type he’d described in his opening chapter. There are times, he wrote, “when tomorrow no longer resembles yesterday… the compass cracks, by which we navigate existence. We are lost at sea.” Gurri’s book is about how popular uprisings are triggered by collapses of faith in traditional hierarchies of power. I felt such a collapse that day in Waterloo, Iowa, covering the Republican presidential primary. The first debate was five days away and the man expected to occupy center stage, Donald Trump, held a seemingly inexplicable six-point lead.

Two weeks before, on July 18th, Trump lashed out against former Republican nominee John McCain. Even McCain’s critics considered his physical and mental scars from years as a Vietnam war prisoner to be unassailable proofs of his patriotic gravitas, but the service-evading Trump was having none of it. “I don’t like losers,” he said, adding, “He’s only a war hero because he was captured.” It was the universal belief among colleagues in campaign journalism that this was an unsurvivable gaffe, a “Dean scream” moment. We expected him to apologize and wash out. Instead, he called McCain a “dummy” and kept a firm grasp on the lead.

A different candidate, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, was in Waterloo. Two years before, Time all but dubbed Christie the favorite for 2016 with a silhouette cover portrait, over the nastily shallow (but publicity-generating) double-entendre headline, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Christie was every Washington consultant’s idea of a “crossover” superstar. I’d describe the concept in Rolling Stone as someone “mean enough for the right-wing, but also knows a gay person or once read a French novel.” Christie parked himself in the middle of Waterloo’s annual “Irish fest” street fair, waiting for an Iowan to ask for a souvenir campaign handshake. He had his hand out and thumb stuck upwards, like an Iguanodon. Nobody came. Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.

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“Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer..”

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)

One-time $1,400 handouts and even regular $300 unemployment subsidies won’t pay the mortgages or feed families very long, and every day there are fewer families bringing in anything close to that mythical $150,000. For many, it’s more like… nothing. The one-time bailouts of recklessly insolvent city and state governments and pension funds will only postpone their collapse. The varying guaranteed basic income schemes, enhanced child credits, advances on tax refunds, and other gimmicks would turn the former working class into sub-lumpenproles with nothing to occupy them but crime and vice. In fact, we already have a sizable underclass demonstrating exactly what you’ll get from enlarging the social group dependent on government support.

The only other question for now is when do the different population groups in this land explode in violence? The group loosely bundled as “Red” is angry enough with the ongoing insults of Wokery, failed rule-of-law, and abridgments of basic constitutional rights. The states where they dominate are likely to resist any more fiats by the federal government, like the imminent attempt to confiscate firearms. The “Blue” auxiliary armies are beyond their creators’ control. Antifa will be ready to rock-and-roll in the streets with good weather because so many young people have absolutely no prospects to thrive in the collapsing economy, and the streets have become their social space, with so little money for lattes and beers. And BLM need look no further than the Derrick Chauvin trial in Minnesota, starting today, for an excuse to resume its characteristic activities.

Does anyone seriously believe that the husk of Joe Biden will remain in office more than another few weeks? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have the mental mojo to work an authentic press conference, and surely not the customary address to a joint session of Congress. Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer. Pay close attention to events unspooling. Get ready for trouble. It’s coming every which way, from money to public order to rollicking spring weather.

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This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here..”

The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)

To censor is an act of deprivation, a taking away. To enforce an intolerant orthodoxy is an act of imposition. The two cannot be understood separately from one another.

[..] It is time, then, to sit up and look squarely at the grave threats with which a creeping, apple-pie authoritarianism now faces us. Censorship and its sibling, official propaganda, have lately come to imperil our civil liberties, our civil rights — especially our right to express ourselves freely— and altogether our right to knowledge, our right to understand the world we live in and the events that shape it, and at last our right to shape those events. Compared to these, the supposed threats of the Jan. 6 protests on Capitol Hill and the running, no-evidence business of the Russians having intruded into hundreds of corporate and government computer systems are nothing. Numerous are the voices raised in opposition to this menacing, corrosive drift in America. But too few grasp the gravity of our shared predicament.

Complacency — complacency induced by propaganda, indeed — is another of our urgent problems. One can read in any history book about suppression and repression and the incessant repetition of officially approved perspectives to the exclusion of all dissenting views. But the past is another country in the American mind, ever distant. Such circumstances are supposed to befall others but never Americans. We customarily identify grim polities of this kind and blighted pubic space with the Soviets, or the Latin American dictators, or the too-numerous-to-name despotic regimes that fill history texts. This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here,” as Sinclair Lewis titled the anti-fascist novel he published — note the date — in 1935.

It has not happened here — let us not succumb to language inflation — but we are now on notice that it can. Overcoming exceptionalism, even among those who purport to reject its ideology, is where the project must begin. When we are sitting up, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to get up. If we are to defend our rights as just enumerated, it is up to each of us to act. And taking part in a patently broken electoral system — this is my personal view —can no longer be considered acting: It amounts to acquiescing. “Aux armes, citoyens!” is a thought I leave to other sorts of columnists. My salutation is simpler: “Arise!” will do. We had better wake up, this is to say, if we are to avert a very dark age and reinvent the country and its institutions—which, forget about reform or restoration, is what must be considered the imperative now.

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Why she left the NYT.

The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

I was born in 1984, which puts me among the last generation born into America before the phrase “cancel culture” existed. That world I was born into was liberal. I don’t mean that in the partisan sense, but in the classical and therefore the most capacious sense of that word. It was a liberal consensus shared by liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. The consensus view relied on a few foundational truths that seemed as obvious as the blue of the sky: the belief that everyone is created in the image of God; the belief that everyone is equal because of it; the presumption of innocence; a revulsion to mob justice; a commitment to pluralism and free speech, and to liberty of thought and of faith.

As I’ve observed elsewhere, this worldview recognized that there were whole realms of human life located outside the province of politics, like friendships, art, music, family and love. It was possible for Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be the best of friends, because, as Scalia once said, some things are more important than votes. Most importantly, this worldview insisted that what bound us together was not blood or soil, but a commitment to a shared set of ideas. Even with all of its failings, the thing that makes America exceptional is that it is a departure from the notion, still prevalent in so many other places, that biology, birthplace, class, rank, gender, race are destiny. Our second founding fathers, abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, were living testimonies to that truth.

This old consensus — every single aspect of it — has been run over by the new illiberal orthodoxy. Because this ideology cloaks itself in the language of progress, many understandably fall for its self-branding. Don’t. It promises revolutionary justice, but it threatens to drag us back into the mean of history, in which we are pitted against one another according to tribe. The primary mode of this ideological movement is not building or renewing or reforming, but tearing down. Persuasion is replaced with public shaming. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Mercy is replaced with vengeance. Pluralism with conformity; debate with de-platforming; facts with feelings; ideas with identity.

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WS Merwin

 

 

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Mar 052021
 
 March 5, 2021  Posted by at 10:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Landscape with House and Ploughman 1889

 

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)
Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)
eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)
WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)
Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)
Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)
White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)
How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)
Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)
Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)
Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)
The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)
71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)
Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

 

 

Bit of a strange news day, it seems incoherent, maybe that’s just me. What I do notice is the increasing pressure to promote vaccines, as in this:

Washington Post: The anti-vaccine movement is comparable to domestic terrorism, and must be treated that way

Pfizer not only gets governments to first fund research, then purchase billions of doses, it now also gets them to pay for their advertizing.

They’ll shame and threaten you for asking questions about untested substances, and call you anti-vaxxers.

 

 

 

 

“In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Who’s doing the denying here?

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)

In England, the NHS signed up Elton John and Michael Caine for a lighthearted social media campaign aiming to convince the public that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. In Germany, a more sober public information campaign has been led by a virologist and health workers. And in France and elsewhere there have been no mass campaigns aimed at driving up vaccine acceptance. Government attempts to drive up vaccine acceptance will come under increasing scrutiny in the coming months as more jabs are made available. Public health experts say they have to walk a fine line between boosting trust and not being seen to force the jab on the public.

Germany’s campaign, called Germany Pulls Up Its Sleeves, has run across radio, regional newspapers and billboard posters. At a time when the public is being urged to stay at home and avoid commuting, the health ministry chose to spend more than half of its €25m campaign budget on outdoor advertising. A new campaign aimed at spreading confidence among younger people is due to launch when the vaccine becomes more widely available. In France there has been no major mass information campaign. Instead, the prime minister, Jean Castex, the health minister, Olivier Véran, and the country’s “Monsieur Vaccin”, Prof Alain Fischer, who is overseeing the programme, give weekly televised press conferences to update on progress and announce when different groups will be eligible for a shot.

In the US, the federal government is holding off on a nationwide push to raise awareness until vaccine supply increases, and is instead focusing its efforts on vaccine-hesitant minority communities. “When it comes to shifting attitudes to vaccines, it is crucial to distinguish between public information campaigns that seek to educate the public and those that seek to persuade them,” said Philipp Schmid, a behavioural scientist researching vaccine scepticism at the University of Erfurt. “In Germany at least, the latter would risk a backlash. But if you don’t proactively tackle the problem at all, you end up playing catch-up with the anti-vaxxers. In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Read more …

Jonathan Cook gets a bit lost in this very long piece. But he means well. And the Dr. Seuss is a great find.

Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)

For decades our societies have worshipped a single value with two faces: money and power. But we are suddenly being told by the very people who atomised our communities, who created an economic system of dog eat dog, who wrecked the planet with their greed – the people who made a religion of neoliberal orthodoxy – that we must trust that they have our best interests at heart during the pandemic. They cared not one whit for the common good until now. But suddenly, after many months of economic contraction, when corporations finally have a chance to make a quick buck again – either by producing and selling vaccines to desperate governments and their populations or by demanding a hurried return to business as usual through enforced vaccination programmes – the corporations and their dutiful servants in the media and political class are shocked that some of the public, those most betrayed, are indicating a lack of “trust”.

Nick Cohen offers an interesting survey result: “In Birmingham – the only city to have produced detailed statistics – just 60% of people over 80 accepted the jab in Alum Rock, a deprived and racially mixed part of the inner city, while 95% accepted it in Sutton Four Oaks, an overwhelmingly white commuter suburb.” Why would that be? Why would affluent white people whom the system has always favoured be quicker to trust a system that cared for them than the poor and ethnic minorities who have always been treated with contempt by that system? To ask the question is to answer it. Affluent liberals like Cohen understand that too. Which is why they hope to revive social controls that tightly police or censor information not to their liking, leaving them once again with exclusive rights to tell the poor and marginalised what constitutes the truth, to define for them what is in their interests.

An alien studying western societies from the heavens for the past half-century could better explain the problem than Cohen. People are being asked to trust the corporate medicine industry, the corporate media and the politicians dependent on the good will of profit-obsessed corporations to decide what is best for us, to believe that this time the corporate elite won’t take short cuts, that they won’t conceal information, that they won’t cause harm, that they won’t externalise the costs on to us, the public. That this time it will be different.

These are exactly the same corporations and their functionaries who in the past destroyed manufacturing industries that were the lifeblood of now-decimated communities; that approved the intensified militarisation of institutionally racist and corrupt police forces, turning them into domestic armies; and that are engaged in ransacking and destroying the planet on which we all depend.

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We do not ban nor burn books.

eBay still sells Mein Kampf.

eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)

On Thursday, reports surfaced that eBay, the online auction and shopping website, had blocked the sale of certain Dr. Seuss books. One eBay lister received the following response: “We had to remove your listing because it didn’t follow our Offensive material policy. Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed. What activity didn’t follow the policy[:] Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped the publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account. Please review our Offensive Materials Policy prohibits this item for more information. What you need to do next. You can’t relist items we’ve ended. Please ensure your current and future listings follow this policy.

[..] In light of the fact that books such as “Mein Kampf” can be offered on eBay while some Dr. Seuss books are banned, it is important to examine what the company’s Offensive materials policy states: Listings that promote, perpetuate or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination, including on the grounds of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, aren’t allowed. This includes but is not limited to the following: • Slurs or epithets of any kind • Slavery items, including reproductions, such as tags, shackles, documents, bills of sale, etc. • Items with racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise demeaning portrayals, for example through caricatures or other exaggerated features, including figurines, cartoons, housewares, historical advertisements, and golliwogs • Black Americana items that are discriminatory •Confederate battle flag and related items with its image • Historical Holocaust-related and Nazi-related items, including reproductions • Any item that is anti-Semitic or any item from after 1933 that bears a swastika • Media identified as Nazi propaganda • Listings that imply or promote support of, membership in, or funding of a terrorist organization

This week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press that the books “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” portrayed “people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” adding, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” “Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the company continued. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”

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Running down the clock.

WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)

A World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new inquiry, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. “The full report is expected in coming weeks,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters news agency. No further information was immediately available about the reasons for the delay in publishing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were detected in late 2019.

In an open letter (PDF), a group of 26 scientists called on Thursday for a new international inquiry. They claim that “structural limitations” made it “all but impossible” for the WHO mission to adequately pursue its investigation. Among other issues, the scientists questioned the scientific independence of the “Chinese citizens” composing half of the team. “We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses – whether natural spillover or laboratory/research related incident,” read the letter.

China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a WHO-led team investigating the origins of the pandemic, Dominic Dwyer, one of the team’s investigators, said last month, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began. The investigation had been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research. The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

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Doesn’t say which aspects.

Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)

A new opinion poll in the UK finds that over half of Brits say they will miss either “some” or “many” aspects of lockdown despite the country now having been under some form of restrictions for nearly a year. Yes, really. The YouGov survey asked participants, “Do you think you will or will not miss any aspects of lockdown when it is over?” 9 per cent of respondents said they would miss “many” aspects of lockdown while 46 per cent said they would miss “some” aspects of lockdown – a combined total of 55 per cent. Just 39 per cent of respondents said they won’t miss any aspects of lockdown.


Previous polls have routinely showed majority or plurality support for lockdown, with little concern for what innumerable observers have called the biggest imposition on civil liberties in British history. One aspect that many will “miss” about lockdown is undoubtedly getting paid for doing nothing. Under the government’s furlough scheme, those who can’t work from home have had 80 per cent of their wages covered by the state for almost a year, with that program to be extended until September despite the government saying all restrictions will be lifted by the end of June. The prospect of having to work for their money will become a reality for some once again soon, although not for all given that the UK’s economy contracted the most in 300 years as a result of the lockdown, leading to 726,000 job losses.

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Biden’s entire presidency under siege.

Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)

The U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked the Pentagon to keep National Guard troops stationed at the Capitol past March 12 – the date at which they are scheduled to depart, citing a 93% increase in threats to lawmakers this year. In a statement, the Capitol Police announced that acting Cchief Yogananda Pittman “formally asked the Department of Defense to extend the support provided by the National Guard.” The statement didn’t specify the length of time for which the Guard troops have been requested, though multiple outlets reported Pittman wants them for an additional 60 days. The statement noted Pittman’s testimony in a House appropriations subcommittee hearing that “threats to members are up 93% during the first two months of this year” compared to 2020.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the chair of that committee, credited the National Guard presence in part for his belief that a Jan. 6-style attack on the Capitol could now be effectively dealt with. The statement noted the Pentagon “takes its mission seriously and will do whatever is necessary to achieve that mission,” adding that the Capitol Police is “extremely grateful” for their support. Thousands of National Guard troops have been stationed in and around the Capitol since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which Trump supporters stormed Capitol Police and attempted to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory. “We understand the Guard has a tremendous service need back home responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement concluded.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the request for an extension is “an outrage,” according to pool reports. “That’s not their function, that’s not their mission. They cannot do it,” he said, claiming it’s “destroying careers of people.”

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He promised.

White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)

The White House is weighing whether to engage in talks with Republicans on a minimum wage hike once Congress passes its Covid relief bill, two sources with knowledge of their strategic thinking say. White House aides said they believe there’s room to bring Republicans into the fold because raising the minimum wage is popular across ideological grounds. They pointed to the recent $15-an-hour wage increase passed in Florida, a state that voted for Donald Trump, as evidence that the issue has widespread support. In a sign that the White House is looking to broaden the coalition behind a wage hike, administration officials reached out to trade groups last week to gauge their willingness to support legislation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations with Republicans would be another step entirely. And it would likely frustrate progressives and raise alarms among labor and advocacy groups who are looking to Biden to make good on his promise to deliver a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Progressives argue that a phased-in $15 floor over five years is already a compromise and would likely oppose any deal that would go significantly lower. “They don’t want to blow up the world politically and pay a huge political cost, but if the politics aligned for a smaller increase, Joe Biden generally wants to get deals done,” said a source with knowledge of the administration’s thinking. The White House is “not doctrinaire on policy grounds about what it is they sign” the source added.

Cedric Richmond, a White House senior adviser, would only say that the administration is “exploring all options,” and that internal deliberations were still in the preliminary stages. “It’s still early in the game,” Richmond said. “This is not the point where you lay your whole strategy out for the world to see.”

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Oh sure, let’s pretend that Manchin keeps Biden from keeping his promises.

How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)

For the last week, Americans paying attention to politics have learned an important truth: Joe Biden may live in the White House, but conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is effectively president. This depressing reality can certainly be fixed, but only if progressive Democrats in Congress are willing to actually change the dynamic — and they have a rare opportunity to do that right now by using their power to raise the minimum wage. But so far, they aren’t choosing to use their power — which is a huge structural problem not just now, but also for the foreseeable future. Some have argued that the way to fix this situation is by ending the filibuster, but that’s a catch-22: It is absolutely a necessary reform, but President Manchin is pledging to veto it.

Even if Democrats were to eliminate the filibuster, they would still need Manchin’s stamp of approval for virtually all legislation, given the Senate’s current 50-50 split. The way to fix this dynamic is for a decisive number of House Democrats or Democratic senators to make clear, line-in-the-sand demands, and demonstrate they will vote down Democratic legislation that does not honor those demands. And they must do this specifically on must-pass legislation for which Biden can find zero GOP votes. That is the way to force Biden to stop pretending he has no agency and instead motivate him to use the overwhelming power of the executive branch to press the conservative wing of the party to back down. It is also the way to get Manchin himself to negotiate — right now, he gets to operate with impunity because there is no counterforce.

The COVID relief bill provides progressives this game-changing opportunity, and in the process they can heroically deliver not on some unimportant issue or tangential agenda item — but instead on the crucial cause of delivering a desperately needed higher minimum wage to millions of Americans. The debate over the legislation also gives the public a way to see whether self-identified progressive heroes are as serious about actually using power as President Manchin is. We can see this opportunity in the current wrangling over a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, where Manchin has successfully pressured the executive branch to support further limiting eligibility for survival checks, devising a phase-out policy so absurdly punitive that even reliably partisan Democratic pundits and centrist think tank wonks can’t support it. The payments — which are $1,400 instead of the $2,000 people were promised — will likely now go to 17 million fewer people than the last round of checks under Donald Trump, as a result of Manchin’s handiwork.

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Boris: “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable..”

Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)

Brussels has warned it will launch legal action “very soon” following a move by the UK to unilaterally delay implementation of part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. The European commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, said the announcement by the government on Wednesday had come as a “very negative surprise”. David Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, said the UK was extending a series of “grace periods” designed to ease trade between Northern Ireland – which remains in the EU single market for goods – and Great Britain while permanent arrangements are worked out. It provoked a furious response in Brussels, with the EU accusing Britain of going back on its treaty obligations in the Brexit withdrawal agreement intended to ensure there is no return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.


In an interview with the Financial Times, Sefcovic – who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement – said the European commission was now working on “infringement proceedings” against the UK. “We are currently preparing it and it would be really something coming to our table very soon. The most precise term I can give you is really very soon,” he said. His warning came after Boris Johnson had sought to play down the dispute, saying the government was simply taking some “temporary and technical measures” to ensure that trade kept flowing. “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable,” he said on Thursday.

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Where is that money?

Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)

The father of Michael Brown and other activists from Ferguson, Missouri, are demanding financial support from Black Lives Matter after the organization revealed it raised over $90 million last year. Michael Brown Sr., whose son was fatally shot by a white police officer in August 2014, along with the other activists who helped propel the movement, want $20 million from the group to help their community. “Where is all that money going?” Brown Sr. asked in a Tuesday press release from the International Black Freedom Alliance. “How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”


The police shooting of Michael Brown sparked months of unrest in Ferguson and helped solidify the national Black Lives Matter movement. “We’re not asking for a handout, but for the funding to keep the movement strong where it began,” said Tory Russell, a Ferguson activist and co-founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance. The funds in Ferguson would be used in part to build a community center in honor of Michael Brown, the press release said. Last month the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation shared its funding numbers in an impact report first provided to the Associated Press.

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Alhambra’s Jeffrey Snider says deflation.

Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)

The ISM reported its manufacturing index at highs on Monday, then today releases its non-manufacturing headline falling sharply. The result is an odd appendage to post-2008 history where these sentiment indicators are concerned; they are upside down to the usual configuration when it’s been more likely manufacturing suffers while services are to a greater extent immune to each successive suppressing downturn influence. The most notable aspect of the non-manufacturing index has to be the specific segments most responsible for the sharp decline. The overall number had been relatively flat/sideways stuck around 57 or 58 going back to last June; and had bumped up slightly to 58.7 for January 2021 as government money hit the stores. The February reading instead comes back to 55.3, the lowest since the earliest days of reopening.

Not only that, around 55 places the number into the same context as mid-2019 (or early 2016) when the US economy, like the rest of the world, was facing increasingly serious downturn pressures. Its employment subcomponent had indicated a contrary bump up in hiring of late (when compared to the more austere rebound in payroll estimates for these same few months) that likewise fell back in February. The subindex had reached 55.2 in January, the highest since late 2019 (so, not that impressive) only to decline to 52.7 last month.

New Orders, these apparently plummeted for reasons that aren’t well explained at the moment. Not only have COVID restrictions increasingly been removed, vaccines plus two full months of that $600 helicopter drop should’ve (if you believe in these things) produced more than a single January effect (as in retail sales). As for the ISM, forward-indicated orders in the service sector crashed by very nearly an even ten points (-9.9). As of this February figure, the New Orders index stands at just 51.9, which, outside of last April and May, isn’t close to anything since 2016’s Euro$ #3 bottoming out.

This is made all the more unsettling given the similar direction and intensity in Chinese sentiment of late. As if determined to further corroborate this interpretation, private payroll processing firm ADP reports also today another serious shortfall in the employment rebound. First, the series had undergone benchmark revisions which stripped a few hundred thousand jobs from the series (meaning they probably never happened) and then reported that for the month of February private payrolls gained just 117,000 last month (compared to revised +195,000 in January and Economist expectations for about the same). Around one hundred thousand would have been considered an alarmingly weak month before 2020; in this situation with the labor market struggling to gain any momentum, it’s yet another contrary signal (deflation, rather than the other one).

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“..grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches…”

The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)

I turned fifty-one this week. Terror of age is becoming a key comic subtext of my life. The first line of a novel I tried to write recently read, He looked in the mirror and shrieked. There’s a scene in Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat where the hero, a dim and nervous clerk named Akaky Akakievich, goes to the tailor to try to patch up his ancient greatcoat. It’s coming apart at the seams, the victim of St. Petersburg’s relentless winters and too many years of service. Akaky asks for one last repair job, but the merciless tailor Petrovich, having laid the coat out on a table, quickly pronounces the patient dead. “No, it can’t be repaired, the wretched garment,” he snaps. Akaky, in denial, tries to protest: it’s just a bit worn on the shoulders! Petrovich cuts him off. “The stuff is rotten, if you put a needle in it, it would give way.” “Let it give way, but you must patch it,” counters Akaky. “There is nothing to put a patch on,” Petrovich says, and Akaky recoils in horror, grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches.


Gogol, my childhood hero, died 169 years ago today, on March 4, 1852. Fitting for him, it might have been the most preposterously horrific act of self-destruction in literary history.Gogol was a genius, but a peculiar and probably very unpleasant kind. If Mozart came out of the womb hearing symphonies, the baby born in Sorochintsy, Ukraine in 1809 had a different fate. It was as if God whacked him with a shovel, locking his brain in the moment of hearing the funniest joke ever told. That may sound wonderful, but there’s a reason we eventually have to stop laughing — it hurts. The line between hilarity and terror is a thin one, as people who drop acid find out all the time. Gogol was a depressive who cheered himself up by imagining the funniest situations possible, but his gift in that area was so prodigious that he ultimately scared himself to death.

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“The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life.”

71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)

Indian vets have extracted 71 kilograms (156.5 pounds) of plastic, nails and other garbage from a pregnant cow, but both the animal and her baby died. The case has highlighted the country’s twin problems of pollution and stray cattle. An estimated five million cows roam India’s cities, with many gorging on the vast amounts of plastic litter on the streets. This cow was rescued after a road accident in late February by the People For Animals Trust Faridabad. A vet soon noticed the pregnant bovine was struggling. In a four-hour operation on February 21, vets found nails, plastic, marbles and other garbage in its stomach, said trust president Ravi Dubay.


They also attempted a premature delivery. “The baby did not have enough space to grow in her mother’s belly so she died,” Dubay told AFP. Three days later, the cow also died. “In my 13 years of experience, this is the most garbage we have taken from a cow… we had to use muscle power to get it all out,” Dubay said. Previous surgeries done by the organisation based in the northern Indian state of Haryana have found up to 50 kilograms of waste in cows’ stomachs. “The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life. In every corner in every city they eat the waste,” Dubay added.

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The horror!

Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

We were warned. Only one day after Texas succumbed to neanderthal thinking and reversed the mask mandate, experts reported an estimated 9 billion people around the world have already died as a direct result of this foolish action. “We estimate there are now negative 1.3 billion people alive,” said one expert solemnly. “We’ve never had a negative number like that before. Shucks– I’m not even alive anymore, come to think of it. Sad.” Scientists have followed the science very scientifically to determine this catastrophic end to all human life on Earth immediately began after Governor Greg Abbott called his press conference, announcing his plan to literally murder everyone by not making them wear t-shirt fabric on their faces.


“Too bad, humanity had a good run,” said another expert, who is also dead now. “That’s what we get for electing Republicans. Hopefully, humanity learned its lesson.” The expert, who was literally dead from the Texas mask mandate reversal, then joined his friends at the local bar for some beers.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 032021
 


Jean-Michel Basquiat Irony of the Negro Policeman 1981

 

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)
Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)
Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)
Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)
Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)
EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)
The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)
Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)
Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)
Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)
Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)
The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)
The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)
Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)
There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

 

 

“With” COVID.

 

 

Do we all understand why this is inevitable? Abbott’s biggest critic says he “is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

But isn’t what what Texans want? Florida is open, and doing much better than New York, which is closed. Science as a religion does not work.

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)

Texas and Mississippi are both dropping their Covid-19 restrictions on businesses and ending their mask mandates, the states’ governors announced Tuesday, the latest in a string of states that have relaxed or dropped restrictions as cases have fallen nationwide despite public health officials strongly urging against it. “It is time to open Texas 100%,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Tuesday, saying “all businesses, of any type” can fully open as of next Wednesday. Abbott said increased Covid-19 testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines put the state in a “far better position” than when orders were first issued, and “Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting Covid.”

County judges can impose local restrictions if hospitalizations raise to more than 15% of the region’s hospital bed capacity for seven days straight, Abbott said, but they cannot impose occupancy restrictions of less than 50% and cannot impose penalties against people who don’t wear masks. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Mississippi will also rescind a mask mandate that required them only in certain counties—the state already dropped a statewide mask order in September—and will lift all business restrictions except in schools and a 50% capacity limit for indoor arenas. Though less stringent than some other states, Texas does have social distancing restrictions in place for now for many businesses, such as a 75% capacity limit on indoor dining and gyms and a 50% capacity limit on bars, as well as an order for them to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.

Texas is the largest state so far to entirely drop its Covid-19 restrictions, but the state and Mississippi follow Florida and other Republican-led states that have taken similar measures. “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain Covid. It’s just that now, state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said. “At this time, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” “Abbott removing a statewide mandate while preaching personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID is an abdication of his own personal and professional responsibility to keep Texans safe,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement Tuesday. “By removing all previous state mandates and opening the state to 100 percent, Governor Abbott, who has never taken this pandemic seriously, is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

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I’m still a bit amazed at how the meaning of “herd immunity” seamlessly came to include vaccines.

Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)

If the current Covid-19 vaccination rates are maintained, there will be collective immunity in Russia by August, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has predicted, while making it clear the pandemic is still “quite serious.” Speaking in an interview with news network TASS, published Tuesday, Golikova revealed that the government is planning to reach 60 percent collective immunity – one of the prerequisites for removing all pandemic-related restrictions. “In order to determine the final date of achieving collective immunity, we have developed an epidemiological and mathematical model,” Golikova said. “If vaccination is carried out at the same pace as it is now, and the number of vaccination points remains the same, then the country will achieve collective immunity in August 2021.”

The deputy prime minister also noted that the number of detected cases is slowly declining, after a peak in late December. On Tuesday, the official Covid-19 HQ reported 10,565 new daily instances of coronavirus – a steep drop from the 29,935 figure of just over two months ago. “The numbers of new cases of coronavirus infection are still quite serious, although reassuringly decreasing,” she said. “You will remember that we decided to ease measures last May, when we were at just around this point in terms of the number of new cases.” However, Golikova was also careful to note that viral infections spread more in winter and at the beginning of spring, meaning precautions still need to be taken. She also refused to name a date when life in Russia would get back to normal.

“Neither we nor the world has yet accumulated enough experience to understand how long the immune defense lasts,” she explained. “Of course, everyone is now relaxed and believes that Covid is going away. The situation is better now, but the virus is still not going anywhere. You need to take care of yourself and your loved ones.”

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Wow, this is scary: “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has worked with Microsoft to develop the “Daily Pass” app to monitor coronavirus the vaccination status, health symptoms and temperatures of its students. “Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during his weekly update on Sunday, according to Fox News. “Los Angeles Unified has launched a one-stop shop web app built specifically for the District to ensure that we get students, faculty and administrators back to schools and district offices as safely as possible,” read a statement on the school’s website, which included an animated clip about the app.


In the video, a student uses the app in order to gain their “daily pass” to go back to school. The pass includes a daily health check, details about their “weekly” coronavirus test and scheduling for their vaccination once it becomes available. “Students, parents and visitors will access the Daily Pass on any computer, tablet or mobile device at dailypass.lausd.net. Answer the daily health check questions (not more than a two-minute process!),” the LAUSD website reads, describing the process for students. “If the individual has recently tested negative for COVID-19 and completes the online health check, a QR code will be generated for that day and specific site location,” it continues. “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

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And so is this. It definitely looks like the opposite of freedom.

Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)

Israel has unveiled a coronavirus-tracking bracelet as an alternative to a two-week quarantine for incoming travelers, sparking privacy concerns as a top court moved to curb the Shin Bet spy agency’s role in contact tracing. A pilot program for the tracking bracelet kicked off at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, where 100 devices were doled out to arriving travelers as a way to avoid a stay at a military-administered quarantine hotel. Instead, those opting for the bracelet system – which features the electronic wristband, a smartphone app and a wall-mounted tracking device – will be free to return home to wait out the two-week isolation period.

While the device will alert authorities if participants venture too far from the wall-mounted tracker, Ordan Trabelsi, the CEO of SuperCom, the company behind the bracelet, said it does not collect any other information, insisting the tech is minimally intrusive. “Nobody is forced to do it, but for those who are interested, it gives them another option: more flexibility,” he said. The pilot project – which Trabelsi has already called to expand to “thousands of units” for “wide-scale use” – may trigger further anxiety given SuperCom’s past work with a number of governments around the world to provide “offender monitoring” services, using its tracking tech to surveil prisoners and detainees. The firm signed a contract last year with a government agency in Wisconsin to offer the same service, and also sells technology used for electronic IDs, voter biometrics and cybersecurity.

As the rollout of the tracking bracelets got underway on Monday, Israel’s top court ruled that the country’s domestic spying agency, the Shin Bet, must rein in its Covid-19 contact-tracing efforts, calling the surveillance “draconian” and a threat to Israeli democracy. While the government has employed the Shin Bet for tracing since last March, the court has repeatedly challenged the practice, finally ruling that the agency may only be used under special circumstances beginning on March 14. “From [that] day on, the use of the Shin Bet will be limited to cases in which a confirmed coronavirus patient was not cooperating in his [epidemiological] investigation, whether intentionally or not, or gave no report of his encounters,” the court said.

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“..all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)

There is some optimism in the U.S. that increased vaccination rates, decreasing Covid-19 rates and the rise of health passport schemes could open international travel up for the summer. At a time when EU countries are raising borders, however, all the signs in Europe point to the fact that summer 2021 is still incredibly uncertain for anyone wishing to travel from outside the region. There are extremely conflicting views about summer. On one side, the optimists. Intelligencer gave 9 Reasons To Believe The Worst Of The Pandemic Is Over and The Atlantic quoted Anthony Fauci’s prediction that herd immunity might be reached by August and that Covid-19 cases across the U.S. are declining much more sharply than anticipated, declaring that “the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be historic.”

On the other side are reports that the summer might indeed be historic but for entirely different reasons. The United Nations World Tourism Organization called 2020 the worst year on record for tourism but recently stated that 2021’s prospects had worsened. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, tourist destinations had been hoping for a sorely needed rebound but “with vaccine rollouts delayed in some places and new virus strains appearing, it is looking more likely that international travel could be stalled for years.” Worse still, 41% of experts polled by the UN didn’t think that pre-pandemic levels of tourism would be reached until 2024. It’s a view supported by the International Air Transport Association which said that air travel might only improve by 13% this year and industry insiders who said that it may be that long haul travel doesn’t properly resume until 2023 or 2024.

Many people are pinning hopes on the idea of vaccination passports, coupled with increased vaccination rates, to open up borders by the summer. But as reported by Bloomberg, this is far from sure. As stated by the World Health Organization, no one yet knows how vaccines will stop the spread of Covid-19, nor is it clear how the vaccines will hold up against variant strains. Digital health cards or vaccination/immunity passports are fraught with political and social obstacles, raising issues of equality and discrimination, never mind logistics. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva told Bloomberg, “it’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

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The EU doing what it does best. Be useless.

EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)

The European Union’s vaccine unity has shattered as shortages push a few desperate countries to seek outside supplies and create foreign partnerships. Frustrated by the vaccine shortages, at least four EU countries – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have struck deals to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, or are considering doing so. The Chinese vaccine is also a contender. The Russian and Chinese products have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EU’s vaccine rollout remains stubbornly slow, although the pace has picked up somewhat in recent days. By Tuesday, the 27-country EU – population 450 million – had administered only 33.5 million doses, equivalent to 7.5 per 100 citizens.


[..] In a blow to the EC vaccine strategy, which is overseen by EC president Ursula von der Leyen, Slovakia and Hungary granted emergency approval of the Sputnik vaccine. Slovakia, which currently has the highest number of pandemic deaths per capita over a seven-day period, is to receive two million doses of the Sputnik vaccine. The question is whether one of the EU’s big countries will also break ranks and order outside vaccine supplies. Francesco Galietti, chief executive of the Rome political consultancy Policy Sonar, said that Mario Draghi, Italy’s new prime minister, might be forced to buy the Russian vaccine if Italy’s campaign doesn’t pick up momentum soon. “Draghi will have to carefully assess whether the Western vaccines are enough,” he said in an interview. “He seems to have realized that Italy cannot survive economically if the vaccine is not rolled out before the summer. He knows the importance of tourism to Italy.”

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The larger picture.

The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)

The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elite’s mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation, and systems collapse. The science that elucidates this social death is known to the ruling elites. The science that warned us of this pandemic, and others that will follow, is known to the ruling elites. The science that shows that a failure to halt carbon emissions will lead to a climate crisis and ultimately the extinction of the human species and most other species is known to the ruling elites. They cannot claim ignorance. Only indifference.

The facts are incontrovertible. Each of the last four decades have been hotter than the last. In 2018, the UN International Panel on Climate Change released a special report on the systemic effects of a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperatures. It makes for very grim reading. Soaring temperature rises — we are already at a 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — are already baked into the system, meaning that even if we stopped all carbon emission today, we still face catastrophe. Anything above a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius will render the earth unhabitable. The Arctic ice along with the Greenland ice sheet are now expected to melt regardless of how much we reduce carbon emissions. A seven-meter (23-foot) rise in sea level, which is what will take place once the ice is gone, means every town and city on a coast at sea level will have to be evacuated.

[..] As the climate crisis worsens, the political constrictions will tighten, making public resistance difficult. We do not live, yet, in the brutal Orwellian state that appears on the horizon, one where all dissidents will suffer the fate of Julian Assange. But this Orwellian state is not far away. This makes it imperative that we act now. The ruling elites, despite the accelerating and tangible ecological collapse, mollify us, either by meaningless gestures or denial. They are the architects of social murder. Social murder, as Friedrich Engels noted in his 1845 book “The Condition of the Working-Class in England,” one of the most important works of social history, is built into the capitalist system. The ruling elites, Engels writes, those that hold “social and political control,” were aware that the harsh working and living conditions during the industrial revolution doomed workers to “an early and unnatural death:”

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Something tells me they can afford it.

Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)

A new wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other progressives on Monday would result in the 100 richest Americans paying over $78 billion in taxes annually, according to analysis by Bloomberg News. The bill, called the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, would require households with a net worth of more than $50 million to pay 2 percent of their wealth every year. A 1 percent surtax would be added for those with a net worth in excess of $1 billion. That would mean Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, would face an additional $5.4 billion in taxes if the bill were signed into law this year, according to Bloomberg News. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would pay an additional $5.2 billion, Bill Gates would pay $4 billion more and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would see his tax bill increase by about $3 billion.


The legislation, which is unlikely to pass Congress, would affect tax payments starting in 2023. “As Congress develops additional plans to help our economy, the wealth tax should be at the top of the list to help pay for these plans because of the huge amounts of revenue it would generate,” Warren said on Monday when unveiling the new proposal. “This is money that should be invested in child care and early education, K-12, infrastructure, all of which are priorities of President Biden and Democrats in Congress,” she added. “I’m confident lawmakers will catch up to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are demanding more fairness, more change, and who believe it’s time for a wealth tax.” According to Bloomberg News, the 100 richest Americans added $598 billion to their fortunes last year. Warren’s proposed tax would take 13 percent of that added wealth.

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Your daily drip drip.

Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)

In 2003, Letitia “Tish” James shook the New York Democratic political establishment, becoming the first City Council candidate to win office solely as a nominee of the Working Families Party. James spent the next 15 years as an outspoken, independent-minded progressive and a leading voice for the city’s social movements. In 2013, despite being vastly outspent, she won a tight race for New York City public advocate, a stepping stone to mayor. Her close alliance with the city’s grassroots was considered by political observers to be both a benefit and an obstacle. She had people behind her, but she didn’t have money — and moving to the next level required lots of it. When New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was forced to resign amid a #MeToo scandal in 2018, James was quickly discussed as a potential successor. But could she raise the funds?

That’s where Andrew Cuomo came in. The state’s governor, who was seeking his third term, was in the midst of a long-running feud with the organization that was so intimately linked with James’s rise, the WFP. Under pressure from Cuomo, local unions had left the party, taking their clout and financing with them. In April 2018, the WFP came for the king, endorsing activist and actor Cynthia Nixon for the Democratic primary over Cuomo, who vowed to destroy the organization. Cuomo had long treated figures in New York politics — his playground — like kids to be bullied. He turned his attention to James. In May, Cuomo made James an excruciating offer: He would endorse her and open his donor network to her, but it would come at a price. Not only would she have to endorse him, she would have to publicly refuse the support of the WFP.

Ripped from the pages of a cliched mafia screenplay, James would have to prove her loyalty by executing her longtime ally. James was left with two bad options: Accepting Cuomo’s offer was the most likely route to winning the election, but it would come with accusations that she had traded in her trademark independence and social justice values. Rejecting it could cost her the election and make Cuomo into a fatal enemy. James took the deal. The WFP endorsed her anyway, against her public will, while jointly endorsing Zephyr Teachout. The bulk of their spending went toward opposing the most right-leaning candidate, Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a congressional district upstate.

In the fictional version of these parables, a deal with the devil always ends the same way: The devil always gets his due. But New York politics is not a parable. The story’s new plot twist conforms more closely to a Disney version: Cuomo is getting his due of a different kind, with scrutiny over his failed coronavirus response and an investigation into sexual harassment claims. His fate now rests with Tish James.

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She’s just one of a large group. And she’ll be in the administration anyway.

Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her nomination to head President Biden’s White House budget office after her prospects of Senate confirmation flamed out.The White House made the announcement on Tuesday evening, capping a tumultuous few weeks surrounding the fight over her nomination. Tanden, who would have been the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), faced scrutiny over mean tweets she had written about Republicans and progressive Democrats alike in her previous role heading the Center for American Progress think tank.“I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said in a statement.

“I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work.”Tanden is Biden’s first Cabinet nominee to be withdrawn from consideration, making this an early blow for the president. The White House spent the past two weeks insisting there was a path to confirmation for Tanden and vowed to fight for her, even as her prospects dimmed.Tanden is expected to be appointed to an administration role that does not require Senate confirmation.A handful of names have circulated as potential replacements for Tanden. Shalanda Young, who on Wednesday underwent a confirmation hearing to be the deputy OMB director, is seen as the most likely nominee.

In her controversial tweets, many of which were deleted in recent months, Tanden compared Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to Voldemort and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to a vampire and insinuated that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) benefited from Russian hacking in the 2016 election.In two confirmation hearings, she repeatedly apologized for the tweets and promised to strike a more collegial tone as a member of the administration.Her nomination began to unravel when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) pulled his support, citing the need for comity. In the evenly divided Senate, that left Tanden reliant on support from centrist Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who also was a target of Tanden’s tweets. That support was not forthcoming.

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As I’ve said 1000 times: Our economies run on waste.

Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)

We’re told the gross domestic product (GDP) measures growth, but what it really measures is waste: capital, labor and resources that are squandered and then mislabeled “growth” for PR purposes. If we only manage what we measure, then we’re mismanaging our economy by promoting waste as the only metric we measure and incentivize. Forecasts now predict a rousing 6.8% “growth” in 2021 GDP. In other words, the amount of resources and capital being squandered is going parabolic and we love it! 50 million autos and trucks stuck in traffic, burning millions of gallons of fuel while going nowhere? Growth! All that wasted fuel adds to GDP. Everyone who works from home detracts from “growth” since they didn’t waste fuel sitting in traffic jams. That’s bad! Wasting millions of gallons of gasoline is “growth”!

Repaving a little-used road: growth! Never mind the money could have been invested in repairing a heavily traveled road, or adding safe bikeways, etc.–in the current neo-Keynesian system, building bridges to nowhere is “infrastructure growth.” GDP has no mechanism to measure the opportunity costs of squandering capital, labor and resources on investments with marginal or even negative returns. Buying a new refrigerator to replace a broken one that could have been fixed by replacing a $10 sensor: growth! GDP has no mechanism for calculating the utility still remaining in roads, vehicles, buildings, etc. that are replaced–throwing away all the fixed-investment’s remaining utility to buy a new replacement is strongly encouraged because it adds to “growth.”

Planned obsolescence that sends everything on a conveyor belt to the landfill is “growth”– we love the Landfill Economy because all that incredibly needless waste is “growth”! Building and maintaining extraordinarily costly weapons systems that are already obsolete: growth! The gargantuan future costs of interest paid by taxpayers on the debt borrowed to pay for failed weapons systems like the trillion-dollar rathole known as the F-35 aircraft program is not calculated by GDP. The staggering costs of indebting future taxpayers is ignored by GDP– the only thing that counts in GDP is “growth” in spending, no matter how useless. [..] GDP has no mechanism to measure the value of alternatives that use less capital, labor and resources to get the same results.

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How to get it just right.

The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)

To see why there can be no “Goldilocks” stimulus that gets the amount “just right,” it helps to engage the critics who argue that the administration’s proposal would overheat the economy and hand the Republicans the midterms. Central to their prediction is their tacit assumption that there is also a Goldilocks interest rate and a corresponding stimulus size that will deliver it. What would render any rate of interest “just right”? First, it would achieve the right balance between available savings and productive investment. Second, it would not unleash a cascade of corporate bankruptcies, bad loans, and a fresh banking crisis. And there’s the rub: It is not at all clear that there is a single interest rate that can do both.

Once upon a time, there was. In the 1950s and early 1960s, under the Bretton Woods system, an interest rate of around 4% did the trick of balancing savings and investment while keeping bank profitability at a level that allowed credit to reproduce itself sustainably. Back then, if investment fell below available savings for too long, and failed to recover despite a reduction in the interest rate, a well-designed government stimulus raised investment back to the level of savings, the rate of interest picked up, and balance was restored. Alas, we no longer live in that kind of world. The reason capitalism no longer works like that is the manner in which the Obama administration, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve, re-floated the sinking Western banks. The 2008 crisis was as deep and terrible as that of 1929.

As in 1929, sequential bankruptcies, unemployment, and falling prices meant no one was willing to borrow. Interest rates nosedived to zero and capitalism fell into what John Maynard Keynes referred to as the “liquidity trap.” Once at zero, the interest rate could not go much lower without destroying what was left of the banking sector, insurance companies, pension funds, and other financial institutions. The great difference between 1929 and 2008 was that in 2008 the banks were not allowed to fail. One way to save them was a large enough fiscal stimulus. Direct injections of freshly minted money to consumers and firms – to pay off debts and to increase consumption and investment – would have re-floated Main Street and, indirectly, Wall Street. This was the road not taken by the Obama administration.

Instead, the Fed printed trillions of dollars, and the failing banks were re-floated directly. But while the banks were saved, the economy was not freed from the liquidity trap. The banks lent the new money to corporations, but, because their customers were not re-floated, managers were unwilling to risk plowing the money into good jobs, buildings, or machines. Instead, they took it to the stock market, causing the largest-ever disconnect between share prices and the real economy.

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The warnings of inflation are getting louder.

The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)

In late 2007 I started counting the For Sale signs on the 20 minute drive to work through the neighborhoods of Weston and Westport, CT. I’m not exactly sure why it made my risk antenna start quivering in the first place … honestly, I just like to count things – anything – when I’m doing a repetitive task. Coming into 2008 there were a mid-teen number of For Sale signs on my regular route, up from high single-digits in 2007. By May of 2008 there were 35+ For Sale signs. If there’s a better real-world signal of financial system distress than everyone who takes Metro North from Westport to Grand Central trying to sell their homes all at the same time and finding no buyers … I don’t know what that signal is. The insane amount of housing supply in Wall Street bedroom communities in early 2008 was a crucial datapoint in my figuring out the systemic risks and market ramifications of the Great Financial Crisis.


Last week, for the first time in years, I made the old drive to count the number of For Sale signs. Know how many there were?Zero. And then on Friday I saw this article from the NY Times – Where Have All the Houses Gone? – with these two graphics:I mean … my god.Here’s where I am right now as I try to piece together what the Opposite of 2008 means for markets and real-world.

1) Home price appreciation will not show up in official inflation stats. In fact, given that a) rents are flat to declining, and b) the Fed uses “rent equivalents” as their modeled proxy for housing inputs to cost of living calculations, it’s entirely possible that soaring home prices will end up being a negative contribution to official inflation statistics. This is, of course, absolutely insane, but it’s why we will continue to hear Jay Powell talk about “transitory” inflation that the Fed “just doesn’t see”.

2) Cash-out mortgage refis and HELOCs are going to explode. On Friday, I saw that Rocket Mortgage reported on their quarterly call that refi applications were coming in at their fastest rate ever. As the kids would say, I’m old enough to remember the tailwind that home equity withdrawals provided for … everything … in 2005-2007. This will also “surprise” the Fed.

3) Middle class (ie, home-owning) blue collar labor mobility is dead. If you need to move to find a new job, you’re a renter. You’re not going to be able to buy a home in your new metro area. That really doesn’t matter for white collar labor mobility, because you can work remotely. You don’t have to move to find a new job if you’re a white collar worker. Or if you want to put this in terms of demographics rather than class, this is great for boomers and awful for millennials and Gen Z’ers who want to buy a house and start a family.

4) As for markets … I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to fall way behind the curve here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to be caught flat-footed here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to underreact for months and then find themselves in a position where they must overreact just to avoid a serious melt-up in real-world prices and pockets of market-world. Could a Covid variant surge tap the deflationary brakes on all this? Absolutely. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen! And even if it does happen, that’s only going to constrict housing supply still more, which is the real driver of these inflationary pressures.

It’s just like 2008, except … the opposite.In 2008, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thought the subprime crisis was “contained” – delivered the mother of all deflationary shocks to the global economy.In 2021, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thinks inflationary pressures are “transitory” – risks delivering the mother of all inflationary shocks.It’s the only question that long-term investors MUST get right. You don’t have to get it right immediately. You don’t have to track and turn with every small movement of its path. But you MUST get this question roughly right: Am I in an inflationary world or a deflationary world? And yes, there’s an ET note on this. Because the Fourth Horseman is inflation.

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline certainly did. But his work is still great literature.

Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)

One of Dr. Seuss’ stepdaughters insisted to The Post on Tuesday that the world-famous children’s author was no racist — and that she hopes his six controversial kiddie books yanked from publication will be back. “There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much,’’ Lark Grey Dimond-Cates said of her late, now-embattled stepdad, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. The company overseeing the legacy of the Dr. Seuss books, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, announced Tuesday that it will stop selling six of his titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Dimond-Cates said DSE, which works with publisher Penguin Random House, informed her Monday about its decision to not continue printing “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” “I think in this day and age it’s a wise decision,” she told The Post of the move.“I think this is a world that right now is in pain, and we’ve all got to be very gentle and thoughtful and kind with each other.“This is just very difficult, painful times that we live in,” said Dimond-Cates, a California sculptor, who added that Geisel came into her life when she was in grade school.

“We’re taking that into account and being thoughtful. We don’t want to upset anybody.’’Dimond-Cates’ mother was Geisel’s second wife, Audrey Geisel, and the sculptor also has a sister, another of the author’s stepdaughters, Leagrey Dimond. Dr. Seuss did not have any children of his own. Still, Dimond-Cates said she hopes the six pulled books will eventually go back into print “because his body of work is unique.”

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“The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.”

There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

In my position as a professor of mathematics at Princeton, I have witnessed the decline of universities and cultural institutions as they have embraced political ideology at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Until recently — this past summer, really — I had naively thought that the STEM disciplines would be spared from this ideological takeover. I was wrong. Attempts to “deconstruct” mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school. This phenomenon is part of what has been dubbed “The Great Awokening.” As others have explained powerfully, the ideology incubated in academia, where it indoctrinated plenty of bright minds. It then migrated, through those true believers, into our important cultural, religious and political institutions. Now it is affecting some of the country’s most prominent businesses.

[..] For historical reasons, we often discuss contributions to the field of mathematics from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs and refer to them as distinct entities. They have all contributed through a unique cultural dialogue to the creation of a truly magnificent edifice accessible today to every man and woman on the planet. Though we pay tribute to great historical figures who inform the practice of mathematics, the subject can be taught — and often is — with no reference to the individuals who have contributed to it. In that sense it is uniquely universal. Schools throughout the world teach the same basic body of mathematics. They differ only by the methodology and intensity with which they instruct students.

It is precisely this universality of math — together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent — that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. The idea that focusing on getting the “right answer” is now considered among some self-described progressives a form of bias or racism is offensive and extraordinarily dangerous. The entire study of mathematics is based on clearly formulated definitions and statements of fact. If this were not so, bridges would collapse, planes would fall from the sky, and bank transactions would be impossible. The ability of mathematics to provide right answers to well-formulated problems is not something specific to one culture or another; it is really the essence of mathematics.

To claim otherwise is to argue that somehow the math taught in places like Iran, China, India or Nigeria is not genuinely theirs but borrowed or forged from “white supremacy culture.” It is hard to imagine a more ignorant and offensive statement. Finally, and most importantly, the woke approach to mathematics is particularly poisonous to those it pretends to want to help. Let’s start with the reasonable assumption that mathematical talent is equally distributed at birth to children from all socio-economic backgrounds, independent of ethnicity, sex and race. Those born in poor, uneducated families have clear educational disadvantages relative to others. But mathematics can act as a powerful equalizer. Through its set of well-defined, culturally unbiased, unambiguous set of rules, mathematics gives smart kids the potential to be, at least in this respect, on equal footing with all others. They can stand out by simply finding the right answers to questions with objective results.

There is no such thing as “white” mathematics. There is no reason to assume, as the activists do, that minority kids are not capable of mathematics or of finding the “right answers.” And there can be no justification for, in the name of “equity” or anything else, depriving students of the rigorous education that they need to succeed. The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.

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Mar 012021
 


Lucien Hervé The Accuser, Delhi, India 1955

 

 

As I was trying to get this article together, I read something in the Greek press just now, and wondered how far one can move goalposts without it being noticed:

A Return To Normalcy Seen In November

Experts say the return to normalcy will happen when “herd immunity” is achieved. For that to happen, they say, 70% of the population must be vaccinated. Then, of course, there are questions of how long the immunity lasts, whether the disease will recur, and so on. According to a team of researchers at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki who have developed a Covid-19 risk evaluation model, the vaccination of 70% of the population, and thus herd immunity, will be achieved in November, provided there are 1 million vaccinations per month.


[..] By the end of May, a “wall of immunity” for the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those suffering from serious underlying diseases – will have been built, the researchers say. “[The wall] doesn’t mean complete freedom but at least means the likelihood of lockdown becomes remote,” says Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, professor of environmental engineering at Aristotle University.

Now, a year ago, there also was a lot of talk about herd immunity. But that had nothing to do with the “vaccines”, because none of them existed back then. Way back when, “herd immunity” meant that enough people had been infected, and not gotten sick. Some estimates said 20% would be enough, others said 70%. But none talked about vaccines. And now all of a sudden it’s all about vaccines? For which the companies that produce them say there is no evidence that they protect the vaccinated from getting infected, or them from infecting others? Excuse me?

There already is a huge amount of herd immunity. 90-95% of people do not get sick, period. Because they have strong enough immune systems of themselves, or because they’re young, or any combination of factors. It would seem very irresponsible to claim all of these people should be jabbed before there can be herd immunity. It’s just shoddy science, or, rather, shoddy masquerading as science.

 

 

I want to return to a topic I covered a month ago in The One Year Emergency, That is, “emergency”, and its legal implications. Much of the world lives under some State of Emergency, at least a Public Health Emergency. There appears to be a State of Emergency that allows for lockdowns and facemasks to be forced on populations, and a second State of Emergency that lets governments force PCR tests, mRNA “vaccines” and tentatively, vaccine passports upon their citizens. Or is it all the same?

First, from a Dr. David Martin piece I posted a few days ago:

The fact is that a PCR test is not going to make or not make a confirmed diagnosis of anything because PCR tests cannot confirm a diagnosis. [..] The only reason we are using PCR tests is that governors and the Department of Health and Human Services are maintaining a state of emergency. The second that that state of emergency is lifted in any state or in the country, the PCR test won’t be allowed to be used.


We’re maintaining a state of emergency so that manufacturers can keep selling a thing that would never be approved if it was subject to a clinical trial. It goes for what’s being called vaccines too. The gene therapy that Moderna and Pfizer are doing, both of those would be suspended immediately if the state of emergency got lifted. People don’t understand that if you lift the state of emergency, the whole house of cards falls.

And remember that the man who got a Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR test, Kary Mullis, repeatedly stated it should never be used for the purpose we are now using it for. Mullis died in 2019, but if he were still alive, he would most likely have been very vocal, and not in a positive sense, about what is going on today.

A few days ago, I asked a question at the Automatic Earth comments section, and received some nice replies from two responders, Doc Robinson and Herr Werner. I thought I’d share some of those. My question:

Q: In most, if not all, states/countries where the vaccines are administered, this goes through some form of Emergency Use Authorization (because they haven’t been properly tested), which is mostly only possible if there is some sort of State of Emergency. If countries now want to open up again, it would appear that they -legally- have to lift their State of Emergency. But then they can no longer allow people to be vaccinated with the vaccines, can they?

 

 

Doc Robinson: Q: …If states/countries now want to open up again, it would appear that they -legally- have to lift their State of Emergency. But then they can no longer allow people to be vaccinated with the vaccines, can they?

In the US, a Determination of Public Health Emergency is used to justify the Emergency Use Authorization of some vaccines, but travel restrictions are not necessarily required during the Public Health Emergency.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/07/2020-02496/determination-of-public-health-emergency
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/27/2020-06541/emergency-use-authorization-declaration

If there is no Public Health Emergency, then there can be no Emergency Use Authorization, and the Covid vaccines could not be widely distributed until getting FDA approval after years of testing.

Even if there is a Public Health Emergency, the Covid vaccines could not obtain Emergency Use Authorization if an effective treatment is acknowledged to be available.

With a Public Health Emergency in place, the PREP act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19) provides liability immunity to both public and private distribution channels for the vaccines, including those who prescribe, dispense, and administer the vaccines.

“Liability immunity” means that the “covered person is immune from suit and liability under Federal and State law with respect to all claims for loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure [such as a vaccine].”

In addition, “to the extent that any State law that would otherwise prohibit the employees, contractors, or volunteers who are a “qualified person” from prescribing, dispensing, or administering COVID-19 vaccines or other Covered Countermeasures, such law is preempted.”

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/16/2021-03106/sixth-amendment-to-declaration-under-the-public-readiness-and-emergency-preparedness-act-for-medical

 

 

Ilargi: Ok, so no travel restrictions in the US. But how about other countries, what do their laws say? Anybody looking at that? Can the government here in Greece, for example, invite tourists back in while still in a Public Health Emergency? Tourists that could bring in the very virus the emergency is meant to fight?

Also, this is of course pivotal: “Even if there is a Public Health Emergency, the Covid vaccines could not obtain Emergency Use Authorization if an effective treatment is acknowledged to be available.”

Pivotal, because no government, at least in the west, has done any widespread application of vitamin D, ivermectin or HCQ programs. Are these substances “effective”? The reason we don’t know is that although there is plenty literature to suggest they might be, they were never tested. So are the current “vaccines” effective (and safe)? We don’t know that either. There’s a big sales job going on about them, but that’s it.

 

 

Doc Robinson: In the US, the emergency declaration can be renewed. An EUA is in effect for one year, or shorter if the emergency declaration is no longer in effect. The EUA can be revoked if the criteria are no longer met (such as, the requirement that “there is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.”)

Criteria for EUA Authorization—The FDA will issue an EUA if the FDA commissioner finds all of the following:
• The CBRN agent specified in the declaration of emergency can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition.
• Based on the scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that the product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing the disease or condition specified in the declaration of emergency or caused by another medical product to diagnose, treat, or prevent a disease or condition caused by the specified agent.
• The known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the product when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat the serious or life-threatening disease or condition that is the subject of the declaration.
• There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.


The EUA is in effect for one year from the date of issuance or for as long as the HHS secretary’s §564 emergency declaration is in effect, whichever is shorter. The emergency declaration can be renewed. The EUA can be amended and may be revoked earlier if the criteria for issuance are no longer met or revocation is appropriate to protect public health or safety.

https://astho.org/Programs/Preparedness/Public-Health-Emergency-Law/Emergency-Use-Authorization-Toolkit/Section-564-of-the-Federal-Food,-Drug,-and-Cosmetic-Act-Fact-Sheet/

 

 

Ilargi: Some story, basically: “[If] There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.”

“Effective, adequate, approved, and available alternative..” How does one determine these terms? Especially if those alternatives are not tested?

But sure, as long as a government can waive the “Emergency” flag in your face, what are you going to do?

 

 

Doc Robinson: Yesterday, Pfizer and Moderna got their Covid vaccine EUA reissued by the FDA, and the duration of the EUA can last until the emergency declaration is “terminated.”

IV. Duration of Authorization
This EUA will be effective until the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of drugs and biological products during the COVID-19 pandemic is terminated under Section 564(b)(2) of the Act or the EUA is revoked under Section 564(g) of the Act.

https://www.fda.gov/media/144412/download
https://www.fda.gov/media/144636/download

 

 

Ilargi: A year, and then we add on another year, and before you know it we need to look up the definition of “emergency” in a dictionary.

Then this from commenter “Herr Werner”, which is a bit long, but interesting:

 

 

Herr Werner: I have had a very straightforward question to ask about the safety of covid vaccines, in particular the mRNA ones. The question has nagged me for months, and I spent time this week working on it. It was a difficult question to answer. I wrote this up with the idea of talking within my circle of ppl, I thought the TAE community might find it of interest. Kind of long, apologies –

As I write this, over 200MM people have received covid vaccine doses. While there is more than one vaccine out there, the two available in the West currently are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. (The JnJ vaccine – based on a more conventional technology – will likely be available in early March, but going forward if you show up for the shot, you are not likely to know ahead of time which one you’ll get.) Both Pfizer and Moderna’s are based on mRNA, a topic of much study but little widespread deployment. In the US both are released on an Emergency Use Authorization or its equivalent in other nations, and full approval is not expected until early 2023. Nevertheless the media, the CDC, and political and medical “authorities” are unanimous and incessant in the message that it is “safe and effective.”

Dissenting views on safety are relegated to the fringes, and the existence of vaccines other than just the two mRNA ones (with different, more conventional modes of action) is never mentioned in the Western media. There are several promising aspects to mRNA technology, and still more unknowns about it, particularly long-term effects which most likely would manifest as autoimmune disorders. Being a new technology, early animal studies were often plagued with unexpected negative results as the methods and delivery agents were refined. So where are we in our knowledge and expertise as a species with mRNA, now that we are jabbing tens of millions of people with these vaccines?

The straightforward questions I have are, “How do we know how safe mRNA vaccines are? How well-studied are their long-term effects?”

Those two questions do not yield to an interwebs search. Even an in-depth search mostly returns mostly self-referential information, or secondhand info repackaged and parroted by an authority figure whose motives are unclear (or simply dubious.) Specifically for the covid mRNA vaccines, no long-term data exist, as even the earliest human trials began only in late 2020. At best, we can only infer from other studies done using mRNA technology. A strong case for safety of mRNA could be made if there is a large base of data – say 200 studies, ending over 5 or (better yet) 10 years ago, and a total of a few million people involved in the trials. Even with a large database, there are unknown unknowns once you move outside the confines of clinical study and enter the real world with its long (statistical) tails. Still, large studies with years of follow-up would suggest confidence in their safety.

On the other hand, if there turned out to be just a few studies, or they don’t cover much time history, or include only a small sample of people, that would not support a strong case for mRNA safety. If the latter is the case, then – being generous here – it would be “risky” at best to be giving millions of people a vaccine with this new technology. Severity matters too in the risk/reward calculation: if a disease like Ebola or Lhasa takes hold, they are so deadly and the situation so dire that greater risks are worth taking – including a vaccine with side-effects or other measures that cause harm.

My approach was to answer 3 questions that follow from the first ones –
1) HOW LONG have mRNA interventions been tested on humans?
2) HOW MANY people have been tested (thousands? millions, tens of millions?)
3) …and from 1 and 2, do THOSE numbers suggest that vaccinating large numbers of people with an unapproved mRNA product is safe?

For a starting point I used a Forbes article “What Are The Long-Term Safety Risks Of The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines?” It was published in Dec 2020 and, unsurprisingly, concludes that they are safe. (In fact the article leads off with a strawman, perhaps an attempt at humor, the author’s husband asking if these vaccines are going to turn us into zombies.) The author is Ellen Matloff, in her bio a certified genetic counselor, and she also runs a company that “specializes in scalable, updating, digital genetic counseling.” She is coauthor of several papers in genetics, including subjects related to gene therapy and patient advocacy. It is safe to say she knows what she’s talking about on the topic. Like many authorizes it is equally safe to assume she has a vested interest – both financially and as a personal belief system – in promoting genetic technology.

Spoiler alert: If you want to skip the rest, here’s the answer: about 1,675. That’s the number of people enrolled in (completed) mRNA clinical trials (32 of them) that ended before 2017. Keep in mind the number that received the mRNA treatment-under-study is about half that; most of these are blinded studies and half of them got a placebo. Of those, only 8 studies were conducted on an mRNA treatment against an infectious agent (HIV, rabies) a more realistic comparison which brings the number down to 985 persons. So the size of the database (hundreds) relative to the number of people now receiving doses of the technology (tens of millions) is quite small.

Matloff first discusses the Pfizer vaccine trial and its ability to identify short-term effects “Pfizer vaccine clinical trial study explain[s] that their data show a greater than 83% likelihood of finding at least one adverse, or undesirable, event, if the true incidence of that event is 1 in 10,000. However, the study does not include enough participants, nor has it followed them for enough time, to reliably detect adverse events that are rarer than 1 in 10,000.” That refers to the clinical trials conducted and self-reported by the producer of the vaccine. Assuming their studies are honest and well-run, that covers short-term risks. And it seems to be borne out thus far in the frenzy of arm-jabbing between the end of 2020 and now. We seem to be “in the clear” on short-term effects – safety seems to be on par with any other vaccine, if not a bit better. Though it does suck to be one of those few hundred (?) worldwide that reacted severely and died after the first or second jab, or someone close to them.

On long term risks, the article suggests ‘safe and effective’ though both the article and scientific evidence become decidedly hazy. In Forbes she writes “Of course, the only way to know what, if any, long-term side effects result from the use of these mRNA vaccines is to follow the participants of the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials, vaccinate and study many more people, and then follow all of them for several years. That effort is well underway.” By way of supporting the long-term knowledge, she mentions “mRNA vaccines are not as new as you may think. In fact, mRNA vaccines have been studied over the past two decades and have shown great promise for both infectious disease and cancer.” She links to several sources and particularly calls out an mRNA rabies vaccine trial to support her case. No adverse events are noted in the study. This trial involved 101 participants and ended in 2017. It is neither a large study (many participants to extrapolate the lessons out to millions of people) nor an old study (completed just four years ago.)

The rest of this analysis looks only at numbers; the number people enrolled in mRNA studies and when. This research was performed with data from the US gov’t clinical trials database. One unknown about mRNA or any vaccine is the length of time for long-term effects, if any, become evident. Pulling a number out of the air, let’s look at three years of follow up. That should be enough time for side effects, such as exposure to the infectious agent that the vaccine targets. Let’s round that up to four, that allows for lag of ending the study and publishing out results. This is Feb 2021 so I looked at studies ending before Jan 2017.

Searching on mRNA returns 103 studies. This includes all studies most of which (like the 20 Covid-related ones) are ongoing. All of those studies in total have 90,000 participants. Filtering out incomplete or terminated studies, and ones newer than that arbitrary point in time, gives 32 studies and 1,675 persons. As I mentioned above the number that received the mRNA treatment-under-study is about half that; most of these are blinded studies and half of them got a placebo. Of those, only 8 studies were conducted on an mRNA treatment against an infectious agent (HIV, rabies) a more realistic comparison which brings the number down to 985 persons. Quite a small population to draw conclusions of long-term safety from – that entails extrapolating to a population four orders of magnitude larger.

BTW my approach is admittedly coarse. And I want to emphasize, it does *not* suggest that mRNA technology is dangerous. The approach simply looks at how large the database is that supports how “safe and effective” mRNA vaccines are. Questions such as long-term follow-up, adverse events, and other factors from the individual studies are outside my area of expertise, and unlikely to be found in publicly available sources. We are vaccinating large numbers of people (tens of millions) based on an experience of small size (hundreds) and not much history (going back 1-5 years in most cases.) Again, it does not suggest that mRNA technology is dangerous – it suggests that we do not have enough data. I find insufficient evidence to support the assertion that mRNA technology is “safe and effective” – we SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW.

 

 

Ilargi: And then Doc Robinson’s reply to that:

 

 

Doc Robinson: HerrWerner: “She links to several sources and particularly calls out an mRNA rabies vaccine trial to support her case. No adverse events are noted in the study. This trial involved 101 participants and ended in 2017.”

If that’s what she wrote, then she’s not a trustworthy source of information (for whatever reasons). No adverse events?

Actually, 78% reported systemic adverse events in that trial. And 10% reported “Grade 3 events — which means the reaction is severe enough to cause hospitalization, and/or is disabling (but not immediately life threatening.)

Safety and immunogenicity of a mRNA rabies vaccine in healthy adults: an open-label, non-randomised, prospective, first-in-human phase 1 clinical trial The Lancet, September 2017
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673617316653

…we enrolled and vaccinated 101 participants... 50 (78%) of 64 intradermally vaccinated participants and 29 (78%) of 37 intramuscularly vaccinated participants reported solicited systemic adverse events, including ten grade 3 events… intradermal or intramuscular needle-syringe injection was ineffective, with only one participant (who received 320 μg intradermally) showing a detectable immune response.

 

 

1 year into the pandemic, we are still stuck with facemasks that, according to physics, appear to have very little effect. We’re stuck with lockdowns that already have destroyed millions of businesses and jobs, for not terribly obvious purposes. Does locking down entire countries or cities prevent a virus from spreading? Not that we know. Here in Athens, this has been in effect since early November, and guess what, numbers are rising again…

How can you force these kinds of things on people if you refuse to try and boost their immune systems? If the only things you do is force them to stay indoors, inarguably a riskier environment, and then tell them to take an untested “vaccine”, or else?

It makes less sense all the time, going forward. And I don’t think it’s because of some great evil plan, there are simply too many people having to make too many decisions they are not at all qualified to make. So they follow “the science”. What else do you do when you’re way out of your league? Virus? Ask a virologist, or epidemiologist. But those people cover only a very small part of the issue. They are clueless when it comes to economic apocalypse, and yet they are in charge of decisions that feed it.

Look, if you put an elephant in a circus, you have a traumatized animal. Which will somehow adapt perhaps, since there’s life around him/her, feeders, audience, and nowhere to go, but still a walking trauma. Inmates will bond with fellows to an extent, there’s life around them, but they’re still traumatized.

And now we’ve excluded millions upon millions of people from their social contacts, the life their ancestors always had, and we’re telling them that a jab of some experimental substance will make it good. Even though we all know there is no guarantee of that whatsoever. None.

We lost our way, and our heart, and your brains. We lost what it means to be human. And mRNA vaccines are not human.

 

 

Here’s another interview with PCR inventor Kary Mullis, A controversial guy, for sure, but he did invent it. And maybe that merits a listen:

Kary Mullis

 

 

 

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Feb 272021
 
 February 27, 2021  Posted by at 10:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Paul Klee Dancing Under the Empire of Fear 1938

 

House Passes Second Largest Stimulus Package In History At $1.9T (JTN)
What IS the Truth About Covid Deaths? (DM)
Nearly 1 In 5 US Adults Have Now Gotten At Least One Covid19 Vaccine Dose (F.)
Johnson & Johnson One-Shot Covid Vaccine Gets Nod From FDA Advisory Panel (G.)
What The Neera Tanden Affair Reveals About The Washington DC Swamp (Sirota)
Biden Doesn’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince (CNN)
Shadowland (Jim Kunstler)
Trapped (CHS)
IMF To Propose Ways To Improve Transparency Of Trade In SDR (R.)
Bitcoin Energy Use ‘Bigger Than Most Countries’ (BBC)
Congress And The Slippery Slope Of Censorship (Turley)
Durham Steps Down As US Attorney, Remains In Charge Of Russia Probe (JTN)

 

 


Jim Bianco: 13 days past the impeachment vote (Feb 13) and cable news STILL spends more time talking about Trump than Biden.

 

 

Irish scandemic
https://twitter.com/i/status/1365312489198661633

 

 

A highway for Schumer, a bridge for Pelosi… and $1,400, not $2,000 checks.

House Passes Second Largest Stimulus Package In History At $1.9T (JTN)

The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the second-largest stimulus package in U.S. history in the early hours of Saturday that includes a gradual $15 minimum wage hike, despite the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling. Two Democrats, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, joined Republicans in voting against the bill. The final vote shortly after 2 a.m. was 219 to 212 and the bill now moves to the Democratic-led Senate. Democrats are using budget reconciliation to pass the American Rescue Plan, which the Senate parliamentarian ruled cannot include a minimum wage increase. Reconciliation allows Democrats to pass the bill without relying on any votes from Senate Republicans. The largest stimulus bill in history was the CARES Act that was passed in March of last year during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits and $1,400 direct payments, the legislation includes more than $100 million for transportation projects in New York and California. “This is not a bailout. It is a rescue package,” House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Jim McGovern said on Friday. House Rules Committee Ranking Member Rep. Tom Cole argued that the coronavirus bill is excessive, given that it would add $1.9 trillion to the deficit over a 5-year period. “Last year Congress passed and the president signed into law five bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages that appropriated around $4 trillion. Not all of that money has been spent yet. But if the majority has their way, within one year we will have appropriated just shy of $6 trillion for COVID-19 relief packages,” Cole said. “This is one and one-third times the amount of money the federal government appropriated for all of 2019.”

The national debt is approaching $28 trillion, according to the latest Treasury Department data. Cole said there’s about $1 trillion in unspent stimulus funds. “To make matters worse, of the previous COVID-19 relief packages, there remains nearly $1 trillion in unspent funds. Before we leap ahead into another gigantic spending package that drives the American people further into debt, shouldn’t we at least spend down the funds already allocated and see if new money is actually required?” he said. Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess wrote on Twitter before the vote that “the premise of this legislation was to provide relief against COVID-19. Instead it puts forward a partisan agenda.”

Read more …

Yes, but .. les jeux sont faits.

What IS the Truth About Covid Deaths? (DM)

Grieving families last night said deaths had been wrongly certified as Covid-19. Demanding an inquiry, top medical experts and MPs also insisted they were ‘certain’ that too many fatalities were being blamed on the virus. One funeral director said it was ‘a national scandal’. The claims are part of a Daily Mail investigation that raises serious questions over the spiralling death toll. More than 100 readers wrote heartbreaking letters following a moving article by Bel Mooney last Saturday. She revealed the death of her 99-year-old father, who suffered from dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was recorded as coronavirus. Dozens expressed similar frustrations that the causes of death of elderly and already-unwell relatives had been wrongly attributed.

Eight of the families who wrote to the Daily Mail have successfully urged doctors to change causes of death previously recorded as Covid-19. Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, said: ‘The Government should call a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic immediately with an interim investigation into all Covid deaths that should report as soon as possible.’ Tory MP Paul Bristow, a member of the Commons health committee, said: ‘It’s almost certain that a number of deaths have been wrongly attributed to Covid-19. ‘Not only has this skewed figures when data has been so important in deciding how we respond to the pandemic, it has caused distress and anxiety for relatives.

A funeral director in the North West told the Mail: ‘The way Covid has been recorded and reported is a national scandal and a thorough enquiry should be opened immediately.’ Medical experts have cited pressure on doctors to include Covid-19 as a cause of death because it was last year ruled a ‘notifiable disease’, meaning any case needs to be reported officially.

Read more …

This is really starting to scare me. 100s of millions will soon have been injected with hardly tested substances designed to play footsie with their genes.

Nearly 1 In 5 US Adults Have Now Gotten At Least One Covid19 Vaccine Dose (F.)

Nearly one in five American adults have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and the U.S. reached 50 million vaccine doses ahead of schedule, the White House said Friday, as the pace of vaccinations starts to pick up after a slow start ahead of a substantial increase in the country’s vaccine supply.According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 18.5% of all U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot, and 8.9% of adults have received both doses. The U.S. has doubled its pace of vaccinations since President Joe Biden took office, White House Covid-19 response team advisor Andy Slavitt said at a briefing Friday, and delivered more than 50 million shots in 37 days, which was ahead of the Biden administration’s target.

Nearly half of Americans over age 65 have now gotten at least one shot and nearly 60% of those over 75, the White House advisor said, up from only 8% of Americans over 65 and 14% of over-75s who had been vaccinated six weeks ago. According to the CDC, the states that have the highest vaccination rates are Alaska and New Mexico—where 29.1% and 27% of adults have received at least one dose, respectively—and the lowest vaccination rates are in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, which have all vaccinated approximately 15% to 16% of their adult population. The White House sent out 17.5 million vaccine doses to states this week, up from 13.5 million last week and 8.6 million during Biden’s first week in office—a nearly 70% increase.

As vaccinations ramp up, the share of Americans who are willing to get inoculated soon is increasing: A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted Feb. 15-23 found the percentage of U.S. adults who said they were either already vaccinated or would get one as soon as they could increased to 55%, up from 47% in January, and the share who said they would “wait and see” decreased from 31% to 22%. 70.4 million. That’s how many Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of Friday afternoon, according to the CDC. Those doses have covered 47.1 million people who have received at least one dose, with 22.6 million having completed both shots. The KFF poll found that 15% of adults will “definitely not” get the vaccine, as compared with 13% who said the same in January.

Read more …

So many questions … under the carpet.

Johnson & Johnson One-Shot Covid Vaccine Gets Nod From FDA Advisory Panel (G.)

The battle against Covid-19 took a major step forward on Friday as the US moved closer to distributing its first one-shot Covid-19 vaccine, after an independent expert advisory panel recommended drug regulators authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use. The authorization would be a significant boost to the Biden administration’s vaccination plans, making Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine the third available to the public. Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine subsidiary, told a congressional hearing this week that it expects to deliver 20m doses by March and a total of 100m doses before the end of June.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, along with those from Pfizer and Moderna, should provide the US with more than enough supply to vaccinate every vaccine-eligible person. “We’re still in the midst of this deadly pandemic,” said Dr Archana Chatterjee, a voting member of the panel and an infectious disease pediatrician at Chicago Medical School, as she explained her vote in favor of recommending the vaccine. “There is a shortage of vaccines that are currently authorized, and I think authorization of this vaccine will help meet the needs at the moment.” While regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not always take the advice of their advisory panels, the agency is expected to authorize the vaccine for emergency use.

[..] The convenience of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes with caveats. The company’s clinical trials were the first to show the potential impacts of Covid-19 variants, or evolutionary changes in the virus. The vaccine was found to 85% effective at preventing severe disease and to provide complete protection against Covid-19-related hospitalization and death after 28 days. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was found to be 72% effective in clinical trials in the US, but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a variant called B1351 originated.

[..] Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses different technology from the two vaccines currently available in the US. The new vaccine uses “viral vector” technology, which introduces the body to the genetic code for the spike protein covering the outside of the coronavirus. This code is transmitted by a second, weakened virus called an adenovirus. Immunity is provoked when the body’s immune system then recognizes the coronavirus by this key structure. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna also prompt the body to recognize spike proteins on the outside of the coronavirus, but deliver the genetic code through lipid nanoparticles, or tiny molecules of fatty acids.

Read more …

Well, she’s out for now.

What The Neera Tanden Affair Reveals About The Washington DC Swamp (Sirota)

When sifting through the wreckage to try to make sense of this epoch, future anthropologists should dust off whatever records will be preserved about Neera Tanden’s star-crossed nomination to an obscure-but-powerful White House office. The whole episode is a museum-ready diorama in miniature illustrating so many things that died in the transition from democracy to oligarchy. And in this affair, all the politicians, pundits, news outlets, and Democratic party apparatchiks involved are very blatantly telling on themselves. Tanden is being nominated to run the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the federal budget. As a political operative and head of a corporate-funded think tank, she does not have especially relevant experience for the appointment — in fact, whether in gubernatorial administrations, mayoral offices, or Capitol Hill budget committees, there are far more qualified experts for this gig.

Moreover, her particular record would raise significant red flags as a job applicant for even a mid-level management position in any organization, much less the White House: during her tenure running the Center for American Progress, she reportedly outed a sexual harassment victim and physically assaulted an employee. While she was running the organization, CAP raked in corporate and foreign government cash and a report was revised in a way that helped a billionaire donor avoid scrutiny of his bigoted policing policy. Critics allege that Tanden busted a union of journalists. And she floated Social Security cuts when Democrats in Congress were trying to stop them.

Even if you discount Tanden’s infamous statement about Libya and oil, as well as her vicious crusade against Senator Bernie Sanders and the progressive base of the Democratic party, all of these other items would seem to disqualify Tanden for a job atop a Democratic administration that claims to respect expertise and want to protect women, workers’ rights, social programs, and government ethics. From the beginning, every single Democratic senator could have simply cited Biden’s promise to be the “most pro-union president” and stated that they would not vote to confirm anyone accused of undermining a union. Or they could have said that they are not going to allow someone who runs a corporate-funded think tank — and whose nomination is being boosted by one of the most diabolical corporate lobbying groups in Washington — to be in charge of the White House office that can grant government ethics waivers. At the absolute barest minimum, these issues should have been major topics of discussion in her confirmation hearings and in the news media.

Read more …

No, I’m talking to the father now…

Biden Doesn’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince (CNN)

Despite promising to punish senior Saudi leaders while on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden declined to apply sanctions to the one the US intelligence community determined is responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The choice not to punish Prince Mohammed directly puts into sharp relief the type of decision-making that becomes more complicated for a president versus a candidate, and demonstrates the difficulty in breaking with a troublesome ally in a volatile region. On Friday, Biden’s administration released an unclassified intelligence report on Khashoggi’s death, an action his predecessor refused to take as he downplayed US intelligence.

The report from the director of national intelligence says the crown prince, known as MBS, directly approved the killing of Khashoggi. But while Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced visa restrictions that affected 76 Saudis involved in harassing activists and journalists, he didn’t announce measures that touch the prince. And while a sanctions list from the Treasury Department named a former deputy intelligence chief and the Saudi Royal Guard’s rapid intervention force, the crown prince wasn’t mentioned. Two administration officials said sanctioning MBS was never really an option, operating under the belief it would have been “too complicated” and could have jeopardized US military interests in Saudi Arabia.

As a result, the administration did not even request the State Department to work up options for how to target MBS with sanctions, one State Department official said. When asked in an interview with Univision about how much he’s willing to push the crown prince to observe human rights, Biden said he was now dealing with the Saudi King and not bin Salman. He said “the rules are changing” and that significant changes could come on Monday. “We are going to hold them accountable for human rights abuses and we’re going to make sure that they, in fact, you know, if they want to deal with us, they have to deal with it in a way that the human rights abuses are dealt with,” Biden said, without being more specific about any plans to punish the crown prince.

It was a far cry from a comment in November 2019, in which Biden promised to punish senior Saudi leaders in a way former President Donald Trump wouldn’t. “Yes,” he said when directly asked if he would. “And I said it at the time. Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered and dismembered, and I believe on the order of the crown prince. And I would make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them, we were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them the pariah that they are.” “There’s very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “They have to be held accountable.”

Smedley Butler

Read more …

“What did they think they were doing when they engineered the election of this empty suit, this blank cartridge, this political mannequin, this man-who-isn’t-there?”

Shadowland (Jim Kunstler)

The State of the Union speech is a somewhat squishy national ritual. Since Franklin Roosevelt, presidents have delivered it early each year in-person to a joint session of congress, with every other dignitary in government on hand — except for one cabinet officer designated the “lone survivior,” who sits it out elsewhere in case, say, the Capitol gets blown up. Before Woodrow Wilson, presidents customarily sent over a written message. Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the constitution only stipulates that a president “from time to time” shall report to Congress on how the nation is doing. Lately, it’s mostly just a made-for-TV special, like the Oscars, allowing a lot of familiar faces to preen before the cameras for the home-folks.

Ronald Reagan introduced the gimmick of showboating heroes or victims of this-and-that seated up in the galleries, which has naturally devolved into a maudlin, cringeworthy feature of the show. But often presidents use the occasion to drop a ripe phrase on the big audience that captures the spirit of the moment: “The era of big government is over” (Bill Clinton); “the axis of evil” (G. W. Bush); FDR’s “four freedoms.” In 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced an instant op-ed closer feature to the proceedings, ripping up Mr. Trump’s speech behind his back in a striking display of pique, much applauded by the avatars of rising Wokesterdom, who had only days earlier seen their half-assed impeachment attempt flop. Kinda looks like our current president, Joe Biden, will skip the grand show this year.

Too busy playing “Mario Kart” with the grandkids, or something like that. The Washington press corps has given him a pass on it, apparently. There’s no chatter, no buzz on the cable channels or in The New York Times, though a few newsies have begun to whine about Mr. Biden’s general unwillingness to hold a routine press conference with freely-pitched questions — not hand-picked, vetted ones, as the president’s handlers have insisted. How long will it be before the public realizes that Mr. Biden is being strictly concealed from view by his managers? And how long can they keep it up? A few more weeks, maybe, I’d guess. What did they think they were doing when they engineered the election of this empty suit, this blank cartridge, this political mannequin, this man-who-isn’t-there?

Of all the hundred-million-odd adults over 35-years-of-age in this country, they picked this empty vessel to lead in a year of obvious crisis? Apparently so — an act so collectively insane it makes you shudder to think about it. Like, the Democratic Party really thought this was a good idea? And who’s calling the shots behind this false front? Some committee chaired by Susan Rice? With directives coming into the Oval Office by messenger from Barack Obama’s Kalorama fortress, with, say, Eric Holder, Rahm Emmanuel, David Axelrod, John Brennan, and a few others charting the daily play-by-play?

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…shadow nationalization..

Trapped (CHS)

Back when prosperity was authentic, the Federal Reserve had little need for public relations. But now that “prosperity” is an illusion that must be managed lest the phantasm vanish, the Fed’s public relations pronouncements are a ceaseless flood as the The Babble-On 7 are the spokespeople for a propaganda machine bent on “managing expectations.” Managing Expectations is the code phrase for “front-run what we say and your profits are guaranteed.” When the Fed says it’s going after X, then simply buy whatever will benefit from X happening, and for 12 long years, X unfolds and those who front-ran the FedSpeak reaped billions in essentially zero-risk profits.

Managing Expectations is part of the Fed’s shadow nationalization of key markets. If price discovery of credit and risk is allowed to live, the Fed’s carefully inflated speculative bubbles pop. And so the Fed’s Job One is killing all price discovery via shadow nationalization. The first market shadow nationalized was the mortgage market, the foundation of the housing market. After Wall Street’s epic swindle (subprime mortgages) imploded in 2008, the Fed printed trillions of dollars out of thin air and bought hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgages. The federal government nationalized the quasi-governmental mortgage issuers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the net result was virtually the entire mortgage market was government guaranteed or owned.

Since Wall Street’s fraud had nearly vaporized the entire global financial system, the Fed also shadow nationalized the stock market, which had imploded once the house of cards collapsed. Thus the S&P 500 has advanced from 667 to 3,850 with just enough brief wobbles to maintain the semblance of an organic market. This shadow nationalization has been the most well-promoted PR campaign in the history of central banking. The flood of FedSpeak and trillions of dollars in direct purchases of assets over the past 12 years has relentlessly trained the Wall Street and retail rats to buy the dip because the Fed has your back, meaning the Fed will never let its nationalized stock market decline for more than a few weeks.

The profits from front-running FedSpeak are in the trillions of dollars. No wonder the Wall Street rats scurry over and frantically press the buy button–the rewards and have been both reliable and immense. Now the Fed is in the process of shadow nationalizing the entire bond market. It signaled its intent long ago with quantitative easing, i.e. strangling price discovery in the Treasury market, and recently it began buying corporate bonds (proxies come in handy here).

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Ultimate globalization.

IMF To Propose Ways To Improve Transparency Of Trade In SDR (R.)

The International Monetary Fund on Friday said it would propose ways to improve the transparency and accountability of how its Special Drawing Rights are used, a key U.S. demand for its support of a new issuance of the IMF’s own currency. Geoffrey Okamoto, first deputy managing director of the IMF, said a new allocation of SDRs would boost the reserve positions of all IMF members, calling it “a far superior option to the alternatives” currently available to poorer countries. “The IMF will respond to the #G20’s call for a proposal on a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs),” he said in a tweet.


“So that countries see maximum benefit from new SDRs, we will propose ways to improve transparency and accountability in how SDRs are allocated and traded,” he added. He gave no details. Finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies on Friday expressed broad support for boosting the IMF’s emergency reserves after U.S. officials dropped the previous administration’s opposition. Italy, which heads the G20 this year, is pushing for a $500 billion issuance of SDRs, a move backed by many other G20 members as a way to provide liquidity to poor countries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic without increasing their debt levels. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday expressed her qualified support, but called for greater transparency about the trading and use of SDRs.

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“If Bitcoin were to be adopted as a global reserve currency,” he speculates, “the Bitcoin price will probably be in the millions, and those miners will have more money than the entire [US] Federal budget to spend on electricity.”

Bitcoin Energy Use ‘Bigger Than Most Countries’ (BBC)

We’ve all heard the stories of Bitcoin millionaires. Elon Musk is the latest. His electric car company Tesla made a paper profit of more than $900m (£646m) after buying $1.5bn (£1bn) -worth of the cryptocurrency in early February. Its high profile support helped pushed the price of a single Bitcoin to more than $58,000. But it isn’t just the digital asset’s price that has hit an all-time high. So has its energy footprint. And that’s caused blowback for Mr Musk, as the scale of the currency’s environmental impact becomes clearer. It also helped prompt a series of high profile critics to slate the digital currency this week, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.


President Biden’s top economic adviser described Bitcoin as “an extremely inefficient way to conduct transactions,” saying “the amount of energy consumed in processing those transactions is staggering”. It’s unclear exactly how much energy Bitcoin uses. Cryptocurrencies are – by design – hard to track. But the consensus is that Bitcoin mining is a very energy-intensive business. The University of Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) studies the burgeoning business of cryptocurrencies. It calculates that Bitcoin’s total energy consumption is somewhere between 40 and 445 annualised terawatt hours (TWh), with a central estimate of about 130 terawatt hours. The UK’s electricity consumption is a little over 300 TWh a year, while Argentina uses around the same amount of power as the CCAF’s best guess for Bitcoin. And the electricity the Bitcoin miners use overwhelmingly comes from polluting sources.

The CCAF team surveys the people who manage the Bitcoin network around the world on their energy use and found that about two-thirds of it is from fossil fuels. Huge computing power – and therefore energy use – is built into the way the blockchain technology that underpins the cryptocurrency has been designed. It relies on a vast decentralised network of computers. These are the so-called Bitcoin “miners” who enable new Bitcoins to be created, but also independently verify and record every transaction made in the currency. In fact, the Bitcoins are the reward miners get for maintaining this record accurately. It works like a lottery that runs every 10 minutes, explains Gina Pieters, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and a research fellow with the CCAF team.


[..] We can track how much effort miners are making to create the currency. They are currently reckoned to be making 160 quintillion calculations every second – that’s 160,000,000,000,000,000,000, in case you were wondering. And this vast computational effort is the cryptocurrency’s Achilles heel, says Alex de Vries, the founder of the Digiconomy website and an expert on Bitcoin. All the millions of trillions of calculations it takes to keep the system running aren’t really doing any useful work. “They’re computations that serve no other purpose,” says de Vries, “they’re just immediately discarded again. Right now we’re using a whole lot of energy to produce those calculations, but also the majority of that is sourced from fossil energy.” The vast effort it requires also makes Bitcoin inherently difficult to scale, he argues.”If Bitcoin were to be adopted as a global reserve currency,” he speculates, “the Bitcoin price will probably be in the millions, and those miners will have more money than the entire [US] Federal budget to spend on electricity.”

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“The measures being discussed in Congress have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and exceedingly difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.”

Congress And The Slippery Slope Of Censorship (Turley)

Democrats are pushing for cable carriers to explain their “moral” criteria for allowing tens of millions of viewers access to Fox News and other targeted networks. The answer should begin with the obvious principles of free speech and a free press, which are not even referenced in the Eshoo-McNerney letter. Instead, the companies are asked if they will impose a morality judgment on news coverage and, ultimately, public access. This country went through a long and troubling period of morality codes used to bar speakers or censor material that barred atheists, feminists, and others from espousing their viewpoints in newspapers, books, and movies. Indeed, there was a time when the Democratic Party fought such morality rules, in defense of free speech.

Those seeking free-speech limits often speak of speech like it is a swimming pool that must be monitored and carefully controlled for purity and safety. I view speech more as a rolling ocean, dangerous but also majestic and inspiring, its immense size allowing for a natural balance. Free speech allows false ideas to be challenged in the open, rather than forcing dissenting viewpoints beneath the surface. I do not believe today’s activists will succeed in removing the most-watched cable news channel in 2020 from the airways. But, then again, I did not think social media sites — given legal immunity in exchange for being content-neutral — would ever censor viewpoints.

Roughly 70 years ago, Justice William O. Douglas accepted a prestigious award with a speech entitled “The One Un-American Act,” about the greatest threat to a free nation. He warned that the restriction of free speech “is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” The measures being discussed in Congress have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and exceedingly difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.

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Don’t hold your breath.

Durham Steps Down As US Attorney, Remains In Charge Of Russia Probe (JTN)

John Durham, a decorated career prosecutor, announced Friday he is stepping down at the end of the month as a U.S. attorney in Connecticut but will continue as special prosecutor investigating the origins of the Russia collusion probe that dogged the early Trump presidency. Durham’s announcement, which was widely expected as part of the transition inside the Biden Justice Department, allows him to focus on wrapping up the Russia investigation from Washington DC where the probe has been ongoing since 2019. “My career has been as fulfilling as I could ever have imagined when I graduated from law school way back in 1975,” Durham said. “Much of that fulfillment has come from all the people with whom I’ve been blessed to share this workplace, and in our partner law enforcement agencies.


“My love and respect for this Office and the vitally important work done here have never diminished.” Durham will be succeeded in Connecticut in the interim by his deputy Leonard Boyle. Durham’s special counsel probe is focused on whether the FBI inappropriately opened an investigation into the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016 or committed any criminal acts by continuing the investigation and seeking FISA warrants that contained inaccurate or omitted information. He has secured one criminal conviction of the former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for doctoring evidence submitted to the FISA court. And in December, the Justice Department signaled Durham’s investigation had found further criminal activity, upgrading him to the position of special counsel.

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Feb 212021
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Abraham and the angels 1646

 

 

A little thought experiment that should have been much more, but for which time now has passed: What would various governments and their science advisers have done if lockdowns would have been impossible, due to a legal decision or some other reason? Presumably, they would have had to think of other means to stop COVID from spreading.

They would have had to be creative, which feels like the opposite of lockdown. Seen in that way, a lockdown is simply an extremely lazy way to approach a problem such as COVID. And though lockdowns are not new or unique, they have never, or very rarely, been used to lock up/down entire populations of perfectly healthy people.

Whether these people will still be healthy once the lockdown is lifted remains to be seen. It’s also very lazy to just assume that everyone will be mentally tip-top after seeing their social lives ground to a halt for a year or more. Humans live in herds, they do not live alone; it’s one of the most defining characteristics of the species.

Why all that laziness? It would appear to be due to a combination of panic, incompetence and lack of knowledge. If and when politicians get their “expert” advice only from virologists and epidemiologists, it’s obvious that most science falls by the wayside. To assess the effects of a lockdown, before, during and after it is implemented, you would need a much broader level of expertise.

Still, how many psychologists and psychiatrists have you seen in all the government “expert” committees? I’ve said before, they’re not listening to “the science”, they’re at best listening to “a science”, and in reality to just a very little bit of science.

 

Of course, the blunt refusal to do any kind of research into the mental health threats posed by lockdowns does not stand alone. There’s also the evenly blunt refusal to look at substances that can serve as prophylaxis. A topic the Automatic Earth has covered to such an extent that it feels almost embarrassing to bring it up yet another time.

And we still don’t know why there is no large scale investigation of the potential of vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin to counter COVID infections and mortality. Premeditated murder? That’s a big term, can you use it when deaths are the result of sheer incompetence?

But there’s certainly a serious possibility that the absence of prophylactics has caused thousands of deaths and millions of infections. We will probably never know for sure, because no-one will research it. It’s a vicious circle of blunt incompetence justifying its own mistakes and laziness.

And make no mistake: if these cheap prophylactics, proven harmless through decades of being provided to 10s or 100s of millions of people, would have been only half as successful as their advocates claim, not only would more lives have been saved than we can count, but the entire lockdown policies may well have been avoided. Health care systems might not have been under strain, entire industries, indeed the whole economy, might have been able to keep functioning.

 

Instead, we are told to get vaccinated -or else-, injecting substances into our veins that have never been properly tested. Can we offer 100% evidence that vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin would have -mostly- prevented the pandemic? No, we can’t, but in the same way that we have no proof the vaccines are safe or successful: a refusal to do proper testing. It all hangs together from laziness and lack of knowledge.

Similarly, perhaps the experimental vaccines will solve part of the COVID problem. But so would the prophylactics have. We can discuss how big a part either would have solved, but not only is that in the future, we will also be told only half a story, because we never tested the prophylactics.

There are plenty negative stories about all of them, but those are mostly based on faulty experiments, on giving people large doses of HCQ and vit. D when they’re already gravely ill. These stories don’t prove anything other than bad intentions on the part of those who tell them.

One thing is for sure: the vaccines will be challenged by new strains of the virus at some point, and there’s no guarantee they can be adapted for those strains. The prophylactics have no such issue. Boosting your immune system provides you with overall protection. And you don’t need 100%: bring down infections by 50%, and everything changes.

 

To get back to lockdowns: the way I personally experience the one here in Athens is that life itself is standing still. And that feels weirder by the day. If you ask people how it affects them, they can’t really answer, because it’s the first time they’ve ever lived through one. How would they know how it will affect them long term? The best they can do is say that it sucks.

For the elderly it means having to spend their last years and days in near absolute solitude. If you would ask them, many would say: just give me the virus, as long as I can see my children and grandchildren and friends while I’m still alive. But nobody asks them. They spent their entire lives just to be silenced. In order to eradicate a virus, we eradicate the very people who built the world we inherited from them.

For the very young it means stunted development. There is a ton of literature about how the first 5 or 10 years shape a child for life. Well, we just took a full year and counting away from that shape. We have no way of knowing to what extent that will affect them, but it won’t be zero. People are adaptive, sure, but that can be a negative thing just as much as a positive one. Caged animals adapt too; with neurosis. Children need to interact with each other, and with adults, to find their place in the world. How are they going to find that place now? For all of the rest of us, we don’t know either. We can only guess.

Meanwhile, there’s not only the prophylactics that are ignored, we also have the exact same PCR tests used for a year, whose own inventor says they’re not fit for the purpose, we have facemasks on every weak immune system for which it’s doubtful that they have much effect, unless they’re N95, FFP2-3, and even then.

And we have an almost complete lack of attention for the fact that we now know the virus is airborne, and doesn’t stick to surfaces. From which follows the lack of scrutiny of air filtration systems, HVAC, HEPA, that might actually help, and perhaps allow schools, restaurants etc. to open up again. Lazy, shoddy, hardly science.

 

There can be no doubt that at some point in the future we will define something as the Lockdown Syndrome. What it will look like, we don’t know. It will be somethinng similar to what Long Covid is today. But it will be sold as inevitable, and that is a very doubtful take. Because it’s man made. We made the syndrome. We’re creating it as we speak. Day by empty, lazy and incompetent day.

We’ve basically accepted that a virus is superior to us, we threw the towel, even if just temporarily. And then we say we rely on science to beat it, but only if that science is brand new. Older science need not apply. We’re not a very confident species, then, are we? If we were, we’d have said: screw you, we’ll keep on doing what we did before.

 

 

 

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